Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
In his recent book, Saving Justice: Truth, Transparency and Trust, former FBI Director James Comey, as pompously smug as ever, advises on “refilling the reservoir” of public trust in the justice system, “drop by drop.”
A critical reading of this self-serving book, however, suggests that the first drop in this reservoir should be a widespread, bipartisan condemnation of this oleaginous former FBI Director. If most citizens cannot agree on this obvious conclusion, mistrust will continue unabated.
Prior to his laborious recounting of his older, uninteresting cases, Comey preaches the tired nostrum that Lady Justice must be blindfolded. That sounds good, but ignores that before Trump was even sworn in, Comey was making book on every discussion with Trump, unlike his treatment of Obama, even to the point of placing a “Russiagate” investigator covertly into the FBI’s pre-inauguration intelligence briefing.
Meanwhile, as NSA Susan Rice wrote in her intriguing January 20, 2017 memorandum that President Obama’s entire national security team was concerned that Comey would continue to conceal the Russian national security investigation from President Trump, the Constitutional Commander in Chief in charge of national security. Comey fails to disclose to his readers, in discussing Trump’s NSA General Michael Flynn, that he snuck his deputy Andrew McCabe, to the horror of Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, into Flynn’s office before the General or the White House could be briefed on the investigation. Of course, thereafter Comey continued for months to keep this investigation concealed from Trump. Trust and transparency, anyone?
When the slippery former Director self-righteously preens about promising Trump no more than “honest loyalty,” that itself was a false promise, because he was neither honest with nor loyal to his boss. We can conclude from this account that, so far, the reservoir of trust in Comey is draining, not filling.
This FBI man painfully describes how his honor and honesty led him, notoriously, to re-open on October 28, 2016, the Clinton email investigation, perhaps costing the Democratic candidate the election. He says, “I met Anthony Weiner’s laptop in” the last week of October.” Maybe so, technically, but he should have disclosed, if truthful, that his Deputy Andrew McCabe, with whom he was in constant contact, had been sitting on Weiner’s emails for a month before that. The clear inference is that both of these two devious officials were planning to conceal the documents prior to the election, until the New York Field Office threatened to leak them. So much for our trust-filled reservoir.
Anyone with knowledge of the horrifying report of FBI Inspector General Michael Horowitz on the Russiagate FISA abuse investigation would be surprised that Comey claims the report was “a complete vindication after years of lying” by Trump.
Comey quotes Winston Churchill in reference to the voluminous Mueller Report: “The report, by its very length, defends itself against the risk of being read.” He knows, then, that the drier and even longer Horowitz Report would not have been perused in any substantial way by the public. So, he tells the reader that of course there are always some minor “errors” in this and other investigations.
However, as the Horowitz Report shows, there are an astounding number of serious, consequential errors, actually 17, including concealment from the Court of the following: one key witness to the conspiracy was under counterintelligence investigation as a suspected Russian agent; Steele described him as a “boaster” and “embellisher;” Steele was working for the Clinton campaign, a fact not disclosed; Steele’s primary subsource would not confirm to the FBI Steele’s reporting of key allegations; the primary subsource himself had been suspected of being a Russian intelligence agent; Steele had never been substantially corroborated on past dealings with the FBI, contrary to FBI representations; monitored overhearings by confidential sources showed that both Carter Page and George Papadopoulos had denied key allegations in the Steele report; Page had never communicated with Paul Manafort, who Steele said was Page’s main conspiratorial channel. All in all, 17 material misrepresentations by the closely held Headquarters team of James Comey, all serious felonies if intentional.
Oh, yes, and Comey’s team never told the FISA Court that Carter Page had earlier been a cooperating source for the CIA against Russian intelligence, and that he had never been successfully recruited by the Russians. They suggested to the contrary, that Page in fact was a Russian agent. Truth?
These striking omissions regarding the Russian investigation’s central figure, Page, came to a head in the summer of 2017, when the third FISA renewal was sought, and a new overseer dug into Page’s past relationship with the CIA. The FBI lawyer involved, Kevin Clinesmith, was so worried about the truth coming out that he altered an email from the CIA to read, falsely, that Page was “never a source.” Was Clinesmith doing this alone? Was he the only fraudster? Common sense tells us that the young lawyer was not a lone actor. At the very least, he was witting part of a dishonest Headquarters team.
The investigation’s predicate for its opening, Comey crows, involved “no evidence of bias.” Actually, the IG found plenty of evidence of bias, but simply found that only some of the team shared it.
Finally, Comey lies in stating that the investigation was opened because “the Russians had signaled to a Trump adviser” that they would assist the campaign by releasing information “damaging to the Democratic candidate.”
But Comey hides, first, that adviser George Papadopoulos was told by one Joseph Mifsud only that the Russians had some Clinton email dirt. More significantly, Mifsud was Western, not Russian, intelligence, as Comey knows, but continues to falsely deny, to avoid prosecution. Indeed, in a May 2019 Washington Post op-ed, Comey blamed a “Russian agent,” likely referring to professor Joseph Mifsud, a fabrication at the heart of a fabricated investigation. Gosh, Mrs. Cleaver, I had no idea!
Comey’s book may convince Americans whose only news outlets are legacy media. But until legacy media calls him to account, too many citizens know too much about this man to put one more drop into his bone-dry reservoir of public trust.
John D. O’Connor is a former federal prosecutor and the San Francisco attorney who represented W. Mark Felt during his revelation as Deep Throat in 2005. O’Connor is the author of the book, Postgate: How the Washington Post Betrayed Deep Throat, Covered Up Watergate, and Began Today’s Partisan Advocacy Journalism.