Stray thoughts about Comey

Former FBI Director James Comey is master operator on the Washington scene. That is the predominant impression I came away with from Comey’s testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee yesterday. It is an impression that is consistent with his self-serving confessions of uneasiness, discomfort, confusion, cowardice, fright, tongue-tied wonderment and the like. What manner of man (let alone FBI Director) is this?

Comey has met with his friend Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to supervise the investigation into Russia-related matters and whatever else strikes his fancy. Comey is Mueller’s old colleague and friend. We learned yesterday that once he was fired by President Trump Comey himself sought to engineer the appointment of a special counsel. Mission accomplished.

Comey has met with Mueller and turned over his memos of conversations that he had with Trump while serving as FBI Director. Comey conveyed the impression that Trump is a current subject of Mueller’s investigation for obstruction of justice based on Comey’s firing and Trump’s subsequent remarks. John Podhoretz reads the tea leaves here. There are complications with this line of thought.

I am troubled by Comey’s confidence that the obstruction train is going down the tracks. Alan Dershowitz considers the issue here and here, Andrew McCarthy here.

Returning to Comey and his memos, we discovered that Comey used a cutout to leak the contents of one of his memos to the New York Times. His cutout was Columbia Law School Professor Daniel Richman, who describes himself on the Columbia site as an adviser to Comey. Comey testified that he read the memo to Richman for the purpose of having Richman transmit the contents to “a reporter” (presumably a Timesman).

Why use a cutout? Comey testified: “Because I was weary [of] the media [that] was camping at the end of my driveway at that point. I was actually going out of town with my wife to hide. I worried it would be feeding seagulls at the beach, if it was I who gave it to the media.”

Here the clock strikes thirteen. This is ridiculous. Comey himself could have called the same Times reporter whom Richman called — Michael Schmidt, per this story — without attracting Schmidt’s fellow seagulls.

What is Comey talking about? And by the way, what other seagulls has he fed? As I say, this guy is a master operator. He is a master operator who can dish out a patently absurd story with a perfectly straight face.

Did Comey do anything wrong leaking the contents of his memo to a third party? Jonathan Turley considers the possibilities here.

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