A strange view of democracy

Jamie Gorelick and Larry Thompson, both former high ranking Justice Department officials, take to the pages of the Washington Post to claim that “James Comey is damaging our democracy.” What an odd claim.

Democracy is best served when voters have as much true relevant information as possible about candidates for office. Comey’s statement that the Hillary Clinton email investigation has been reopened is certainly true. He should know.

It is also relevant. For example, some voters might not want to elect a candidate who may be prosecuted for a criminal offense. Clinton and her supporters are incensed about Comey’s statement precisely because it’s relevant to the thinking of some — perhaps many — voters.

There are arguments in favor of telling voters little or nothing about criminal investigations of targets, including political candidates. Andy McCarthy presents them here. But they are arguments about law enforcement, including fairness to potential targets and witnesses, not arguments about democracy.

The body of their article indicates that Gorelick and Thompson understand this. Apparently they, or their editor at the Post, thought that casting the issue in terms of “democracy” would be more helpful in drumming up anti-Comey sentiment.

I don’t buy the argument that Comey has been too transparent in this process. I think he has promoted democracy by letting the public know where things stand regarding the Democratic nominee for president without misusing his power to create unfair innuendo to which an accused party cannot properly respond (Hillary Clinton is certainly in a position to respond to Comey’s statements about the investigation.) Where I disagree with Comey is with his conclusion that Clinton should not be prosecuted, a conclusion I believe may well have been based on other than purely legal considerations.

But wherever one comes down on these questions, it is absurd to claim that Comey’s actions are damaging to democracy.


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