Reading the transcript of former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony to the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees last week, I formed the strong impression that Comey falls somewhat short of the straight shooter image by which he presents himself. He has learned how to play a G-man on television. The reality, however, departs from the image.
I posted the transcript of Comey’s testimony last week in “Comey doesn’t know and can’t recall.” It seemed to me that Comey has picked up a trick or two from the characters he or his colleagues dealt with in his years as a federal prosecutor. In one of the most consequential counterintelligence investigations ever commenced by the agents working for him as FBI Director, Comey was at a loss on key points. Comey don’t know nothin’. Comey don’t remember nothin’.
I ran my impression by a friend whose judgment I respect. He commented that Comey “isn’t just a liar, he is a practiced liar who has most certainly used dishonesty his whole career such is his dexterity with it here.” We can tell we have “a lawyerly liar on our hands when somebody is constantly putting things in terms of whether they recall this or that and whether they remember this or that. These are subjective conditions of mind that can’t be proven true or false. That this comes from a man who is in the habit of writing memos to the file to document his version of events is particularly rich.”
One more point. In his column “The unbelievable James Comey” (accessible here via Outline) James Freeman observes some of the notable items within Comey’s zone of nescience. He finds a contradiction implicit in Comey’s testimony in response to friendly questions posed by Democrat Ted Deutch:
Mr. Deutch. Director Comey, do you believe the FBI or DOJ ever investigated the Trump campaign for political purposes?
Mr. Comey. I not only don’t believe it, I know it not to be true.
Mr. Deutch. I’m sorry, would you repeat that?
Mr. Comey. I know it not to be true. I know that we never investigated the Trump campaign for political purposes.
Freeman tactfully asks how Comey would “know it not to be true” if the rest of his testimony is accurate.