Live from Comeyworld

Upon the release of the Department of Justice Inspector General report documenting serious misconduct at the FBI in conducting a counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign, former FBI Director James Comey proclaimed victory in a Washington Post column (accessible here via Outline). He takes the occasion to assert vindication and bash Trump. He seeks to exploit the ignorance of readers who get their news from the Washington Post.

As usual, Comey also took to Twitter to blast the gospel according to Saint James: “So it was all lies. No treason. No spying on the campaign. No tapping Trumps wires. It was just good people trying to protect America.”

I’d dearly love to see a Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory assessment of this guy.

I think Comey’s column falls into the category of what President Trump denominates Fake News. The editors of the Wall Street Journal provide their own somewhat more realistic assessment of the IG report: “The report relates a trail of terrible judgment and violations of process that should shock Americans who thought better of their premier law-enforcement agency….[O]ur own initial reading confirms the worst of what we feared about the bureau when it was run by James Comey. The FBI corrupted the secret court process for obtaining warrants to spy on former Trump aide Carter Page. And it did so by supplying the court with false information produced by Christopher Steele, an agent of the Hillary Clinton campaign.”

In lieu of a MMPI on Comey, Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn provides this bullet-pointed inventory:

• Even though Christopher Steele’s dossier was full of material Mr. Comey himself characterized as “salacious and unverified,” it played a “central and essential role” in the bureau’s decision to seek a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.

• The FBI failed to inform Justice of “significant information that was available” but “was inconsistent with, or undercut,” claims in the FISA applications that Mr. Page was “an agent of a foreign power.”

• The FBI ignored various warnings about Mr. Steele’s political bias, and it took him at his word when he falsely told agents he wasn’t the source for a Yahoo News article the FBI would cite in its application to the court.

• Overall, the report identifies “at least 17 significant errors or omissions in the Carter Page FISA applications”—for which investigators received no “satisfactory answers.”

• The FBI also didn’t inform the FISA court that Mr. Page had served as a Central Intelligence Agency source and received a “positive assessment” for candor from the agency.

• Mr. Comey pushed to include Mr. Steele’s dossier in the Intelligence Community Assessment even though the CIA “expressed concern about the lack of vetting.”

• An FBI lawyer altered an email he’d received confirming Mr. Page had been a CIA source. After he changed it to read “not a source,” the email was then used to help renew the FISA warrant on Mr. Page.

McGurn adds:

Mr. Horowitz lays the blame at the top: “We are deeply concerned that so many basic and fundamental errors were made by three separate, hand-picked investigative teams; on one of the most sensitive FBI investigations; after the matter had been briefed to the highest levels within the FBI; even though the information sought through use of FISA authority related so closely to an ongoing presidential campaign; and even though those involved with the investigation knew that their actions were likely to be subjected to close scrutiny. We believe this circumstance reflects a failure not just by those who prepared the FISA applications, but also by the managers and supervisors in the [investigation’s] chain of command, including FBI senior officials who were briefed as the investigation progressed.”

Mr. Comey’s memoir, “A Higher Loyalty,” relates how as FBI director he kept on his desk a copy of the October 1963 memo from J. Edgar Hoover asking for permission to wiretap Martin Luther King. He claims he did so to help ensure the bureau would never forget how a “legitimate counterintelligence mission . . . morphed into an unchecked, vicious campaign of harassment and extralegal attack.”

Mr. Horowitz’s findings about what was done under Mr. Comey’s leadership suggest there’s still a need for such a reminder. But maybe it should be a copy of the FISA applications for Carter Page the FBI sent to the court with false, misleading and incomplete information—and Mr. Comey’s signature.

Comey claims to be funnier in person than he is on Twitter, but I think the proper comparison is with J. Edgar Hoover. He may be funnier than Hoover, but Hoover was a better FBI Director.

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