James Comey tweeted this Saturday morning. How drole.
Just like an FBI Director shouldn't offer public, speculative criticism about ONE candidate for president while keeping secret real, disturbing information about another. I mean, hypothetically, of course. Because surely NO FBI Director would ever actually DO that.
— 1stRepublic14thStar (@1Republic14Star) June 1, 2019
Now parse this through for just a moment. James Comey, the guy who was instrumental in putting Trump in the White House, the pot, is now calling the Iran Contra hack and kettle, William Barr, black. If you’ve forgotten how Comey cost Hillary Clinton the election, take a stroll down memory lane and remember what Nate Silver had to say about it.
The impact of Comey’s letter is comparatively easy to quantify… At a maximum, it might have shifted the race by 3 or 4 percentage points toward Donald Trump, swinging Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Florida to him, perhaps along with North Carolina and Arizona. At a minimum, its impact might have been only a percentage point or so. Still, because Clinton lost Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin by less than 1 point, the letter was probably enough to change the outcome of the Electoral College.
And yet, from almost the moment that Trump won the White House, many mainstream journalists have been in denial about the impact of Comey’s letter. The article that led The New York Times’s website the morning after the election did not mention Comey or “FBI” even once — a bizarre development considering the dramatic headlines that the Times had given to the letter while the campaign was underway. Books on the campaign have treated Comey’s letter as an incidental factor, meanwhile. And even though Clinton herself has repeatedly brought up the letter — including in comments she made at an event in New York on Tuesday — many pundits have preferred to change the conversation when the letter comes up, waving it away instead of debating the merits of the case.
The motivation for this seems fairly clear: If Comey’s letter altered the outcome of the election, the media may have some responsibility for the result. The story dominated news coverage for the better part of a week, drowning out other headlines, whether they were negative for Clinton (such as the news about impending Obamacare premium hikes) or problematic for Trump (such as his alleged ties to Russia). And yet, the story didn’t have a punchline: Two days before the election, Comey disclosed that the emails hadn’t turned up anything new.
“Clinton’s lead cratered after the Comey letter.” That’s a direct quote by Nate Silver.That was the effect that the Comey letter had, and you remember the rest. Frankly, based upon the fact that Comey gave Trump the White House, I’m not really surprised that Trump took that to mean that Comey was in his court and could be persuaded to “go easy” on Mike Flynn. And extrapolating from that, it’s not that outlandish that Jared Kushner was actually stupid enough to believe that firing Comey would please the Democrats and do it, Donald, do it. Trump did it, over the screamed objections of Steve Bannon. Then after he did it, he called Chuck Schumer, of all people, apparently expecting to have a good laugh between allies, or something. Schumer told him, in no uncertain terms, “you’re making a very big mistake.”
In all events, Comey is now taking aim at William Barr, which is one conspiracy theorist debunking another, for my money. Here’s what Barr said in his recent CBS interview.
“These counter-intelligence activities that were directed at the Trump Campaign were not done in the normal course and not through the normal procedures as a far as I can tell, and a lot of the people who were involved are no longer there.”
Barr added that the questionable activities were “undertaken by a small group at the top,” not rank-and-file FBI agents.
If you missed the interview, the question was posed how alleged domestic sabotage of a presidential campaign is in the same league as interference in an election by a hostile foreign power. Barr went full Deep State on this one, talking about the fall of Rome.
“Republics have fallen because of Praetorian Guard mentality where government officials get very arrogant, they identify the national interest with their own political preferences and they feel that anyone who has a different opinion, you know, is somehow an enemy of the state.”
Oh.My.God. Then Barr managed to tweak his explanation to make it appear that the use of FBI resources intended to thwart foreign enemies was one thing, but if you used those resources to investigate wrongdoing in a political campaign, that’s “a serious red line that’s been crossed.” The serious red line that was crossed, was crossed by Donald Trump and his cabal, getting in bed with Russia, not by the FBI investigating that fact. That’s what they’re paid to do, to protect our interests from actions taken by hostile powers, with intent to hurt us.
But here’s the best Barr spin of all: “From my perspective the idea of resisting a democratically elected president and basically throwing everything at him and you know, really changing the norms on the grounds that we have to stop this president, that is where the shredding of our norms and our institutions is occurring.”
The idea of “resisting” is where the shredding of norms and institutions is occurring, according to Barr? Really? What would you call the obstruction Obama faced for eight years?
And as to Trump being a democratically elected president, between James Comey throwing the sabot into the political machine and Trump’s Russkie friends, I seriously contend whether Trump is a democratically elected president.
It will be interesting to see where all this goes. This is another never-before-seen development in our government, a fired FBI director and a hit man attorney general, going at each other. (I refuse to say unprecedented, poor unprecedented overheated, foamed at the mouth and dropped dead in the pasture long ago.) None of this is surprising, not in the age of Trump.