I'll say this for the suddenly departed FBI honcho James Comey: He's caused enough cases of whiplash to collapse Obamacare before the end of the week. The left in particular likes its cardboard heroes and cartoon villains drawn in bright Sharpie colors, and Comey insists on jumping back and forth between one role and the other like a movie stuntman leaping the roofs from northbound to southbound train.
Comey's not going to charge Hillary? What a stand-up guy! The very model of a dedicated public servant!
Comey's re-opened the Hillary investigation? What a partisan hack! He's just thrown the election to Trump! This is literally a police state!
Comey's investigating Trump's ties to Russia? Thank G0D! This career civil servant is all that stands between us and that fascist dictator!
Comey's fingering Huma Abedin for forwarding emails to Carlos Danger? G0D, this Trump stooge won't let up, will he?
Trump's fired Comey? How dare he? This is a crisis for the integrity of our institutions...
Not surprisingly it's hard for these poor folk to keep up - to the point where Stephen Colbert had to rebuke his audience for cheering his announcement that Comey had been fired. That would have been the appropriate reaction had Obama done it circa November 1st last year. But now it's a constitutional outrage.
Amusing as all this is, I felt after his most recent diva turn in Congress that this guy is just too weird to be a policeman - even for one of those Brit telly coppers where the guy comes overloaded with traits: Inspector Comey Investigates, and Prosecutes, and Convicts (or, If He Doesn't, Trashes Your Reputation in Public). He'd be better off cast as one of those witnesses who can never stop talking, and keeps digging himself deeper and deeper.
As it turns out, he misspoke somewhat on the matter of Huma Abedin sending classified emails to her spambot penis of a hubby to print out during breaks from sexting middle-schoolers. Which is how we arrive at the brain-exploding scenario of Trump firing Comey for being unfair to Hillary. Boy, that Putin is always nine chess moves ahead, isn't he?
Back in the real world, the memorandum from Rod Rosenstein, Deputy Attorney General, outlining the case for firing Comey, lays bare the FBI Director's brazenness:
The director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General's authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution. It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement. At most, the Director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors. The Director now defends his decision by asserting that he believed attorney General Loretta Lynch had a conflict. But the FBI Director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department.
That's true. If the County Attorney has a conflict of interest, the Sheriff doesn't unilaterally step in and assume the role of prosecutor.
We do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation. Derogatory information sometimes is disclosed in the course of criminal investigations and prosecutions, but we never release it gratuitously. The Director laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial. It is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.
That's also true.
In a functioning legal system, the accused has the right to confront his accuser in open court. If you're not going to bring it into court, you don't do a drive-by prosecution at a press conference.
In response to skeptical question at a congressional hearing, the Director defended his remarks by saying that his "goal was to say what is true. What did we do, what did we find, what do we think about it." But the goal of a federal criminal investigation is not to announce our thoughts at a press conference. The goal is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to justify a federal criminal prosecution, then allow a federal prosecutor who exercises authority delegated by the Attorney General to make a prosecutorial decision, and then - if prosecution is warranted - let the judge and jury determine the facts.
True yet again. It is for the jury to decide "what do we think about it" and thereby determine the truth of the matter - not a copper by public proclamation. So, having usurped the role of prosecutor, Comey was also adding one-man jury to the many arrows in his quiver.
Concerning his letter to the Congress on October 28, 2016, the Director cast his decision as a choice between whether he would "speak" about the FBI's decision to investigate the newly-discovered email messages or "conceal" it. "Conceal" is a loaded term that misstates the issue. When federal agents and prosecutors quietly open a criminal investigation, we are not concealing anything; we are simply following the longstanding policy that we refrain from publicizing non-public information.
All true. Indeed, it ought to be the assumption of a civilized justice system that, unless the matter is laid before a court, the information collected in a criminal investigation remains undisclosed - or, as Comey would have it, "concealed".
I know from my own experience that there are too many procedurally capricious aspects to American justice. It is extraordinary that both major-party candidates should have come under FBI investigation during a presidential campaign. It is even more extraordinary and deeply disturbing that the FBI director felt he could wing it with a breezy l'état, c'est moi approach to policing norms that evidently discomforted him not a whit save for retrospective feelings of "mild nausea". Way too mild.
I have disliked James Comey ever since discovering he was the fellow who sent Martha Stewart to jail for supposedly lying to the FBI in a matter in which there was no underlying crime. Comey, whatever one feels about him, is no liar: He's been entirely upfront about his bizarre trashing of procedural norms. The only mystery is why he chose to do it, other than for some freaky narcissistic need to make himself the most famous FBI director since Hoover.
Mission accomplished. It's good to see the back of him. When the lefties stop prancing up and down about constitutional coups, they might agree with that.
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Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human rights activist. His latest book is "The Undocumented Mark Steyn: Don't Say You Weren't Warned". (Buy it at a 32% discount by clicking here or order in KINDLE edition at a 50% discount by clicking here. Sales help fund JWR)