James Comey fucked up.
This is impossible to objectively dispute. By sending a vaguely worded letter to Congress last Friday afternoon informing legislators that the FBI is looking into emails which “appear to be pertinent” to the agency’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, the FBI director, eschewing Department of Justice recommendations and without presenting evidence, recklessly implied wrongdoing by the presidential frontrunner just 11 days before Americans head to the polls. Comey’s three-paragraph correspondence provided no details about the contents of the emails, where and how the emails were discovered, how many there are, who sent and received them, or any information about when the FBI could expect to provide Congress with additional details.
Convenient leaks and sharp reporting by NBC’s Pete Williams and others revealed the emails were found on a laptop used by close Clinton aide Huma Abedin and — IN A VERY SPECIAL GUEST APPEARANCE — disgraced former congressman/habitual dong disseminator Anthony Weiner [pause for studio audience applause]. Turns out the Feds discovered the emails while investigating whether Weiner violated federal law when exchanging sexually explicit texts with a 15-year-old girl. Let’s just pause for a second, re-read that last sentence, and internalize what a grotesque diaper Anthony Weiner continues to be.
Stomach empty yet? Good, let’s proceed.
According to the LA Times, though, the emails weren’t to or from Clinton and “contained information that appeared to be more of what agents had already uncovered,” a point echoed by Williams. Furthermore, Yahoo’s Michael Isikoff revealed Saturday that the FBI didn’t yet have a search warrant for those specific emails (it was granted late Sunday night).
To recap, the FBI found emails that Hillary Clinton didn’t send and weren’t from her server. The Feds haven’t had a chance to examine them yet, both because the agency just got their hands on them a few weeks ago and also because they didn’t have a legal right to access them until less than 24 hours ago, and they probably won’t complete their review until after the election. When presented with this information less than two weeks before the most important presidential election in a generation, the director of America’s greatest investigative agency opted to pen a tweet-length letter saying, in effect, “We found some shit. We don’t know what, if anything, it means, but we just wanna let you know we’re looking into it. I have nothing else to add. Cool?”
No. Not cool. This is cool’s diametric opposite. A pot of horse semen left to boil on Mercury’s surface. The narrative-starved political media, whose OSHA-esque “We haven’t shit down our legs in _____ days” calendar just reached double-digits for the first time in nearly a year, reacted to Comey’s announcement with all the perspective and intelligence you’d expect from a profession that counts Mark Halperin and Chris Cillizza among its standard bearers. FBI REOPENS INVESTIGATION INTO CLINTON EMAILS or some variant led all major national and swing-state newspapers. CNN’s chief national security correspondent criticized Clinton for not offering an apology for [reasons needed]. Donald Trump decades-long affection for sexual abuse, racism, bigotry, and fraud vanished overnight despite the release of David Fahrenthold’s exhaustive nine-month investigation into Trump’s despicable charitable practices, which includes an anecdote about the GOP shitbag handing needy Bronx kids a fake million-dollar bill at a bake sale before peeling away in a limo. And video of a Trump supporter chanting “JEW-S-A” at a rally. And another video of Trump grabbing and kissing a Miss Universe winner onstage. And another video of Trump removing a black supporter from his rally and calling him a thug because he thought he was a protestor.
Democratic leaders and furious liberals pounced on Comey, accusing him of 11th-hour election manipulation. Comey’s political motivations were called into question by the same people who three months ago praised him as an impartial public servant after he declined to prosecute Clinton for using a private email server. His actions created a bizarre environment where Clinton’s camp became the party demanding more transparency while the Trump campaign is content to sit back and let voters fill in the gaping blanks.
There are three possible reasons for why Comey did what he did:
1. A man who served as Deputy Attorney General under Dubya and was handpicked by Barack Obama to lead the FBI is actually a drooling political idiot who had no idea how his letter would be interpreted.
2. After choosing not to indict Clinton earlier this summer on serious transgressions, he decided, for some unknown reason, to sabotage her presidential chances over a potentially flimsy or even non-existent charge.
3. He wanted to cover his ass and the asses of everyone working for the FBI.
Scenario one is highly unlikely. Morons aren’t allowed to run the FBI or DOJ. FEMA or the NFL? Sure. But intelligence is right there in the FBI job description. Scenario two falls apart under the slightest scrutiny. While he’s a registered Republican, Comey has served multiple presidents with distinction. If he wanted to sabotage Clinton’s presidential bid he’d have recommended charges in July.
Which leaves option three, the only real rationale for Comey’s actions. Read the second paragraph from his letter to fellow FBI employees explaining why he opted to notify Congress:
Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression. In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.
“I’m committing a gross violation of protocol that will likely create a misleading impression. On the other hand, I don’t want to do that, so I’m going to send this letter that will definitely cause the exact thing I want to prevent.”
The fuck are you blabbering on about, bruh? Lil Wayne songs contain more coherent messages. This is textbook cover-your-ass horseshit from someone more concerned about preserving a fiefdom than performing the duties entrusted to them. There’s no partisan conspiracy. Comey isn’t a dunce. He’s every middle-management type who would rather avoid blame than solve the problem. Just as you can’t work in intelligence without being intelligent, you can’t lead the Federal Bureau of Investigation without being a bureaucrat.
Discovering these emails in mid-October placed Comey in an admittedly difficult position. Conservatives have hammered the FBI since Comey declined to prosecute Clinton. He couldn’t sit on the emails and risk the inevitable leak from the Republican-heavy bureau. And if the investigation actually reveals wrongdoing on Clinton’s part, the knowledge that Comey withheld information that may have caused voters to reconsider their choice would haunt the FBI for generations. Very few ideal options there. Rather than carefully gaming out all scenarios and choosing the most honest path, Comey decided to turtle up and remove the spotlight from his agency, collateral damage be dammed. If the investigation amounts to nothing (as is likely from the information reported thus far), Comey can claim he was simply doing his due diligence. If it turns out Clinton did send classified material, he and his agency become legendary patriots putting country before all else. Either way, the FBI’s hands remain grime-free.
Let’s be Swarovski crystal clear here: neither intent nor incompetence grants absolution. It doesn’t matter whether Comey meant to influence the presidential election. He has. Clinton, should she win, is well within bounds to ask for his resignation. Comey acted against Justice Department recommendations and decades of precedent. He’s smart enough to understand how the media — and thus the public — would interpret his ambiguous communication. If Comey felt compelled to inform Congress, he could have included the information reported in the days following his announcement: that the emails weren’t from Clinton’s server; that she wasn’t the sender or the recipient; that the stash may include thousands of duplicates. Unless Comey orchestrated the ensuring leaks ahead of time, omitting these critical details from a nationally distributed letter is baffling at best and negligent at worst.
Comey fucked up in spectacular fashion. His irresponsible actions could usher a fascist into the White House and cost the Democrats the Senate. But while calling the FBI director a mouth-breathing partisan tool might soothe shaken progressives, it’s almost certainly not the driver behind his actions. The reality is far less conspiratorial: he wanted the shit to end up on someone else’s face. Unfortunately for Comey, he’s now drowning in sewage. And there’s no way out but through the muck.