There were a lot of reasons that Trump won the 2016 election and Hillary Clinton did not. Over a 40-year career, Clinton had engendered a lot of animosities from various people on the center and the left — some of it deserved, most of it not. There was a lack of enthusiasm among people of color (in many cases, for reasons that were warranted); there were the GOP voter suppression tactics; there was Russia’s role in the election; Cambridge Analytica, Facebook, and the increased polarization of the electorate. There was also the fact that Hillary won 3 million more votes and lost in the electoral college.
But no factor was as decisive as then FBI Director James Comey’s role in costing Clinton the election. Comey, in his own way, has taken responsibility first for holding a press conference to say that Hillary Clinton did not commit a crime (which in itself, created the illusion that she had) and then, 11 days before the election, announcing that her emails were under investigation again.
Comey says that he felt like he had to give the press conference and announce that she was under investigation because, based on the polling, he thought that Clinton would win and he didn’t want to undermine the legitimacy of her presidency.
Sure, I get it. He was in a tough position, and I know about hindsight and all that, but the thing to do is what Bob Mueller is doing now: Keep your head down, keep your mouth shut, and let the findings do all the work.
But Comey made it about himself, and we all knew that, but until his interview with NPR this morning, I didn’t realize just what extraordinary efforts Comey took to make it about himself. Instead of a press conference, here is what James Comedy admits was more typical in concluding an FBI investigation.
“In the ordinary case, we would most likely in writing prepare some sort of summary of what our investigation had determined and then send it over to the Justice Department, and they would in the ordinary case either say nothing, which is the most common case, or at most issue a letter to the target saying, or the subject saying it’s over, or some minimal statement about it.”
Oh, in the ordinary course of events, worst case scenario: There would have been “some minimal statement about it,” a minimal statement that Fox News would have pounced on, but also would have been chewed up and spit out in half a news cycle.
Comey gave Hillary’s emails new life — he gave Fox News and the media soundbites, and pictures, and months of B-roll, when he could have simply issued a statement saying that it was over.
And why did he do this? Again, because he wanted to protect the legitimacy of the presidency.
Bitch, do you know who Hillary Clinton is? She doesn’t need your goddamn protectin’. She’s Hillary fucking Clinton. This is like mansplaining on a whole new level. James Comey didn’t think that Hillary Clinton — a former Senator, First Lady, and Secretary of State — could protect her own fucking interests. It was her Presidency. Not yours, motherfucker. Let Hillary fight her own hypothetical battles about the legitimacy of her Presidency. No one saw you out there announcing that the Trump campaign was under investigation. Did Comey ever stop and think, “Oh, but if Trump wins, and they find out about the fact that his campaign was being investigated, are they going to think that his Presidency is illegitimate?”
Yes. Yes, we are, but I guess that Comey thought, “Trump’s a big boy, and he can take care of himself,” and he has, by pulling out his electoral map every six fucking seconds and making out with it. But Hillary? Gotta protect the lady candidate! Gotta get up in front of the world and protect our democracy!
Fuck you, Comey. No one elected you. No one asked for your protection. No one assigned you to play special counsel to Hillary’s emails. Shut the fuck up, do your job, issue your ordinary report, and let the motherfuckers in Congress and in the executive do the rest.
Our Republic is under siege; democratic norms have been eroded; and our news cycle revolves around a goon with a law degree and a porn star, all because James Comey could not keep his goddamn mouth shut like any other FBI director in any other situation would have done.