Comey on Clinton email probe: ‘Don’t call us weasels’ … The normally-stoic FBI chief grew emotional as he rejected claims that the FBI was in the tank for Clinton.
James Comey appeared today before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about the FBI’s decision not to recommend prosecution of Hillary Clinton regarding misuse of classified emails – and in the process told members that once the politics stopped circulating, the FBI would again be seen as the institution “you know and love.”
This hyperbolic statement certainly set the tone for the larger hearing which saw Comey testifying with unusual emotionalism, adding at one point that people ought not to see those involved in the decision as “weasels.”
“You can call us wrong, but don’t call us weasels. We are not weasels,” he said. “We are honest people and….whether or not you agree with the result, this was done the way you want it to be done.”
Despite Hillary’s destruction of various phones with hammers (to mention only one issue), he spent several hours insisting, often querulously, that there was no evidence that she intended to obstruct justice or to hide evidence. His statements were mostly a repetition of already presented justifications. As they made little sense previously, they added neither clarity nor insight.
Republican congressmen – many of whom were increasingly incredulous – pressed him in startling ways. Several virtually demanded he reopen the case and others told him bluntly that “you blew it.”
“I would be in big trouble and I should be in big trouble if I did something like that,” said Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.). “There seems to be different strokes for different folks. I think there’s a heavy hand coming from someplace else.”
Comey was confronted with new evidence including a Reddit post from July 2014 probably authored by Platte River Networks specialist Paul Combetta seeking information on how to delete a “VIP” email address. (Platte River provided Clinton server support.) Republican Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said, “This clearly demonstrates an action to destroy evidence by people operating Clinton’s private server and her staff.”
Comey’s response: It seemed to him to be merely an effort to deal with privacy considerations.
At every turn, Comey simply explained and re-explained the logic of determining that there was no evidence to move forward with prosecution of Hillary Clinton for mishandling emails of the most sensitive kind – and with little new information to bolster his perspective.
Now, following this hearing, the public accusation stands front and center: The director of the FBI, James Comey, himself allowed the FBI to be influenced by political considerations.
We previously published an article here anticipating Comey’s eventual resignation based on his inability to muster further evidence to justify the FBI’s decision. We continue to believe this may be the only feasible outcome. He made few new points and his testimony today was directly confronted by a series of Republican Congressmen who were neither convinced by his further elaborations nor apparently cowed by his power and position.
While the FBI is today positioned as part of the United States Intelligence Community (IC), Comey has executive latitude and if thwarted from making decisions can surely resign. Stepping back, one can certainly see this latest appearance by Comey and the Republican pushback as unprecedented. The FBI virtually – specifically – stands accused of making a decision for political purposes and perverting “justice” to make allowances for power.
This is part of the further breakdown of American society in the 21st century and will not be resolved easily nor quickly. In fact, we would argue that it probably will not be resolved at all. Even were Comey to resign, the ramifications will likely remain as Comey has insisted that his decision was supported by many others in the FBI.
Conclusion: Because of the political aspect and the polarizing nature of Hillary herself, the ramifications of Comey’s decision (and his inability to defend it in a common-sense way) will linger and poison the FBI’s reputation. It may continue in some sense as the nation’s “secret police force” but it will do so increasingly without the ability to insist – even rhetorically – that it operates in fair and impartial manner.