FBI Director James Comey hasn’t even gotten a warrant to read the possibly-related-to-Hillary-possibly-not emails in question, yet he’s already gone running to Congressional Republicans to talk about them. Comey’s actions directly contradicted Justice Department policy and the advice of his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
Hillary Clinton has done exactly the right thing by calling for the FBI to correct Comey’s screw-up by immediately release everything it knows. Guilty people don’t do that!
But the rest of us need to go a step further. Can you imagine if a Democratic president’s FBI director did this to the Republican presidential candidate only 11 days before the election? The Republican candidate would be calling for the FBI director’s immediate resignation, and that’s exactly what Democrats should be doing today.
Some journalists are trying to claim Comey had no good choice here – that Democrats are mad he told Republicans about emails he hasn’t read yet, but that Republicans would’ve been mad if he’d stayed quiet. This is totally false. Comey had policy to guide him: Don’t discuss cases in public. Comey chose to break that policy 11 days before an election with information he knew his fellow Republicans would use for partisan political purposes against the Democratic presidential candidate. “Republicans would’ve been mad Comey didn’t break policy to fuel partisan attacks” is not a reason to break policy.
Two former deputy attorneys general – one Democratic, one Republican – write in the Washington Post that Comey is damaging our democracy:
As former deputy attorneys general in the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, we are troubled by the apparent departure from these standards in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server. First, the FBI director, James B. Comey, put himself enthusiastically forward as the arbiter of not only whether to prosecute a criminal case — which is not the job of the FBI — but also best practices in the handling of email and other matters. Now, he has chosen personally to restrike the balance between transparency and fairness, departing from the department’s traditions. As former deputy attorney general George Terwilliger aptly put it, “There’s a difference between being independent and flying solo.”
As former Justice Department official Matthew Miller writes in the Washington Post, Comey’s “conduct that raises serious questions about his judgment and ability to serve as the nation’s chief investigative official.” (UPDATE: Richard Painter, former chief ethics lawyer in George W. Bush’s White House, has filed a Hatch Act complaint against the FBI.)
Comey is a Republican who donated to John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012. But today we’re supposed to believe he’s impartial here? The original sin here is President Obama handing the FBI to a Republican. Now Obama and Clinton can’t call on Comey to resign – but that doesn’t mean we as Democrats can’t do it for them.
The Hillary Clinton email “scandal” has been a partisan witch hunt from the start. Even people who think it’s a scandal can’t actually explain it.
Clinton and her campaign didn’t do themselves any favors by spending months responding with feckless attempts to prove they’re still Very Serious People by accepting blame. Here’s a shorter version of dozens of cable news segments I watched this summer:
REPUBLICAN: Hillary Clinton’s emails are a horrible scandal that shows she should never be president
DEMOCRAT: (winces) Ooh, yeah, our bad, sorry, can we talk about something else?
When you’re a lifelong Democratic insider like Ed Rendell, you can’t just go telling the host they’re full of it! You need to play nice so you keep getting invited back on TV to keep your brand current! This has stood in especially stark contrast to Trump’s surrogates, who will simply tell the host they’re a partisan hack, reject the premise of the questions, and start talking about something else entirely.
Democrats could take a lesson! We don’t need to attack the media or our institutions as a whole – but can point out this story is totally bogus, the media’s Clinton Rules are a real thing, and that Clinton’s Republican opponent has a pile of real live wrongdoing that’s a mile high and a million times more crystal clear than anything with which Republicans are trying to smear Hillary.
As Bernie Sanders said over a year ago now, “The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails.” Democrats have never had more evidence on their side to echo Bernie every chance they get.