Email # 156: “It defies logic”?

President Trump has long criticized FBI Director James Comey for not pursuing Secretary Clinton more aggressively for her handling of classified emails. He tweeted last July:

“FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow!”

He tweeted the same opinion earlier this month:

‘‘FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deed!’’

You responded similarly to Comey’s announcement that Clinton would not be prosecuted:

“It defies logic and the law that she faces no consequences for jeopardizing national security.”

But when Comey announced publicly that he was reopening the Clinton case just days before the election, Trump approved:

“I was not his fan. But I’ll tell you what he did, he brought back his reputation. He brought it back. He’s got to hang tough because there’s a lot of — a lot of people want him to do the wrong thing. What he did was the right thing.”

You approved too:

“The FBI’s decision to reopen its investigation into Secretary Clinton reinforces what the House Judiciary Committee has been saying for months: the more we learn about Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server, the clearer it becomes that she and her associates committed wrongdoing and jeopardized national security.”

And yet now we are to understand that the President Trump fired Director Comey not despite but specifically because of his reopening of the Clinton case? Deputy attorney general Rod J. Rosenstein explained in the memo that accompanied the President’s letter dismissing Comey:

“The FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice. I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.”

Do you agree with the deputy attorney general? If so, why have you never expressed any criticism of Comey for the timing of his second investigation and its well-documented influence on the outcome of the election? Have you, like the President, completely reversed your opinion in the last week?

Other members of Congress are very concerned. Senator Burr said on Tuesday:

“I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination.”

Senator Corker said:

“his removal at this particular time will raise questions.”

Senator Lankford said:

“the American people need clarity and deserve an explanation for his immediate firing.”

Senator McCain said:

“I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The president’s decision to remove the FBI Director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee.”

Rep. Amash said:

“My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia. The second paragraph of this letter is bizarre.”

Amash was referring to President Trump’s letter to Comey:

“While I greatly appreciate your informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”

The President’s statement is “bizarre” because multiple members of his campaign are under investigation for possible collusion with Russia in its well-documented interference in the election. These are concerns voiced by your fellow Republicans in Congress, and so none can be dismissed as politically biased. The President’s decision, however, appears highly biased.

As chair of the House Judiciary Committee, it is your job to oversee the executive branch, and yet you said nothing about the influence Comey’s reopening of the Clinton case had on the election. Your response to Comey’s firing also says nothing:

“The FBI is the premier law enforcement agency in the world and it is critical to have a director who holds the trust of the American people. It is clearly the President’s prerogative to remove the FBI Director, as was recommended by the top two officials at the Department of Justice. I would like to thank Director Comey for his many years of faithful service, and I look forward to working closely with the White House to identify a suitable successor as quickly as possible.”

Your statements of the obvious would be comically vapid if they did not also distract from the fact that Comey was unexpectedly fired in the midst of his investigation into the Trump’s campaign’s ties to Russia–and just a week after requesting funds to expand that investigation.

The FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, but yours are suffering far worse. What will it take for you to set politics aside and do your job?

Your behavior defies logic.

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Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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