Email #235: “unhindered by politics”?

During Thursday’s meeting of your House Judiciary Committee, you said of H. Res. 446: “This resolution seems to be just one more opportunity for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to vicariously voice Hillary Clinton’s long and growing list for why she lost the election.” And yet the resolution was titled “Of inquiry requesting the President and directing the Attorney General to transmit, respectively, certain documents to the House of Representatives relating to the removal of former Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey,” and it covered these eight topics:

1. The firing of Director James B. Comey of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

2. The participation of Attorney General Jefferson Sessions in the removal of Director Comey.

3. The scope or application of Attorney General Sessions’ recusal from “any existing or future investigations of any matters in any way related to the campaigns for President of the United States”.

4. The application of Attorney General Sessions’ recusal to the removal of Director Comey.

5. The scope or application of executive privilege as applied to the June 13, 2017, testimony of Attorney General Sessions before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

6. President Donald J. Trump’s statement, communicated via Twitter on May 12, 2017 at 8:26 a.m.: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”.

7. Any system used by the White House to secretly record conversations between President Trump and Director Comey.

8. Any contemporaneous account of any meeting between President Trump and Director Comey.

While I agree that Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee should not use their positions to “voice Hillary Clinton’s long and growing list for why she lost the election,” I am confused how these eight points of inquiry relate to your criticism since none refer directly or indirectly to Clinton and all took place several months after the election.

More strangely, while falsely accusing Democrats of focusing on the election, you altered their resolution to do precisely that. You requested a second special counsel be appointed because: “the directive given to Special Counsel Robert Mueller is narrow in scope and many concerns arising out of the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath are not being investigated.”

While this contradiction is concerning, it is only one of several. You also justified your request because of the “seemingly unlimited focus of the special counsel’s investigation.” How can Special Counsel Mueller’s focus be both “narrow” and “unlimited”?

You also state In your letter to the Attorney General that: “we presume that the FBI’s investigation into Russian influence has been subsumed into Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.” You are responsible for overseeing the Justice Department; why would you presume anything instead of acquiring actual information?

You state that the FBI investigation has “produced no evidence of criminality, despite the fact that over a year has passed.” While literally true, the statement is peculiar since the FBI would not release any evidence until after it has completed its investigation and report. Do you not understand this most basic aspect of the investigative process?

Still worse, you accuse the Democrats on your Committee of “hypocrisy” and “political gamesmanship.” You characterize their original resolution of inquiry as “undue political influence,” even though it is the function of the House Judiciary Committee to make such inquiries.

Finally, after accusing “many Democrats and members of the Washington media” of creating “an unfortunate state of affairs,” you asked the Attorney General to assist you “in restoring public confidence in our nation’s justice system” and enabling the Justice Department and FBI to function “fully unhindered by politics.”

As if to achieve this goal, your “amended” resolution deleted all of the original eight topics and replaced them with these fourteen:

1. Then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch directing Mr. Comey to mislead the American people on the nature of the Clinton investigation;

2. The shadow cast over our system of justice concerning Secretary Clinton and her involvement in mishandling classified information;

3. FBI and DOJ’s investigative decisions related to former Secretary Clinton’s email investigation, including the propriety and consequence of immunity deals given to potential Clinton co-conspirators Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson, John Bentel and possibly others;

4. The apparent failure of DOJ to empanel a grand jury to investigate allegations of mishandling of classified information by Hillary Clinton and her associates;

5. The Department of State and its employees’ involvement in determining which communications of Secretary Clinton’s and her associates to turn over for public scrutiny;

6. WikiLeaks disclosures concerning the Clinton Foundation and its potentially unlawful international dealings;

7. Connections between the Clinton campaign, or the Clinton Foundation, and foreign entities, including those from Russia and Ukraine;

8. Mr. Comey’s knowledge of the purchase of Uranium One by the company Rosatom, whether the approval of the sale was connected to any donations made to the Clinton Foundation, and what role Secretary Clinton played in the approval of that sale that had national security ramifications;

9. Disclosures arising from unlawful access to the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) computer systems, including inappropriate collusion between the DNC and the Clinton campaign to undermine Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign;

10. Post-election accusations by the President that he was wiretapped by the previous Administration, and whether Mr. Comey and Ms. Lynch had any knowledge of efforts made by any federal agency to unlawfully monitor communications of then-candidate Trump or his associates;

11. elected leaks of classified information related to the unmasking of U.S. person identities incidentally collected upon by the intelligence community, including an assessment of whether anyone in the Obama Administration, including Mr. Comey, Ms. Lynch, Ms. Susan Rice, Ms. Samantha Power, or others, had any knowledge about the “unmasking” of individuals on then candidate-Trump’s campaign team, transition team, or both;

12. Admitted leaks by Mr. Comey to Columbia University law professor, Daniel Richman, regarding conversations between Mr. Comey and President Trump, how the leaked information was purposefully released to lead to the appointment of a special counsel, and whether any classified information was included in the now infamous “Comey memos”;

13. Mr. Comey’s and the FBI’s apparent reliance on “Fusion GPS” in its investigation of the Trump campaign, including the company’s creation of a “dossier” of information about Mr. Trump, that dossier’s commission and dissemination in the months before and after the 2016 election, whether the FBI paid anyone connected to the dossier, and the intelligence sources of Fusion GPS or any person or company working for Fusion GPS and its affiliates; and

14. Any and all potential leaks originated by Mr. Comey and provide to author Michael Schmidt dating back to 1993.

How can you accuse your Democratic colleagues of “political gamesmanship” and then approve this list? Had you retained the original eight topics and then added these additional fourteen, you could at least claim to be seeking political balance. Instead you have accused your colleagues of hypocrisy and then exceeded them with a greater display of your own hypocrisy.

While I have been frustrated by many of your past actions and inaction, I have not seen you behave ridiculously before. Your behavior on Thursday was undignified. You will look back at this with embarrassment.



Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an associate professor at W&L University, comics editor of Shenandoah, and series editor of Bloomsbury Critical Guides in Comics Studies. He has published two novels: School for Tricksters (SMU 2011) and Pretend I’m Not Here (HarperCollins 2002); and six books of scholarship: On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa 2015), Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury 2017), Superhero Thought Experiments (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Iowa 2019), Revising Fiction, Fact, and Faith (with Nathaniel Goldberg, Routledge 2020), Creating Comics (with Leigh Ann Beavers, Bloomsbury 2021), and The Comics Form (Bloomsbury forthcoming). His visual work appears in Ilanot Review, North American Review, Aquifer, and other journals.

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