The most stunning thing in James Comey’s testimony to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence was what he said about special prosecutors, also called special counsels.
“After former President Clinton met on the plane with the attorney general, I considered whether I should call for the appointment of a special counsel and decided that would be an unfair thing to do because I knew there was no case there,” Comey testified, speaking of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. “And calling for the appointment of a special counsel would be brutally unfair because it would send the message, ‘Uh-huh, there’s something here.’ ”
Sen. John Cornyn, who was questioning the former FBI director, asked, “If a special counsel had been appointed, they could have made that determination there was nothing there and declined to pursue it, right?”
“Sure,” Comey answered, “but it would have been many months later or a year later.”
Compare that to what he told Sen. Susan Collins at a different point in the hearing, when she asked, “Did you show copies of your memos to anyone outside the Department of Justice?”
“Yes,” Comey testified. “The president tweeted on Friday after I got fired that I better hope there’s not tapes. I woke up in the middle of the night on Monday night because it didn’t dawn on me originally, that there might be corroboration for our conversation. There might be a tape. My judgment was, I need to get that out into the public square. I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. Didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons. I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”
Let’s go over that again.
Comey wanted to prevent the appointment of a special counsel for Hillary Clinton, who was the subject of an FBI investigation, but he wanted to “prompt” the appointment of a special counsel for President Trump, who was not the subject of an FBI investigation.
He understood that the appointment of a special counsel “would send the message, ‘Uh-huh, there’s something here’” and that it would be “many months later or a year later” before the special counsel would announce that, in fact, “there was no case there.”
Here’s one: Is President Trump alleged to have done anything illegal or is this investigation just war, by any means necessary, against someone who has put a lot of swamp creatures out of power and out of work?
Comey testified that while he was FBI director, Trump was not under investigation by the FBI — not in a criminal investigation, and not in a counter-intelligence investigation, which, in Comey’s words, “tend to be centered on individuals the FBI suspects to be witting or unwitting agents” or “covertly acting as an agent” of a hostile foreign nation, or “targeted for recruitment.”
In the FBI’s judgment, Trump was none of those.
Comey revealed to Congress in March that the bureau was investigating “possible coordination between Russia and the Trump campaign,” yet he flatly refused to tell the public, until his testimony on Thursday, that Trump wasn’t under investigation.
Comey testified that after he was fired, he orchestrated a selective leak in order to prompt a lengthy special counsel investigation of the president, knowing full well that the FBI had found no reason to place the president under investigation.
That is genuinely deplorable.