Commentary: The biggest FBI ‘scandal’ is James Comey still has a job

Commentary: The biggest FBI ‘scandal’ is James Comey still has a job
FBI Director James Comey’s latest congressional appearance on Monday marks the fourth time he has found himself at the center of a Washington, D.C., controversy in the past year. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

FBI Director James Comey once again found himself sitting in a room full of angry congressmen and eager reporters on Monday, when he testified before the House Intelligence Committee about the agency’s investigation into the alleged Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.

Comey confirmed the FBI has been investigating potential links between President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.

The investigation “includes whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russian efforts,” said Comey, who also announced because much of the information involved is classified, he couldn’t “say more about whose conduct we are investigating.”

Comey’s latest congressional appearance marks the fourth time he has found himself at the center of a Washington, D.C., controversy in the past year. First, Comey seemingly laid out a case for why Hillary Clinton appears to have violated federal law when she hid/destroyed important information related to the Benghazi investigation, only to abruptly reverse course and announce the FBI would not recommend prosecution.

Comey’s second appearance occurred after Republicans demanded Comey appear before a congressional committee to explain his seemingly irrational decision not to prosecute Clinton.

Then, just 11 days before the November election, Comey announced the investigation into Clinton’s e-mail debacle had once again been reopened, thanks to yet another round of Anthony Weiner-related debauchery. This incredible announcement was followed up a week later by a statement from Comey declaring the FBI hadn’t found any new evidence.

Now, Comey is again injecting himself into the political fray, declaring at Monday’s hearings that rumors of an investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia are true, and saying that recent tweets made by Trump suggesting President Barack Obama had wiretapped Trump Tower during the election are seemingly unfounded.

“With respect to the president’s tweets about alleged wiretapping directed at him by the prior administration, I have no information that supports those tweets,” Comey said. “And we have looked carefully inside the FBI.”

For someone who keeps telling Americans repeatedly the FBI doesn’t “confirm the existence of ongoing investigations,” he sure seems to have a lot to say to the media and the public about ongoing investigations, especially those related to important, politics-driven topics.

The FBI must investigate any potential crimes, including Clinton’s email scandal and Trump’s potential ties to Russia, but the FBI does not have to continuously interject itself into the ugly, twisted world of politics. Under Comey’s leadership, that’s exactly what it has done.

Even if we assume Comey didn’t botch the Clinton email investigation — which is quite an assumption to make, especially considering how outraged so many investigators in the FBI were in the weeks and months following Comey’s announcement — why does the FBI director continue to comment on ongoing investigations? Why does he continue to feed red meat to wolves on both sides of the aisle in Congress?

It is a long-standing tradition in law enforcement and in the Justice Department to avoid talking about existing investigations. The reasons should be obvious to someone as experienced as Comey: Even the accusation of a crime is often accepted as proof of guilt by many in the public, and an absence of evidence is often interpreted as innocence.

To Comey, a master of carefully choosing words, it may sound in his own mind as though all that is being said is, “At this moment, there is no evidence of wiretapping at Trump Tower, but maybe it did happen. The FBI doesn’t know.”

But to the public, it sounds like, “Trump is a liar. No wiretapping happened.”

To Comey, saying Clinton won’t be charged but she did do things in violation of the law and was “extremely careless” sounds tough, but to the left-leaning media, it’s an exoneration.

To Comey, there’s nothing particularly damning about saying the FBI is looking into potential Russian involvement in the 2016 election. The FBI probably investigates these sorts of things all the time.

But to many in the public, it sounds as though Trump is guilty of treason.

The FBI, regardless of Comey’s intentions, has now become a blunt political tool that’s being wielded by some of the most dishonest, power-hungry people in the country: politicians. That’s not only foolish and reckless, it’s dangerous to liberty and undermines the credibility of a group of people that must appear credible in the minds of the people for justice to be served and for liberty to endure.

The American people deserve better from their FBI director, and if Comey proves to be incapable of exercising greater prudence, perhaps it’s time for someone more careful and considerate to take the helm at one of the world’s most powerful government agencies.

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