Former FBI Director James Comey has just about run out of allies.
A Democratic appointee, Comey was lauded by the left when he hastily and wrongfully cleared Hillary Clinton of wrongdoing in the email scandal.
He was tolerated by Republicans after he reopened the investigation into Clinton just over a week before Election Day in November.
But now nobody seems to like him, which leaves him with little political cover for what could be felonious acts on his part.
Comey admitted to leaking his notes to a Columbia professor. His actions were certainly unethical, but some argue they were illegal.
From The Washington Examiner:
Fired FBI Director James Comey raised serious questions when he testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he was the source of leaked memos to the New York Times.
“My judgment was I needed to get [the memos] out into the public square,” Comey said. “So, I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons, but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”
The issue of whether doing so actually makes Comey a “leaker” of government information is not a black and white one.
Some have accused Comey, who gave the information as a private citizen, of violating U.S. Code 793 of the Espionage Act.
According to ethicist Kelly McBride, vice president at the Poynter Institute, the word leak “doesn’t have a proper definition.” She told the Washington Examiner the Espionage Act doesn’t apply to leaking information to journalists.
“As an ethicist, it’s not a clear violation of the law that says you can’t leak confidential information, because it wasn’t declared confidential,” McBride explains.
And, should the Department of Justice under Attorney General Jeff Sessions decide to go after Comey?
“It would be a hell of a stretch,” McBride said, noting the information in the memo was neither confidential or classified.
However, there may be a legal footing to stand on.
According to the FBI’s employment agreement, Comey could be in both civil and criminal jeopardy if he did not get written authorization to release his personal notes from conversations with the president.
According to the two-page agreement, last revised in 2015 under Comey, the former FBI head could have violated numerous provisions.
“All information acquired by me in connection with my official duties with the FBI and all official material to which I have access remain the property of the United States of America. I will surrender upon demand by the FBI, or upon my separation from the FBI, all materials containing FBI information in my possession,” reads paragraph two.
This means if Comey had followed FBI protocol, he would have had to surrender the information he leaked when he left the agency.
Paragraph 3 states FBI employees are prohibited from releasing “any information acquired by virtue of my official employment” to any “unauthorized recipient without prior official written authorization by the FBI.”
Whether or not leaking the information was legal, the act speaks to Comey’s narcissism and lack of character. However, that may not be the most damaging admission during Comey’s testimony.
He may have committed perjury.
In his written testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, James Comey made a point of saying that he wrote memoranda documenting all of his conversations with Donald Trump, something he didn’t feel compelled to do regarding his (very few) conversations with Barack Obama. In his appearance before the committee, Comey broadened this claim to include President George W. Bush, under whom he served as Deputy Attorney General. The reason, he explained, was that Trump was the only one of the three presidents whom he considered untrustworthy.
But Comey’s Senate testimony was untruthful. He told the committee that he didn’t document his important meeting with President Bush, but only “sent a quick email to my staff to let them know there was something going on.” Gellman reproduces that email in Angler. He got it from one of the recipients. Written immediately after the meeting, this is what it said:
‘The president just took me into his private office for a 15 minute one on one talk. Told him he was being misled and poorly served. We had a very full and frank exchange. Don’t know that either of us can see a way out. He promised he would shut down 5/6 if Congress didn’t fix FISA. Told him Mueller was about to resign. He just pulled Bob into his office.’
Comey’s assertion that this “quick email” just told his staff “there was something going on” was false. The email was substantive: it documented Comey’s account of the conversation he had with the president. Comey didn’t wait five minutes to create a record of what he said to the president, and what the president said to him.
More important, he also made an extensive report on the conversation. Gellman’s book is footnoted.
In short, Comey’s statement to the Senate Intelligence Committee that “I didn’t feel, with President Bush, the need to document it in that way” was false. He did document his story about his meeting with President Bush, in great detail, in a “report” that was turned into “unclassified notes.”
James Comey says there is a pattern to his dealings with presidents: he is an honest man who only needed to create memos to document his conversations with Donald Trump, because Trump is untruthful. But that isn’t the real pattern. The real pattern is that Comey is a snake in the grass who creates tendentious, self-serving memos that can later be used to cover his own rear end or to discredit presidents, but only if they are Republicans.
In 2004, Comey left a 1-on-1 with Bush and sent time-stamped notes from the hallway outside the Sit Room. There will be more. From ‘Angler’: pic.twitter.com/y76CctRsIZ
— Barton Gellman (@bartongellman) May 17, 2017
So that’s it: Comey, who testified under oath that he “didn’t feel, with President Bush, the need to document it in that way,” told Gellman that he “sent time-stamped notes from the hallway outside the Sit Room.” What a liar.
That seems like a pretty clear case of lying under oath. Comey has already twice had his testimony corrected, once when characterizing the number of classified emails Huma Abedin had sent, and again when incorrectly stating he hadn’t been made aware of Jeff Sessions’ decision to recuse himself.
It will be interesting to see how Comey’s latest misstep will be cleaned up. With allies dwindling, he may not have a reliable shield.