On 29 August, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz released the 83-page report on ex-FBI director James Comey's handling of memos concerning his interactions with President Donald Trump.
As it turned out, Comey gave one of the documents to his friend, who, in turn, leaked it to a New York Times reporter. Contrary to the expectations of some Republican lawmakers and conservative pundits, the investigation found "no evidence that Comey or his attorneys released any of the classified information contained in any of the memos to members of the media". Still, the report highlighted that Comey did violate DOJ and FBI policies and set a "dangerous example for the over 35,000 current FBI employees".
DOJ IG "found no evidence that Comey or his attorneys released any of the classified information contained in any of the memos to members of the media." I don’t need a public apology from those who defamed me, but a quick message with a “sorry we lied about you” would be nice.— James Comey (@Comey) 29 августа 2019 г.
Commenting on the release, the ex-FBI director tweeted: "I don’t need a public apology from those who defamed me, but a quick message with a 'sorry we lied about you' would be nice."
And to all those who’ve spent two years talking about me “going to jail” or being a “liar and a leaker”—ask yourselves why you still trust people who gave you bad info for so long, including the president.— James Comey (@Comey) 29 августа 2019 г.
Nevertheless, on 1 September Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz told Fox News that he expects more damning revelations to come about the former FBI chief. Wall Street analyst and investigative journalist Charles Ortel has explained what Biggs actually meant.
Sputnik: Why do the Republicans believe they will be able to not let Comey off the hook?
Charles Ortel: Veteran investigative reporters see the latest Horowitz report on Comey differently. John Solomon correctly explains in his op-ed for The Hill, providing links to back-up evidence, that Comey did, in fact, leak classified material. American conservative columnist Byron York agrees with Solomon and writer and media pundit Sharyl Attkisson agrees with Solomon and with York.
.@TomFitton: "Comey took @realDonaldTrump’s FBI files, kept them in his home & it included classified info. He was lying about whether he had that info & leaked some of that info to the NY Times to get Mueller appointed."— Judicial Watch 🔎 (@JudicialWatch) 4 сентября 2019 г.
WATCH MORE HERE: https://t.co/Y71hd5FBC2 pic.twitter.com/SS5lhy2dA2
When Republicans are targeted, the standard that the mainstream press often uses to judge behaviour is not laws or regulations alone, but whether the person was engaged in conduct that gave an “appearance of impropriety”. Comey’s behaviour going well back into his career (he led a “prosecution” starting in 2001 that failed to uncover obvious Clinton Foundation crimes and had failed upwards ever since, strangely) deserves close re-examination. Who are Comey’s sponsors and advocates, and what are they trying to protect?
Comey and the FBI were, in fact, investigating candidate Donald Trump in 2016 and afterwards - such an unprecedented investigation must have been briefed above Comey’s level, likely to Barack Obama personally.
When and if the full story is written, we are likely to discover that federal resources (money and government employees) intervened not only in the 2015 and 2016 election cycles, but may have done so in earlier US elections, as well as in foreign ones. That seems to be the larger picture which is getting filled in now, after much delay and obstruction.
Sputnik: It is expected that IG Horowitz' report on alleged FISA abuse by the FBI and DOJ will be published in September. In addition, Attorney General William Barr is going to release classified documents pertaining to the FBI’s investigation into President Trump and Russia. What role did Comey play in issuing FISA warrants against Trump aides and how could these new exposures affect him and his associates? Who else is likely to come under fire? Why does the former FBI boss nevertheless remain calm and continue to lash out at Trump and his opponents on Twitter?
Charles Ortel: With regard to the forthcoming FISA report, questions include who signed requests for FISA warrants, what representations were made to the FISA court concerning the alleged crimes of the targets, and who, if anyone, objected to the FISA warrant requests?
As FBI Director, Comey certainly had input into the FISA warrant requests – soon we shall see what he may have sworn, under oath, or known about. It is difficult to explain his behaviour while as FBI director and afterwards – he comments, tweets and acts as if his behaviour is somehow insulated from criminal prosecution. Unless, somehow, he obtained a presidential pardon from Barack Obama (these are supposed to be made public, and no such pardon has yet emerged), Comey seems to be compounding his exposures for criminal prosecution.
Sputnik: It is still remains unclear when US Attorney John Durham will finish his inquiry into the Bureau’s handling of the Trump investigation and the so-called spygate. When could we expect the release of Durham's conclusions, in your opinion? Why did Barr decide to publish de-classified documents first?
Charles Ortel: The mainstream media has tried to burnish a storyline that Barack Obama’s presidency was “scandal free”, when the opposite seems to be the case.
As a guess, Durham and his staff have been following trails of evidence wherever these may lead, including to persons who previously held high positions in our federal government, even to persons currently serving in such positions.
In the hyper-partisan atmosphere inside the United States, prosecutors are likely to be especially careful bringing cases against criminal targets with strong political connections. To win these cases at trial, they must have overwhelming evidence and logic proving their arguments. This means they must take extra care and time to do their work.
One trick that government officials use (with ties to both political parties) is to over-classify or needlessly classify documents that may embarrass these same officials, and others in higher positions of power.
Barr would be wise to let the American public see as much as possible of the file that can be released concerning the origins of the investigations into Donald Trump and his associates, and subsequent obstruction of Congressional and other investigations into “Spygate” and related matters.
One wrinkle is that classified documents may deal with efforts by foreign governments, particularly the United Kingdom, to interfere in the 2015/6 US election cycle. Perhaps the Trump administration will wish to wait until after the forthcoming Brexit deadline on 31 October 2019 to release the files in question.
The American (and international) public has been patient but grows less so by the day – one hopes that Durham will soon pursue indictments against deserving criminal targets, and that sunlight will shine brightly on the truth concerning what actually happened in the 2015/6 election cycle and afterwards.
President Trump and his team have every right and indeed the solemn duty to obstruct injustices that do seem to have occurred and then to bring all malefactors to justice so that proper precedents are rigidly set for posterity.
No American, not even a once-popular president or presidential candidate stand above our laws.
The views and opinions expressed by the speaker and contributor do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.