05:39 GMT +323 October 2018
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    FBI Director James Comey looks on during the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian actions during the 2016 election campaign on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (File)

    James Comey Calls for Leaders to Protect Justice Department, FBI (From Trump)

    © AFP 2018 / Nicholas Kamm
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    Former FBI Director James Comey has called for Washington leaders to defend the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI, calling them “essential to our liberty.” His tweet comes one day after US President Donald Trump, who fired Comey from the FBI in May, referred to the Justice Department as part of the “deep state.”

    "Where are the voices of all the leaders who know an independent Department of Justice and FBI are essential to our liberty? 'You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say.' — Martin Luther," Comey tweeted on Wednesday morning.

    ​The tweet seems to be a response to Trump's latest public criticism of the Justice Department, urging them to "act" against Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, including during the latter's tenure as secretary of state. Abedin has been under scrutiny recently after classified State Department files were discovered on the laptop of her ex-husband, former representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY).

    In a tweet, Trump alleged that Abedin "has been accused of disregarding basic security protocols" and had "put classified passwords into the hands of foreign agents."

    ​This is the second time Trump has referred to the Justice Department as a "deep state" apparatus, implying that the DOJ is operating independently and not responding to his leadership as chief executive.

    In November, Trump claimed that the House of Representatives was investigating whether the DOJ and FBI should be held in contempt of court "for withholding key documents and an FBI witness which could shed light on surveillance of associates of Donald Trump." No, I don't know why he referred to himself in the third person here.

    ​Trump has taken a negative stance toward the DOJ in recent tweets, implying that the department is deliberately ignoring crimes by Clinton. Comey has also come under fire from Trump in recent months, saying, among other accusations, that he had left the reputation of the bureau "in tatters."

    The above tweets refer to the FBI's 2015 and 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. In July 2016, Comey testified that the FBI recommends no charges be filed against Clinton, as her behavior was "extremely careless" but not criminal.

    In May 2017, Trump fired Comey, publicly stating that it was due to dissatisfaction with Comey's performance. The New York Times reported shortly after the dismissal that Trump fired Comey for focusing too much on the probe into alleged Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election and not enough on leaks of classified information from executive branch officials to the press.

    "FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony…" Trump tweeted on May 2, a week before he fired Comey.

    ​The Times also reported that Comey privately testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that Trump had asked for him to pledge loyalty in January 2017 — which Comey refused to do. Comey also testified that Trump pressured him in February to end the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

    Trump has denied both claims and referred to Comey as a "leaker" for revealing their private, off-the-record conversations.

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    Tags:
    deep state, New York Times, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), US Department of Justice, Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, James Comey
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