Colson: Is James Comey a Trump mole?
Hit and Run
Tired as I am of politics, I was thinking about writing about something closer to home this week, perhaps the news that Aspen and the upper-valley governments are once again looking seriously at the idea of bringing passenger-rail service back to the valley, or musing happily on the return of Chekhov’s play “Uncle Vanya” to the Aspen stage thanks to local impresario Kent Reed.
But, no, I just couldn’t do it, not while Donald Trump continues to threaten the very fabric of our political system.
There’s only a week to go before we learn whether we’ve given over rule of our country to a paranoid, ruthlessly untruthful demagogue, bigot, woman-hating, spoiled rich kid whose real goal seems to be to set himself up as head of a new Fox-type cable television empire.
That would be Trump, for those of you who have been hiding under a rock for the past year and a half.
But for now, regardless of what his deeper plans are, The Donald is still running for the U.S. presidency.
And last week James Comey, the man selected by President Barack Obama as head of the FBI, seemed to hand Trump a new bludgeon with which to hammer Hillary Clinton and the thinking members of the U.S. electorate — a letter that sets out, in the vaguest possible terms, the possibility that the FBI’s probe into Clinton’s private email server has not ended but has found new indications of improper activity.
Now, I’ve been reading as much as possible about Comey’s letter, and was amazed to learn that a former Bush administration official, an attorney who worked in the governmental ethics office (wait a minute, isn’t that a dichotomy in terms — Bush and ethics?) has lodged a complaint against Comey based on a belief that the FBI violated the Hatch Act by releasing the Comey letter.
The Hatch Act, to explain, prohibits federal officials from using their positions to influence an ongoing election.
Which is precisely what Comey has done, whether he meant to or not. Though it’s hard to imagine that he had no idea that the release of this letter would ignite Trump into a renewed frenzy of attacks regarding an issue that we all thought was decided months ago — Clinton’s email troubles, that is.
No, for whatever reasons it was done, I cannot view Comey’s move as anything but a calculated one.
As soon as I heard about it (I was on vacation, by the way, in a relatively remote part of a Caribbean island, and thus was somewhat out of the mainstream of daily news), the first thought I had was that Comey is a Trump mole in the FBI, who somehow escaped the net of investigators who vet presidential nominees for high posts.
My next thought, though, was that if Trump managed to insert Comey into the Obama administration, I need to re-evaluate my views about his political abilities.
I mean, Comey is a Republican and a former corporate hack (as well as having held several legal-adviser type jobs at the state and federal level), so it’s probably not in his DNA to be friendly to Democrats.
When Obama nominated him for the FBI job back in 2013, I figured it was nothing more than expedient — a way to win approval from a Republican-controlled Congress for a critical job in a year when any Democrat nominated for the post might have been doomed to the same fate visited upon Obama’s recent Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. The U.S. Senate has refused to even hold hearings on Garland’s nomination, a seeming violation of that body’s constitutional mandate.
Anyway, Comey had some credibility with Democrats after Comey prevented Bush-era Attorney General John Ashcroft from being bamboozled into reauthorizing the infamous NSA data-gathering program (Ashcroft was hospitalized and disoriented at the time, and Bush administration operatives tried to sneak the reauthorization past him).
But this back-stabbing attack on Clinton is something new.
It is not, for one thing, a clear-cut case of “we found these damaging emails and we’re telling Congress about them.”
No, Comey (as of this moment on Monday) apparently had not even seen the emails in question when he wrote the letter.
So why did he write it, in contravention to advice from his own staff, who felt it was premature, at best?
Well, he might simply be afraid of Trump, whose treatment of the FBI earlier this year was explosively derisive after Comey declined to prosecute Clinton for the email mess.
And it may be that he is trying to hedge his bets (that’s a pun, by the way — Comey was a hedge-fund manager prior to being hired for the FBI job) yet again, possibly based on a belief that Clinton was headed toward victory next Tuesday, at least as things looked a few days ago.
If that were to happen, Comey might be thinking, he’d be shoved out of the Justice Department and be looking for a job in a much-depressed Republican world. So maybe he’s just feathering a possible future nest with this act.
But the fact is, as even some Republicans will admit, this latest move of Comey’s smacks too loudly of politics, and that is against the law.
Of course, Trump already has shown he has little regard for the rule of law, so it could be that Comey is actually hoping his little game could give The Donald the election and keep Comey in his comfortable Justice Department office.
Any way you look at it, this stinks, and I hope Comey gets the comeuppance he deserves.
I also can only hope that, come next Tuesday, we learn that Comey’s ploy was in vain.
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In this week’s Writing Switch column, Ben and Sean throw out some basketball-related hypotheticals involving things everyone can appreciate: booze, gambling and partying like an A-lister.