Jim Comey is so adept at gaslighting that when you watch him being interviewed, he comes across as so plausible, you wonder if it’s you who has the inadequate grasp of reality.
But on Sunday, Fox News anchor Chris Wallace dragged the former FBI director into the real world by juxtaposing clips of his dishonest defense of the FBI’s doomed investigation of Donald Trump’s campaign alongside Inspector General Michael Horowitz’s recitation of the facts to Congress.
The problem for Comey is the facts damn him.
Oh, yes, he said yesterday, “I was wrong” and Horowitz was right.
But he admitted only to being “overconfident” in FBI procedures.
He tried to convince us it was just “sloppiness” when the FBI misled the court to spy on the Trump campaign using information it knew was false.
No one, not even scrupulously impartial Horowitz, believes the deception in the FBI’s investigation of the Trump campaign is mere accidental untidiness.
But Comey was at his most delusional defending the Steele Dossier, a farrago of rumor and fantasy that “played a central and essential role” in the FBI’s applications for warrants to spy on the campaign, according to Horowitz.
Oh, no, said Comey, it was part of a “broader mosaic of facts.”
But, said Wallace, the dossier is proven to be “bunk.”
Oh, no, said Comey. The FBI and Horowitz “didn’t conclude the reporting from Steele was bunk.” There were just “significant questions about the reliability of some of the sub-source reporting.”
In other words, it was bunk.
It is despicable for the former FBI boss to try breath life back into the Steele Dossier corpse which has done so much harm, but there was worse to come, when Comey tried to airbrush over a doctored e-mail Horowitz uncovered.
FBI lawyer Kevin Clinesmith altered the e-mail to reverse its meaning and then used it to bolster another surveillance warrant application against Carter Page, Horowitz found.
Comey airily described it as “this business with the lawyer changing some e-mail to a partner on the team.”
He did admit Page was “treated unfairly,” but he was more concerned about the FBI’s reputation. Comey wants us to believe that “the American people, especially [Fox] viewers … were given false information about the FBI.”
“I hope people will stare at that and learn about what the FBI is like, human and flawed, but deeply committed to trying to do the right thing,” he said.
This is how Comey sees himself, too, as a man of integrity who only ever sought to do the right thing.
But his idea of the right thing was to save the American people from themselves. In other words, to protect America from Donald Trump, a man he viewed as “fundamentally dishonest,” as he told Horowitz in a previous report, when he tried to justify leaking details of a private conversation with the president to the New York Times, via a friend.
Comey’s delusions of grandeur drove him into “noble cause” corruption, which is corruption, nonetheless, and just as damaging.
He and his band of handpicked agents had convinced themselves Trump was a danger to the country and probably a Russian agent.
They cherry-picked evidence that confirmed their assumptions and discarded evidence that refuted it. It was a classic case of confirmation bias, which should have no place in law enforcement. It is how innocent people go to jail.
Innocent men like Richard Jewell, the security guard who saved lives in the Olympic Games bombing in Atlanta in 1996, yet was accused by the FBI of having planted the bomb.
Clint Eastwood’s brilliant new movie “Richard Jewell” portrays a power-crazy FBI suffering a bad case of confirmation bias, happy to frame a nobody like Jewell because they are under pressure to solve a high-profile crime.
They leak his name to the media, which rips him apart.
The righteous anger Eastwood employs against the FBI and the media could not be more aligned to the zeitgeist.
Of course, now Eastwood is under attack as a Trump apologist. He has been excoriated for his portrayal of a female reporter flirting with an FBI agent to extract Jewell’s name to put on the front page three days after the bombing.
The reporter, Kathy Scruggs, has since died of a prescription drugs overdose, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which once had no qualms about destroying Jewell’s good name, now is threatening legal action against Warner Bros.
How precious is the media at any whiff of criticism, and how quick to divert attention from its own failings.
Yet Eastwood has presented a good case for soul-searching by the Fourth Estate.
As Jewell’s lawyer Watson Bryant declares at the climax of the movie, his client’s accusers were “two of the most powerful forces in the world, the United States government and the media.”
Those two powerful forces were in cahoots in the Jewell case, just as they were in the Carter Page case.
Leaks to the media were used to put pressure on targets and the stories fed back into the FBI investigation in a deceptive feedback loop.
Like Jewell, Page was an unlovely oddball who naively trusted the FBI. Like Jewell, Page had his life ruined by an agency gone rogue.
Where is the accountability from the media when information fed by law enforcement ends up being false? Eastwood is pricking our conscience at the right time.
In a sense we all are Richard Jewell, watching as our heroes turn out to be agents of wrongdoing.
Pols boost NY’s crime
The murder of Barnard freshman Tessa Majors in Morningside Park just confirms a growing air of menace in this city that defies official crime statistics.
It is predictably the result of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s anti-cop attitude and will be only exacerbated by the soft-on-crime moves of the state Legislature, due to go into effect on Jan. 1.
New Yorkers who may not remember how bad crime was in the city in the 1980s and 1990s, before the Giuliani era, seem oblivious to the warning signs.
The extent to which we have become blasé about abnormal behavior was driven home last week by a comment to this newspaper from an acquaintance of the 13-year-old boy who was arrested for Major’s murder last week.
“He just hangs out, he smokes weed, just a normal person in my eyes.”
No, it’s not normal for a 13-year-old to smoke weed, any more than it’s normal for a 13-year-old to be charged with murder.
When law and order breaks down, it happens all at once.
You rule, Britannia!
Bravo Britain for rejecting socialism and the anti-Semitic, terrorist-sympathizing Marxist Jeremy Corbyn.
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, the man most to thank for rescuing Britain, told Sky News on election night that he is “delighted that, despite the temptations of some young people to think socialism is attractive because they’ve never actually lived under it, tonight has delivered a death blow to socialism in our country for some decades to come.”
British Labour’s resounding defeat in its heartland has lessons for the Democrats in 2020, if they only have the wits to realize it.