Here’s the hon­est state­ment FBI’s Comey won’t make

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION - Fol­low Dana Milbank on Twit­ter, @Milbank.

FBI chief James Comey, un­til re­cently an ad­her­ent of the view that trans­parency is the best pol­icy, has been hid­den from pub­lic view since Fri­day, when he threw the na­tion and the elec­tion into chaos by re­open­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Hil­lary Clin­ton’s emails. His vague let­ter to Congress ad­mit­ted he didn’t know “whether or not this [new] ma­te­rial may be sig­nif­i­cant.”

Since Comey, in his re­fusal to ex­plain him­self, ap­par­ently no longer be­lieves in trans­parency, he leaves it to our imag­i­na­tion to won­der what he thinks. So let’s take him up on this. Let’s imag­ine what a fully trans­par­ent Comey might say about the mess he made: What I would like to do to­day is tell you three things: what we did, why we did it and what we found. The an­swers: “We screwed up,” “I was try­ing to cover my back­side” and “Darned if I know.” Al­low me to elab­o­rate.

Just five days ago, I was a pub­lic ser­vant of un­ques­tioned in­tegrity. The first para­graph of my obituary was go­ing to be about that time I went to John Ashcroft’s ho­tel room and de­fended the Con­sti­tu­tion from White House coun­sel Al­berto Gon­za­les, who wanted to make tor­ture le­gal.

Yes, Repub­li­cans and con­ser­va­tives were fu­ri­ous with my rec­om­men­da­tion not to pros­e­cute Clin­ton, but no­body ex­cept the real Looney Tunes around Trump ques­tioned my in­tegrity. Now, peo­ple on both sides are call­ing me a hack.

It’s not the Democrats’ howl­ing that both­ers me. Harry Reid thinks I broke the Hatch Act, but he’s al­ways pop­ping off. He said Mitt Rom­ney didn’t pay taxes and Trump is fat. And ev­ery­body knows Rom­ney paid taxes.

But I thought my fel­low Repub­li­cans would ap­pre­ci­ate a makeup call re­ward­ing months of bad­ger­ing the ref. In­stead I get Beng­hazi Jim Jor­dan, the Repub­li­can con­gress­man from Ohio and hon­orary chair­man of the Hil­lary-hater cau­cus, say­ing, “This was prob­a­bly not the right thing for Comey to do.”

Thanks, buddy. Sim­i­lar stuff from Larry Thomp­son, Ge­orge Ter­williger, Michael Mukasey — even Karl Rove, per Fox News’s Bill Hem­mer. And that loud­mouth Joe Walsh says I was “wrong” and “un­fair to Hil­lary.” Fox’s Judge Jea­nine Pirro thinks what I did “dis­graces and politi­cizes” the FBI and vi­o­lates “the most fun­da­men­tal rules of fair­ness and im­par­tial­ity.” And she’s for Trump!

But this re­ally gets me: Gon­za­les is us­ing this to take his re­venge for that night in the hos­pi­tal. Mr. Tor­ture thinks I made an “er­ror in judg­ment” and he’s “some­what per­plexed about what the di­rec­tor was try­ing to ac­com­plish here.”

Well, in the in­ter­est of trans­parency, let me tell him — and you. Since July, I had been get­ting a lot of grief from FBI agents who thought I went too easy on Clin­ton, and agents in the New York of­fice were near­ing mutiny. It was get­ting harder to keep them in line.

Then, last week, they jammed me. They sat on the new in­for­ma­tion for weeks, then dumped it on me 12 days be­fore the elec­tion.

So I made a snap de­ci­sion: I de­cided to pro­tect my­self. If Repub­li­cans in Congress found out I with­held this in­for­ma­tion be­fore the elec­tion, I’d be im­peached within hours. Heck, they tried to im­peach the IRS com­mis­sioner for look­ing at them cross­wise.

What is on Weiner’s lap­top? Beats me.

Are the emails just du­pli­cates of ones we al­ready have? Maybe.

Is there new ev­i­dence of mis­han­dled clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion? No clue.

Why let this play out in the press with anony­mous sources? Be­cause I’m freak­ing out.

Why go pub­lic with this but say noth­ing about the Rus­sians and Trump? Next ques­tion.

In full disclosure, I think I botched this one.

Dana Milbank Colum­nist

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.