Comey’s out­ra­geous ac­tion skews the elec­tion

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - OPINION -

FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey’s let­ter no­ti­fy­ing Repub­li­can leaders that there might — just might — be more Hil­lary Clin­ton emails to in­ves­ti­gate 11 days be­fore the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion was un­pro­fes­sional, ir­re­spon­si­ble and pos­si­bly a vi­o­la­tion of fed­eral ethics laws.

What­ever the man was think­ing, what­ever his mo­ti­va­tion, he has destroyed his own cred­i­bil­ity and the ap­pear­ance if not the re­al­ity of FBI neu­tral­ity in pol­i­tics. Af­ter this awk­ward, in­scrutable in­tru­sion into a pres­i­den­tial race, against the ad­vice of the Jus­tice Depart­ment, how can he con­tinue in of­fice?

He should not. Al­though if Don­ald Trump be­comes pres­i­dent thanks to this in­ter­ven­tion, you can bet he’ll name Comey the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover Di­rec­tor for Life.

The ques­tion now is what this does to the elec­tion less than a week away. Rev­e­la­tions about both can­di­dates flow fast and fu­ri­ous, but the polls are mov­ing away from Clin­ton and to­ward Trump.

On top of Comey’s in­scrutable no­ti­fi­ca­tion, we also have Wik­ileaks, the con­science-free pur­veyor of pri­vate emails, which is post­ing mes­sages that fed­eral of­fi­cials say were gath­ered by Rus­sian hack­ers ap­par­ently out to help Trump. The emails are em­bar­rass­ing for sure — but so are Trump’s sex­ist 3 a.m. Tweets, and he dis­closes them on pur­pose.

Now The New York Times and The Wash­ing­ton Post are delv­ing into Trump’s tax strate­gies, which are of du­bi­ous le­gal­ity — ap­par­ently im­ple­mented against le­gal ad­vice — and his false claims of phi­lan­thropy. This doesn’t seem to grab the na­tional psy­che like emails, but it should. Any­body who wants to see Clin­ton’s emails should be de­mand­ing to see Trump’s tax re­turns as well.

The odds are slim that new emails will change the FBI’s con­clu­sion that Clin­ton did not show in­tent to ex­pose se­cret in­for­ma­tion, which Comey said was the rea­son for not pros­e­cut­ing her. Trump’s tax prob­lems and new ac­cu­sa­tions from women are likely to out­last the email con­tro­versy, re­gard­less of who be­comes pres­i­dent. But that is cold com­fort less than a week be­fore the elec­tion.

There is no ques­tion who should be pres­i­dent. Trump’s moral compass, un­sta­ble de­meanor and dis­dain for Amer­i­can val­ues of ci­vil­ity and due process make him not only un­fit but dan­ger­ous. Clin­ton is em­i­nently qual­i­fied. She made stupid mis­takes and should have known bet­ter, but Trump’s li­a­bil­i­ties are de­lib­er­ate, and he’s proud of them.

The irony of the Comey disas­ter is that it goes back to a stupid mis­take by Bill Clin­ton and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch. It was his stroll across the tar­mac last sum­mer to visit her in her pri­vate plane, and her will­ing­ness to chat, that com­pro­mised her abil­ity to main­tain ju­ris­dic­tion over the email case. She del­e­gated the de­ci­sion on whether to pros­e­cute to Comey and the FBI, which is sup­posed to be the in­ves­tiga­tive arm.

Comey was not up to the task. The nation may pay the price.

The irony of the Comey disas­ter is that it goes back to a stupid mis­take by Bill Clin­ton and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch. It was his stroll across the tar­mac last sum­mer to visit her in her pri­vate plane, and her will­ing­ness to chat, that com­pro­mised her abil­ity to main­tain ju­ris­dic­tion over the email case. She del­e­gated the de­ci­sion on whether to pros­e­cute to Comey and the FBI, which is sup­posed to be the in­ves­tiga­tive arm.

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