FBI Director Comey should admit his error and resign
Sorry, but I’ve seen this movie before and I know how it ends. There will never be a criminal prosecution of Hillary Clinton for two basic reasons: First, she’s a cautious, intelligent politician who doesn’t take reckless chances. How many failed “investigations” before Republicans get that? Second, bogus charges against prominent individuals with first-rate attorneys endanger the prosecution more than the defense. You think the formerly eminent Kenneth Starr fled to Waco, Texas because he was insufficiently partisan? His ace prosecutors lost every Whitewater trial except the one where they convicted his own star witness, poor, sick Jim McDougal. But let’s go back to the starting place, October 1992, because what happened then has a direct bearing on today’s headlines.
Based upon some inept, not particularly honest articles in the New York Times, an unqualified partisan in the Treasury Department -- she later admitted selling “Presidential Bitch” coffee mugs from her government office -- cobbled together criminal referrals naming just about every prominent Democrat in Arkansas as a suspect in McDougal’s financial shenanigans.
They included Bill and Hillary Clinton, who the evidence would show -- and Kenneth Starr’s prosecutors eventually argued in open court -- had been swindled and lied to in McDougal’s vain attempt to keep his foundering savings and loan, Madison Guaranty, from going under.
As the 1992 presidential election grew closer, the partisan L. Jean Lewis began to pressure the Little Rock FBI office and U.S. Attorney Charles “Chuck” Banks to investigate the Clintons. Banks was a lifelong Republican who’d been nominated to a federal judgeship by President Bush. Unless the president was re-elected, Banks would lose two good jobs.
Having previously prosecuted McDougal, Banks and his staff found Lewis’ work both factually deficient and politically motivated. Soon, pressure began to come from FBI headquarters in Washington. Bush administration Attorney General William Barr demanded action.
So the Republican prosecutor wrote a letter to the Department of Justice dated Oct. 16, 1992. Here is what it said:
“(T)he insistence of urgency in this case appears to suggest an intentional or unintentional attempt to intervene into the political process of the upcoming presidential election. You and I know in investigations of this type, the first steps such as issuance of grand jury subpoenas for records will lead to media and public inquiries about matters that are subject to absolute privacy. Even media questions ... all too often publicly purport to ‘legitimize what can’t be proven.’
“For me personally to participate in (such an) investigation ... amounts to prosecutorial misconduct and violates the most basic fundamental rule of Department of Justice policy. I cannot be a party to such actions.”
Has Comey been unaware of Donald J. Trump barnstorming around the country promising to put “Crooked Hillary” in prison while his supporters chant “Lock her up”?
Psychologists call it projection: The only way to rationalize supporting a moral cripple like Trump is to convince yourself his opponent is worse.
Such antics risk a descent into the kind of society where the only real police are the Secret Police, and the judiciary exists to rationalize brutality. A society like Vladimir Putin’s Russia, for example, where the bureaucracy is filled with useful drones who have bartered their honor for comfortable positions.
Comey could undo some of the terrible harm he’s done to American democracy if he’d simply admit error and resign.
Alas, I just don’t think it’s in him.