James Comey, the crack-up

Er­ratic be­hav­ior sug­gests he’s be­com­ing un­hinged

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY - By R. Em­mett Tyrrell Jr.

Ishall not beat around the bush. As read­ers of this col­umn per­haps sus­pect, I have ad­mired for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor James Comey for most of his pub­lic ca­reer, be­gin­ning in 2013. That he is a friend of for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor Robert Mueller makes me ad­mire him even more. Mr. Mueller is a man of in­tegrity and dis­cre­tion. Mr. Mueller would not be­friend a man of du­bi­ous char­ac­ter.

Yet from July 2016 o,n I have be­gun to won­der about Mr. Comey. His pub­lic ac­tions have be­come er­ratic, in­creas­ingly er­ratic. To the point that he is be­com­ing, to my mind, un­hinged. To come to the point, I do not be­lieve he has be­come du­plic­i­tous and I do not think he is a liar. It seems that I am one of the few in Mr. Comey’s cor­ner to be­lieve that he is un­rav­el­ing in plain pub­lic view. In a word, he has had some sort of break­down, and no one in of­fi­cial Wash­ing­ton dares to say it. It is a cu­ri­ous devel­op­ment. Al­ready there are Democrats claim­ing Pres­i­dent Trump is un­hinged. Yet time and again, Mr. Trump’s judg­ments have only been val­i­dated — not so with the for­mer di­rec­tor of the FBI.

In pub­lic, Di­rec­tor Comey ap­pears calm, preter­nat­u­rally calm. In fact, the other day when he ap­peared be­fore the Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee he seemed se­dated. He was lu­cid but spoke in a mono­tone. It was dis­con­cert­ing. I would not be sur­prised if he were on mar­i­juana — med­i­cal mar­i­juana, that is. Did he leave the Se­nate cham­ber only to burst into un­con­trol­lable sob­bing in pri­vate? Was he over­come by a sud­den ner­vous tick? Where did he go af­ter de­liv­er­ing his fa­mous and of­ten self-in­crim­i­nat­ing three-hour tes­ti­mony? Was he qui­etly taken away to his for­mer of­fices in the FBI build­ing, there to fall into parox­ysms of mad blink­ing, fran­tic clutch­ing of the hands, per­haps howls and gur­glings. It has hap­pened be­fore. You fol­low­ers of the arts will per­haps

re­mem­ber the sad down­fall of Com­mis­sioner Charles Drey­fus in those fa­mous scenes from “The Pink Pan­ther” se­ries of yes­ter­year.

Dur­ing Mr. Comey’s tes­ti­mony to the Se­nate, the lan­guage he used was sur­pris­ingly petu­lant in the way that a mil­len­nial is petu­lant when Mommy or Daddy tells the mil­len­nial it is time to go to bed. Rather than sound­ing like a for­mer di­rec­tor of the world’s fore­most law en­force­ment agency, he seemed dis­traught. At one point he said that some­thing for­mer At­tor­ney Gen­eral Loretta Lynch had said to him “gave me a queasy feel­ing.” At an­other point he said of some­thing that Pres­i­dent Trump said to him, “I took it as a very dis­turb­ing thing, very con­cern­ing.” There were other trou­bling mo­ments in his re­mark­able tes­ti­mony. In “The Pink Pan­ther” movies, Com­mis­sioner Drey­fus be­came vis­i­bly de­ranged when the name of In­spec­tor Clouseau was men­tioned. Is this to be the fate of for­mer Di­rec­tor Comey?

He has been act­ing oddly ever since the sum­mer of 2016. Re­mem­ber his long cat­a­logue of ob­vi­ous felonies Hil­lary had com­mit­ted. And then came his about-face: He said no pros­e­cu­tor would pros­e­cute her. But he was not au­tho­rized to com­ment pub­licly on the case he had amassed. All he had to do was hand over his find­ings to At­tor­ney Gen­eral Lynch. Then in Oc­to­ber just be­fore the elec­tion, he opened his in­ves­ti­ga­tion once again. Then he closed it. Again he was not au­tho­rized to speak out, but he did, and Hil­lary has been blam­ing him for her de­feat ever since — along with the Rus­sians, misog­yny and now the Demo­cratic Party, and — who knows? — pos­si­bly Bill.

It is er­ratic be­hav­ior like this that sug­gests to me that for­mer Di­rec­tor Comey is en route to a crack-up. In his tes­ti­mony last week, he said he had told Mr. Trump three times in pri­vate that the FBI was not in­ves­ti­gat­ing him. Yet he re­fused to say this in pub­lic and he ac­tu­ally leaked it to The New York Times, not The Wash­ing­ton Times, The New York Times. Else­where in his tes­ti­mony he said that Mr. Trump’s dis­cus­sion with him re­gard­ing Gen. Michael Flynn’s fir­ing had made Mr. Comey un­com­fort­able. But Mr. Comey did not re­port the dis­cus­sion to At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions as was re­quired by law. Rather, Mr. Comey leaked a memo crit­i­ciz­ing the pres­i­dent to — again — The New York Times. And there was the memo that he wrote in the wee hours of the morn about his en­coun­ters with the pres­i­dent. Some­how, one of his sen­a­to­rial ques­tion­ers got him to ad­mit that he had leaked the memo to a Columbia Law School friend. Mr. Comey in­structed his friend to leak it again to the Bad Times not to the Good Times.

Fol­low­ing the be­hav­ior of James Comey is not easy. But at this point in our in­quiry I think we can ar­rive at two judg­ments. First, Mr. Comey is in need of med­i­ca­tion and pos­si­bly ther­apy, and sec­ond, no one can find any crime that Don­ald Trump has com­mit­ted. It is as the pres­i­dent says — a witch hunt.


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