James Comey’s anti-Trump politics: Public carrier or self-serving?

WASHINGTON – James Comey appeared straight into the digicam as he uttered his first public denunciation of President Donald Trump. “These were lies, undeniable and easy,” the inclined FBI director acknowledged in 2017, as thousands and thousands of Americans watched his dramatic testimony forward of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Comey unexcited makes use of that observe – “lies” – when he talks about Trump. He feeble much less-forgiving descriptions, equivalent to an “amoral leader” who devours the souls of greater males, in a fresh New York Situations op-ed. He described Trump as “morally unfit to be president” in a scathing interview with USA TODAY closing one year.

His outrage has spilled onto the event to which he once belonged, as he told Americans to vote for Democrats in 2020. He’s a quirky Twitter movie giant name whose page is an amalgam of pensive nature photographs, dad jokes and urgent requires the overall public to recall the president who eradicated him.

And on Thursday, the second anniversary of his firing, Comey will take grasp of half in a CNN metropolis hall, a national platform once in some time reserved for presidential candidates. 

His immersion into politics is a stark contrast to the enviornment of secrecy and discreetness on the FBI, making him a extra polarizing figure within the Trump generation. Supporters leer his reveal as a take a look at on a commander-in-chief whose behavior they obtain disturbing. But Comey’s detractors bear in mind the inclined FBI director’s disdain for Trump influenced the counterintelligence investigation on Russia and the president’s campaign. They contend the FBI used to be biased against Trump. 

Comey is never any longer only a inclined FBI director. He is a inclined FBI director whose actions are consequential to the president. He wrote memos detailing his private conversations with Trump, some of which he found troubling. He orchestrated the beginning of these memos’ contents, hoping to suggested a determined counsel’s appointment. And these memos grew to turn out to be half of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that within the discontinuance begat a adverse inner anecdote of Trump’s behavior.

For Comey’s critics, every public condemnation risks reinforcing the notion that he – and subsequently the FBI – played in favor of 1 aspect over the diversified. And every criticism locations the bureau in a deadly pickle: within the unhealthy hairs of partisan politics.

“He is telling the enviornment now that he thinks the president is amoral. That conception objective didn’t come out of thin air on the day he used to be fired,” acknowledged Mark Morgan, a profession FBI sufficient who used to be an assistant director below Comey. “As a inclined director of the FBI, when he speaks, he unexcited brings the elephantine force of credibility of that pickle, and so he’s no longer an sensible citizen when he speaks, and he knows that … Every time he speaks, each time he does an op-ed, he continues to develop ruin to the FBI.”

Odd: James Comey strikes encourage against ‘morally unfit’ Donald Trump in scathing interview

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Comey declined to be interviewed. His supporters bellow he found himself in unchartered waters from the moment the president asked him to “preserve the cloud” of the Russia investigation that has loomed over the administration. A reveal like Comey’s, supporters bellow, is extreme at a time when the president attacks and spreads falsehoods about the country’s institutions, including the FBI.

“Clearly, he may perhaps perhaps cease out of the highlight. He didn’t absorb to jot down a e book, doesn’t absorb to jot down speeches, doesn’t absorb to discuss out,” acknowledged Greg Brower, who used to be the FBI’s assistant director for the Space of business of Congressional Affairs. But, Brower acknowledged: “He objective feels strongly that folk wish to snatch what he knows and what he skilled.” 

“I like the truth that he’s no longer disquieted to be public about this,” Bower acknowledged.

Friction between Comey and Trump has easiest intensified. Views on whether the overall public desires to preserve up listening to from the controversial FBI director is solely as divided as this day’s partisan govt.

Where there looks to be consensus is that Comey’s submit-FBI persona may perhaps perhaps absorb a lengthy lasting affect on the institution he once led, whether or no longer he intended to.


Feeble FBI Director James Comey is calling on Republicans to ‘stand up for the values of this country.’ This comes after his second closed door meeting with GOP-led panels on Capitol Hill. (Dec. 17)

A ‘self-serving’ endeavor or a public carrier?

Comey used to be a liked FBI director lauded by corrupt-and-file workers, per an annual take a look at of workers. Even for some of his cruelest critics, he used to be a factual leader.

He valued diversity in hiring and gained the support of girls folk and minorities on the company, acknowledged Bobby Chacon, a inclined special agent who retired in 2014, within the midst of Comey’s second one year as director. He used to be vivid, affable, and an efficient communicator, acknowledged Morgan, who left the bureau in 2016 and whom Trump no longer too lengthy ago tapped to steer the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The turning point, as a minimum for some, came about on July 5, 2016, when Comey departed from FBI policy by turning in a blistering criticism of Hillary Clinton, even as he announced that the then-Democratic presidential candidate would no longer face prices for her use of a private electronic mail server as secretary of say. Comey’s resolution to section his memos with a buddy, who then shared their contents to a reporter, is “when he absolutely misplaced me,” acknowledged Morgan, who sees his inclined boss’s public lifestyles as a “self-serving” endeavor.

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“I even absorb no arena with him pushing encourage on Trump’s criticism of the FBI, nonetheless he has taken it system, system beyond that point,” Chacon acknowledged. 

But to cease quiet a few quick president, who expects of us and institutions to bend to his will and attacks these that don’t, would were a disservice, Comey’s supporters bellow.

“When one joins politicized conversations, given his background, there’s a anguish that leaders of the bureau within the long term would be seen as political actors,” acknowledged Daniel Richman, a Columbia Rules Faculty professor and Comey buddy. “But there’s an even greater anguish when the work of the bureau had no defenders.”

To meet that public carrier, one may perhaps perhaps absorb to unexcited be political, acknowledged Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at Brookings Institution and editor-in-chief of the Lawfare weblog, referring to Comey’s name to vote for Democrats.

“Whenever you happen to suspect, as I develop, that the president is a possibility to the guideline of legislation and a possibility to the national safety of the country, in a two-event map, the easiest system to retort to that as a voter is to vote for the diversified event,” Wittes acknowledged, noting that he does not discuss for Comey. “Jim, for the first time in his lifestyles, made some political statements. I believe that used to be deliberate and calculated.”

Comey would’ve most unique to head away the highlight, acknowledged Richman, the buddy whom he asked to section his memos’ contents to the media.

But no longer objective yet. 

“I believe he’d be barely joyful to retreat from his political profile come November 2020,” Richman acknowledged.


President Trump desires to beginning labeled paperwork from the Russia probe. He and inclined FBI director James Comey weighed in on the Mueller anecdote.
USA This present day

Contextualizing Comey

To care for Comey, one desires to notion at how he used to be compelled out of govt, acknowledged Timothy Naftali, a presidential historian.

Trump tremulous the enviornment when he unceremoniously fired Comey on Might 9, 2017 and claimed his resolution used to be per concepts by Deputy Lawyer General Rod Rosenstein after which-Lawyer General Jeff Courses that Comey be fired for his going thru of the Clinton electronic mail investigation. But Trump later acknowledged he did so in consequence of the Russia investigation the FBI launched in secret months earlier.

“The situations of his firing are so habitual that it’s miles luminous that he selected to take grasp of a public conception,” Naftali acknowledged.

One furthermore desires to notion at how Comey approached his management of the FBI, acknowledged Chuck Wexler, govt director of the Police Govt Learn Forum. He used to be an outspoken FBI director, and remains in present a private citizen. 

“He used to be talking out on issues of bustle and legislation enforcement. He celebrated himself as being very diversified for a federal sufficient and seeing his role nearly as a bully pulpit one,” Wexler acknowledged. “Comey, for greater or worse, used to be going to squawk apart himself as breaking with the previous and talking out on issues.”

Is he running? Comey, in fact, is never any longer a 2020 contender

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Comey is never any longer the easiest FBI director to clash with the president.

William Courses used to be fired in 1993 by President Bill Clinton after Courses refused to resign. Clinton then appointed Louis Freeh, whose tenure used to be consumed with criminal investigations of the president and who later published a e book criticizing Clinton.

But not like Comey, Courses’ and Freeh’s submit-FBI careers weren’t saturated with a novel circulation of public disputes with the president. Unlike Comey, they did no longer encourage below a president who has publicly expressed his anger and frustration over his personal legislation enforcement businesses and officials, Naftali acknowledged.

Comey furthermore is never any longer the easiest inclined excessive-ranking legislation enforcement or intelligence sufficient who found his reveal within the Trump generation. James Clapper, inclined director of Nationwide Intelligence, John Brennan, inclined director of the Central Intelligence Company, and Michael Hayden, inclined director of the CIA and Nationwide Security Company, all eviscerate Trump on cable news. Chuck Rosenberg, Comey’s inclined chief of workers, has furthermore been extreme of Trump.

That these males were so public is, in itself, habitual, Naftali acknowledged.

“What is it about the Trump generation that has motivated these males of discretion to be so public?” Naftali acknowledged. 

Even as Comey takes sides, many unexcited aren’t obvious the put he genuinely belongs, or the put he suits in this generation of political tribalism.

“He’s politically homeless,” acknowledged Matthew Miller, a inclined Justice Department spokesman below the Obama administration. “That’s potentially the put he’s most joyful.”

Contributing: Kevin Johnson

Be taught or Half this account: https://www.usatoday.com/account/news/politics/2019/05/09/james-comey-inclined-fbi-director-polarizing-figure-trump-generation/3555772002/