Comey testimony offers closure for some Clinton allies

Comey testimony offers closure for some Clinton allies
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James Comey’s highly anticipated Senate testimony on Thursday offered closure to some Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonScaramucci deletes old tweets bashing Trump Trump hits reset button on messaging Trump Jr., Manafort still haven't agreed to testify before Senate panel MORE allies.

After months of finger-pointing, former aides and surrogates who blamed the former FBI director for Clinton’s election loss said his comments on his decision-making about the investigation into her use of a private email server during the presidential campaign were, if nothing else, cathartic.

The bitterness was fading, some said.

“Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but people should have a new appreciation for why he made the decisions he made at the time,” said Adam Parkhomenko, a co-founder of Ready for Hillary and a former campaign aide, adding that Comey provided new clarity into his thinking that he hadn’t really offered in 2016.

Parkhomenko put it this way on Twitter: “Today showed me I’m partisan and Comey is not.”

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“We need more answers,” Parkhomenko wrote on the social media site. “This is going to be a long haul. We search for the truth. But I feel that in Mr. Comey is a true patriot. And someone that always thought of how best to be independent and protect the institution and country he worked for first.”

Another former campaign aide, who blamed Comey partly for Clinton’s loss, acknowledged cheering for him as he testified on Capitol Hill.

“The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” the former aide said. “And I found myself liking him, understanding him during his testimony. It was surprising.”

Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist who acted as a Clinton surrogate during the campaign, said he felt similarly on Thursday as he watched Comey’s hearing.

“All I know is that I watched his testimony this morning, and I never really thought of what he had done to the Clinton camp, which at the time I found absolutely outrageous and appalling,” Manley said. “I found his testimony really compelling.”

Those around Clinton herself say she won’t be as forgiving.

Clinton didn’t mention Comey as she gave a commencement speech at a university in New York Thursday. But during an interview last week at the Recode conference in California, she continued to blame him for contributing to her loss.

Clinton said that a letter Comey sent to Congress in the final days of the campaign indicating that the FBI was reopening the investigation to examine a batch of emails was devastating.

"I can't look inside the guy's mind,” Clinton said of Comey. “He dumped that on me on Oct. 28, and I immediately start falling.”

But on Thursday, while a CNN chyron blared “Comey: No doubt Russia meddled in the election,” there was a sense of vindication in Clinton's world. And Comey found support from those who attacked him the most in the past year.

“WOW,” longtime Clinton spokesman Philippe Reines wrote on Twitter following the testimony. “Anyone who thought there was nothing new and explosive left for Comey to say today, boy they[‘re] wronger than wrong.”

Other allies said that wasn’t the only takeaway.

“In some ways, I think this will help Comey, particularly with those who didn’t care for him before,” said one former Clinton aide who worked on the 2016 campaign. “He has a certain consistency and he holds his integrity very, very high. He clearly was not going to let anybody jeopardize that.”

But Comey, in fact, didn’t just slam President Trump in his testimony, the first since his May firing. Comey also admitted to feeling “queasy” after then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch asked him to describe the FBI inquiry into Clinton’s email server as a “matter” instead of an “investigation.”

“I wanted to know, was she going to authorize us to confirm we had an investigation? And she said, ‘Yes, but don't call it that. Call it a matter.' " Comey said. “That concerned me because that language tracked the way the [Clinton] campaign was talking about the FBI's work, and that, that's concerning.”

He went on to say, “I don’t know whether it was intentional or not, but it gave me the impression that the attorney general was looking to align the way we talked about our work with the way the political campaign was describing the same activity, which was inaccurate.”

Ellen Tauscher, the former congresswoman who served as the undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs during Clinton’s tenure leading the State Department, said that while Comey has had honorable moments in his career, “This is a guy who constantly talks about how the FBI is above politics, but he plays politics.”

“I don’t think he's sitting there trying to get the president,” Tauscher said. “I think the truth will get the president and the fact that he's delivering some of the truth is important.”

But one of the former aides said that, while Comey had a “chilling effect on the ground” for Clinton, Thursday brought more understanding.

“I understand what he believes, even thought I don’t agree with him,” the former aide said.