Time for 'J. Edgar' Comey to take his leave
© Greg Nash

Another day, another felonious leak of highly sensitive information to the media by anonymous within the FBI seemingly bent on destroying the president.

The CNN so-called bombshell that unnamed "U.S. officials" claim that the FBI has information indicating that "associates" of the president "communicated with suspected Russian operatives to possibly coordinate the release of information damaging to Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonSanders expected to announce exploratory committee next week Bernie Sanders records announcement video ahead of possible 2020 bid Overnight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants MORE's campaign" follows the pattern of recent leaks aimed at delegitimizing President Trump: The unauthorized release of intelligence is anonymous, it concerns an ongoing investigation, the leakers concede that the "information is not conclusive," the clear implications of the leak are highly damaging to the president, and passing the information along to the press is a felony crime punishable by a minimum of 10 years in prison.

This latest self-professed bombshell follows an AP report from the day before that Trump's ex-campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, worked a decade ago to promote the business interests of a Russian aluminum magnate with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin. The "business records obtained by the AP" would appear to be part of an ongoing investigation, too.

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Notably, when pressed, FBI Director James Comey refused to confirm or promise an investigation of the damaging leaks coming out of his own bureau, which he admits are punishable crimes, while gratuitously announcing the existence of an ongoing investigation of collusion between Trump associates and Russian officials.

 

That investigation has been going on, as we know from previous leaks, in one form or another for at least six months and probably longer, and publicly every senior intelligence official queried has asserted that no evidence of collusion has been found.

The question of why Comey should have so ostentatiously played the role of arbitrary gatekeeper of state secrets is perhaps not as mysterious as it first appears.

The political pressure on the director after his bungling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails (first announcing it closed and conclusive, then reopened and closed again in the closing weeks before a bitterly contested presidential election in which the email scandal was a major issue) threatened to tar his reputation forever as an inept and partisan operator.

Leading Democrats continue to place the blame for Clinton's loss squarely on Comey's shoulders, despite their own candidate's countless political missteps. What better way to demonstrate his lack of partisanship than to be blamed equally by Republicans for the revelation of a politically damaging investigation of the president supposedly elected by Comey's own misdeeds?

One is reminded another FBI director, the legendary J. Edgar Hoover, who famously used the bureau's intelligence files to cement his own power and as not-so-subtle blackmail to achieve his own policy ends. In a reign over the FBI that resembled a pontificate more than that of a career civil servant, Hoover amassed enormous amounts of harmful information on political allies and opponents alike, then used it to cajole and manipulate the political discourse for his own survival and interests.

Both Comey and Hoover share an unmistakable quality in their savvy manipulation of the power structures in Washington through both their covert — and overt — leveraging of information for the purpose of building their own political power bases.

The moral authority of Comey's condemnation of Russia "manipulating" the elections is as ridiculous as his assertion that there was no wrongdoing in the activities of the Clinton Foundation.

Comey is less gifted than his predecessor, though, but at the same time much more shameless in how he has let this drama play out in public. He seems only interested in maintaining his immense power, and the fact that he is willing to use the resources at his disposal to accomplish that end should give all Americans pause at the amount of power vested in an unelected, and seemingly unaccountable, professional inside-the-Beltway bureaucrat.

President Trump cannot allow Director Comey do become the indispensable man in Washington, a la J. Edgar Hoover. The battle for control of the federal government begins with Comey.

Robert Wasinger served in senior advisory and liaison roles in President Trump's campaign and transition team, after extensive experience on Capitol Hill.


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