The Administration

Comey served faithfully, but the president made the right decision

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I have mixed feelings over the dismissal of James Comey as FBI director. We served together at the Department of Justice and I’ve known him for many years.

He served his country honorably for those years, but he also became so embroiled in the heated politics of the 2016 election and its aftermath that change was needed. President Trump made the right decision. 

{mosads}Comey’s announcement last July that he would not recommend prosecution of Hillary Clinton for violations of the Espionage Act were a shock to many in law enforcement both inside the FBI and out. Immediately prior to that surprise announcement he held court before the media laying out what seemed to be the rationale for bringing such a case forward.


Then his pronouncement that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring such a case was just wrong, and I said so publicly at the time. I was a federal prosecutor for five years and was proud to serve in the Department of Justice, and I would’ve brought that case. 

Clinton set up an entire secret, unsecured communications structure outside of the government she was charged with serving at the highest level; she was the Secretary of State. Classified information that, in the wrong hands, could potentially bring harm to our country – and many in service to our country – was available to be appropriated. Her server was hacked by multiple countries and unfriendly actors.

Other people in government and military service who have done similarly have gone to prison. Regardless of the political consequences, Director Comey should have recommended to Attorney General Loretta Lynch that the Justice Department go forward with prosecuting Clinton, as she is not above the law.

But since that July day, Comey has become the lead character in the story. No law enforcement officer, city police commissioner, state police chief or FBI director should ever be in that position.

His dismissal hopefully heralds a fresh slate for the FBI and the Department of Justice. Thus the reaction from congressional Democrats, and even some quarters in the national media, have bordered on the absurd.

Calls for an independent counsel or commission to investigate allegations that Russia tried to interfere with our elections ring hollow when similar calls for special counsels during the scandals of the Obama administration were dismissed out of hand by the same people making these demands now. Attorney General Eric Holder was found in contempt of Congress for his failure to turn over relevant documents in the Fast and Furious gun-walking scandal, but no Democrats called for an independent prosecutor or commission even though two law enforcement officers lost their lives as a result of that ill-fated initiative. The same was true after Attorney General Loretta Lynch met privately on an airplane with former President Clinton while his wife was the target of a federal criminal investigation.

Serious, bipartisan congressional investigations into the Russian allegations have been under way for weeks and they have made progress. Hollow calls for independent prosecutors are just craven attempts to score cheap political points and serve the public in no measurable way.

For the bureau, the opportunity to move forward is likely welcome by the majority of hard working agents and other employees who serve their country faithfully there every day. As he has done with the selection and confirmation of his first Supreme Court nominee, President Trump has an opportunity to prove his sincerity about the rule of law and its enforcement.

Jim Comey is a man of integrity, an attribute that no doubt will continue to serve him well as he looks to the future. He served the people of the United States faithfully and honorably, but it’s time to move on.

Matthew Whitaker is executive director of the nonprofit Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT), and served as U.S. Attorney for the southern district of Iowa from 2004-09.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.

Tags Donald Trump Eric Holder Hillary Clinton James Comey
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