Admit it, James Comey: You’ve been lying all along

On Saturday night, the great Wolf Blitzer interviewed one of his panelists about James ComeyJames Brien ComeyDershowitz: Trump's lawyers could force Rosenstein to recuse himself from Mueller probe New York Times defends bombshell Rosenstein report Donald Trump’s Rosenstein dilemma MORE’s justification for violating over a half-century of Justice Department policies in Republican and Democratic administrations when he sent his October 28 letter to Congress in 2016, which cost Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPompeo: 'We've not been successful' in changing US-Russia relations Michael Moore ties Obama to Trump's win in Michigan in 2016 The Memo: Could Kavanaugh furor spark another ‘year of the woman’? MORE the presidency.  

Comey has repeatedly claimed that he was “obligated” to write his speculative letter because of a promise he had made to Congress to do so if “anything new” came up after his July 5, 2016, press conference announcing a new prosecutable case could be brought against Clinton.  

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However, I established beyond any doubt in my book published in February 2018, “The Unmaking of the Presidency 2016,” that Comey’s claim was — and remains — false.

 

In fact, Comey only promised Congress in September 2016 that if anything new came up on the emails issue that might cause the FBI to reconsider its non-prosecution decision, he would “take a look” — not that he would make a public disclosure to Congress before doing so.   

When I wrote my book, I avoided using the word “lie” about Comey falsely using the word “obligation” to Congress, given my extreme reluctance to ever use the “lie” word unless I am certain there is a knowing, willful, intentional misstatement of the truth. 

Well, James Comey has had plenty of time to go back to check his testimony before Congress to see what he actually said as he begins his book tour and, among other things, tries to justify his October 28 letter.

Yet, in the already released excerpts of the TV interview with George Stephanopoulos Sunday night, Comey intends to repeat the same knowing falsehood that he was “obligated” to send his letter to Congress because he promised to do so. 

So it is time — accurately — to call Comey a liar for this crucial, self-serving rationalization for his action that made Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE president. And any respectable journalist such as Blitzer — and any responsible and balanced news organization such as CNN — has a duty to fact-check.

When one of Blitzer’s panelists on Saturday night inaccurately repeated the Comey lie that Comey was “obligated” to send his game-changing letter to Congress because he had promised to do so, Blitzer should have interrupted and corrected the record. “No that is not correct — Comey only promised to ‘look at’ any new evidence, not to write his letter in the closing days of the election.”

Another form of a lie is by omission.

Comey knows — and knows that we all now know — that if he had done what in fact he had told Congress he would do, i.e., looked first before writing his letter, he and the FBI would have completed their review within six days, as we know happened between Oct 30, 2016, when they first began to look at Clinton emails on Anthony Wiener’s laptop, and Nov. 5, when they completed their review. And we know that they would have determined — as they announced on Nov. 6, two days before the election— that there was no “there” there in the Clinton emails, i.e., nothing new to change their July 5 non-prosecution decision. Thus, there would have been no need for Comey to write the history-changing Oct. 28 letter. And hence, Hillary Clinton, as all the data prove over the last 11 days in crucial battleground states, would be president today. 

So admit the truth, Mr. Comey. You wrote the letter not because you had to in order to fulfill a promise to Congress but because you wanted to protect your political rear end from anti-Clinton Republican partisans. Period. 

Lanny Davis served as special counsel to President Clinton and is a columnist for The Hill. He is the author of “The Unmaking of the President 2016: How FBI Director James Comey Cost Hillary Clinton the Presidency” (Scribner).