Media fawning over Comey, McCabe looks silly after stinging IG report

For those journalists who have covered law enforcement for decades, there was some discomfort watching a doting news media bestow adoration earlier this year upon the FBI’s disgraced top two former bosses.

FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyTrump and advisers considering firing FBI director after election: WaPo Trump remarks put pressure on Barr Ex-deputy attorney general says Justice Dept. 'will ignore' Trump's threats against political rivals MORE, terminated for violating department guidelines and explicit instructions, was given the royal treatment when his memoir came out this spring.

Deputy Director Andrew McCabeAndrew George McCabeHillicon Valley: CEOs of Google, Facebook and Twitter to testify before Senate | European Union police agency warns of increase in cybercrime | Twitter to remove posts hoping for Trump's death Graham officially schedules hearing on Trump's Supreme Court pick to start Oct. 12 The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump eager to leave the hospital MORE, fired for lying to his own federal investigators, was portrayed as a whistleblower akin to Mark Felt, another former top FBI official who exposed the very real Watergate scandal.


But that agitation in the pit of my stomach apparently blinded me from one of Comey’s greatest achievements. In fact, J. Edgar Hoover’s successor, seven times removed, accomplished something few in the Washington world could ever imagine: He got supporters of both President Donald Trump and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFive takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Trump, Biden tangle over Wall Street ties, fundraising The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden face off for last time on the debate stage MORE to agree on something.

That something — as Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsBiden fact checks Trump on 545 families separated at border, calls policy 'criminal' Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House MORE put it on The Hill’s new “Rising” digital TV show on Thursday — was that Comey and his band of merry G-men committed “a big mistake” in their oversight of the FBI during the 2016 election.

Unlikely to agree on much else with Sessions regarding policy, former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta did concur with him that Comey made a mistake — one Podesta says could have cost the former Democratic nominee the 2016 election.

“He violated department standards when he refused to take the advice of senior people in the Justice Department, so I’m not going to defend him,” Podesta also told “Rising” on Thursday. He added that Comey “kind of blew the election for us.”

The Department of Justice (DOJ) official watchdog laid bare on Thursday just how bad Comey’s FBI really was. Inspector General Michael Horowitz concluded, in a 500-plus page report, that Comey was insubordinate when he announced the reopening of the Clinton email investigation a few days before the 2016 election, after being told not to do so by Justice officials.

Comey also violated department norms, misused personal email for FBI work, and usurped the authority of Attorney General Loretta Lynch when he decided on his own not to pursue charges against Mrs. Clinton for pushing classified emails through an insecure server.

The man who helped Comey run the two most politically sensitive investigations of 2016 — the Clinton email probe and the Russia-Trump probe — fared no better. FBI agent Peter Strzok was criticized for an exchange of text messages with his reported lover and fellow FBI worker, Lisa Page, in which he suggested the FBI would stop Trump from becoming president through the Russia case.

Even more troubling than that text message’s expression, the IG said it feared Strzok prioritized the Russia probe over the Clinton email case (called “Midyear Exam”) because of his bias against Trump.

“Under these circumstances, we did not have confidence that Strzok’s decision to prioritize the Russia investigation over following up on the Midyear-related investigative lead ... was free from bias,” the IG’s report said.

The IG report will be debated by pundits ad nauseam. It also may give President TrumpDonald John TrumpMore than 300 military family members endorse Biden Five takeaways from the final Trump-Biden debate Biden: 'I would transition from the oil industry' MORE’s lawyers a cogent argument to fight special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s inquiry into whether Trump’s firing of Comey was an act of obstruction in the Russia probe.

However, Thursday’s report makes clear that Jeff Sessions, the DOJ and President Trump had a real performance reason to terminate Comey. It also makes clear that Hillary Clinton has a legitimate grievance against the FBI’s treatment of her case.

In the end, though, the real reason Americans should care about Thursday’s development isn’t that it created rare unity of Clinton-Trump opinion.

Rather, it is because the FBI, over which Comey presided, had leaders who lied, violated the rules, usurped authority that was not theirs, and expressed political biases that may have impacted how two presidential candidates were treated by the bureau during the middle of one of America's most precious events — an election.

With all the awesome powers that the FBI possesses, and the trust Americans must place in the agency, that crime is one that should not be tolerated by Republican, Democrat or independent alike.

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He is The Hill’s executive vice president for video.