Comey’s great mistake: “He was the F.B.I. director overseeing the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. He and his team decided that she had not done anything that warranted criminal charges. And he knew that Republicans would blast him as a coward who was trying to curry favor with the likely future president.
So he decided to go public with his explanation for not charging Clinton and to criticize her harshly. He then doubled down, releasing a public update on the investigation 11 days before the election, even as other Justice officials urged him not to . Department policy dictates that investigators aren’t supposed to talk publicly about why they are not bringing charges. They especially don’t do so when they could affect an election.
Comey, however, decided that he knew better than everyone else. He was the righteous Jim Comey, after all. He was going to speak truth to power. He was also, not incidentally, going to protect his own fearless image. He developed a series of rationales, suggesting that he really had no choice. They remain unpersuasive. When doing the right thing meant staying quiet and taking some lumps, Comey chose not to.
His tragic mistake matters because of the giant consequences for the country. He helped elect the most dangerous, unfit American president of our lifetimes. No matter how brave Comey has since been, no matter how honorable his full career, he can never undo that damage.
Read the complete story The Tragedy of James Comey in the New York Times . . .
Comey disgraced the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where we both served as AUSAs. Robert García, former AUSA for the SDNY.
See 180 Former Federal Prosecutors for Southern District of New York Call for Special Counsel to Oversee FBI Investigation (2017).
Photo USAO SDNY, One St. Andrew’s Plaza, New York, NY