Kevin R. Brock is the former assistant director of intelligence for the FBI. I’m going to guess he wasn’t a friend of James Comey’s. If he was, well, I’m pretty sure he’s been unfriended.
That’s because Brock, in a commentary piece for The Hill titled “James Comey is in trouble and he knows it,” noted that the former FBI director is in a bit of a pickle thanks to Attorney General William Barr’s recent intimations that he’s going after Comey. Not only that, Brock believes Comey deserves every bit of it.
“James Comey’s planet is getting noticeably warmer. Attorney General William Barr’s emissions are the suspected cause,” Brock wrote in the Tuesday piece.
“Barr has made plain that he intends to examine carefully how and why Comey, as FBI director, decided that the bureau should investigate two presidential campaigns and if, in so doing, any rules or laws were broken.”
Brock was referring, in part, to a Tuesday Fox News report that Barr had been assembling a team to look into how the FBI handled the 2016 election, specifically the counterintelligence operation opened against the Trump campaign.
He then quipped that “the fired former FBI director apparently has decided that photos of him on Twitter standing amid tall trees and in the middle of empty country roads, acting all metaphysical, is no longer a sufficient strategy.” (But those posts were pretty amusing, I must say.)
“No, Comey has realized, probably too late, that he has to try to counter, more directly, the narrative being set by the unsparing attorney general whose words in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week landed in the Trump-opposition world like holy water on Linda Blair. Shrieking heads haven’t stopped spinning since.”
Comey’s first move, according to Brock, was a “curious” piece for The New York Times, titled (conveniently) “How Trump Co-opts Leaders Like Bill Barr.”
“How could Mr. Barr, a bright and accomplished lawyer, start channeling the president in using words like ‘no collusion’ and F.B.I. ‘spying’?” Comey wrote. “And downplaying acts of obstruction of justice as products of the president’s being ‘frustrated and angry,’ something he would never say to justify the thousands of crimes prosecuted every day that are the product of frustration and anger?
“How could he write and say things about the report by Robert Mueller, the special counsel, that were apparently so misleading that they prompted written protest from the special counsel himself?
“How could Mr. Barr go before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday and downplay President Trump’s attempt to fire Mr. Mueller before he completed his work?”
Well, because they were all true or matters of opinion, a concept Comey is unfamiliar with because one gets the impression he’s the kind of man who takes his own opinion, right or wrong, as a matter of fact.
Comey also posited that “proximity to an amoral leader reveals something depressing.”
“I think that’s at least part of what we’ve seen with Bill Barr and Rod Rosenstein. Accomplished people lacking inner strength can’t resist the compromises necessary to survive Mr. Trump and that adds up to something they will never recover from. It takes character like Mr. Mattis’s to avoid the damage, because Mr. Trump eats your soul in small bites,” he wrote.
Brock, who left the FBI in 2007 after a 23-year career, long before Comey was appointed director in 2013, wasn’t buying it.
“In the op-ed, Comey trotted out his now-familiar St. James schtick, freely pronouncing on the morality of others. He sees himself as a kind of Pontiff-of-the-Potomac working his beads, but comes across more like an unraveling Captain Queeg working his ball bearings,” Brock wrote.
Just in case Comey’s own Times piece didn’t do the trick, however, Brock noted “a Times reporter, with whom Comey has cooperated in the past, wrote a news article exposing an early, controversial investigative technique against the Trump campaign in an attempt to get out front and excuse it.”
“Next, Comey is scheduled to be encouraged on a friendly cable news ‘town hall,'” Brock noted. (Just in case you weren’t annoyed enough by him already.)
“OK, let’s step back for a moment: James Comey appears to be in trouble,” Brock wrote. “His strange, desperate statements and behaviors betray his nervousness and apprehension. In a way, it’s hard to watch.
“Comey will claim that everything he did in the FBI was by the book. But after the investigations by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz and U.S. Attorney John Huber, along with Barr’s promised examination, are completed, Comey’s mishandling of the FBI and legal processes likely will be fully exposed.”
Despite the inflammatory column, Brock is clearly no bomb-thrower.
Check out this appearance on Fox News from December 2017. He comes across as a man deeply concerned about the FBI’s public image — and why it’s important that the American public be able to trust the nation’s premier law enforcement agency.
Brock laid out three lines of inquiry he hoped Barr’s investigation would follow:
The first was whether the Clinton and Trump 2016 presidential campaigns were treated even-handedly.
(I’m not rushing to judgment here, but the fact that Hillary Clinton got very publicly let off for having classified information on a private email server while it looks increasingly like the Trump campaign was spied upon doesn’t indicate fair handling.)
The second was whether Comey’s FBI followed norms and guidelines, including whether electronic surveillance against a candidate was called for.
Finally, Brock wrote, there should be an “examination of whether Comey was unduly influenced by political agendas emanating from the previous White House and its director of national intelligence, CIA director and attorney general. This, above all, is what’s causing the 360-degree head spins.”
“James Comey is right to be apprehensive. He himself ate away at the soul of the FBI, not in small bites but in dangerously large ones,” Brock wrote. “It was a dinner for one, though: His actions are not indicative of the real FBI. The attorney general’s comprehensive examination is welcome and, if done honestly and dispassionately, it will protect future presidential candidates of both parties and redeem the valuable soul of the FBI.”
Whether that happens is questionable.
The Democrats are still pushing the “St. James” narrative, particularly since he’s the only unsullied soul left in this whole investigation to them, at least after the Mueller report. (They’re willing to forget about Anthony Weiner’s laptop, I suppose.)
He’s going to be protected in the same aggressive way that the Democrats protected Bob Mueller.
To them, no matter what tactics were used, the FBI’s actions in regards to the Trump campaign were justified. The same thing goes with his pronouncement regarding Hillary Clinton. The FISA warrant, the FBI’s tactics toward Papadopoulos — all of these were totally legit.
That being said, Barr’s testimony before Congress last week wasn’t indicative of a milquetoast, at least when it comes to dealing with Democrats.
Whether or not he displays the same spirit when it comes to reviewing how James Comey’s FBI handled the 2016 election remains to be seen.
But if he does, Comey could be in very big trouble.
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