This is the outrage every American should be feeling.
After it became clear that the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday was going to consist of Comey claiming ignorance of key parts of his own bureau’s investigation of the president of the United States, Utah Sen. Mike Lee let loose to all but call Comey a liar in front of the country.
And the anger was almost palpable.
Sen. Mike Lee rips into James Comey:
“How can you now as a private citizen and former FBI Director show up and then speculate freely regarding any alleged ties between President Putin and President Trump… You don’t seem to know ANYTHING about this investigation that you ran.” pic.twitter.com/fOnr4M2J2I
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) September 30, 2020
What set Lee off was that now, even after the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation came up empty, after a damning inspector general’s report found the FBI’s investigation of “Russian collusion” was rife with errors, Comey, who was appearing remotely, still had the gall to speculate that President Donald Trump is somehow in league with one of the country’s biggest geopolitical foes.
The Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway tweeted that Comey told Democratic Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont that Trump’s actions toward Russia indicated the Kremlin has some secret leverage over the president.
Comey, contra all evidence, tells Leahy I don’t know whether the Russians have something over Trump but its difficult to explain his actions in any other way. (This is insane)
— Mollie (@MZHemingway) September 30, 2020
Lee said he had supported Comey’s nomination to lead the FBI in 2013 in part because he thought Comey would be a man to handle the bureau’s relationship with the secret court established under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to oversee intelligence operations that include spying on American citizens.
Yet, according to Fox News, Comey’s early testimony on Wednesday included a stunning series of responses consisting of “I don’t know” when the questions concerned steps the bureau took in applying for FISA surveillance warrants during the Russia “collusion” investigation.
The playing-dumb act started when Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham asked how the FBI tried to verify the Steele dossier, a collection of anti-Trump “intelligence” that has since been thoroughly debunked, but played a crucial role in the FBI’s collusion investigation.
“I don’t know,” Comey replied, according to Fox.
Already, there has been one tangible criminal case involving the FBI’s FISA warrant applications. Now-former FBI attorney Kevin Clinesmith pleaded in August to altering a document to make it appear more likely that the subject of the surveillance warrant, Trump campaign aide Carter Page, was a potential operative for the Russian government.
The reality was that Page had actually worked as a source for American intelligence, likely the CIA.
When Graham asked Comey about Clinesmith, the FBI director gave up nothing.
“I know nothing of Mr. Clinesmith,” Comey said, according to Fox.
Comey, who actually signed off on the FBI’s surveillance applications, then told the committee he had not read the affidavit on which it was based, according to Fox.
Seriously, this is the director of the FBI talking about an investigation of a major party’s presidential candidate, and then the winner of the 2016 presidential election. And he signed three applications for surveillance warrants involving that investigation, according to a 2018 memo by then-House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes.
Yet the Senate and the American public are supposed to believe he never read the evidence for it?
Lee clearly wasn’t buying Comey’s professed ignorance at all – and he wasn’t buying Comey’s evident willingness to try to keep the “Russia collusion” story alive.
“When you were nominated to the position of FBI director, even though I had some grave concerns with the FBI and how it was administering FISA at the time, I trusted you,” he told Comey.
“I believed that you would act in good faith when I asked you … what you would do to help make sure that the FISA process was respected and not manipulated? You gave me your word and … I trusted you.”
Then he got to the point.
“Mr. Comey, with all due respect, you don’t seem to know anything about an investigation that you ran. So how can you now, as a private citizen and former FBI director, show up and then speculate freely regarding any alleged ties between [Russian] President Putin and President Trump?
“You don’t seem to know anything about this investigation that you ran.”
Comey’s rise to stardom, of course, dates to his role in the 2016 presidential campaign, first by preemptively clearing then-Democratic presidential nominee of wrongdoing in July of her notorious email scandal, then reopening the email investigation in October only weeks before the election.
When Trump fired Comey in May 2017, few Americans suspected the revelations that would follow about how, under Comey’s leadership, the country’s premier law enforcement agency became involved in political intrigue that amounted to a palace coup attempt.
Few realized how shoddy or outright deceptive the FBI’s investigation was – as described in the report by Inspector General Michael Horowitz.
Like Lee, most Americans probably trusted Comey as a matter of course, if only because most Americans trust the FBI and the other institutions of their government.
But it’s important to remember that Comey was a product of the Barack Obama presidency, which was responsible for so much other lawlessness against Americans, like the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups and surveillance on reporters in the Washington press the administration didn’t like.
Comey’s behavior is helping destroy that trust, as much as Democrats in the House of Representatives in the House tried to destroy the Trump presidency with a sham impeachment, as much as Democrat-supporting mobs in the street are destroying property in the name of “social justice.”
Lee’s outrage at Comey was well-grounded, but it was only a small part of the outrage provoked by what Democrats have visited on the country since Barack Obama was in the White House.
And it’s an outrage every American should feel.
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