FBI Director Comey - Playing Hardball with the DOJ

Joel Goodman
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Posted: Nov 04, 2016 4:16 PM
FBI Director Comey - Playing Hardball with the DOJ

If FBI Director James Comey is the honorable and principled man that he has in the past shown himself to be, then delaying the announcement of a further investigation into Clinton related emails until after the election may just have been a bridge too far; and informing Congress may have been more than just disagreeing with the advice given him by Attorney General Loretta Lynch to sit on the info until after the election.

Comey is not afraid of a fight. When he was Acting AG, during AG John Ashcroft's hospitalization, he stood up to Bush regarding NSA domestic surveillance data collection. Comey's refusal to certify major parts of the program led to changes being made.

It would appear that there is more to his sending a letter to Congress than just correcting a previous statement made to a Committee in July.

The timing of an urgent Friday letter to Congress, and then not getting a search warrant until Sunday, is nothing less than odd. Announcing that you are continuing with an investigation without first having access to your potential evidence makes no sense.

Usual procedure for a high profile or sensitive case, as described to me by someone who has experience with "highfalutin" cases, is for DOJ to assign to the investigation one or more local US Attorneys and a prosecutor from the DOJ Main Office, those particularly suited to the case or whichever AUSA's happen to "draw the short straws." While the case is worked out of the DC Field Office, supervision of the case will come from FBI Headquarters. The prosecutors will establish physical space at the FBI Field Office so that Justice and the FBI can work shoulder to shoulder and stay on top of events.

Whatever delay there was in obtaining the Weiner email warrant would logically, as a matter of procedure, be attributable to DOJ. The fact that the FBI went to a magistrate on a Sunday is not in and of itself noteworthy. What is noteworthy is that Director Comey sent his letter to Congress and posted a letter to his staff on the previous Friday. In the letter to his staff, referring to the emails on Weiner's laptop, he made it clear that they needed more investigation and review of the emails - ergo a search warrant. The application for a search warrant could have been completed in as little as three hours after the FBI Squad Supervisor asked for one, which, according to the letter, was the day before. That is three full days before the warrant was received.

A WikiLeaks' posting shows that President Obama knew about Clinton's use of a private server much earlier than he said he did, and that he used an alias when communicating with her. The question immediately becomes Watergate clear - what did the President know and when did he know it? In fact, there should be new questions about the President himself sharing information over unsecured devices to protect his own questionable doings - not only with Clinton, but with many other people.

Just before Comey's October 28th letter to Congress, Loretta Lynch stated that she was leaving the decision to prosecute completely up to Comey. The Attorney General's 'hands off' policy was announced just after Lynch had a secret meeting with Bill Clinton in a plane sitting on the tarmac of an airport a few days before Comey's July 5h Congressional appearance.

We don't yet know with certainty why there was a three day delay in applying for a warrant, just as we don't yet know what actually transpired in the plane between Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch. But, the secret rendezvous on a runway is odd, and has the appearance of something illicit. And, so is the timing of the warrant odd, indicative of something happening behind the scenes.

From what we know, the FBI must have gone to Loretta Lynch or one of the Federal Prosecutors working with the Clinton case, and requested a search warrant for Abedin's emails. At the time, Lynch was telling Comey to "follow policy" not to inform Congress about the new emails until after the elections. Because all Federal Prosecutors work under the Attorney General, it seems logical that the delay in obtaining the warrant was a result of the disagreement between Attorney General Lynch and FBI Director Comey.

Prior to the decision not to prosecute Clinton, Comey had been lauded as an honorable public servant. After the decision not to prosecute, many were calling him a political weasel. Which, then, is the real James Comey? If he is in fact an honorable person, and if there was as much backlash within the FBI as has been suggested, and because the insecure communications scandal reaches into the White House, Comey may have begun to question the possibility that he would be left to hang out to dry.

As a result of the Watergate scandal, Attorney General John Mitchell and several of President Nixon's top aides went to jail on obstruction charges. It appears that people in the Obama administration have been guilty of the same crime. With information being garnered from WikiLeaks, and whatever is in Weiner's computer, and whoever within the administration might decide to talk, there is no foreseeable limit as to how high and wide this scandal could reach.

It is very unusual to make a public statement about an investigation and then get a warrant after the fact. It makes no sense unless Lynch's delay in getting the warrant led Comey to feel that he'd had enough of the Administration's political games. He may have felt that his only move was to go around Lynch and inform Congress of the discovery of the new information. By going "public" with the information, he put Lynch and the entire Administration on the spot, leaving them little or no wiggle room, forcing Lynch's hand to get the warrant as soon as possible.