James Comey: Impartial Civil Servant Or Political Opportunist?

Michael McGrady Director of McGrady Policy Research
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Who do you believe, nowadays?

Personally, I view that in order to form an opinion on any issues, you have to give and take to synthesize your own opinion based on the evidence presented to you. Without getting too down deep into the weeds about the finer points philosophical inquiry, the events of today have perpetuated mixed emotions for me.

As we all know, our friend James Comey, the director of the FBI retained by the Trump Administration, is on a “hot seat,” so to speak, to answer questions on many of the politically charged controversies that coincided with his tenure.

Simply put, James Comey is an interesting man when it comes to his role as a member of the federal law enforcement bureaucracy, and he plays a pivotal role in the grand narrative of 2016 election fallout.

To further my argument, we need to consider what Comey seeks to be in the end: an impartial enforcer of the law or someone who seeks to capitalize off the political system via unorthodox means.

Here is what we know from today’s hearing: according to Comey, the FBI is probing the alleged ties between top Trump aides and Russian personnel.  He, on his end, has confirmed no supporting arguments for the alleged wiretapping of Trump Towers by the Obama Administration.

Before we get into too much ad hominem on who is the most trustworthy source, I must claim that I am going to leave my overarching opinions out of all of this… not like it helps to recuse myself from getting opinionated in my own op-ed.

Nevertheless, I digress. The fact that James Comey is known for his very relevant timing with dropping bombs on the American public can serve as a framing device on the matters of any alleged Russian ties and wiretapping.

Regardless if we see an internal insurrection of Trump Administration personnel, the thing that needs to be predominately expressed is that we cannot excuse the political climate created by Comey’s confirmation of any such investigation.

The position of FBI director is one of the many positions in the executive branch that is nominated by the President, then concurrently confirmed by the Senate before being charged with carrying out the duties of the position, granted upon the individual. So, naturally, the position of FBI director is already a political appointment, ergo (based on my standards), a political component of the executive branch.

Comey was confirmed by the Obama Administration in 2013 and then retained during January’s transition of power as Trump’s choice to lead the FBI. Despite all of this, the component that is being overlooked is the ability and privilege Comey has, as one of the country’s top detectives, via his position.

The Department of Justice has a role to act in the best interests of the American people, thus granting a level of autonomy to remain impartial in such proceedings. Comey’s authorization, given by the Justice Department led by Jeff Sessions, to confirm the investigation into the ties is a bittersweet component to the events that ensued today.

Here’s why: Though I trust that the Trump campaign, in good faith, has no damning ties to Russia, or the country’s government, the very existence of an investigation affirms the sentiments of accountable government. Rather, the leaders of the country aren’t above the law.

On the wiretapping claims purported by the Administration, and Trump himself, do bother me, though. Regardless of any wiretapping taking place or not, media investigation, though not official, has tried to substantiate the claims of “wiretappings on Trump” by reporting that the Obama Justice Department directed the FBI to surveil Trump campaign staffers via a national-security investigation authorized by a warrant obtained by a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court (FISA; FISA court). The FBI, reportedly, also considered opening a criminal investigation into the Trump camp, based on unfounded concerns that the staffers, and Trump himself, had questionable business dealings with Russian financial institutions.

Lastly, given the clandestine nature of the investigation, Comey is playing the goalie to prevent certain from information from entering the public sphere versus remaining sealed in a manila envelope marked “classified.” Even then, though, I still don’t have a sound judgment to pass on this entire situation.  Like aforementioned at the beginning of my ramblings, who can you trust? Comey? The Media? Trump? Your mother? Comey, in my book, is keeping all of us in the dark and needs to be coerced within the administration to be transparent. Until then, at least in his case, Comey is a national security risk.

One thing that is certain though is that the “soft coup” that ended Michael Flynn’s three-week tenure could be inch its ways into other areas of Trump-ian concern. We are in interesting times my friends, interesting times.