Did anyone really think that fired former FBI Director James Comey’s Friday appearance before two congressional committees would yield anything worthwhile? I did not and certainly was not disappointed.
The hearing was an exercise in futility, but it was win-win for Comey, who looked like the hero of his own autobiography — a man with honor and decency, who was not going to run and hide but take on all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Comey was called in front of Congress to shed some light on his dubious role not only in the Clinton email scandal, but the initial phase of the Russian collusion investigation.
In short, he portrayed himself to be the stand-up guy who would genuinely cooperate with the committees. Instead, he showed up to the proceedings with FBI and DOJ legal puppeteers who no doubt counseled Comey to act like he was a candidate for an assisted living facility. At last count, Comey said “I don’t remember,” “I don’t know” or “I don’t recall” 245 times. That’s a lot of amnesia for a head of the most reputable law enforcement agency in the world.
The well-meaning but helpless members of Congress also gifted Comey with another opportunity to grandstand in defending his close friend Bob Mueller, the bureau and even Peter Strzok, the disgraced FBI agent who, as President Trump might say, is “dumber than a rock” for sharing puerile thoughts with his mistress in electronic form. Comey’s weak book sales could see a resurgence, and his new Democratic friends — who have rallied round and embraced him for “setting up” the president — are surely working on a cameo appearance for Comey at the Oscars.
He’s gotten a taste for celebrity and he’s wasting no time cashing it in. It goes to show that there is life, and a lucrative one, after selfless government service. For a man adept at playing the victim, who enjoys playful wit and repartee in front of packed audiences and who needs to be liked, it didn’t get any better than last Friday’s meetings.
Nothing meaningful will come from this session, or any other session, with Comey. The former director has taken us to the two-minute warning, where lame duck Republicans have no time-outs and the clock is running on congressional committees. Once the Democratic House majority is usher in, Comey’s problems will be mostly over.
However, Comey still faces serious perils. If the inspector general’s investigation determines that the former director was not just incompetent in his oversight of the FISA court applications for electronic surveillance warrants but “colluded” with other bad DOJ actors to spy on American citizens in the hope of snaring the president, his popularity, as well as his freedom, could be short lived.
The dark clouds of theft of government records (government memos which he absconded with) and media leaks still hover over his head. It would behoove him to allocate some of the proceeds from his book sales to defense counsel.
For those of us who worked for the FBI, there is a bright side: The bureau will survive Comey’s tarnished legacy. Comey’s successor, Director Christopher Wray, could not have come along at a better time. He is an “under the radar” type leader who doesn’t shamelessly crave the spotlight and is wisely steering the bureau away from the shoals of politics.
Director Wray is not out for himself, but for the men and women who put their lives on the line for America every day. He will continue to do yeoman’s work to keep our country safe and secure.
Kenneth Strange served on the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Newark, New Jersey and as Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Justice Office of Inspector General in Los Angeles. He is now the vice president of business development for an international investigative services company.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.