OPINION: From Martha Stewart To Scooter Libby, Comey’s FBI Has History Of Unscrupulous Tactics
Conscious of how sneaky he sounded in his pompous, self-serving book, “A Higher Loyalty,” James Comey felt the need to declare, “I don’t do sneaky things.” In fact, he is a master of sneakiness. Comey has now trapped yet another victim — a 30-year veteran of our armed services, a true hero — Gen. Michael Flynn.
Comey is a weaving spider with years of fly-catching experience. His first notable victim was Martha Stewart, followed famously by Lewis “Scooter” Libby, chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney. Presidential advisor Karl Rove narrowly escaped the trap.
In each of these cases, Comey employed the same web-spinning he later used to trap Flynn. Comey would have his target questioned, not to gain information that he already knew, but to trap him into a lie. To push the target to lie, Comey would trick him into incorrectly believing that a true answer would be admission to a crime.
As a young federal prosecutor, Comey’s agents questioned Martha Stewart after she unloaded stock right before it tanked on the advice of a broker with inside information. Comey knew Stewart had not committed a crime but also knew she would likely not know the law and would deny learning the information.
But rather than cause Stewart to be assured that she had done nothing wrong and could tell the truth with impunity, Comey trapped her into a lie. He had snared his prey.
When, in 2003, Valerie Plame complained that her status as a CIA agent had been wrongly published, Deputy Attorney General Comey persuaded his boss, John Ashcroft, to recuse himself from that investigation, even though Comey himself was more recusal-worthy because of his contempt for Cheney.
Comey knew that, like Stewart, Libby would think outing Plame was criminal, even though it was not. Comey correctly assumed that Libby would falsely deny talking to reporters about Plame. In fact, Comey already knew who had disclosed Plame’s name to Robert Novak, who published it.
Fast forward to January 2016. The hated Donald Trump won the election. President Obama, grandstanding, had sanctioned the Russians, and everyone knew Trump would soon undo the silliness. Flynn, incoming national security advisor, assured the Russians of this during the transition; Comey knew this from a tape of the conversation.
Comey’s ally in the Justice Department, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, began making noises that any negotiations with a foreign power during the transition was a violation of the Logan Act, forbidding private citizens from conducting diplomacy. No one had ever been successfully prosecuted in the 200 years of the Act, and every incoming president discussed issues with foreign governments during transition, including President Obama, quite openly.
Sneaky Comey, however, knew that Flynn — cognizant of the resurrected Logan Act — would lie about talking with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak about sanctions. Comey also knew, as he recently proudly admitted, that the Trump White House was so disorganized that Comey could simply send agents to the White House to drop in on Flynn, without forewarning.
Comey’s agents, following his script, acted casually, encountering Flynn in a friendly way, and specifically advising him that he did not need a lawyer. The spider got his fly: Flynn denied what Comey already knew about the Kislyak conversations. So, Comey was not looking for information that he already had but was looking to ruin a hero’s career for partisan purposes.
Comey also knew when lowly Trump aide George Papadopoulos had spoken to a Comey informant, Josef Mifsud, who touted his Russian connections to Papadopoulos, even though he was a British intelligence asset. Comey sent his agents to get a false denial from the hapless Papadopoulos, who denied he spoke with Mifsud after he joined the campaign team. Papadopoulos was certainly worried about the “Russian collusion” touted by Comey, which was not a crime. But Comey successfully ruined another life for ego gratification.
His setup of Trump is even more disgraceful to the just-the-facts FBI. He made a point of briefing the incoming Trump on Jan. 6, 2017, on the “peeing prostitute” allegations, knowing they were as false as their source, Sergei Millian, the known Russian asset making that claim in the Steele Dossier. This allowed Comey to hang these allegations over Trump’s head while allowing NSI James Clapper to leak the meeting to CNN, which in turn gave BuzzFeed the hook to publish the entire scurrilous dossier.
Comey made book on the hated Trump, writing after each meeting memos designed to be used to trap his boss, something he never did to his beloved Obama. Eventually, as we all know, Comey’s memos ensnared Trump in the special counsel investigation.
As Comey’s own misdeeds come to light, we trust that prosecutors will be as merciless as Comey in reviewing them, even if not as deviously unethical.
John D. O’Connor is the San Francisco attorney who represented W. Mark Felt during his revelation as Deep Throat in 2005. O’Connor is the co-author of “A G-Man’s Life: The FBI, Being ‘Deep Throat,’ and the Struggle for Honor in Washington” and is a producer of “Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House” (2017), written and directed by Peter Landesman
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.