This week, F.B.I. Director James Comey has been all over television to tear into Donald Trump. He compared the president to a mob boss and went as far as to say that the man is “morally unfit” to be the commander-in-chief, among other things. These are all sentiments I agree with and I hope Comey continues to make them, given his mass influence as the former head of an intelligence agency. That being said, James Comey is still a complicated, self-serving individual who made an inexplicable, unforgivable mistake that quite possibly altered the course of American history.
Before anyone paints Comey as a hero, let us first revisit his costly mishandling of the Clinton email investigation. In the summer of 2016, back when Comey still had a job at the Department of Justice, Comey closed the probe of Hillary Clinton’s email due to lack of evidence. Still, he publicly chastised her and even questioned her judgment. Regardless, the matter was put to bed and Clinton managed to secure an enormous lead over Trump in the polls.
Then Comey decided to write a letter to Congress just eleven days before the election to announce that he was reopening the investigation, severely impacting her standings in the polls and potentially costing her the presidency. Comey cleared Clinton’s name for the second time a day before the election, but by then the damage had already been done. Trump won and the rest was history.
Clinton saw her lead in the polls shrink after the infamous letter and never recovered afterwards. Meanwhile, the F.B.I. has been investigating possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign in July, yet there was strangely no mention of that from the agency’s director until well after the election. It is quite interesting that Comey, a professed Republican at the time (he, like many others, has since abandoned the party in the wake of Trump), decided to publicly condemn Clinton’s email usage and then send a letter to Congress informing them of his reopening of the fruitless investigation, while keeping the investigation into Trump’s campaign a well-guarded secret.
Things become even more peculiar upon Comey’s admission that his assumption that Clinton would ultimately win the election was “a factor” in determining his course of action. This is not the way an F.B.I. Director should behave. His statement implies that if the race were closer, he would not have sent the letter which further proves his overall ineptitude in handling the entire investigation.
Shortly thereafter, Comey received his comeuppance when the president he helped put in office fired him for (get this) “Mr. Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.” Trump would later admit (and then later deny) that the F.B.I.’s investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia was at least part of his decision. Comey was out of a job and the United States was stuck with a president that most Americans didn’t even vote for. And so the 6’8″ giant faded away, occasionally resurfacing to tweet out vague Bible verses in response to negative news revolving around the president.
Now he is back with a vengeance, insulting the president to no end and attempting to recapture the hearts of Trump haters everywhere. The man who had been silent for months has now reemerged into the public spotlight just in time to promote his new book. He is making the rounds on all of the talkshows, acting more like Stormy Daniels than J. Edgar Hoover.
Comey’s book dilutes substantive political dialogue and personal autobiography with childish insults about the president’s orange skin and small hands. Eye-rolling banter like that is enough to write Comey off as a vengeful ex-employee, which is exactly what the GOP is scrambling to do. Despite an opportunity to perhaps use his mass sphere of influence to redirect the national narrative into something constructive, Comey is once again butchering his chance at doing the right thing. This time, I’m not surprised.
James Comey is an opportunist who has waited until now to emerge from the woodwork solely to sell his book, which turned out to be filled more with self-aggrandizing and opinions than bombshells. His time away from the public eye has allowed him to transform himself from bumbling government employee who wrongly intervened in a presidential election to a petty, pompous celebrity who has somehow achieved the nearly impossible political feat of being despised by both the left and right.
Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote, “he who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster.” By trying to feud with Donald Trump, it appears that Comey may have ultimately become him. The passive-aggressive tweets, the immature personal digs, the overall incompetence at his position and the massive thirst for attention has thrust the former F.B.I. director into rare company right alongside his arch enemy. As if swaying a national election and being fired in disgrace wasn’t enough, Comey had to attempt his comeback as a Kardashian.
James Comey is no hero. He is a man with the wrong intentions who has made colossal mistakes and now wants to be beloved by the public because he is trashing the man who fired him. I, for one, am not buying it. Regardless of my opinion, one thing is for sure: Comey is bound to sell a lot of books. Yet as he looks into the mirror every night, he may be left to wonder: at what cost?