For me, FBI Director James Comey is an enigma. Being a Democrat and avid supporter of Secretary Hillary Clinton now and during the 2016 presidential race, I was very angry when Director Comey stepped in with about two weeks left until the election and, in my opinion, singlehandedly ruined the election for Secretary Clinton. He handed it to Donald J. Trump! Although I have had the opportunity to calm down since the election, I am still upset and concerned that a person with Director Comey’s pristine reputation would take the steps that he took during that election. I just cannot understand why he was so willing to disregard the norms when it came to Secretary Clinton’s case yet adamantly refused to disregard those same norms in Mr. Trump’s case; a case that had the potential to be exponentially more damaging to the United States as did the one involving Secretary Clinton.
Due in large part to his highly respected reputation on both sides of the aisle, I want to believe that Director Comey is an honest, hardworking and dedicated civil servant who is nonpartisan when it comes to doing his job and that his patriotism is beyond reproach. That is why I continue to try to figure him out. A recent article in The New York Times by Matt Apuzzo, Michael S. Schmidt, Adam Goldman and Eric Lichblau entitled ‘Comey Tried to Shield the F.B.I. From Politics. Then He Shaped an Election.’ attempts to shed some light on why he made the decisions that he made during the 2016 presidential election. But depending on your perspective, it raises as many questions as it seeks to answer. Further, it causes one to contemplate the fact that even if Director Comey’s decisions were totally innocent ones that were not at all influenced by partisanship or other nefarious factors, they were bad decisions and he should be held accountable for making them.
Whether or not Director Comey’s decisions were directly responsible for turning the election that, even according to Director Comey’s projection Secretary Clinton would obviously win, into a victory for Mr. Trump, there is little doubt that they played a major role. In the previously mentioned article, Director Comey said “We’re not considering whose ox will be gored by this action or that action, whose fortune will be helped. We just don’t care. We can’t care. We only ask: ‘What are the facts? What is the law?'” It appears, however, that it did matter whose ox would be gored. Because when it came to deciding whether or not Director Comey’s ox would be gored by way of either indelibly staining or ruining his personal reputation or that of the F.B.I. organization, Director Comey chose to avoid the goring of his ox at all costs. Many Democrats remain angry that among the oxen that remained to be gored that Director Comey ultimately chose the Clinton ox as the one that would be the, so to speak, sacrificial lamb. They continue to wonder what Director Comey’s rationale was in helping him to make this choice.
Director Comey made and stood by these decisions even though he knew that he would be bucking his boss and breaking longstanding norms of the Justice Department and the F.B.I. He made them even though he knew that he was running the risk of shaping a momentous election. Perhaps the ultimate choices that he made were innocent ones…or perhaps they were not. Perhaps his choices were not at all unlike those that the head of any other department in government would have made…or perhaps they were not. But the questions that surround those choices remain unanswered and may never be answered… Perhaps. Yet those are the very questions that beg to be answered because they are intricate ingredients in the mixture that comprise the substance of F.B.I. Director James B. Comey’s makeup; the DNA that can explain why he is an enigma and may always remain as such… Perhaps.
Eulus Dennis – author, Operation Rubik’s Cube and Living Between The Line