Horowitz: Comey Puts Country First

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

 

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In an era dominated by partisan polarization and rigid ideology, it was refreshing to see a disinterested public servant bring John McCain’s 2008 campaign slogan to life and truly put country first. Recognizing that the ill-advised meeting between Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton fueled the perception that the decision of whether or not to indict Hillary Clinton would not be made on the merits, FBI Director James Comey knowingly put himself in the line of fire, courageously stepping forward and  expansively explaining the decision he made to recommend that there be no charges stemming from Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for her email as Secretary of State.

Comey could have quietly sent his recommendation over to the career Prosecutors in the Justice Department, leaving them and Attorney General Lynch to take the brunt of the fall out. But he knew that his earned reputation for integrity was required to convince the public that the investigation was conducted properly. As the FBI Director told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee this past Thursday, “What I decided to do was offer transparency to the American people about the whys of that, because I thought that was very, very important for their confidence in the system of justice”

Both in his initial televised announcement and his testimony in a hastily called more than 4 ½ hour Congressional hearing, James Comey impressively and thoughtfully explained his rationale with a welcome attention to nuance, precedent, context and history that is all but absent from our current political debates. He plainly stated that Hillary Clinton and her aides’ were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” But at the same time, Comey asserted that there was a lack of evidence of an intention to “violate the laws governing classified information”  The knowledge that you are violating the law was by and large present in all the cases brought forth under the relevant statutes, according to Comey. He concluded that it was a case that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring.

Appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as Deputy Attorney General, where he famously confronted Bush’s Chief of Staff Andrew Card in Attorney General Ashcroft’s hospital room, preventing Card and White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez from securing Ashcroft’s signature on the reauthorization of a domestic surveillance program the Justice Department viewed as illegal, Comey is highly respected on both sides of the aisle. Expressing what appears to be the predominant view of Republican elected officials, Congressman Peter King (R-NY) said, “I think it's a mistake for Republicans to somehow think that Comey was in on a fix or he was rigging something. He is really of unimpeachable integrity.”

While many people will continue to think that Hillary Clinton should have been indicted and some will continue to believe that the ‘fix was in’, I am confident that thanks to James Comey. most Americans will come to believe that the decision was made with integrity. As Comey said, “Only facts matter, and the FBI found them here in an entirely apolitical and professional way.”  And the FBI Director’s straightforward and impressive performance last week went a long way to making these reassuring words ring true..

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island

 

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