The fiction of bipartisan justice

To a layman, the FBI means the phrase “G-Men” and Bill Murray’s line “J. Edgar Hoover will appear and destroy us all” from Ghostbusters. I write often (and will again this week) about the Supreme Court without any schoolin’ besides Court history and a sprinkling of con law as spare as the arugula in the bowl I ate last night. Hence, my alarm about FBI director James Comey’s decision to give enough information about Huma Abedin emails addressed to Hillary Clinton found in the Anthony Weiner investigation to the germane House committee such that professional troll Jason Chaffetz could tweet about the scoop early yesterday afternoon, attaching jumper cables to a moribund election for the GOP.

The way it looks to this layman, Comey should have recommended charging her using the new information found in those emails if the evidence warranted it, not let the House know that new emails were found and an investigation is underway. Of course, it may take weeks for investigators to sift through the emails and for Comey to make a recommendation to the Department of Justice, but this would’ve been after Hillary Clinton’s victory on November 8, which should tell you about the kind of fish that Comey was selling yesterday.

I don’t know who’s more overrated for bravery: Colin Powell, who was played for a sucker by the Bush administration pressing its non-existent case for war before the United Nations; or James Comey. He deserves kudos for defying the Oval Office’s insistence on certifying the legality of warrantless wiretapping, culminating in a hospital room showdown with a semi-comatose John Ashcroft, a story recounted in Charlie Savage’s essential Takeover. But he certified the program anyway after reassurances from the Bush people. Nothing brightens the day of Ron Fournier types in DC than defying one’s bosses; defiance guarantees a man employment in an opposing administration while keeping loyalties intact to his own party. Earlier this year Comey bemoaned a “Ferguson effect” on recent spikes in crime despite admitting he had no statistics to support the claim (““I don’t know for sure,” he said. “Something has happened.” Thanks, Jim. Don’t read my palm.). He also gave Hillary Clinton a public scolding in July whose appropriateness I wouldn’t have questioned had he recommended indicting her. Even gimlet-eyed commenters like Josh Marshall have preferred thinking of Comey as at worst blinkered and naive.

This is the thanks Barack Obama gets for appointing a Republican, as a disgusted Scott Lemieux avers:

I do hope that, at least, Hillary Clinton takes this as a long overdue hint that Democratic presidents should stop putting Republicans in important administration jobs. Even when, like Bernake, they’re competent and relatively progressive within their specialized fields, it creates the impression that Republicans are the Party of Adults (which is particularly silly when the typical Republican public official in 2016 is an ideological fanatic who couldn’t be trusted to run a lemonade stand with Ice-T’s supervision.)

Joe Lieberman aside, it breaks the imagination thinking of how many Democrats a President McCain or President Romney would have nominated or appointed.

To conclude, the forthcoming, brave, stalwart James Comey was so worried about what Republican satraps would think if he’d sat on the emails that he floated innuendo.

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