The FBI: Did Comey turn the election?
“If James Comey set out to politicize the FBI, ruin his own reputation, make enemies on both sides of the aisle, and give Donald Trump supporters whiplash, he succeeded,” said Jennifer Rubin in The Washington Post. But by any normal standard, the FBI director emerged from this presidential campaign as a colossal loser. Just 11 days before the election, Comey shocked the country by announcing that investigators had discovered on Anthony Weiner’s laptop thousands of new emails potentially related to the probe of Hillary Clinton’s private server. A triumphant Trump and his supporters declared that Clinton was on the verge of being indicted, and Clinton’s poll lead dramatically shrank. Then, with 48 hours to go, Comey essentially said, “Never mind!”—the emails were irrelevant or duplicates and hadn’t changed his July conclusion that Clinton committed no crime in her handling of classified information. With Clinton losing several swing states by narrow margins, said Tim Walker in Independent.co.uk, Democrats were left wondering: Was it Comey’s “clumsy interference that handed the election to Donald Trump at the eleventh hour?”
Republicans are no less disgusted with Comey, said NationalReview.com in an editorial. In once again clearing Clinton just before the election, he clearly caved to pressure from Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who has been protecting her fellow Democrat all along. Why did the director repeatedly ignore long-standing FBI tradition against publicly commenting on sensitive political investigations close to elections, leaving voters “utterly confused”? For the sanctimonious Comey, who clearly cared only about his own reputation, “it has been a shameful performance.”
No one will ever know how much Comey affected this election, said James Fallows in TheAtlantic.com. His reckless decision to inject himself into a volatile campaign changed the momentum of the race in Trump’s favor, and may have influenced millions of early voters and down-ballot House and Senate contests. “Sometime soon, Comey should resign.” The damage he’s done to the FBI’s reputation will not be easy to repair, said Jonathan Tobin in CommentaryMagazine.com. After “Comey’s absurd flip-flops,” and the leaks from FBI agents over whom he’s clearly lost control, how can anyone trust the bureau to impartially investigate any future scandals involving Democrats or Republicans? It will take more than Comey’s resignation “to make that right.”