Comey Chameleon

Comey Chameleon

Former F.B.I. Director James Comey has been in the news a lot lately, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon. And as far as I can determine— that’s just fine with him. I suspect the desire to be a star has burned inside James Comey for as long as he’s been tall. You see when you’re tall it’s hard to hide. But if you watch the Giant G-Man, his body-language says that he quite often would prefer to demur from the spotlight and simply blend in; like he did that time in the Oval Office just before Trump called him out and away from the curtains that for a while had camouflaged him in his oddly matching suit in both color and texture. And for all his accomplishments, he’s been a lawyer, a prosecutor and Director of The F.B.I., but James Comey is also six foot eight, and if you watch him closely enough he reveals a trait I’ve seen before. That of a tall man who routinely has to field the question, “where did you play basketball?” Needing to live up to the expectations of others can be a hazardous road. And along with the degree of fear and angst that produces, can also come certain survival mechanisms, and becoming a star in one’s own right, far and away from what was more commonly expected of him, I think drove him. James Comey has had quite the successful, professional life for the most part. But in D.C. circles his was but a footnote in significance to so many other powerful and influential figures, many of whom he had worked with, around and for in his career. And somewhere along the way, Comey decided he wanted more.  There have been many F.B.I. Directors, but Comey didn’t want to be L. Patrick Gray. He wanted to be a star. And if J. Edgar Hoover was the pinnacle of achievement at the F.B.I., he was at least going to be his second in terms of power and historical significance.


Hillary Clinton had a dream… James Comey had a scheme. And in the summer of 2016 and leading up to the presidential election, Comey, a registered Republican, saw an opportunity. Hillary Rodham Clinton was the daughter of a prominent Chicago family with an outstanding resume. She was a lawyer at a high-profile law firm in Little Rock, a champion of women’s rights and spokesperson for the poor as well as children’s and family advocacy. She would go on to become the First Lady, and one of grace in support of her husband, first in the statehouse of Arkansas and then The Whitehouse when he won the presidency. She would later be elected to a senate seat from the state of New York and then go on to serve as Secretary of State in The Obama Administration. So she had been a different kind of bird— a dove on domestic issues, but a hawk in international affairs and was now prepared to bear the standard of the American Eagle and poised to be elected the first female president in the history of these United States. Everyone was certain of it… even James Comey; and especially now that The Republican Party had nominated a person most everyone in official Washington was certain would be their undoing in the person of Donald J. Trump. Trump’s negative were so high there was simply no way he could be elected, even as the Clinton campaign made one crucial mistake after another in her presentation, and the candidate herself started to show  signs of racial intolerance, poor strategizing, particularly in the must-have Midwest, faltering personal health and then there was ‘The Red-Neck Awakening’, where poor and rural southern whites and right-wing extremist became energized to turn-out in unprecedented numbers.

hillaryNow all Comey needed to do was to ever so lightly cloud Hillary’s future with a tinge of suspicion by calling her handling of sensitive documents and emails- reckless and unprofessional. But he would then couch those comments with the opinion that while these errors were serious and egregious, no prosecutor could or would ever pursue these matters as a case for legal action on such thin margins… especially with one who was surely about to become a sitting president. The sticking point being that in either event, Comey, as Director of The F.B.I. had completely usurped authority, as these were actions, if addressed at all would have been/ should have been an action taken by his superior, The Attorney General- Loretta Lynch. But once it was out there, there was no taking it back, and Comey saw himself as holding something of a Sword of Damocles over Clinton’s presidency going forward, much like Hoover had manipulated JFK with his knowledge of his extra marital affairs in the fifties and sixties. If she didn’t play ball, Comey could always come back and say that there was in fact more evidence than originally thought, and now maybe charges might actually be sought. This approach was actually trotted out as on October 28th of that year, when just days before the election Comey held a press conference to announce that Clinton’s emails and documents handling had been very suspicious and that there was even more to learn. So now Comey was sitting in The Cat-Bird Seat.  He still expected Hillary to win and if she did, she had been sufficiently warned. But if by some strange twist of fate she didn’t win and Trump became president, Comey who by this time was holding The Steele Dossier and its lurid tales of Trump with Russian hookers and golden showers and the like; and he would pick the right time to let him know about that, so as to control him as he had demonstrated he would have during The Clinton Affair. So now whoever won— he couldn’t lose.

The irony in all this of course is that Mrs.Clinton never became president and Trump did to a tune of what seems like one scandal after another. But the ones out of a job and closest to having to legally defend themselves are James Comey and his second at The F.B.I., Andrew McCabe. And for all their wheeling and dealing, spying and lying, in a world where cold hard facts are the bedrock of that professional, their fates could very well be depended upon ‘Karma’. And that element tends to swing not in favor of what you want, but more likely what you deserve.  And these events could become yet another testament to what can happen to those seeking to be bigger than they are… they come and go.

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