Hold Up: IG Report Gives James Comey Nothing to Celebrate

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Former FBI Director James Comey was so quick to publish his Washington Post “victory lap” op-ed that we can only assume that he had it in the can before the Department of Justice Inspector General even released his final report on the 2016 Russia investigation.

Another reason we think that may be the case – Comey seems to think this report gives him something to crow about. But while Michael Horowitz concluded that political bias did not govern the FBI’s decision to investigate the Trump campaign, the details of the report are rife with condemnation. Comey should be ashamed, not celebratory.

In the op-ed, published on Monday, Comey insisted that there was no “criminal conspiracy” to take Trump down, no “illegal wiretapping,” and no “spying.” But he managed to avoid discussing the 50+ mistakes and blunders that the FBI made in surveilling an American citizen and pursuing an investigation into a major political candidate. His only concession: “That’s always unfortunate, but human beings make mistakes.”

Okay, that’s true. But what Horowitz found was less about a few human errors and more about a pattern of such disregard for the law that it can only be considered negligence. While Comey was accusing Hillary Clinton of acting recklessly, he should have reserved some of that condemnation for his own agents. Not that we disagree with his assessment of Clinton.

In the report, it was determined that Comey was well aware that the Steele dossier was a flawed piece of political propaganda. And yet, he signed off on his agents using the document to secure a FISA warrant against Trump campaign aide Carter Page. The report found that the application the DOJ used to get that warrant was riddled with errors and lacking in evidence. Comey brushed off the 17 errors specifically identified by the Inspector General as unimportant.

“The FBI fulfilled its mission — protecting the American people and upholding the U.S. Constitution,” Comey wrote. “Now those who attacked the FBI for two years should admit they were wrong.”

Not so fast, Mr. Comey. Both Attorney General Bill Barr and U.S. Attorney John Durham – who are running a parallel investigation into the truth of the Russia probe – have disputed Horowitz’s findings. Comey can sit back and accuse Barr of acting as a “spokesman” for the president all he wants; until these two men have completed their inquiry, nothing has been resolved. And we have a feeling that when all the truth comes out, James Comey is going to look back on this premature celebration with a great deal of regret.