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Elections

What the Justice Department’s Decision Not to Prosecute Comey Tells Us


- September 1st, 2019
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Well, it looks like those of us waiting for a little justice to be delivered in the matter of Spygate will have to wait a little longer.

Though Inspector General Michael Horowitz issued a report making it clear that former FBI Director James Comey broke the law by leaking classified material, in a sickening echo of Comey’s own actions in the Hillary Clinton email scandal, the Justice Department is declining to prosecute because, according to a source of John Solomon’s, “the DOJ did not want to ‘make its first case against the Russia investigators with such thin margins and look petty and vindictive.’”

Oddly enough, Solomon’s report explaining the Justice Department’s motivation for not prosecuting Comey appeared before the Inspector General’s own report on Comey’s crimes did. But, not to worry! Solomon also went on to report that Comey isn’t home free since, “[t]here are significant issues emerging with how the [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant targeting the Trump campaign] was handled and other conduct in the investigation, and everyone involved remains under scrutiny.”

This bit about Comey remaining in legal jeopardy is no doubt the Justice Department’s way of quelling preemptively any outrage at its failure to go after Comey for the leaking. Breath-holding, however, is not advised. The department’s reaction to the inspector general’s report makes it almost impossible to believe that officials have any serious idea of prosecuting anyone involved in this story.

After all, Justice officials didn’t just ignore the inspector general’s straightforward account of how he broke the law. They publicly announced their disinclination through John Solomon’s sources even before Horowitz’s report was published. And prosecutors who have an eye toward making someone pay for their crimes don’t let the culprit or the rest of the world know he’s safe from any potential charges.

Comey, as was entirely predictable, immediately used the news that he wasn’t in any legal jeopardy for his leaks to claim vindication and even to assert that his critics owe him an apology. And most of the public, who don’t pay attention to all or even any of the fine details will only ever know that the Justice Department declined to prosecute and, hence, they will believe Comey’s brazen lie.

By making sure everyone knew Comey wouldn’t face any legal repercussions even before the inspector general’s report came out, the Justice Department gave the miscreant ex-FBI director a huge public relations win; something they wouldn’t have done if they thought there was any real chance they’d be prosecuting him for other crimes later.

A prosecutor who’s serious about getting someone doesn’t give them any room to breathe. Think Robert Mueller (or whoever was running the show that bore his name) and Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn.

The department’s public announcement also gave Comey and his legal team notice that they wouldn’t have to worry about any of the criminal behavior outlined in the inspector general’s report; freeing up resources to focus on anything else they might charge him with later. Again, something that no prosecutor who feels he might later file other charges would do.

By making sure everyone knew Comey wouldn’t face any legal repercussions even before the inspector general’s report came out, the Justice Department gave the miscreant former FBI director a huge public relations win.

Finally, the crimes outlined in Horowitz’s report weren’t just random illegal leaks. And the crimes we’re supposed to believe the Justice Department has some intention of indicting Comey and others for further down the line (if we’ll only keep waiting without raising too much of a fuss) weren’t just random abuses of the government’s power to obtain search warrants.

Both the leaking and the falsely obtained warrants were part of a criminal conspiracy to first sway the outcome and then, when that failed, to annul the results of the 2016 presidential election.

If the Justice Department does decide to prosecute anyone on the fraudulently obtained warrants used to spy on the Trump campaign, prosecutors are going to have to tell a story about motive. They’re going to have to give a coherent and compelling account of how top Obama Administration and Justice Department officials used their power illicitly to control and then overturn the results of the 2016 election.

Comey’s leaking of classified material was no small part of their attempted coup. It was explicitly designed to set loose the almost limitless legal resources of an independent counsel on the president.

And, if the Justice Department had any intention of seriously pursuing any part of the loathsome conspiracy, there is no way officials would publicly announce that the leaks which got its final stage afloat weren’t going to be prosecuted. But not only did they make just such an announcement, they made no attempt whatsoever to put Comey’s behavior in the context of the larger conspiracy we’re supposed to be content in thinking they’ll get around to pursuing later.

Even if Justice Department officials had good reason not to immediately indict Comey based on the inspector general’s report, there was no good reason for them to preempt the report by announcing Comey wouldn’t be prosecuted for any of the crimes described therein. They simply could have said that there were other investigations going on and that they were waiting for everything to be wrapped up before making any decisions about who deserved to be hauled before a judge. And if their hints that justice merely has been delayed but not denied had any basis in reality, that’s what they would have done.

Instead, they gave Comey a PR win and his lawyers notice that they needn’t expend resources worrying about the role their client’s leaking of classified material played in the attempt to subvert a U.S. presidential election and treacherously unseat the president. That’s something no prosecutor intent on bringing the seditious plotters to justice would do.

The swamp, apparently, takes care of its own and tries to put those of us awake enough to notice back to sleep with the relentless sound of tick-tock.

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