No, I can’t pretend to have sympathy for James Comey. I have no time for crocodile piety over President Donald Trump’s abrupt and ignominious termination of his job as director of the FBI. The damage that Comey did to America’s democracy by swinging the last presidential election to Trump through his questionable handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe, is worse than any injustice he may have suffered at the hands of Trump.
Comey’s former colleagues at the bureau are miffed. They’re chafing at how disrespectfully their man has been treated. So are the Democrats on Capitol Hill, although for a different reason: their umbrage at Comey’s sudden termination stems from the notion that the president may have obstructed justice just as the former director was coming close to finding out if there were possible collusion between Trump’s associates and Russia to sway last November’s election to him. The Democrats want justice. They want the Trump team — even Trump himself — to be held to account. Sadly, Comey’s firing has robbed them of that wish. But they must also understand that whatever would have become the result of the Comey probe, it was never going to undo the outcome of the election. It was not going to result in Trump resigning from office; at least, not this president; and certainly not when his fellow Republicans are at peace with him. At a maximum, one or several associates of the president would have been indicted and sent to jail. At a minimum, no solid evidence probably would have been found to bring charges against them anyway.
Comey deserves no sympathy. Surely, he won’t get one from me. He was rash and injudicious. He treasured his so-called integrity over that of America’s democracy. There were departmental guidelines he should have followed scrupulously. He ignored them. He was warned not to go ahead with his unwise letter of October 28, 2016 to Congress. Comey ignored the advice. He was investigating candidate Trump, just as he was investigating candidate Clinton, although he kept mum on the former until after he’d won the election. And what did Comey say when reminded of this unfairness at a recent hearing on the Hill? Of course he offered explanations that didn’t make much sense. Had he listened to wise counsel, or chosen the sanctity of the last election over his personal integrity, Comey would still have his job today, for a President Clinton would never have fired him. Comey’s fate at the hands of Trump translates justifiably as his comeuppance for bringing to power a man resolutely determined to destroy what’s left of America’s democracy as we know it.