In light of the news that the Justice Department’s inspector general is opening an investigation into how FBI Director James B. Comey “handled the probe of Hillary Clinton’s email practices,” it’s probably best for Comey to resign. The investigation is going to span from Comey’s actions in July 2016, when he first announced that no charges would be filed against Clinton, to November 2016, which covers when Comey sent one letter informing Congress that the FBI was re-opening the case to examine emails found on Anthony Wiener’s laptop and then a second letter days before the election again saying that no charges would be filed. When you also add in the inspector general’s investigation into whether Anthony McCabe, the FBI deputy director whose wife previously took money from Hillary Clinton ally Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) PAC when she ran for a Virginia Senate seat, should have recused himself from the case entirely, we are left with a cloudy set of circumstances and events. And now, with suspicions about who leaked scurrilous, unverified, non-intelligence information about Donald Trump, the plot is clearly thickening, not settling down.
Comey has been criticized both by Republicans and Democrats for his actions at various points throughout the 2016 campaign. No matter what the inspector general report shows — after what will undoubtedly be a very lengthy investigation — there will always be a lingering suspicion that something went wrong with the FBI’s involvement. There will always be a sense that something wasn’t quite right at the top.
I wrote back at the end of October that Comey was in a difficult situation, boxed in by Clinton partisans and heading an agency that allegedly was expressing distrust of the Obama Justice Department. By all accounts, Comey is a decent man and a straight shooter, and it’s unfortunate that the Clinton scandals landed him in such an untenable position. But too much toothpaste has left the tube. The FBI won’t be thought of as being at its best, and the agency’s investigations and actions won’t be met with complete trust, unless there is a change at the very top.
President-elect Donald Trump, Congress and the FBI itself all deserve a fresh start.