Yesterday The Washington Post broke a story that reported the U.S. intelligence community knew Russia was interfering in the election in order to help Donald Trump. This information forces us to reconsider the behavior of the FBI Director, James Comey.
No one can now forget that Comey sent a message to congress on October 28th, 11 days before the election, saying the FBI was going to investigate some emails they found on a laptop that may relate to Hillary Clinton, one of the candidates running for president.
The FBI eventually found no evidence of wrong doing. But the announcement clearing Clinton was made on the Sunday before the election and it was hardly noticed. The damage was done.
Comey’s announcement breathed new life into the Trump campaign. It came at a time when Clinton’s campaign was picking up steam. Clinton had just performed well in the debates and the video that depicted Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women had been released and new women were continually coming out confirming the claims Trump made. Clinton was leading in the polls and there were no public events coming up that would give Trump the ability to change the dynamic in the race.
Comey’s announcement is the public event that changed the dynamic of the race. Trump’s former Campaign Manager Corey Lewandowski described Comey’s announcement as “amazing,”
“With 11 days to go in this election cycle, something amazing happened. The FBI director, James Comey, came out on a Friday and said they may be reopening the investigation into ‘crooked’ Hillary Clinton’s emails,” Lewandowski said Wednesday, according to The Huffington Post. “What that did … was remind people that there are two different rules in Washington ― those of the elites, for the privileged, and those for everybody else.”
Trump went into campaign rallies after Comey’s announcement chanting ‘crooked’ Hillary is being investigated by the FBI and the crowds chanted “Lock her up.” The impact on the polls was devastating. In the six days after Comey’s announcement, her chances of victory in the crucial swing states dropped on average by 14.5%, according to FiveThirtyEight. Her overall chances dropped by 15.3%.
State 10/28 11/3 Drop
Florida 65.8 49.6 16.2
North Carolina 64.4 49.5 14.9
Arizona 49.4 28.9 20.5
Iowa 50.9 28.3 22.6
Ohio 49.9 32.7 17.2
Michigan 86.5 78.3 8.2
Pennsylvania 85.9 75.9 10
Wisconsin 85.3 78.7 6.6
Average drop 14.5
United States 81.5 66.2 15.3
On October 29th a complaint was filed against the F.B.I. with the Office of Special Counsel, which investigates Hatch Act violations, and with the Office of Governmental Ethics. It was filed by Richard W. Painter, a professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and the former chief White House ethics lawyer from 2005 to 2007, during the Bush administration. He explains why he filed this complaint in an article in The New York Times. Painter argues, “the F.B.I.’s job is to investigate, not to influence the outcome of an election.” The Hatch Act “bars the use of an official position to influence an election.” The evidence page outlines the different ways the FBI failed to follow this law. Painter concludes his article saying,
This is no trivial matter. We cannot allow F.B.I. or Justice Department officials to unnecessarily publicize pending investigations concerning candidates of either party while an election is underway. That is an abuse of power. Allowing such a precedent to stand will invite more, and even worse, abuses of power in the future.
Senator Harry Reid sent a letter to Comey stating he believes Comey may have violated the Hatch act.
James Comey’s behavior must however be viewed in a new light now that we know that the intelligence agencies all knew that Russia was interfering in the U.S. election in order to help Trump win. The Washington Post reported yesterday that,
Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.
“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”
The Post article makes it clear that Comey was not only aware of this consensus view, he was asked by the president to present this view to a group of leaders in the house and senate.
By mid-September, White House officials had decided it was time to take that step, but they worried that doing so unilaterally and without bipartisan congressional backing just weeks before the election would make Obama vulnerable to charges that he was using intelligence for political purposes.
Instead, officials devised a plan to seek bipartisan support from top lawmakers and set up a secret meeting with the Gang of 12 — a group that includes House and Senate leaders, as well as the chairmen and ranking members of both chambers’ committees on intelligence and homeland security.
Obama dispatched Monaco, FBI Director James B. Comey and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson to make the pitch for a “show of solidarity and bipartisan unity” against Russian interference in the election, according to a senior administration official.
As professor Painter pointed out, the F.B.I.’s job is to investigate, not to influence elections. We therefore have evidence Comey violated the Hatch Act. But the story that broke yesterday in The Washington Post has provided additional information about what Comey knew and when he knew it. We now have evidence he knowingly influenced an election in a way that gave aid to the counterintelligence program of a foreign power intended to undermine our democracy and elect a president that serves its interests.
Article III, section 3, of the U. S. Constitution reads as follows:
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court. The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
We now have evidence the FBI Director is guilty of treason. Today Senator Reid compared Comey to J. Edger Hoover and called for his resignation.