A Nation of Men, Not Laws
James Comey testified this past week before the Senate. There are things the media will downplay that should not be downplayed. The media agenda, however, is to cast as much doubt on the president as possible. They do this not just because of a liberal bias, but because discord and doubt are a ratings bonanza.
Comey testified that the president did ask him to stop the investigation into Mike Flynn, but Comey refused. He also said the president was not under investigation. The president grew angry when Comey refused to say this publicly.
This does not appear to be an issue of obstruction of justice. Justice was not obstructed. But the president should not have done it and it is a self-inflicted wound. There are, however, larger points the media will choose to ignore.
Mr. Comey testified that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch asked him to minimize his statements on the Clinton investigation. The former Attorney General asked Comey to call it a “matter” instead of an “investigation.” Comey also testified that Lynch meeting with President Clinton was the catalyst to stop his pursuit of Hillary Clinton. If the fix was in, why bother.
Contrast that testimony to Mr. Comey admitting he leaked his own memo about President Trump asking him to suspend the Flynn investigation. He said he leaked it because he wanted a special prosecutor. Why was Comey willing to leak that, but not the Lynch matter? The most obvious answer is that Comey thought the one a bigger deal than the other. But then James Comey refused to stop the Flynn investigation and he did actually stop the Clinton investigation. That should trouble everyone who is troubled by President Trump’s actions.
James Comey should not have stopped the Clinton investigation because of Loretta Lynch’s conduct, just as he should have not stopped the Flynn investigation. That he did so suggests Comey was willing to do what he thought was proper and not what the law demanded. It also suggests a latent partisanship on Comey’s behalf. Surely now it appears more likely he sent out the famous memo about Hillary Clinton shortly before the election not to help Trump, but because he assumed Clinton could not be stopped. He was covering himself, not doing his job.
The President of the United States does not come out of this looking well. He looks like he did try to bully the Director of the FBI. He looks like he did try to use his influence to help friends. Donald Trump is a very loyal person. He demands loyalty and he gives it. Flynn gave him loyalty and the president tried to protect him. Comey would not give him loyalty and Comey got fired. The president has the power to fire the FBI Director and did. But it does not mean he should have.
Compare Comey to 25 year old Reality Leigh Winner of Augusta, GA. Ms. Winner, a self-entitled millennial who possibly put our national security in jeopardy, allegedly decided to abuse her position as a national security contractor. Having now been arrested, Ms. Winner is accused of leaking classified information hoping to harm the president. On Twitter, she tweeted that she would stand with the Iranians against President Trump. She decided to do what she thought was right, not what the law required or demanded.
James Comey, Donald Trump and Reality Winner all did that. They did what they thought was right, not what the law required. President Trump decided he could do what he did because he was President. Comey decided he was the FBI Director and no one could question him. Winner did what she did thinking she could undermine the president.
In all three cases, these individuals made it about themselves, not the law. As a result, they have all weakened institutions of public trust. They have made us more a nation of men and not laws. And all of them, and their supporters, think they did nothing wrong. It was the other guy’s fault. Our great national experiment in democracy continues to crumble, eroded by the supposed good intentions of too many bad actors.
To find out more about Erick Erickson and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.