If there’s anything the Russiagate hubbub has taught us, it’s that those who are politically connected can just about get away with murder, while those who rankle the establishment will have the book thrown at them. There’s no evidence at all that President Trump or his campaign colluded with Russians in 2016, yet the entire US intelligence apparatus was geared up to try to ensnare him, all because they didn’t want a populist to take office. Yet Hillary Clinton, whose wrongdoing was readily apparent, didn’t even warrant an investigation. Now we find out that former FBI Director James Comey broke the law by leaking information to the media. Will he face punishment for his transgressions?
Comey’s actions consisted of recording his meetings with President Trump, then leaking them to a law school professor friend of his whom he then urged to leak to the media. It was clear that Comey knew that what he was doing was wrong, since he wanted to try not to be directly implicated in the leaks. And the subject matter of the meetings was obviously material that shouldn’t have been leaked. According to the Department of Justice Inspector General’s report, Comey’s behavior set a dangerous precedent for FBI employees, as many other FBI officials may feel similarly inspired in the future to leak sensitive information in order to bring about outcomes they may personally desire.
But prosecutors at DOJ refused to prosecute Comey, stating that they didn’t believe there was enough evidence to indicate that Comey intended to violate federal laws regarding leaking classified information. That’s a load of BS.
First of all, Comey knew damn well what the law was, which is why he tried to distance himself from the leaks and hide them. Unlike Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, etc., he didn’t have the guts to leak the information himself.
Secondly, federal prosecutors routinely prosecute people who don’t know what the law is and inadvertently break it. If ignorance of the law is no excuse, then that standard should especially be applied to Comey and others in positions of power and responsibility. He needs to be held responsible for his actions in the same manner as he himself held others accountable.
Finally, deciding not to prosecute Comey is essentially giving a green light to any government official who wants to leak information to discredit a sitting President. The precedent is there now, so expect to see behavior like this become mainstream.
Of course, the little peon civil servants won’t get immunity like this, but senior civil servants at the deputy assistant secretary level and above can now expect to receive little more than slaps on the wrist for disclosing sensitive information. Yet again, those in positions of power who have the establishment’s favor will escape punishment, while those who run afoul of the establishment will have to face the full fury of the government’s prosecutorial power.
Image: Mark Warner