Former FBI Director James Comey’s long-anticipated testimony before House committees finally took place on Dec. 7, after several weeks of legal wrangling that included a subpoena and a lawsuit.
Comey had spent several weeks demanding that any hearing where he testified must be televised and open to the public. The House committee chairmen responded by issuing a subpoena that compelled Comey to appear, and in response, Comey and his legal team then filed a lawsuit attempting to quash the subpoena.
A compromise was reached when both committees agreed to release a transcript publicly following Comey’s testimony.
After his testimony, Comey told reporters with confidence that when the transcript of the hearing was released, everyone would see he had nothing to hide, and that he was very truthful and honest. The transcript would also show how nothing of any real value was learned from the hearing, and that it was all just a desperate Republican attempt to rehash the Clinton email investigation.
When the actual transcript was released the following day, the testimony drew a very different picture than the one Comey had painted for the media. As it turns out, he was putting on an act—he was bluffing for the cameras.
Clueless and Detached FBI Director
The picture of Comey that emerges from the transcript is incredibly unflattering. He looks like a guy who has no idea what was actually going on at the federal agency he was supposedly in charge of running.
To sum up briefly some things that happened on Comey’s watch that he now insists he knows nothing about:
- He claimed to have never read or seen the Peter Strzok–Lisa Page text messages about stopping Donald Trump from becoming president.
- He said he didn’t know how the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign got started or who initiated it. He didn’t know in 2016—and testified to Congress on Dec. 7 that he still doesn’t know—how it happened or who started it.
- He claimed to have very little knowledge or direct oversight of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, claiming division head Bill Priestap and top agent Peter Strzok were, pretty much, running operations on their own with little or no input from him.
- Comey was forced to admit that if the Justice Department (DOJ) or FBI had any actual evidence of a crime by Trump campaign personnel that was used to launch Crossfire Hurricane, he’s completely unaware of what it was.
- Comey also stated he’s seen no evidence supporting the narrative that mainstream media have pushed for two years—that the Trump campaign conspired with Russian hackers to steal DNC/Hillary Clinton campaign emails—is true.
- Comey admitted he has no idea what ‘collusion’ is, or if it’s even a crime.
A Huge and Fatal Admission
The biggest news to come out of the hearing is that Comey was forced to admit under questioning that DOJ/FBI officials knowingly presented what they knew was an unverified dossier to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).
In often convoluted and contradictory answers, Comey insisted to congressmen questioning him that no effort was made to hide from the FISA Court that the so-called “Steele dossier” was a political product created by individuals who were well-compensated by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
That dossier was beyond a doubt politically tainted, and it’s a hot issue of dispute between Republicans and Democrats on these House committees just how much, if at all, the FISC judges were made aware of that before they granted the initial warrant to spy on the Trump campaign and its subsequent renewals.
Several Republican members of the House committees, such as Devin Nunes of California and Mark Meadows of North Carolina, have read the unredacted FISA warrant and claim that information showing the fully political nature of the Steele dossier doesn’t appear in it. This is one of the reasons Republicans are calling on President Donald Trump to declassify the warrant.
It’s an incontrovertible fact that, even at this late point, nobody knows exactly who these shadowy, anonymous Russians were who supposedly supplied former MI6 agent Christopher Steele with “inside information” that formed the basis for the dossier he compiled. How could the dossier be verified by the FBI if Steele’s sources were still completely unknown to the agency at the time it used the dossier at the FISA Court to get its warrant?
When pressed about this question on Dec. 7, the best Comey could do was blather that the dossier was coming from a “trusted source” with a “long track record.”
As Andrew McCarthy at National Review has been pointing out for months, such a claim to the FISC judge should have been laughed out of the courtroom. Second- and third-hand accounts from anonymous sources don’t even come close to meeting the FISA Court’s high bar for getting a warrant to spy on U.S. citizens.
Despite the brave and confident face he put on when meeting with the media afterward, this hearing was a disaster for Comey—and this was only round one. He’s scheduled to return for more questioning by the committees on Dec. 17.
Bear in mind that the president could declassify and release the FISA warrant at any time. If it should happen in the intervening week before Comey testifies again, that would give Comey even less of an excuse to refuse to answer questions.
Brian Cates is a writer based in South Texas and author of “Nobody Asked For My Opinion … But Here It Is Anyway!” He can be reached on Twitter at @drawandstrike.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.