James Comey Not Only Played Himself, He Got it Wrong

FBI Director James Comey played himself yesterday by attempting to placate his Republican colleagues by condemning Hillary Clinton's actions without recommending any charges against her.

The centerpiece of Comey's criticism was the presence of a tiny number (2 or 3) classified emails found among a pile of over 30,000 unclassified emails, but according to the State Department those emails did not include sensitive material.

The State Department says those emails were erroneously classified through "human error."

"It appears that those...that those markings were a human error. They didn’t need to be there. Because once the secretary had decided to make the call, the process is then to move the call sheet, to change its markings to unclassified and deliver it to the secretary in a form that he or she can use," Kirby said. "And best we can tell on these occasions, the markings — the confidential markings — was simply human error. Because the decision had already been made, they didn’t need to be made on the email."

Kirby said such "call sheets" are often treated as classified when being prepared but as unclassified when forwarded to the secretary for his or her use.

Thanks to House Republicans, we now know far more about the minutiae of classification that, as far as can we can tell, is an incomprehensible maze of gobbledygook.

This maze, as it were, is the entire foundation of the Republican accusation that Hillary Clinton somehow compromised national security. The Republican story is that Hillary Clinton exposed secret information that somehow led to the attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, but the truth is no Republican in Congress could even tell you what information exactly she is alleged to have compromised.

As for James Comey, he's learning his lesson right now as of this writing. Comey testified in front of the Oversight Committee today and it did not go as Republicans had planned.

  • Draxiar

    In all of the hullabaloo about her emails I keep thinking of the fact that at the time she had her private server it wasn’t illegal and that her server didn’t get hacked but the State Department did.

  • Badgerite

    “Bring out the fluffy cushions.” Good luck with that, GOP.

  • Badgerite

    Comey should have known better, really. A nothingburger, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. With fries. When you look at the details, there is no there there. And there never was. In any of the various and sundry ‘investigations’ of Hilary Clinton. She is an honest, conscientious, committed public servant. And always has been. Unlike the Trump Monster who is one walking Oozing Orange Ego Wound, Hilary Clinton is in politics because she cares about the country, its people and its future.

    • fry1laurie

      I have always thought that in this instance, Hillary Clinton should be commended for having a private, SECURE email server, when other government agencies have been hacked to death. It might have been against protocol (as with Powell and Rice), but her choice was the right one.

      • Yeah, that has occurred to me too. My own info has been stolen a couple of times via the Office of Management and successful hacks on their servers. It is entirely plausible that her email was safer on her own server than it was on the State Departments.

  • Aynwrong

    I don’t know why Comey gave that press conference yesterday but he essentially gave a political speech and did this to himself. When you feed the rubes red meat they are not mollified. They just start drooling more.

  • muselet

    This morning, Kevin Drum quoted Fred Kaplan in Slate, who pointed out that classification is an absurd mess:

    Seven of the eight email chains [containing material classified Top Secret] dealt with CIA drone strikes, which are classified top secret/special access program….Everyone in the world knows about these strikes.…

    The other top secret email chain described a conversation with the president of Malawi. Conversations with foreign leaders are inherently classified.

    Drum is right when he says:

    If you choose to believe that top secret is top secret, and it doesn’t matter if the classification was ridiculous, that’s fine. Knock yourself out. The rest of us can examine Emailgate in a real-world sense and try to decide if Hillary Clinton actually did anything that might have compromised national security. The answer, pretty clearly, is no.

    As for James Comey, his job is to investigate and to decide whether or not to recommend prosecution, not to editorialize. He overstepped when he made declarations about Hillary Clinton’s supposed extreme carelessness. It was a bone he knowingly threw to congressional Rs, but it was never going to be enough for them.

    This story is never going to go away, and neither is the story of Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch: this morning’s LA Dog Trainer had several letters declaring the Clintons awful, horrible, corrupt, evil, scheming monsters who should never ever ever be trusted.

    The Clinton Rules remain in effect, folks.


    • Did you hear that idiot Rep. Chaffetz (R-UT) said that Hillary was let off the hook because she’s a Clinton, when we know in reality that the oppositie is true…that they’re only persecuting her because she is a Clinton. If her name was Rice, Powell or Albright it would be crickets chirping. So sick of their backwards bullcrap.

      • muselet

        As I say, the Clinton Rules. We’ll be hearing this crap for the next four to eight years, too, courtesy of the New York Times (which still has a hard-on for anyone with the last name “Clinton”) and the rest of our glorious news media.