James Comey and Posthumous Acclaim In Art and Politics

With the firing of FBI Director James Comey, politics seems to be following art in one important fashion: your work becomes more popular after you’re dead. Jim Croce was barely known as a singer until his plane crashed and burned. Van Gogh sold only one picture in his lifetime . . . until he shot himself. Comey’s work appears to be on the same track of retrospective popularity. He is now the rage. Democratic Senators and liberal commentators who only recently denounced him as a political hack and manipulator were suddenly speaking of Comey as the second Publicus. More importantly, news outlets like CNN went into a virtual echo chamber with their experts, like Jeff Toobin, declaring that the President was lying and that there was no other explanation for firing Comey other than that fact that the Russian investigation was “getting too close” to Trump. One CNN guest historian, Douglas Brinkley,  even declared, from a purely historical perspective of course, that the firing shows that Trump acts like a “tyrant.”

For the record, I like Comey and defended some of his actions during the campaign. I thought that he was in a difficult position in trying to keep the public informed on the status of the Clinton investigation while trying not to be partisan. I also believe that the White House showed incredibly bad form in how they informed Comey, who deserved better than finding out during a speech to agents from television screens in the back of the room. The White House also showed that it is continuing to flounder in terms of crisis management and messaging. Once again, the White House exhibits all of the talent and finesse of someone who fishes with dynamite.

However, the statement by Toobin and others that there is no other possible explanation for the firing beyond protecting the President from the investigation and no other reading of the letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein. The mantra that there “is no other explanation” for the firing ignores the rather obvious explanation in the memorandum. Many former FBI and Justice officials have been denouncing Comey for his violation of core policies and procedures that govern the relationship between the Justice Department and the FBI. Just last week, a high-ranking source on the Hill referred to Comey as about “as popular as Cholera” with members of both parties. More importantly, the FBI Director reports to the Deputy Attorney General. That position has been vacant until recently with the confirmation of Rosenstein. Rosenstein was heralded by Democrats and Republicans alike as a career prosecutor and “straight arrow” who has served both Republican and Democratic presidents. He was confirmed by a vote of 96-4. After soon as he took office, Rosenstein was given the task of reviewing the conduct of Comey. He laid out in his memorandum that the record warranted Comey’s termination.

As I said on the night of the termination, I think the firing was a mistake. It is not about the merits but the timing. With these various investigations in the field and a president who has tweeted angrily about them, this was not the time to dispatch the head of the FBI. There are news reports that Trump has been fuming for weeks about Comey’s failure to support his claims over wiretapping and calls for leakers to be prosecuted. Sources say that Trump wanted to fire Comey. However, the media coverage seemed to substitute volume for substance. Toobin insisted the memorandum “is a lie. It is not possibly true. Rod Rosenstein did not decide to fire Jim Comey on his own.” He added “sometimes the most obvious explanation is the correct one.” Yes, and sometimes it is not. That is the challenge of journalism. Objectivity requires a modicum detachment. It is possible that Rosenstein, a career prosecutor, did reach this decision on the very basis that he stated in the memorandum. It is also possible that he did not and that, despite his stellar reputation, he is lying to give cover to the President. The coverage on the night of the firing never made it beyond the substance of a tweet . . . just longer and louder.

There is another small problem. There is no evidence that the investigation is really “closing around Trump.” Indeed, it is still unclear what the crime is. There has been no evidence of collusion put forward and various statements from past and current officials have downplayed that allegation. Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and others may have reporting or disclosure violations to address, but that it not exactly Watergate relived.

None of this means that we should not demand answers about the firing or insist on an independent investigation of the Russian influence allegations (though the scope of that investigation remains a matter of partisan dispute). It means that we need to exercise a degree of objectivity in our coverage.

Ironically, the poor timing and execution of the Comey termination is likely to guarantee that the Russian investigation will not just continue but expand. Indeed, it could revive interest in bringing back the Independent Counsel Act that was allowed to lapse in 1999. Under the current special counsel rules, the decision rests with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – the man that the media is now accusing of being a liar and a shill. If he refuses, the Congress may face demands to bring back independent counsels.

As for Comey, his demise appears to be his salvation. There are no nuances in politics and the deceased must be entirely innocent for the narrative to work. It was explained vividly by Queen Mother, Margaret in Richard III as she taught her daughter-in-law how to hate: “Think that thy babes were sweeter than they were, And he that slew them fouler than he is.”

68 thoughts on “James Comey and Posthumous Acclaim In Art and Politics”

      1. I think Castor beans contain minute quantities of ricin. Wouldn’t eat too many of them.

  1. The media and the American people are confused about what to think because Democrats, Hollywood, late night talk shows, the media, and even Hillary Clinton herself have told us for months that we should hate Comey for costing Hillary the election.

    Obama didn’t fire Comey when he could have. Now Trump makes a decision and fires Comey. Democrats hate Comey, but now they and the media are outraged because they hate Trump MORE than they hate Comey. There was never going to be a good time to fire Comey. And Comey definitely needed to go.

    Trump fired Comey the way he did for a reason. There is more to the story that we will never know. Maybe they wanted to preserve his office and his files just as they were while Comey was 3,000 miles away in California? Just because Comey is gone doesn’t mean ongoing investigations will cease to exist. The acting FBI director isn’t exactly someone who could be called Trump friendly.

    Now, if Trump goes and appoints someone like Chris Christie to be the new FBI director, then we may have a problem. Let’s see what he does.

    Comey will be fine. Democrats and the media will now present the once hated Comey as a fallen hero or something. Barack and Michelle got a $63 million advance for their memoirs, just imagine the book deal Comey will get.

    1. Tangy Bob – Comey might get the book advance, but do you really expect him to be truthful?

      1. I would expect Comey’s book to be as truthful as say, Barack Obama’s new book or Hillary’s new book. Or maybe it will be a novel….you know, like the new writing collaboration between James Patterson and Bill Clinton on a story called ‘The President is Missing’ — though I don’t see how anyone could read it without thinking they don’t already know where they find this fictional ‘missing president’ — like wouldn’t he be found under a desk in the Oval office with a box of cigars and a pretty young intern? So why buy the book, right?

    2. A good way to steer around corruption or ethics charges while in office is to do the bidding of potential financiers and other special interests with a veiled understanding (easily achieved due to the common precedent established these days) that after leaving office the payola can be delivered.

      So, all the benefactors of the sleaze can aggregate together a massive amount of deferred bribes that will serve as a payout for an hour or so of speaking fees. All these fat cats can do is hold the event having a admission price equal to whatever bribe the individual audience member deferred in exchange for the politician’s service as their errand boy.

      Now, a years worth of Presidential Salary can be had within only an hour’s labor. Or is it a deferred compensation for a year of doing special interests’ bidding?

      I believe the old adage “There is no honor among thieves and liars” should include many politicians as well.

      And no, I’m not being cynical, just stating it as it is. And yes, I have no possibility of employment at Duke.

      1. Makes sense to me. No bankers get prosecuted or sent to prison during the Obama administration. Now Barry starts collecting his $400k a pop Wall St. speeches. Worked for Hillary too.

    3. ;…Trump fired Comey the way he did for a reason. There is more to the story that we will never know…” Wow, this is fun. How do you know, if “we (that includes you) will never know?”

    1. Great analysis. Something we don’t hear too much explanation for is why did the DNC refuse to allow the FBI to check their hacked computers and instead turn it over to a private company that was later discredited? The FBI simply stepped aside entirely on investigating the DNC hack. That’s still a big curious unanswered question.

      I checked out the writer’s Twitter….


        1. It was a great tweet calling out Holder.

          Makes me think about my comment below where I say if Trump goes and appoints someone like Chris Christie, then we may have a problem. But, now that I think about it – if you look at the chummy relationship Obama had with Eric Holder when he was his AG, that right there, is a problem. I mean they would hang out and vacation and socialize together on Martha’s Vineyard. And I recall reading about how friendly Eric Holder’s wife is with Michelle Obama. I saw one time where the two ladies had a girl’s night out to hear some jazz music in Annapolis, MD when Holder was still AG. That’s feeling a bit too close for comfort. Yet there wasn’t much outrage from the press then, was there? And now Holder and Obama are collaborating on some legal issues together. But we don’t hear anything about their too-close-for-comfort relationship do we?

    2. http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/veneer-justice-kingdom-crime/

      Eric Holder is a certified felon, as are at least two other ex-Justice Dept. subordinates: ex-Justice Dept Chief Prosecutor for white collar crimes Lannie Breuer and a woman who replaced Breuer when PBS Frontline busted Breuer for felony perjury to Congress.

      All three (Holder, Breuer, and the woman who replaced Breuer) conspired with Lloyd Blenkfein of Goldman Sachs to insure that Lloyd and the rest of the Bankers who willfully caused the 2008 depression got away scot free.

      All three ex-Justice Officials now have many multiple dollar annual salaries working at, wait for it………….Cantor Fitzgerald, the USA’s biggest defense law office for, wait for it again………WHITE COLLAR FELONY CRIMES.

      If Cantor Fitzgerald rings a bell, that’s because FC just paid their co-conspirator Obama $400k for ostensibly a speech, but in reality pay off funds for insuring the bankers got away with their many felony crimes.

      You CAN NOT MAKE THIS STUFF UP. Stranger than fiction: NO, life in corporate owned America.

      If you’re not a believer yet, you’ll be one at the end of the above 45 minute video, professionally produced (not a schlock job, no hyperbole). The best 45 minutes you could ever spend to learn how the banks caused the 2008 depression, and how they got away with it: a bloodless coup of the US Justice Dept.

      1. All three (Holder, Breuer, and the woman who replaced Breuer) conspired with Lloyd Blenkfein of Goldman Sachs to insure that Lloyd and the rest of the Bankers who willfully caused the 2008 depression got away scot free.

        Goldman Sachs was a diversified securities firm. However, mortgage lending was not one of their lines of business.

  2. I thought Comey should have been fired when he made the first Hillary statement. Then again after the second one. It was clear he was plugged into her campaign. His explanation of how he made the decision on the first one did not hold water, nor did the reasons for giving immunity to so many people and allowing them to destroy their computers.

  3. Only miss in Jonathan’s post: From Rolling Stone: Croce had gained headliner status only recently, following his hit records, “Don’t Mess Around With Jim” and the current “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown.” He was en route from a college concert at Northwestern State College, 75 miles southeast of Shreveport, to another in Sherman, Texas

  4. Calling Toobin a “legal analyst” is disingenuous. In this case he was merely asserting his opinion about motives (facts), not legal issues. If CNN is actually as concerned about accuracy as they claim, they should call him a “opinionator.”

    There is no legal issue here. Trump has legal authority to fire Comey.

    “Once again, the White House exhibits all of the talent and finesse of someone who fishes with dynamite.”

    Speaking on behalf of those of us who fish with dynamite, I find this to be a bit insulting 😉

    Fishing with dynamite does appear to be more effective than the White House approach to controversy.

    1. “There is no legal issue here. Trump has legal authority to fire Comey.”

      We are way past the days where constitutional authority actually matters. Ironically, it was Comey that excused a crime because he couldn’t find intent. Here was have no crime (firing Comey) and Trump is being publicly prosecuted for intent. We certainly deserve the government we get.

  5. For some odd reason, I read the words “Jeff Toobin” and thought of the MS-DOS Command Line tool EXE2BIN

  6. One of the main political tactics of the DNC and subordinates is to continually push controversy into the news that is inflammatory and highly critical of the president. Now, the flip-flop of federal democrats now vilifying the president for his sacking of Director Comey, who was formerly their nemesis, shows how quickly they can abandon their principles for the conveniences of generating a new controversy.

    1. I have said for a long time that Democrats are like Bad Wrestlers, who see nothing wrong to with whacking an opponent over the head with a folding metal chair when the referee isn’t looking. Now Joe Digenova says about the same thing, at 3:30 of this short video from last night, as regards the Comey Firing:


      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

  7. Jeffrey Toobin needs to get fired from the media. I listened to his diatribe last night and wondered if he really went to law school.
    There may be more reasons out there for the firing. Maybe they will come out and see the light of day.
    FBI Directors need to be appointed for four years and that is it. Not this ten year term thing. J. Edgar Hoover had the job from 1935 to 1972 when he croaked.

    1. Toobin boinked Jeff Greenfield’s daughter and got her pregnant. He was married @ the time. He’s a sleazeball. And makes factual errors all the time. A smug, pontificating a-hole.

  8. One CNN guest historian, Douglas Brinkley, even declared, from a purely historical perspective of course, that the firing shows that Trump acts like a “tyrant.”

    Which he is…

  9. Why does anybody listen to Democratic Party officials anyway??? That is like going to a Joseph Goebbels press conference to find out how the Nazis are doing in the War. Just like with Goebbels, you are never going to get anything from the Democrats, except a promotion of the DNC Narrative Du Jour.

    For example, did you guys hear what happened on Colbert last night??? You see, the DNC narrative changed from Comey Sucks!!!, to Mean Old Trump Fires Saint Comey! – – – The problem is, nobody told the Democratic Party audience members. . . There is a video at the link.

    He does his best to play off the reaction, joking that there must be a lot of Trump fans in the crowd. Not true. It’s just that low-information Democrats have spent the past seven months being told that Comey cost them the election and reacted accordingly upon learning of his misfortune. The point of these late-night shows is to immolate the left’s villain du jour, after all; Colbert mentioned a recurring villain du jour, so they responded in the way they’ve been trained. It’s a Two Minutes Hate with laugh lines. The problem in this case is that Comey is now suddenly a martyr to anti-Trumpers, not a villain: The president firing the guy who’s investigating whether some of his campaign staffers had ties to Russian intelligence is … problematic. Colbert understood that. The dimmer bulbs who adore him needed a minute to piece it together.


    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

    1. Trump fires everyone that gets close to exposing the truth about the money laundering scheme.

    2. Squeeky..
      – I used to really enjoy Colbert on The Colbert Report; I thought his parody of an obnoxious partisan blowhard was hilarious.
      When he actually BECAME obnoxious partisan blowhard, I lost interest in watching him.
      Interesting to see the initial audience reaction to Comey’s firing, but Colbert quickly corrected his audience and told them what they SHOULD think.
      I think Colbert will enjoy his new role as Comey’s —-holster.

      1. I breezed past an article which referenced what Colbert, et al, does as “Fake Comedy.” That’s a great meme. Personally, I am still trying to figure out how you get a duck into a holster without hurting it. The duck, that is. Maybe if it is a ducking???

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

      2. When Craig Ferguson was slated to take over from Conan O’Brien after the latter’s retirement my wife and I were both dismayed and frankly angry that instead Colbert was substituted. Ferguson has exceptionally more comedic potential and delivery than Colbert and I suspected greatly that the politics of Colbert were a core attribute the network sought.

        After the announcement, a FAQ of sorts was hosted by the network. I remember distinctly when someone posed the question that Colbert would turn the show into a political event the network stated “We don’t think so.” (I believe their exact words) Now, this has undoubtedly proven true. And for me Colbert portrays his persona as an arrogant know-it-all who thinks the political world revolves around him. I have no use for this type of individual.

        1. Darren…
          – I really enjoyed Craig Ferguson as well.
          I think I read that he wasn’t interested in replacing Letterman.
          Buy I hope that at some point he returns as a talk show host.

        2. Several weeks ago came the nail that finally ended O’Blow Hard’s FNN career (thank God). A NYT report revealed FNN and O’Hypocrite paid about $13M in hush money to five women whom O’Sexbully had illegally harassed at work while simply trying to feed, cloth, and house themselves. The frosting on the cake is that apparently, FNN committed potential accounting crimes by hiding the legal payouts as O’Reilly’s “salary” on their annual financial report to investors. Hahahahah….

          Prior to the latest O’Reilly revelations, it was a tossup who was worse between Bill and Colbert. Then, post NYT report, Bill firmly took the lead. Now, with Colbert’s latest tirade within the last couple weeks, Colbert works hard to take the mantle as the bigger blow hard. But it shall take more to take Bill’s lead.

          Dragging one’s wife down the stairs in front of one’s daughter (Bill did that prior to his divorce) is pretty dastardly.

  10. Looks like Kushner has another job to do.

    “Unbelievablely fantastic tremendousness, ok? The F period B period I period will be great again, ok?”

  11. See Marlin FitzWater on the independent counsel law: it allowed monomanical investigations without the constraint of having to optimally allocate effort, so you had a grab-bag of unedifying phenomena: Lawrence Walsh’s grandstanding indictment of Oliver North (23 counts, of which he was able to win a conviction on 3 counts, which were in turn all vacated on appeal), Lawrence Walsh’s absurd indictment of Caspar Weinberger (facially invalid due to the passage of time and substantively risible – contending that Weinberger was guilty of perjury because there was a discrepancy between his notes at a meeting and his oral testimony about the meeting 15 months later); Kenneth Starr’s pursuit of a random figure like Julie Hiatt Steele; and Jeffrey Toobin (the employed by Walsh’s office with a handsome salary) left with so little to do that he was attending trials collecting notes to write a book.

    If we’re going to have independent counsels, we can render the attorney-general, the u.s attorneys, and the division chiefs intervening an appendix to the judiciary and have them serve fixed terms. That has dangers, but at least prosecutors would have to budget their time. We might actually do something sensible and scarify the federal penal code and calibrate the penalties therein according to what is roughly normal in state penal codes.

  12. This isn’t The Apprentice where everything is conveniently produced for ratings. There was never going to be a scenario that Trump wouldn’t be blasted by someone for the handling of Comey’s termination.

    1. Has Prof. Turley ever had anyone working under him bar a couple of research assistants?

  13. Everybody in Washington is psychotic. Please, please tell the water department to start putting Thorazine in the water at the capital.

  14. Richard III had his nephews murdered for his political advancement. That’s plenty foul enough.

    There are no referees in American political life because the referees have discredited themselves by their absence of professionalism. That applies to the courts and it applies to academe as well. Trump isn’t responsible for that, however odd and vulgar he is at times.

  15. You might add in this wrinkle. Trump is devoid of credibility. About anything. That is because he lies about most everything. I think he is lying about why he fired Comey, but even if he were telling the truth, he should have little expectation that anyone would believe him. His letter, and his timing, and his previous statements about having confidence in Comey cannot give us confidence in his reasoning. Hence, he practically invites the world to see his actions as suspicious.

      1. Putin should be nauseous from murdering his adversaries but since he is a cold blooded KGB agent he probably isn’t.

    1. Well, it is obvious that you imbibe the DNC Kool-Aid on a regular basis. Really, you think Trump has no credibility??? Let’s see, it’s pretty obvious that the Democrats were highly pissed at Comey for his Hillary revelations, and yet when Trump fires him, now the Democrats are all “Poor Old Comey! He was Satiddy Night massacreed!”

      The DNC talking points twist and turn on this issue like a spastic snake, and it is all over your head. You don’t even realize you are being manipulated. C’mon, lay off the DNC Kool-Aid for a few weeks, and see if your cerebral material recovers.

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

    2. Guess you didn’t read the letter that Rosenstein provided for his recommendation that Comey be dismissed. I’m perfectly happy with Trump firing him and perfectly happy with the way that he was fired. Turley thinks that he should have been terminated in a different manner. Let me just say, having had 25 years of experience in Human Resources, that I’ve NEVER found the perfect way to fire someone. Trump sent a letter to the FBI and also sent a letter by electronic transmission. Not Trump’s JOB to see where Comey is on any given hour. Democrats want Trump IMPEACHED or Dead. I get that but that’s not going to happen so they can continue to set their hair on fire, riot, protest and scream their heads off. I just put them on mute. ELECTIONS have CONSEQUENCES.

      1. Most sane comment I’ve read here in over a week. Thanks, Elise.

      2. Elise,….
        Maybe there isn’t a “perfect way to fire someone”.
        Letting the person who is fired learn about it from the media, while he is in the presence of his collegues, is not just “imperfect”…it’s a damn half-assed way of giving someone the boot.
        Someone who claims to have 25 years experience in Human Resources should able to figure that out.

        1. Elise’s attitude seems consistent with my experiences with HR.

    3. Sapel,
      A simple Q: Would you rather Comey still run the FBI, that Trump did not fire him?

  16. Something’s up with the deep state. Those people are in fighting. That’s a good thing!

    Here’s more flip/flopping in less than a day, this time by St. Schumer!


    So I guess it’s not only Trump who changes in a day or less and works by emotion! Or, maybe it’s o.k. if he’s a Democrat! Or maybe it’s not???? Maybe this isn’t crazed emotionalism as much as a deep state cage fight? I’d put money on that before I’d take the psychological angle.

  17. I think the best choice for new FBI director is Hillary Clinton. Appoint her and all the investigations would go away, and Clinton and the press would all discover what a funny misunderstanding the Russian kerfuffle was.

  18. “trying to be nonpartisan” that’s a term only a Fox talking head could come up with, keep trying.

    1. Please enlighten the audience with an example of Fox similar to CNN employee and high ranking operative Donna Brazile forwarding HRC debate questions prior to the debate.

      Or MSNBC news journalist (not an opinion author) forwarding his political articles to Podesta at DNC HQ for his editing and OK prior to publishing…..


      I want both parties banned for at least a half C. You, not so much.

    2. Another one….got any examples of Fox News people crying when a Democrat won the White House? That’s what many MSM “journalists” did when Trump won.

      Got any examples of Fox predicting ZERO chance of a Democrat winning a couple days prior to a Democrat winning the White House? That’s what CNN’s mouthpiece did a couple days before Trump won. 99.9% of MSM and every living Hollywood type, even Obama LOL when asked if Trump could win.

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