What Rings Comey’s Bell: The Former FBI Director’s Casual Testimony Confirms the Worst About His Tenure

In his long-awaited testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony proved as casual as his appearance in an open shirt from his home office. Comey was hammered with embarrassing findings of errors under his watch in the handling of the Russian investigation, including the reliance on information that FBI agents warned might be Russian disinformation supplied by a Russian agent. After years of investigation, the FBI was unable to show that a single Trump official conspired or colluded with the Russians. Instead, investigations found extensive errors, irregular and criminal conduct, and statements of intense bias by key FBI figures. Yet, Comey proceeded to give what amounted to a series of shrugs in either denying any recollection of such information or deflecting responsibility to others.

Comey was asked about an intelligence report suggesting that Hillary Clinton personally approved an effort “to stir up a scandal against U.S. Presidential candidate Donald Trump by tying him to Putin and the Russians’ hacking of the Democratic National Committee.” The report was reportedly sufficiently serious to be included in a briefing of President Barack Obama. However, when asked about his knowledge, Comey again shrugged and said it “didn’t ring a bell.” That’s it.

The fact is that the allegation against Clinton (like the one against Trump that launched the Russian investigation) was unverified and could be legitimately questioned. There is a fair question on why the FBI went all in on one allegation and not the other. When asked “did you have a duty to look at any allegations regarding Clinton in Russia?” Comey simply replied “I don’t know what you mean.”

Yet, the more interesting question is what exactly does “ring the bell” of James Comey. Recent disclosures have added to the very serious allegations of misconduct in the handling of the Russian investigation. Highly critical reports by the Inspector General and the secret FISA court detailed critical omissions and outright false information used as the basis for the investigation. This includes conduct leading to the firing of the top FBI officials and agents involved in the investigation and a recent criminal plea by the key FBI agent in charge of the FISA applications. Comey however seemed locked in some Kübler-Ross loop, stuck between denial and transference.

Comey did finally admit that, knowing what he knows today, he would not have signed off on the key secret surveillance targeting Carter Page. That makes it unanimous. Former acting Attorney General Sally Yates, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and now Comey himself have all said that the application was invalid. Everyone agrees but no one is taking real responsibility.

Yet, Comey bizarrely said, while he would not have approved such surveillance today, he still did not think that he should have been informed (while considering the application containing Steele dossier information) that the source for the information was believed to be an actual Russian agent. Comey said that that was something that he did not really need to know: “I’m not investigating the case…They’d want to wrestle with that [on the team] and decide what to do with it.”

So Comey was questioning the relevancy of his knowing that FBI agents believed that the Steele dossier (which was part of his briefing) was Russian disinformation and supplied by a Russian agent. That apparently would not “ring his bell” before signing a highly unusual application, including the Steele material, targeting a person close to the Republican presidential candidate in an investigation on Russian influence in the election.

It is part of Comey’s deeply conflicted self-image. Comey previously in his book on “ethical leadership” criticized Trump and said “a leader needs the truth, but an emperor does not consistently hear it from his underlings.” That apparently does not apply to being informed that secret surveillance might be based on false information, including Russian intelligence disinformation.

Comey also made a series of false statements. He repeated, for example, the long-standing denial that there was any surveillance of the Trump campaign. New information shows that the FBI used a briefing in August 2016 of then candidate Trump to gather information for “Crossfire Hurricane,” the Russia investigation. While Comey is still denying this fact, other Democrats have already moved on from the denial of any surveillance of the campaign. After the disclosure, Rep. Eric Swalwell declared that “they were right to do it.”

We now know that the FBI was warned early in the process that American intelligence believed that the Steele dossier, funded by the Clinton campaign, contained possible Russian disinformation. It also warned that the actual source for the most damaging allegations had told American intelligence that Steele misrepresented both his statements and his sources – treating effectively bar room gossip as hard intelligence. None of that seemed relevant to Comey in carrying out his duty to review the evidence in approving the investigation and secret surveillance. When confronted with the evidence that a shadowy professor named Joseph Mifsud was actually a Russian agent, Comey again just shrugged at the notion that the FBI had been used as chumps by Russian intelligence: “I think the Intelligence Committee found that he was representing Russian interests in communicating with [Trump adviser George] Papadopoulos.”

After running through the long list of violations and errors in the Russian investigation, Comey was asked about his past public statements and writings dismissing all of these problems. He was specifically asked about a 2019 column in which he assured the public that they were all “lies.” Comey said that he stood by what he said in 2019. Yet, Comey declared in that column: “But go ahead, investigate the investigators, if you must. When those investigations are over, you will find the work was done appropriately and focused only on discerning the truth of very serious allegations…Those are lies, and dumb lies at that.” We did investigate and it didn’t find it was done appropriately. Comey himself admitted that he would now not signed the Page secret surveillance application and acknowledged all of the findings of errors by the various investigations. Figures like Rosenstein have called for continuing the investigation into the wrongdoing by the FBI. Few people, beyond Comey, are seriously arguing that the investigation were “done appropriately” and the allegations were not “lies,” let alone “dumb lies.”

Some things however clearly did ring Comey’s bell like the recent allegations against Trump or former National Security adviser Michael Flynn. While declining to comment on some of the new information on the Russian investigation or offering curt replies, Comey did not hesitate in holding forth on how reports of Trump’s taxes may show that he is under the control of Russia. It was precisely the concern of his critics that Comey’s interest in intelligence or evidence tended to tract his personal interest in the targets.

What Comey clearly wanted to talk about with Sen. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) was what he called the racist “radioactive stew” unleashed in recent years. Yet, Comey’s comments had a certain familiar ring. He explained how a failure of leadership or reckless public statements can encourage wrongdoing because “it gives [wrongdoers] license, and it makes them cool in the eyes of the people who make up that radioactive stew… it is a free pass to people that nobody wants in their communities.” It may not ring any bells with Comey but that is precisely what he is accused of doing as director in the Russian investigation.

95 thoughts on “What Rings Comey’s Bell: The Former FBI Director’s Casual Testimony Confirms the Worst About His Tenure”

  1. Make a comparison. Hillary Clinton, I do not recall 47 times. James Comey, I haven’t gone back to count but in his four hour interview it was a lot. When a lawyer wants to be carefull not to incriminate himself he falls back on good old reliable “l do not recall”. He spent a lot of time in this interview making sure he didn’t say the wrong thing. I’ll bet that with Mr. Comeys high intellect and his extensive education his recall ability would indeed be at a very high level.

      1. New York, City of London, Prescott Bush & other insiders were up to there eyeballs with the Fuhrer Adolph right until they turned on him.

        Check Prescott Bush’s case from around 1942, charge Trading with the Enemy, Fed Court Southern Dist NY.

        Same game now likely, different century.

        Mr K, law suit happy? Ck JPM, SEC, CME LBMA, etc., for JPM’s guilty plea for metal markets fraud/manipulation.

    1. So if he’s so bad, how did he become director?

      ***

      If he had been good perhaps he would not have. A corrupt realm wants a corrupt leader.

  2. It is absolutely clear that Comey rose to power solely because he is a very tall man. Believe it or don’t. Very tall people automatically command authority, and those like Comey who can project an air of pompous, self-righteous smugness can go very far on…absolutely nothing. Also assuming Comey was more than willing to do his superiors’ dirty work while in the DOJ and FBI so that helped him rise too. And of course–the conspiracy to bring down Trump was never ever supposed to come to light. He was SUPPOSED to LOSE, god dammit.

    1. I doubt it. Being tall helps a man get respect, but I’m sure there are diminishing returns over 6’ 2” or maybe 6’ 3”. Comey is just a side show freak, and few respect him.

  3. Comey did know then what we know now. But we slobs have to get used to being looked down upon by the supercilious insiders of The Swamp. This guy put our country in jeopardy for the sake of his ego. He did this to us because he could. He should be in jail with his ilk.

  4. “I will take the devil I know over the devil I don’t know any time of the week.”

    “And that seems to be what business people are confronting today.”

    – Robert Johnson, Founder, Black Entertainment Television

    1. “We all recognize that gainful employment and economic development is the best deterrent against violence and social unrest,

      so I want to thank President Trump for his commitment to ensuring the success of the Black community in every way.”

      – Democratic Ohio State Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent

    2. An acquaintance of mine said something similar recently. If Trump wins, he’s moving to China (where his wife is from). He said at least that guy is openly a tyrant. That is such utter nonsense, and so indicative of your average Liberal’s mindset and delusion, I don’t even know what to say anymore. Many, many people in my life that were formerly stable and intelligent folks have been utterly consumed by TDS, and I am pretty much pulling my hair out at this point. I mean, wrap your head around that: this is someone that is fully aware of the situation in mainland China and the CCP, and to them, and they are serious, that is preferable to honoring our laws and Constitution because they have a personal dislike. And we wonder why their kids are so screwed up.

      1. Hey don’t feel bad, remember Cher threatened to move to Jupiter if President Trump won in 2016, She’s still here. Bet you’re buddy doesn’t go.

      2. ha ha this is hilarious. trust me if he doesn’t like trump he’s going to hate china.

        not sure where there is a technically advanced, yet authoritarian, patriarchal, and hierarchical society if not China

        if he thinks Republicans are racist, lol, lol, lol, just wait

        for the average American individualistic egalitarian liberal to have to stay there a while after the tourist stuff is done? lol, good luck and God bless

        by the way– to my PRC friends i say Zhongchu jie kuale!~

        https://www.chinahighlights.com/festivals/mid-autumn-festival.htm

  5. IAMA But All you Trump denigrators are so blind that you do not see that: Info emails etc., have about empirically established that from ” IN the said meeting”:
    Obama, Biden, DOJ AG, FBI Director and certain FBI agents committed an Illegal attempted coup, and Comey and his guys saw that The Dossier lead to Hillary and the DNC and they were hell
    bent and determined to and did just ignore that Yet you choose to ignore fair principles and debase them.

  6. To the lawyers or law students, Only the lawyers or law students. Suppose you had a client lets say your defending in court for driving 60 mph in a 15 mph posted street.

    The prosecutor asks your client “on Sept 00, 0000 @ 00:00 hours were you driving your vehicle traveling east on Main St.
    Client A: “Uh, that doesn’t ring a bell”.
    Prosecutor: “But officer Good Guy clocked you at 60 mph in a posted 15 mph zone”.
    Client A: “Uh, sorry that doesn’t ring a bell”.
    Prosecutor: “The officers dash cam clearly shows your vehicle traveling at 60 mph in a posted 15 mph zone”.
    Client A: “Uh, sorry that doesn’t ring a bell”.
    Judge to your Client: “Mr. Average American after hearing the Prosecutor is there anything you have to say?”
    Client A: “Uh, yes your Honor”. “If I had to do it over again I would do it differently.” “Can I leave now your Honor?”

    What would happen thereafter, would the guy just turn from the bench and walk out the courthouse doors whistling?

    Obviously I’m being facetious but everyday an average guy or gal goes to court on some minor infraction of the law, way minor in comparison to Hillary, Comey, Strozck, Page, et al. and they will get hammered.
    What do you think average Americans feels when they see how these people are treated in comparison to them? These people breach every ethical trust we place in them and they always walk away free while the average guy/gal gets busted in fines and sentences.

    This is what America has become or maybe it’s been that way right along only well hidden.

    1. in a speeding case the prosecutor would need to call the policeman to provide a foundation for the evidence from the radar device.,
      no police witness no case
      defense lawyer does not need to put his client on the stand and it would generally serve no point

      usually however, persecutors will plead to a non-moving violation at the initial hearing, and setting it for trial is too much of a hassle for anyone besides a habitual offender

      for a habitual offender charge, prosecutors will set that for trial, and police will show up to testify, usually

      I am not a bigshot professor and I generally only do civil law practice but i have fixed a large number of tickets. people can make fun of me if they want but my lead-footed extended family and social circles alone have produced enough tickets to make me a semi annual visitor to T& M court.

      the funny thing about DUIs in today’s law enforcement culture, is anybody can get one. judges and cops will get hammered with them. too many cops and lawyers have got in trouble for scotching DUI offenses that should have been written up and were not because somebody was a big shot. it was about 20 years ago that this change occurred in the midwestern states

      about 30 years ago, however, “gossip was” that a c note passed to a CPD could get a DUI charge fixed on the spot provided somebody else could drive the car home. this is of course hearsay, i would know of any such things of my own knowledge

      as to more elaborate criminal investigations, they may often be subject to some form of political consideration. not just hotshot FBI things but local cases too.

      the average law abiding citizen might be shocked to hear some of the sorts of political considerations that go into such things. occasionally a story will break in the papers that sheds light.

      1. MrK-Thank you for your response and for the record I’m quite sure you never “fixed” a ticket or committed any other infraction of the law. I’ve been before the bench many times (not as a defendant) and all the attorneys I’ve met for the most part are good guys. My point was in the last two paragraphs, to drive home what average Americans feel about the treatment of Comey and Co.. Thank you for your input.

        1. well i have fixed them in an ethical way, that much I admit! just not the illegal way.

          decades ago I heard face to face some stories from Terry Hake of corruption that he was involved in, that were far above and beyond what he testified to as the government informant and undercover in the famous “Operation Greylord” in Chicago. Hake is not and never has been a friend, and this was the only instance in which I met him. My impression of him is that he is a braggart and an unlikable person.

          I merely was in his presence when he was bragging about the corrupt exploits he participated in for which scores of other lawyers and judges ended up in jail, while he walked scot free

          https://www.chicagotribune.com/ news/ct-xpm-1988-09-26-8802020129-story.html

          On this web page I have also directed people to the book of the other lawyer turned informant from that era, Robert Cooley, “When Corruption was King,” who said in that book that the Outfit and the local Democrat party had regularly colluded in illegal “ballot harvesting” in Chicago elections. This was prior to 1990 when he betrayed his former friends and clients and became a government witness.

          The process he described was precisely what we heard of happening in Minnesota in the recent “Project Veritas” videos from James Keefe.,

          I do not mean to belabor the corruption of the Chicago Police in that era. Maybe they were corrupt but in a sincere way that was responsive to local community. Today, the less corrupt city government instead is responsive to billionaire donors from afar like Geo Soros. One is left to ponder if the Outfit was not less of a threat to just society than mischief makers like Soros.

    2. I didnt really answer the question VV asked. Of course generally a statement like ” i would have done it differently” is the sort of thing that might be deemed an “admission against interests” indicating culpability.

      in some situations however, saying that might be excludable from evidence under a notion like this one. “subsequent remedial measures”

      https://www.law.cornell.edu/rules/fre/rule_407

      I doubt it would work but I would be willing to toss it out there if I were a defense lawyer and a persecutor tried to bring it in

  7. It really is a shame to see Turley debase himself for a known liar and con-man who is sure to go down in history as the United States worst President. For whatever reasons Turley has for lowering his ethics and moral standards it must be worth it to him.

    1. The only reason the accusations against Hillary Clinton are unverified is because Gina Haspel, current director of the CIA is refusing to allow declassification of the evidentiary documents because at the time she was the lead liaison between the CIA and its London (British Secret Service) counterpart. But they WILL come out.

      For anyone on this website or just in general, every time someone writes about Trump being a liar, a racist, an idiot, etc…..
      the most effective way to counter it is to simply call out the person for specific examples. Once I started doing this I saw how easy it is to refute the nonsense with specific facts.
      Time to just put this ridiculous and unfounded narrative to rest once and for all. And I say this less for Trump than I do for our country.

      1. Gina Haspell?> Is that the lady who destroyed evidence of torture at GITMO and then Trump stupidly advanced her to take over CIA? oh

        Trump, thinks he is going to get a fair deal from some swampy Deep state cretins if he advances them, now he finds out differently! just like bolton

        donald should have got somebody else. i said so at the time btw and was 100% with the “progressives” and antiwar people on the subject of Gina

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