Newsweek

Can James Comey Escape the Clinton Email Debacle?

Comey holds himself up as a paragon of apolitical virtue, but critics see a self-righteous hypocrite who makes momentous decisions based on his own image and legacy.
FBI Director James Comey holds himself up as a paragon of apolitical virtue, but critics see a self-righteous hypocrite who makes momentous decisions based on his own image and legacy.
04_21_FBI_Comey_Russia_03 Source: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Last fall, James Comey stood accused of throwing a presidential election. And he allegedly did it with just a letter.

On October 28, less than two weeks before American voters went to the polls, the FBI director wrote to Congress, saying the bureau had discovered new emails related to its long-running investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email server when she was secretary of state. In July, he had declared there was no evidence of any illegal activity by the Democratic presidential candidate, so this announcement ripped open a wound that had nearly healed over. Both the right and the left screeched in outrage, calling for either Clinton or Comey to be strung up. In The Washington Post, two former U.S. deputy attorney generals, Jamie Gorelick and Larry Thompson, wrote, “We now have real-time, raw-take transparency taken to its illogical limit, a kind of reality-TV of federal criminal investigation.” They called Comey’s actions “antithetical to the interests of justice, putting a thumb on the scale of this election and damaging our democracy.”

Democrats were already sputtering with rage that Comey had gone all schoolmarm on Clinton back in July, questioning her judgment and trustworthiness. “He tried to portray himself as above

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