I knew FBI Director James Comey was doomed the day he announced his findings in the Hillary Clinton email investigation. After scrutinizing thousands of her messages, questioning key players, and having his crack agents analyze the whole shebang, Comey took the extremely unusual step of announcing his findings publicly. And it was something to behold.
Comey hammered her for sloppy handling of classified information, for her private server, for her judgment – suggesting unmistakably that she had done something terribly wrong. In the process, he threw gasoline on the raging perception among many voters that she could not be trusted. With a hot presidential contest afoot, Democrats were furious.
But Republicans were angry too. Many of them were chortling over the prospect of Clinton being frog marched off to the Iron Bar Hilton to star in a real-life version of "Orange Is the New Black." But the punch line to Comey’s diatribe was not what they expected: He refused to charge her with any crime.
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More followed – including Comey’s 11th-hour announcement that new emails had caused him to reopen the investigation, and his even later announcement that he was closing it again. Many Democrats believe it cost Clinton the election, and they could not forgive him. The White House suggests his handling of that whole matter is why he was fired. However, it is not lost on anyone that Comey’s FBI is also conducting a vigorous investigation into Russian connections swirling around Team Trump – and plenty are insisting that’s the real reason for his dismissal.
The late gonzo writer Hunter S. Thompson famously described the music business as “…a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.”
I don’t know if James Comey is a good man. But I do know there was a time not long ago when big-name Democrats and Republicans alike praised him as the rarest of D.C. habitués: a guy who would speak truth to power and investigate without favor, regardless of the backlash. But then he started piling up too many enemies and not enough friends on both sides of the aisle. And when that happens in D.C., it’s a time to start packing boxes.