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Comey as you are: When a meticulous FBI director meets a pathologically lying president

2019-08-31

President Donald Trump, and former FBI director James Comey are pictured in separate file photos. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, left, and Andrew Harnik)

Former FBI Director James Comey is taking a beating in the wake of a Justice Department inspector general report that rebukes him for leaking the contents of memos documenting conversations with President Trump.

Deep breaths, please. The IG’s main finding, contradicting what the president has claimed multiple times, is that there’s no evidence Comey ever leaked classified material when he shared the documents memorializing the meetings — meetings in which Trump demanded loyalty, asked him to go easy on Michael Flynn and pushed him to deep-six the Russia investigation.

That said, the IG did determine that Comey committed a relative misdemeanor, violating bureau rules. How? He shared memos that were deemed, after the fact, to be “official records.” In a further violation, Comey subsequently stored the memos in his house before giving them to his personal attorneys and a friend who leaked them publicly.

These are errors in judgment. But count us very, very happy Comey committed them, and in so doing wound up shining crucial light on Donald Trump’s behavior.

The then-FBI director knew he was dealing with a president who lies, constantly and unapologetically, about matters large and small. He knew he was being pressured to drop an inquiry that he was duty-bound to pursue.

Indeed, the notes he took, all of which have held up to scrutiny, wound up proving instrumental in helping document Robert Mueller’s convincing case that the president obstructed justice.

If he had failed to accurately document the president’s behavior, and then failed to inform the Congress and the public about it, Comey might have had a happier ending in Trumpland. But he would’ve been derelict in his duty to the country.