Tags: james comey | loretta lynch | trump jr

Dishonorable Meetings and Comey's Downfall

Dishonorable Meetings and Comey's Downfall
Former FBI Director James Comey speaks during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

By Thursday, 13 July 2017 12:15 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Beware the ides of June.

June of 2016 has proven to be the month that marked the momentous seismic shift relating to the life and career of James B. Comey. No one could have foreseen it back then, but two seminal events occurred in that month of last-minute frenetic presidential campaign activity.

One has been widely reported for over a year now. And it involved an ill-advised "impromptu meeting" between former President Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch on a sultry Phoenix tarmac. It had all the markings of an unseemly, corrupt, and wholly arrogant attempt by 42 to attempt to influence the Justice Department’s investigation into candidate Hillary Clinton’s private email server while she served as Secretary of State. This meeting, of course, was described by the participants as a collegial chat about "golf" and "grandkids."

The fact that the chat took place in the bowels of a parked government Cessna for a reported half hour, with none of the former president’s or AG’s staffs or security details in attendance, simply doesn’t pass the smell test. Let’s call it what it most probably was — a ham-handed attempt by the spouse of a presidential candidate who was attempting to influence an investigation that should’ve been left unfettered by politics.

Look, even an unconnected casual observer should have noticed the politicization of the Department of Justice under President Obama’s first Attorney General, Eric Holder. For those of us who labored in the DOJ under AG Holder, the level of political influence the department endlessly endured, along with the political activism inherent in policies and directives that clearly circumvented the legislative branch by creating "laws," or ignoring them altogether, was a constant source of grumbling amongst career prosecutors and investigators alike.

And as for Lynch’s role in the Phoenix airstrip abomination, a begrudging recusal was not enough. She should have been removed as Attorney General for a colossal lapse in judgment. But President Barack Obama was never known for firing loyalists, no matter how grievous their infraction. While I am loath to say this obstinate refusal to do so was a dereliction of duty — a fairly serious charge — I am comfortable referring to it as an abdication of responsibility.

Which leads me to the second happening in June of 2016 that cemented the demise of Jim Comey’s once widely heralded astute judgment and apolitical mien: The New York Times report of the Trump Tower meeting between the current president’s eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr., and a Russian lawyer who was offered up through a surrogate as having damaging information about Trump’s general election opponent, Secretary Clinton.

Now, you’ve truly done something unseemly in politics when your own party voices — in full-throated unison, mind you — their disgust and disdain for your actions. Donald Trump, Jr.’s associate, the seemingly sketchy Rob Goldstone, even makes this Cold War Era spy-vs-spy creepy assertion about which horse the Kremlin was betting in the 2016 race:

"This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump…"

Reading that line literally made me desire a hot shower.

And, it clearly enunciated the very attempt at foreign meddling that the Trump administration had long poo-pooed. And while it may not be indicative of a crime, or represent the smoking gun that brings the walls down upon the administration, it sure does represent a lot more smoke, and further highlights the there there in the Russia collusion investigation.

Ergo, taken together, these two June of 2016 events ultimately resulted in the demise of Jim Comey. One, an incredible lapse in judgment and abdication of responsibility by the former (Democratic) administration, and the second, a pattern of events in a case targeting a clumsy transition team and administration (GOP) once handled by Comey’s FBI, and now currently in the hands of a special prosecutor.

Loretta Lynch’s applied pressure on James Comey to not describe the Clinton investigation for what it was, but to instead describe it as a "matter," clearly indicate she had been politically compromised and sought to aid a Democratic candidate’s election chances. It ultimately led directly to Comey’s decision to hold that July 5, she’s-guilty-but-we’re-not-going-to-prosecute press conference as a means to sidestep the department’s obvious compromise.

Donald Trump, Jr.’s wholly unethical and repugnant — while certainly not treasonous and maybe not even criminal — decision to take that meeting with Veselnitskaya has certainly provided grist to the wheels of the investigation that Comey was ultimately fired for handling.

Both June incidents contributed to Comey’s downfall and Christopher Wray’s nomination.

So you see, who said there are no bipartisan efforts inside the Beltway?

Democrats and Republicans can work together for a cause.

James A. Gagliano is a 1987 graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point. Following his service as an Infantry Officer in the U.S. Army, he entered the FBI, serving in a myriad of positions in the investigative, tactical resolution (SWAT), undercover, diplomatic and executive management realms. He was a member of the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team (HRT) and has posted to assignments in Afghanistan, Mexico City, and parts of Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. He retired in December of 2015 from the FBI’s New York City Office. He currently serves as a Law Enforcement Analyst for CNN, provides Leadership consultation for corporate clients of the Thayer Leader Development Group (TLDG) at his alma mater, and instructs undergraduates at St. John’s University in Queens, New York, where he earned an M.P.S. in Homeland Security and Criminal Justice Leadership in 2016. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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June of 2016 has proven to be the month that marked the momentous seismic shift relating to the life and career of James B. Comey.
james comey, loretta lynch, trump jr
Thursday, 13 July 2017 12:15 PM
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