Commentary: Barr can ‘redeem’ the FBI; Comey resorts to ‘insulting the executioner’

By WorldTribune Staff, May 8, 2019

Attorney General William Barr has said he will look into how and why then-FBI Director James Comey decided the bureau should investigate the 2016 presidential campaigns.

“Comey will claim that everything he did in the FBI was by the book. But after the investigations by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz and U.S. Attorney John Huber, along with Barr’s promised examination, are completed, Comey’s mishandling of the FBI and legal processes likely will be fully exposed,” Kevin R. Brock, a former FBI assistant director of intelligence, wrote in a May 7 op-ed for The Hill.

Ex-FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General William Barr

Comey “is in trouble,” Brock wrote, “and he knows it.”

The fired FBI chief “has realized, probably too late, that he has to try to counter, more directly, the narrative being set by the unsparing attorney general whose words in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee last week landed in the Trump-opposition world like holy water on Linda Blair. Shrieking heads haven’t stopped spinning since,” Brock wrote.

After Comey wrote a “curious” op-ed for The New York Times, Brock notes, “a Times reporter, with whom Comey has cooperated in the past, wrote a news article exposing an early, controversial investigative technique against the Trump campaign in an attempt to get out front and excuse it. Next, Comey is scheduled to be encouraged on a friendly cable news ‘town hall.’ ”

In the op-ed, Brock noted, “Comey adjudged President Donald Trump as ‘amoral.’ He declared the attorney general to be ‘formidable’ but ‘lacking inner strength’ unlike — the inference is clear — Comey himself. A strategy of insulting the executioner right before he swings his ax is an odd one but, then, Comey has a long record of odd decisions and questionable judgment.”

Brock, who was an FBI special agent for 24 years and principal deputy director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), wrote that “Ideally, Barr’s examination will aggregate information that addresses three primary streams.

“The first will be whether the investigations into both presidential nominees and the Trump campaign were adequately, in Barr’s words, ‘predicated.’ This means he will examine whether there was sufficient justification under existing guidelines for the FBI to have started an investigation in the first place.

“The Mueller report’s conclusions make this a fair question for the counterintelligence investigation of the Trump campaign. Comey’s own pronouncement, that the Clinton email case was unprosecutable, makes it a fair question for that investigation.

“The second will be whether Comey’s team obeyed long-established investigative guidelines while conducting the investigations and, specifically, if there was sufficient, truthful justification to lawfully conduct electronic surveillance of an American citizen.

“The third will be an examination of whether Comey was unduly influenced by political agendas emanating from the previous White House and its director of national intelligence, CIA director and attorney general. This, above all, is what’s causing the 360-degree head spins.

“There are early indicators that troubling behaviors may have occurred in all three scenarios. Barr will want to zero in on a particular area of concern: the use by the FBI of confidential human sources, whether its own or those offered up by the then-CIA director.”

Brock noted that “just to make sure his (NY Times) op-ed was odd-salted to the max, Comey mused that the president ‘eats your soul in small bites.’ ”

Brock concluded: “James Comey is right to be apprehensive. He himself ate away at the soul of the FBI, not in small bites but in dangerously large ones. It was a dinner for one, though: His actions are not indicative of the real FBI. The attorney general’s comprehensive examination is welcome and, if done honestly and dispassionately, it will protect future presidential candidates of both parties and redeem the valuable soul of the FBI.”

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