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Reassessment - 05/17

By Rich Trzupek
  Remember last summer when then FBI Director James Comey held a press conference in which he detailed all of things Hillary did wrong by storing classified documents on a private server but declined to press the case? Your humble correspondent said this at the time:
  “Unlike many of my colleagues on the right, I’m OK with the way Comey handled the affair. Indeed, I think he did the right thing. The issue is not whether Hillary violated the letter of the law – clearly she did – but how the law she broke is practically enforced.”
  Statements like that are proof that I am neither a lawyer nor have I played one on TV. After reading Deputy Attorney General’s Rod Rosenstein’s memo to President Trump, outlining why Comey should be fired, I’m stunned that: 1) Comey has held on to his job this long, and 2) that Hillary isn’t in an orange jumpsuit. Consider this excerpt, for example:
  “The director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution. It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement. At most, the Director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors. The Director now defends his decision by asserting that he believed attorney General Loretta Lynch had a conflict. But the FBI Director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department.”
  “We do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation. Derogatory information sometimes is disclosed in the course of criminal investigations and prosecutions, but we never release it gratuitously. The Director laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial. It is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.”
  Rosenstein, who was confirmed in his post by the Senate by a vote of 94 to 6. He is no partisan hack, but is rather that rare breed in D.C., someone both parties respect and trust. Rosenstein’s memo continues: 
  “In response to skeptical question at a congressional hearing, the Director defended his remarks by saying that his “goal was to say what is true. What did we do, what did we find, what do we think about it.” But the goal of a federal criminal investigation is not to announce our thoughts at a press conference. The goal is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to justify a federal criminal prosecution, then allow a federal prosecutor who exercises authority delegated by the Attorney General to make a prosecutorial decision, and then - if prosecution is warranted - let the judge and jury determine the facts.”
  “Concerning his letter to the Congress on October 28, 2016, the Director cast his decision as a choice between whether he would “speak” about the FBI’s decision to investigate the newly-discovered email messages or “conceal” it. “Conceal” is a loaded term that misstates the issue. When federal agents and prosecutors quietly open a criminal investigation, we are not concealing anything; we are simply following the longstanding policy that we refrain from publicizing non-public information.”
  After reading all that, I don’t see how The Donald had any choice but to get rid of Comey. I know the Russian conspiracy theorists will never be convinced that this wasn’t another, hideous miscarriage of justice by the President they hate so much. But, while I do not approve of everything the President has done or plans to do, clearly in this case he made the right call.
  E-mail: rich@examinerpublications.com



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