Friday, May 19, 2017

Duty Over Career, Country over Party, and the Dire Need for an Informed Electorate

The appointment of James Comey’s long-time colleague, Robert Mueller, as special counsel to investigate Trump-Russia has brought a sigh of relief to anyone interested in bringing Trump and his band of fellow traitors to justice.

Yet it occurred to me that no one was asking the question of whether or not Mueller could be unbiased with respect to his friend and colleague, Comey.

The right has been seething with bile over what they perceive as the left’s and center’s hypocritical embrace of Comey now that Comey is instrumental in bringing Trump down.

This lefty has not forgotten what should be considered Comey’s crime of choosing to discuss Clinton’s email and security crimes over what Comey knew better were Trump's more serious crimes having to do with the Russians. Comey had to speculate about both crimes, circumstantial evidence piling up on both sides, but Trump's probable crime was treasonous whereas Clinton's crimes were more carelessness.

Comey knew that Russia was hacking the election in Trump's favor, and Trump had publicly asked for Russia to do so, but Comey did not know if there were any classified emails on Wiener's hard drive. His decision to send the letter was probably criminal, and his testimony was inaccurate.

In other words, Comey chose to interject his speculations about Clinton's email, rather than interject what he knew about Russian hacking in Trump's favor, and what he should have known about Trump's obvious ties and debts to Russia. No wonder Trump might think he had Comey's loyalty. It is probably more likely that Comey simply hated Clinton more than he hated Trump, like so many people on the right and in the center.

So I do not need to see Comey as some pure-at-heart dutiful G-man in order to feel very confident that the “hideous buffoon” (Andrew Sullivan) acting as POTUS obstructed justice by, first, pressuring Comey to be loyal to Trump over the law; then, second, by trying to get Comey to drop the case on Flynn (the case that will inevitably incriminate Trump); and then, third, by firing Comey.

Comey can be guilty of a crime with respect to Clinton and the election, and at the same time, be a credible witness to the bringing down of the monster he helped create and helped lift into the highest office.  Comey's reported perseverating over his duty, in this case, is ridiculous. This was clearly inappropriate or should have been. Comey can also be guilty of crime along with Clinton.

Moreover, it is perfectly logical to call out Comey for a second crime that no one seems to be talking about: Comey sitting on his knowledge that Trump obstructed justice or attempted to obstruct justice in February, many weeks prior to being fired by Trump.

Doesn’t Comey have a duty to report Trump’s obstruction of justice, rather than just create a paper trail to protect himself and his legacy if he is fired? Isn’t Comey’s first duty to the country and constitution?  And isn’t Trump’s obvious obstruction of justice a high crime that potentially creates a constitutional crisis? The top cop should have reported his boss's crime when it happened.

If there is something at least unethical, if not illegal, about Comey sitting on this information, wouldn’t it be up to Mueller now to make this part of his investigation? Again, can Mueller be objective?

Presidents should never be above the law, and neither should FBI Directors.  If they presidents are indeed above the law, they are even more like the kings America supposedly rejected in our origin myth.

Along these lines, the former president, Obama, had a duty, if not a legal obligation, to tell the electorate that the Russians were messing with our elections.  He chose not to make this public because he was worried about it seeming partisan.  He was worried about his legacy, and he was confident Clinton would win anyway.

If this position is not illegal, it seems to me to highly unethical: putting career, legacy, and party over the nation’s democracy, an informed electorate, the constitution.  In hindsight, it also seems uncharacteristically stupid.

Also in hindsight, Clinton seems to have been spot on when she called Trump Putin’s “puppet.”  At the time, I felt like she was being brave but probably also exaggerating a bit for effect.  Now it should be more than clear that she was not exaggerating at all.  She probably had excellent sources (including the president) telling her what was going on with the Russians.

All of the people in the government who knew this should have told us, the electorate, the American people.  We, the electorate, had a right to know in order to make a more informed choice; we have a right to this information so that we can be an informed electorate, which is crucial to any real democracy.  As they say at the Washington Post, "democracy dies in darkness."

It is clear that anyone who sat on this information during the election was guilty of dereliction of duty with respect to the constitution.  I also wonder if Comey was derelict in a similar way when, in February of 2017, he sat on the knowledge that Trump was obstructing justice.

The measure should be how well does one’s actions or the actions of agencies serve the constitution, not whether doing one’s duty serves one’s reputation, career, party, etc.  Agencies and their directors should think about the country’s well-being in the big picture, rather than blindly following protocol while sitting on extremely important information--especially when they make exceptions to the protocol for other potential crimes.

The electorate should have known before the election what Russia had been doing all along, and what they knew about how Trump was implicated in it.

Comey is guilty of not serving the country and constitution when, as FBI Director, he does inform the electorate of election malfeasance, a corruption of the election from a known adversary.

The FBI and intelligence agencies are guilty of obstructing democracy when they don’t inform the electorate of this crucial information.

Comey is also guilty of not serving the country and constitution when, as FBI Director, he does not report a sitting president’s obstruction of justice.

Obama is guilty of not serving the country and constitution when he, as President, chose not inform the electorate of a hostile nation’s manipulation of our elections.  He should have said much more, no matter how ridiculous the right’s reaction would have been … and the reaction would have made birtherism seem just and smart.  But it should not have mattered.  It was his duty to say more.

He should not have said more to help Clinton win. He should have said more because the electorate had a right to know. Obama did not have a right to keep that crucial information from us. He subverted democracy with his choice, and he did so because he was worried how it might impact his legacy and the Democratic Party. That is wrong.

Clinton is guilty of putting her campaign above the electorate’s right to be informed when she made the disastrous decision to be cautious with respect to her knowledge of Trump’s treason and Putin’s obvious meddling.  She should have said much more than her puppet line during that debate, no matter how ridiculous the right’s reactions would have been.  What she said was rather strong, but she didn't follow up on it. Putin would "rather have a puppet" as POTUS.

Comey should have reported Trump’s obstruction of justice when it happened.  Obama and Clinton should have informed everyone of Russian meddling for Trump as soon as they knew about it.  Trump’s treasonous extremes should not blind us to these derelictions of duty, and the right’s ridiculous and vicious responses should not shape policy as much as it has.

Hopefully, this constitutional crisis we are currently in will help us get to a better understanding of what it means to serve the constitution.

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