Well, we’re almost there, folks. In a little more then a week, we’re all going to be put out of our pain. We won’t have to spend hours every day trying to find new political tidbits to torture ourselves with. I won’t have to look at “Real Clear Politics” or “538” until the next election cycle. All good — or torturous — things must ultimately come to an end.
But whatever the election result, there are a bunch of questions that have been raised in this election cycle, questions that go to the very basics of our American political society.
Can we continue to exist as a nation while the two teams — a blue team and a red team — continue to tear each other apart? I can remember a time when foreign policy was considered bipartisan and untouchable, and America spoke with one voice. There was a coterie of gray heads in the Congress, Executive, agencies and military that battled internally, but eventually came to some sort of consensus, which was the unified position of America to the outside world. That is certainly is not the case anymore.
What has also become quite clear is that it is far from clear as to who reports to whom, and what the consequences are if you, as a government official, just decide that you really don’t report to anyone. A case in point is James Comey, the director of the FBI — a man with a reputation for probity who suddenly has become the most controversial director since J. Edgar Hoover, which I’m sure was not Comey’s initial intention.
The organizational chart of the government is clear. The Federal Bureau of Investigation is an organization that is part of the Executive Department, and his immediate boss is Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Both she and Comey report to Barack Obama, president of the United States. The roles are clear. The FBI investigates and the Justice Department decides if it wants to prosecute. So, we might ask, what happened in this case?
The Clinton email investigation is a criminal investigation, which are always confidential, and for good reason. In some cases, the facts are unclear, or in dispute, or there is no crime, or for some reason, it’s not pursued. Sometimes it’s been pushed by someone’s political opposition and the evidence has a partisan stench to it. The job of the criminal division is to sort it out and make a recommendation to the DOJ.
So the question you have to ask is why Comey sent the recent letter to Congress instead of following the long-standing DOJ guidelines, which say don’t do anything this close to an election. He chose to ignore that. Did he do it because he was trying to keep his own skirts clean? Did he do it because he’s a sanctimonious character who believes only he can see the proper path? Did he do it because he was trying to sabotage the Clinton campaign? On the flip side, why didn’t Loretta Lynch call him in before he sent it out and ask him straight if there was new information they had acquired. All Comey could have said is, “There are 45,000 emails uncovered in connection with the Weiner investigation, we don’t know what they say or if they even are relevant to the closed Clinton email investigation.” Lynch could have ordered him to not notify the Congress unless he had specific concrete information and, in any event, to run it by her first. He could have refused and resigned.
Lastly, the question of whether a foreign power, namely Russia, was interfering with our presidential election raises a major question of national security and isn’t something that should be decided by the FBI staffers. That is something that should have gone to the White House and the president. The president has at his fingertips — we would hope — a much larger ability to have this investigated. There is the NSA, Homeland Security, CIA, FBI, State Department, Defense Department, all the Military Intelligence Services and an alphabet soup of other security agencies. The reason this has to be done at the White House level is that all of these agencies are competitive and, I suspect, very reluctant to share information. Only the president can order them to produce all the relevant information and make some decision if, in fact, one has to be made. The president doesn’t stop being president just because there is an election going on.
I don’t imagine it went to the White House and, from where I sit, it looks to me like Comey was way out of line in sending the letter to the Congress but, I suspect, in time there will be books written about all of this.
P.S. Make sure you vote in the Malibu City Council election.