Few people likely understand the depths that the GOP is willing to sink to in pursuit of their enormous power grab this election season. But as the highest-ranking minority member of the House committee on Benghazi, Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) is one of the few who does. And he seems to know exactly what was happening behind the scenes of FBI Director James Comey’s strangely cryptic memo to Congress last week on the Clinton email “scandal.”
‘I don’t think the American people have a clue how hard the Republicans – particularly on my committee – have been on the FBI. This is a man – Director Comey – who they loved. They said he was the greatest thing in the world, very honorable.
‘When he came out with the decision in July to not prosecute Mrs. Clinton, they suddenly turned against him. He knows that if he makes any misstep, the Republicans are going to be all over him and they’re going to try and bring harm to him. The thing that he did say in our hearing, and it stuck with me, is that “there should not be a double standard to the disadvantage of Mrs. Clinton.”‘
Essentially, Cummings is saying that Comey is under enough of a professional threat by the Republicans in Congress that he was prompted to release the exact sort of statement they needed to keep their candidate going. Vaguely accusatory, yet utterly meaningless. Perhaps Comey is afraid of being put under investigation himself. Comey actually told press that his memo was likely to be used for political gain and didn’t carry the meaning being ascribed to it at all.
Comey has not played a particularly positive role so far in the election. His own employees have come out to decry his handling of the manufactured email “scandal.” Attorney General Eric Holder has sharply criticized his conduct. And Senate minority leader Harry Reid has accused Comey of withholding vital and incriminating information about Trump’s ties with Vladimir Putin. The last point was certainly not lost on Cummings, who told CNN:
‘There has been a lot of information out there about Mr. Trump, Mr. Manafort and the Russian government and alleged attempts to take over our election. Members of Congress have asked for months, for the FBI to provide us with information if Mr. Trump, Mr. Manafort and any elements of the Russian government have any coordination or connection with each other. They have not given us one syllable. So the question here is: Do we have a double standard here?’
It’s become clear from this election that the FBI has a sacred responsibility to keep the details of their investigations under lock and key unless they’re actually in a position to recommend charges be pressed. Journalist Kurt Eichenwald recently made the fantastic point that George W. Bush was investigated by the FBI prior to running for President. But the Clinton administration didn’t dig up his files and slap them all over the news media. If such a thing were acceptable, the FBI could exert an insane level of control over U.S. elections, which would threaten the very foundations of our democracy. And yet that’s exactly what’s being done here.
We may not be able to undo the damage done by Comey’s memo, but at the very least we can make the American public aware that the scales are being tipped. Despite being swayed by partisan influences to comment on the email “scandal,” Comey still seems like an honorable man who’s devoted to his work. Hopefully he’ll speak out again in defense of keeping this election fair, and take Reid’s suggestion about Trump’s Russian ties as well.
Watch Cummings’ stunning denouncement of Comey here, via YouTube.
Featured image is a screen capture from the video.