If there were truly a bombshell, this announcement would have been warranted. If the election were not just days away, this announcement would have been more appropriate. If James Comey were non-partisan, as he goes to great lengths to try to prove, this announcement would have been defensible.
None of these hypotheticals has any basis in reality, though. What we are left with is a thinly-veiled incident of election interference carried out by a politically motivated high-level official.
FBI Director James Comey’s announcement on October 28 that the Bureau would be reopening its survey of Hillary Clinton’s emails is problematic because its purported intentions fail to align with the real-life ramifications. Though the guise of scrupulousness is usually a formidable shield against criticism, the situation could have been handled in a more ethically responsible and less politically distracting manner.
It is impossible to envision a situation in which the potential electoral impact of this announcement does not cross the mind of a person of James Comey’s stature. The fact that he understood the potential consequences and still pursued this course of action is deeply troubling. Anonymous sources have reported that the FBI was between a rock and a hard place as to what to do with the new information, and the Bureau feared that it would receive backlash from Republicans for appearing to cover up a new scandal if it did not pursue the situation further.
This lamentation is no excuse; mounting evidence indicates that the emails are unworthy of investigation, which points unmistakably to the conclusion that the FBI had a real choice to make, and still wantonly opted for the one that would incite a political firestorm. It should also be noted that the announcement preceded the obtainment of a warrant, meaning the FBI had no means of even seeing the content of these emails before making a national story out of them. Making matters worse is that Comey disregarded a well-regarded DOJ protocol of not pursuing politically sensitive cases in the two months before an election. From this, it can only be concluded that James Comey brought the case back to the national spotlight to protect himself from criticism at the expense of the legitimacy of the election.
You and I both know that the bulk of the American electorate is (politically) ignorant. Staying informed takes time— time that many people would rather spend on more enjoyable pastimes. What this means, however, is that someone catches bits and pieces of this story and then lets their mind run amok, eventually reaching the conclusion that Hillary is crooked beyond repair, and decides to vote for Trump accordingly.
Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of voters have decided who they will cast their vote for by this stage, and the announcement is unlikely to bear any impact on the outcome of the election. Even if its influence on the election is negligible, we cannot ignore the intentions.
But tipping the election is not the only motive driving Comey’s irresponsible behavior. As a formerly registered Republican, Comey has been criticized by party mates for his recommendation not to file charges against Clinton this summer, when the initial review was concluded. The implications that arise from his suddenly partisan behavior point towards his desire to maintain good rapport with House Republicans. An FBI Director who is willing to use his platform to salvage personal relationships has no backbone, and cannot be trusted to perform his duties. The essence of the FBI, and what gives it such a crucial function in society, is that it operates independently of politics to ensure an equitable administration of justice. James Comey appears willing to compromise that unique responsibility for personal professional expediency.
It is paramount to the welfare of the United States that the public has faith in our law enforcement institutions. James Comey has jeopardized that faith by irresponsibly putting the sanctity of the election at stake. Republicans and Democrats alike should be willing to call out an egregious failure of our government officials, especially one that undermines the integrity of the government. James Comey has left an indelible stain on the FBI and must resign so that the Bureau can move forward with much more objectivity