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While former FBI chief James Comey looks set to dodge charges over memos that were leaked to kick-start a special counsel probe of the US president, he is not out of the woods yet regarding spying on Donald Trump’s campaign.
Comey’s name may be largely forgotten by this point, but it was his dismissal in May 2017 that actually prompted the appointment of his longtime friend Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate claims of Trump’s “Kremlin ties,” as well as obstruction of justice. Two years later, Mueller managed to come up with proof of neither and went on to seriously damage his cause in an embarrassing congressional testimony, but Comey will apparently dodge the legal bullet for launching the entire “witch hunt.”
Even though the Department of Justice Inspector-General Michael Horowitz recommended criminal prosecution, because some of Comey’s memos contained classified information, the DOJ decided not to proceed with charges under the Espionage Act as they felt there wasn’t enough evidence of criminal intent, John Solomon of the Hill reported on Thursday, citing inside sources.
Solomon even noted the irony that this is the exact same reasoning Comey himself used in his infamous July 2016 press conference, when he explained why Hillary Clinton wouldn’t face charges over conducting official government business via her private email server.
There is no question that Comey has improperly handled classified materials – just like Clinton. Even though he maintained that they were his personal notes and not official FBI documents, eight of the 15 pages of memoranda that he turned in to Congress in April 2018 had redactions due to classified content.
The DOJ apparently believed that going after Comey on such a technicality would “look petty and vindictive,” according to an unnamed source cited by Solomon. Not going after the ex-FBI chief, however, creates an impression that the law does not apply equally to people of a certain political persuasion.
It is important to remember, however, that Comey is not out of the woods yet. The DOJ is still probing the origins of the Trump-Russia investigation, including the role of FBI and DOJ officials in obtaining a FISA warrant to spy on Trump campaign adviser Carter Page – based mostly on the controversial and Clinton-funded “Steele dossier.”
A look into the origins of the Trump investigation is bound to put Comey, his colleague at the CIA John Brennan, and the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper – all of whom have parlayed their criticism of the president into lucrative book deals or cable commentator contracts – into the spotlight.
Officials of the former administration will no doubt claim political persecution and accuse Trump of being “authoritarian.” Yet there is no denying the fact that his DOJ has not gone after any of them – or Hillary Clinton, for that matter – choosing instead to uphold the longstanding American political tradition.
Meanwhile, for the past three years, the mainstream media outlets and prominent Democrats have first tried to prevent Trump’s election and inauguration, and later force his impeachment, by fueling the “Russiagate” conspiracy with spurious, uncorroborated and repeatedly debunked claims, while claiming to be defending “our democracy.”
By Nebojsa Malic
Nebojsa Malic is a Serbian-American journalist and political commentator, working at RT since 2015