The risk represented by Robert Mueller is not connected to or about anything surrounding a Russian Conspiracy; the legal risk is within ‘the leaking‘ of classified intelligence information to undermine the administration, and the potentially illegal ‘unmasking‘.
If we avoid all the shiny things, ignore the shell game and reset our frame of reference to the only illegal activity currently known, the leaking; the fog lifts and the main thing visible is the illegal leaking of classified intelligence information.
Despite his earnest efforts, there is clear and mounting evidence that former FBI Director James Comey was the primary source of leaked information to the media.
THAT reality is the legal risk to former FBI Director James Comey. That current risk explains everything James Comey has recently done, said and advanced.
If the evidence of James Comey being the source of multiple FBI leaks reaches the primary artery of investigative sunlight, who inside that investigative and prosecutorial decision making process becomes the risk? Answer that question and you discover the angle Comey is playing to cut off their ability to hold him accountable.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Asst AG Rod Rosenstein et al are the people Comey needs to worry about, isolate and control. It is not coincidental that Comey is setting up the future action of these participants to be politically motivated.
Anyone who is buying into the story of James Comey leaking the memos to his friend, Daniel Richman, to get a special prosecutor appointed is falling for the shell game constructed entirely by James Comey. More than likely this is the explanation he has already given to Robert Mueller, hence his motive to state within his testimony.
It is important to remember that James Comey told congress he previously met with Robert Mueller to discuss his testimony prior to appearing before congress.
James Comey admitted to this specific “leaking”, because the ‘get a special counsel appointed‘ is the explanatory storyline James Comey wanted to present in public. The alternate reason for leaking is much more damaging to him.
James Comey benefits two ways from his explanation. First, he justifies terrible behavior through a prism of his honor could find no other way (his status remains). Secondly, he sets up special counsel Mueller as fruit of a poisoned tree leading to voices calling for Mueller’s removal. Win/Win. Comey also benefits from calls by his political opposition to eliminate Robert Mueller who is investigating the leaking.
However, if you accept the full hindsight of now identified FBI leaking, the greater likelihood is that Comey didn’t leak the memo to get Mueller appointed, he leaked the memo (May 16th) as an afterthought to cover for the leak mentioned by President Trump (May 12th), of a private conversation, that appeared in the New York Times on May 11th.
Remember, James Comey’s counter-intelligence investigation could have asked for a special counsel at any time. Asst. AG and Interim AG Sally Yates was part of that investigative leadership team. If Comey wanted a special counsel, Comey could have asked DOJ to appoint a special counsel any time he wanted.
Comey didn’t request appointment of a special counsel because the special counsel would only prove there’s nothing there. However, fast forward to now and the real investigative risk is in being “a leaker”.
How quickly everyone forgets those admitted conversations by James Comey friend at Lawfare blog Benjamin Wittes:
“I did not know this particular fact, but it doesn’t surprise me at all. The principal source for the rest of this story is, well, me—specifically a long interview I gave to reporter Michael Schmidt on Friday about my conversations with FBI Director James Comey over the last few months, and particularly about one such conversation that took place on March 27 over lunch in Comey’s FBI office.” (link)
Benjamin Wittes admits that FBI Director James Comey specifically discussed with him the overall content of private communications with President Trump.
When you take the Wittes outline in conjuction with Comey’s admitted leaks to his other friend Daniel Richman, Comey is transparently in a position of being fingered as the source of multiple media leaks to NYT reporter Michael Schmidt.
That is the current risk for James Comey. The discovery that Comey was the leaker is the risk now represented by Robert Mueller and is inherent in Comey’s need to control the framework of his leaking activity.
James Comey was part of the political apparatus that constructed the “muh, vast Russian conspiracy” narrative and carefully nurtured it for over 8 months – even keeping congress in the dark on the entire matter. From James Comey perspective, the problem, the illegality, is now the leaking – NOT the original issue of the Russian election hacking narrative.
Remember, it was in FEBRUARY when the FBI (McCabe) went to President Trump’s Chief of Staff privately and told Reince Priebus there was no truth to media reports, based on FBI leaks, of FBI evidence showing Trump campaign officials involved with Russian officials regarding the 2016 election. It was all a complete nothingburger.
Details – On February 15th while discussing another issue FBI Assistant Director Andrew McCabe asked Reince for 5 minutes alone after the meeting. At the one-on-one meeting McCabe told Priebus the New York Times Russia and Trump campaign story was a “bunch of BS”.
Priebus asked McCabe if McCabe would be able to say that publicly and get the media off his back about a ridiculously false narrative. Asst. Director McCabe said he would check with his boss, FBI Director James Comey. Later, McCabe called back and said he couldn’t issue a statement about it.
Reince Priebus was simply asking for the FBI to give truthful information about the false reports to the public. The White House was asking Comey to deliver transparency.
Quote from the FBI to Priebus: “We’d love to help, but we can’t get into the position of making statements on every story”…
In hindsight, from current appearances, those February leaks (mentioned above) that drove the New York Times February report were actually leaks coming from James Comey.
Stop and think about it. McCabe was telling chief-of-staff Reince Priebus not to worry about a NYT report based on leaks coming (first, second or third-hand) from James Comey himself. Priebus asks McCabe for help, James Comey then tells McCabe the FBI cannot publicly refute the story which is based on Comey’s leaking.
If everyone associated with this line of inquiry can stop themselves from following the shell game constructed by Comey, and avoid the distractions he is laying down (Lynch), they’ll eventually find a way to point this out.