In all the storm of outrage that has accompanied the overdue sacking of former FBI Director James Comey one particular myth has gained special currency and is being actively promoted by sections of the media and by the Democratic Party establishment.
This is that Comey was sacked whilst he was undertaking some sort of probe of the Trump campaign, and that his sacking somehow compromises that probe and is therefore an obstruction of justice.
That is simply wrong. There is no FBI probe of the Trump campaign. There is an FBI probe of the alleged role Russia had in the US election. This is not criminal probe carried out by the FBI as a law enforcement agency but is a counter espionage probe carried out by the FBI in its capacity as a counter intelligence agency.
This is not a criminal probe. As of now there is no evidence of any crime having been committed by any US citizen, and no US citizen is being investigated for having committed any crime in connection with any of the matters touched on by the probe.
Since no crime or other law breaking by any US citizen is being investigated, and since there is no indication that any such investigation of any crime will ever take place since as of now there are no grounds to suspect that any crime by any US citizen has been committed, there are no grounds to speak of Comey’s sacking as an obstruction of justice. That would only be true if this were a criminal probe, which it is not.
Doubtless some of the people are claiming that an obstruction of justice is taking place are genuinely confused, which is not surprising because of the way the whole Russiagate investigation has been hyped up and misrepresented. However I have no doubt that in some cases the confusion is deliberate, and that some of the people who are talking about the FBI’s Russiagate probe as if it were a criminal probe are perfectly aware that it is not.
This brings me to a further point. Inevitably there have been some suggestions that Comey knows of or is in possession of information damaging to the President, and that this was why he was sacked, and that this is the perfect opportunity for Comey to come forward and disclose what this information is.
The very fact that Comey was sacked in fact shows that he actually has no information which can seriously damage the President.
He apparently did once believe that he did have such information. I say this because we now know that it was he who insisted on attaching the Trump Dossier to the January ODNI report which was shown to Presidents Obama and Trump.
As I said at the time, that was transparently an attempt at blackmail, though one which I misattributed to the CIA instead of the FBI. In the event it was one which catastrophically miscarried when instead of being intimidated by it Trump openly challenged it. With hindsight that was almost certainly the moment when Trump’s relationship with Comey broke down, making his sacking eventually inevitable.
Since then Comey has been left with no blackmail material to work with, and certainly no evidence of collusion between anyone in the Trump campaign and Russia. Not only would we have certainly learnt of this material by now if it existed, but we actually know it does not exist because various members of Congress who have seen the evidence produced over the course of the Russiagate probe – Senator Dianne Feinstein is the latest – have told us as much.
Anyone who therefore expects or hopes that Comey is going to come forward with a mass of material which will incriminate the President and his supporters is setting themselves up for disappointment. On the contrary Comey’s sacking at last opens up the possibility that it will soon become clear how non-existent the evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia actually is.