Thursday, July 7, 2016

What a difference a "no" makes -- when you're nothing but a partisan politician

Being a professional prosecutor -- and especially being the head of the FBI -- means that you operate on principles and law, on facts and evidence.    You are not free to decide to prosecute or not based on whether you are on the same side politically.

But that doesn't seem to be true for the current crop of Republicans running investigative committees in congress.   Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) is the chair of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, the committee that has pretty broad jurisdiction over any federal employee or elected official that they want to investigate.

The temptation is just too great, I suppose, to misuse committee hearings for political grandstanding and witch-hunting.    It's the committee that the odious Darrel Issa used to head.   Here's what Rep. Chaffetz said just last month about FBI Director James Comey vis a vis the case of Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.

In an interview,  June 6, 2016, Chaffetz had nothing but praise for Comey, calling him the most competent, reliable person to lead the probe.   "I do think that in all of government, he is a man of integrity and honesty. . . .  His finger is on the pulse of this. . . . Nothing happens without him, and I think he is going to be the definitive person to make a determination or a recommendation.”

In response to a question on that show, Chaffetz even said that he thought Republicans would "probably" accept a recommendation by Comey not to indict Clinton, "Because we do believe in James Comey.”

That was before Comey announced on July 5, 2016 that he is not recommending any charges.   Chaffetz called this "surprising and confusing."   He said, "The fact pattern presented by Director Comey makes clear Secretary Clinton violated the law. Individuals who intentionally skirt the law must be held accountable.”   And he said he's ready to conduct a new investigation into the investigation.  "Congress and the American people have a right to understand the depth and breadth of the FBI’s investigation."

Yes, and Comey spelled that out very clearly in his Tuesday press conference.   If Chaffetz really doesn't get it, all he needs to do is read this that Comey said in his report:
"All the cases [that were] prosecuted involved some combination of clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information, or vast quantities of information exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct, or indications of disloyalty to the United States, or efforts to obstruct justice.

"We do not see those things here. . . .  We are expressing to [the Department of] Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case. . . .  our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,"

Oh, my!   Here we go again.   Either Chaffetz must have hit himself on the head with his big gavel, or he didn't read Comey's statement.   Or he's just stupid.   Or -- could it be -- that Republicans just can't stand to let any decision favorable to Hillary Clinton go unchallenged?   Because . . . duh . . . Clinton.


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