For a guy who claims to be above or beneath or beside grubby politics in America, FBI chief James Comey sure does manage to insert himself into the seamiest corners of politics and seize the spotlight at the most fraught moments possible. In this past election, Jim Comey was the “Where’s Waldo?” of American politics.
First he condemns Lady Dragon Hillary with the most damning exoneration in the history of public prosecutions. Then he slays her in public with just weeks to go before the election — only to ride up on his armor-suited horse in a failed effort to resuscitate her in the final days.
As busy as Mr. Comey was in the glare of the klieg lights toying with the helpless and enfeebled Hillary, he was even busier behind the scenes secretly tampering with the election in ways unknown.
Mr. Comey testified before Congress on Monday that his FBI launched a counterintelligence investigation all the way back in July into the presidential campaign of Republican nominee Donald Trump and possible ties to the Russian government.
Stop and think about that. We now know that Mr. Comey and his FBI were investigating not one but both leading political candidates for the highest office in the land during the most pivotal weeks and months of the most contentious presidential campaign in recent American history.
While Mr. Comey’s investigation into Hillary Clinton — publicly pursuing her, condemning her and ultimately stamping his approval on her — was enough to make even the most anti-Clinton partisan cringe. It is his Ahab-like pursuit of Donald Trump that is a thousand times more sinister.
Here you have a man — one of the most powerful operatives in President Obama’s administration — pursuing a global and boundless investigation into Mr. Obama’s greatest political enemy at the height of a political campaign.
This man — Mr. Comey — is answerable to not a single voter in the land. He is answerable ultimately only to the president and the president’s attorney general — a position President Obama politicized like we have never seen before.
It is one thing for the Obama administration to investigate a political ally like Hillary Clinton — that is the system working to the best of its designs. It is entirely another to have the Obama administration using all its powers of investigation to go after a political opponent — that is the system at its most suspicious.
That is when red flags should go up and sirens should go off.
Mr. Comey’s pursuit of Mr. Trump during a presidential election is one of two things. Either it is a politically charged investigation launched by one sitting president into his greatest political enemy as that enemy tries winning the White House. Or it is Watergate — ten thousandfold.
Yet as stunning as this whole situation is, all the media seem to care about is President Trump and his Twitter feed.
This is partly because the entire political press is hellbent on destroying Mr. Trump. But it is also because the political press members have an attention span of goldfish. They are constitutionally incapable of focusing on anything longer than a single tweet.
So here were are with gallons of ink, forests of trees and gigabytes of pixels being spent on one single tweet where Mr. Trump regurgitated press accounts reporting that the Obama administration used electronic surveillance to investigate Mr. Trump’s campaign.
That claim is incontrovertibly accurate. The hardest and clearest evidence of this is that Mr. Trump’s national security adviser and former campaign operative Mike Flynn was fired over lying about leaked transcripts of “wiretapped” phone calls between him and the Russian ambassador.
No one can dispute that intelligence officials inside the Obama administration used electronic surveillance to spy on the Trump campaign. All anybody can quibble about — and quibble they have — is the exact wording Mr. Trump used in his 140-characters-or-less message.
His shorthand, tabloid style that makes Mr. Trump such a successful communicator in today’s world was perfect for a quick Twitter screed.
“Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”
Forget a White House orchestrating Watergate-style spying on a political opponent during the height of a presidential campaign. Let’s go after the president’s grammar! In one message, he misspelled “tap” with two p’s! Let’s nitpick his tweet to death!
It wasn’t Obama who “wire tapped” him, but rather someone working for Obama. Wires were not “tapped,” only listened to and recorded. It wasn’t Trump Tower — even though one story insists it was — it was the entire Trump campaign.
Fine, hold Mr. Trump to some ridiculously high standard in this modern world of Twitter grunts and sighs. Blame him for the entire degradation of modern communication if you want. I don’t think he will even mind. It is just further proof that he has mastered the medium better than any other politician ever has.
But please do not overlook the true threat to our republic today. It is not poor grammar. It is not casual imprecision in describing various actors involved.
The real threat to our republic today is that one sitting president’s administration used it’s darkest and most potent powers to spy on a political opponent during a presidential campaign. And even more disturbing: We have a political press that doesn’t seem to care.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him on Twitter via @charleshurt.