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Hullabaloo


Friday, January 13, 2017

 
What was he sitting on?

by digby















This sounds like they learned something pretty upsetting:
A number of House Democrats left Friday's confidential briefing on Russian hacking fuming over the actions of FBI Director James Comey and convinced he's unfit to lead the agency.

"I was nonjudgmental until the last 15 minutes. I no longer have that confidence in him," Rep. Tim Walz (D-Minn.), ranking member of the Veterans Affairs Committee, said as he left the meeting in the Capitol.

"Some of the things that were revealed in this classified briefing — my confidence has been shook."

Rep. Elijah Cummings (Md.), senior Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, delivered a similar condemnation.

"I'm extremely concerned — extremely," he said.

"I'll just — I'm very angry," echoed Rep. Mark Takano (D-Calif.).

The intelligence community believes Russia hacked Democratic groups in an effort to help elect President-elect Donald Trump, claims Trump had publicly cast doubt on before this week.

Comey has been under fire since several weeks before the Nov. 8 elections, when he announced a new leg in an FBI investigation into the use of a private email server by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton — a probe that, as with the first round, resulted in no criminal charges. In response, many Democrats have accused Comey of altering the course of the presidential race in favor of Trump.

The Justice Department's inspector general on Thursday announced a new investigation into the agency's actions leading up to the election, a probe that will focus on Comey's public statements as well as FBI leaks and other relevant correspondences.

Republicans have largely defended Comey, and many left Friday's briefing with their minds unchanged.

"The FBI director is a good man who was placed in a very difficult position," said Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.). "His boss [U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch] made life very difficult for him in the last year when she met with Bill Clinton on the tarmac."

Democrats have a markedly different take.

"I want to [have faith in Comey]," said a visibly annoyed Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.). "I have concerns. Stay tuned."

Yet there's also a powerful sense among the Democrats that, while their faith in Comey has plummeted, they'd rather have him atop the FBI than roll the dice to see who Trump would tap as a replacement.

"Do I have confidence in him? Not really. But I think he's probably going to be better than the guy they'd put in," said one Democrat, who spoke only anonymously to discuss a sensitive topic. "It's like a rock and a hard place, but I think that's pretty much where a lot of people are."

Walz, for one, is not in that place.

"I'm disappointed, outraged — many of us are right now," Walz said. "I'll wait to pass full judgment, but the exchange that just happened in the final 15 minutes gives me no reason to have confidence."

Shortly after the meeting, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — a sharp critic of Comey's actions leading up to the elections — spoke broadly about the FBI without weighing in on Comey specifically. She suggested she's waiting for the results of the DOJ's IG report to pass a judgement on the FBI director.

"No, I haven't lost confidence in the agency," she told reporters in the Capitol.

"My concern about the FBI is the timing and their not signing [the broader intelligence document on Russian hacking]. And that was the judgment of Director Comey, unless it goes deeper, and that's what the investigation will find out," she added. "Let's find out how they thought this was a good idea to make the judgments they did, and understanding — weighing full well — that the Russians were actively engaged in disrupting our election."
I don't know what he told them but I have to guess that the anger stems from the fact that he was sitting on Russian information before the election (as he should have been) but thought it was appropriate to drop the nuclear bomb in the race 11 days out to hurt Clinton. Either he's a partisan Republican or he's a dolt who shouldn't be in such a sensitive position. Either way it's a travesty.

I understand they are worried about what might replace him. And maybe this is one situation where doing the right thing by firing him could really backfire. But damn .. this is bad.

.