Long ago and far away, when I was a young special assistant first to Attorney General William French Smith and then to Attorney General Edwin Meese, the young staff would automatically stand up whenever William Webster, then head of the FBI, walked into a room. At Friday morning roundtable briefings in the attorney general’s massive conference room, when Webster spoke, everyone leaned in. He had the bearing, the competence and the character of the nation’s top and most trusted cop.
Last summer an old D.C. hand took me to one of those Beltway places of lore for lunch and a cigar and talked candidly about how shocked he was at then-FBI Director James B. Comey’s decision to publicly discuss the Hillary Clinton email investigation and to walk the public through a hundred details of the case and then conclude she should not be prosecuted. Agree or disagree with that decision, he said, it’s not what the FBI does. Ever. Agents present facts to prosecutors. They may nudge or even push in one direction or the other, but they don’t decide. My interlocutor, a former assistant U.S. attorney and then- senior official in numerous positions and companies, was not so much outraged by Comey’s actions at the time as puzzled, perhaps even shocked.
Apparently, new Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein shared exactly that view and expressed it succinctly in his three-page memo to Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Confidence in the FBI would not come back until a new director was in place, and that, of course, required that Comey be fired. Not a decision to be taken lightly, Rosenstein argued, but one he recommended that Sessions make. Sessions reviewed the recommendation, concurred and forwarded a joint recommendation to the president, who agreed.
What happened during the ‘Saturday Night Massacre’ Embed Share Play Video2:23
In the dark days of the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon pushed out two attorney generals and the special prosecutor of the Watergate investigation in what became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre.” (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)
Anyone who thinks this is connected to a coverup of “Russian collusion” has to believe that both Rosenstein and Sessions would participate in such a corrupt scheme. I don’t. It is, in fact, absurd to think that. Reread the Rosenstein memo — a few times. There’s the story. Comey was wrong in July, wrong in subsequent statements, wrong as recently as last week and refused to admit error. The story is a straight-line one, and it’s about Rosenstein.
In fact, just last week Comey said this in response to a question from Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) about whether Rosenstein should appoint a special prosecutor in the Russian investigations: “That’s a judgment he’ll have to make. He is, as I hoped I was as deputy attorney general, a very independent-minded, career-oriented person, but it’d be premature for me to comment on that.”
That’s Comey on Rosenstein. Last week. Under oath.
Which doesn’t mean that questions about the investigation of Russia’s attack on our election are any less serious or the need for a thorough inquiry into charges of collusion between Russia and anyone in the many circles of President Trump is any less pressing. It just means that the FBI has to be led by someone like Webster to ensure that both sides of deeply divided D.C. accept the results of all facets of the investigation.
Moreover, at last week’s hearing Comey told Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) that there are 2,000 investigations into would-be “violent extremists” — half homegrown and in the “lone wolf” category, the other half in contact with foreign organizations.
For there to be a cover-up, there has to be something to cover up. Thus far, there simply isn’t. Dream as hard as liberals might, this fantasy simply refuses to materialize. Unlike Obama and Hillary lying about Benghazi or Hillary serving up thousands of classified emails for foreign agents to peruse, the whiny left simply cannot dig up that skeleton they so desperately want and need to satisfy their aversion to accept the facts that Hillary was corrupt and disgusting and lost on that account.