Short answer: He didn’t have the stones to make a historic decision.
A weird turn of events put Comey under a particularly bright spotlight.
Before the events of the past week, the way I expected things to work out:
- Comey reads the 1st 14 minutes of his his speech laying out the body of evidence, concluding with a recommendation to indict.
- AG Lynch immediately puts the kabosh on the recommendation, refusing to indict.
- Or, AG Lynch green lights an indictment and President Obama quickly steps in to pardon Hillary “for the good of the country”.
- Hillary continues her campaign to become the first woman president.
Comey would have drawn the correct legal opinion based on the evidence, but the course of history wouldn’t have changed.
But, things didn’t work out that way, and Comey found himself in a much brighter spotlight … and, when the story ends, it won’t be pretty for Comey
My bet: Comey had a different ending written for his speech … ending in a recommendation for prosecution.
So, why the tortured logic to rewrite the law, resting the conclusion on a string of benefits of the doubt, “reasonable prosecutors” and “no malicious intent”.
POV: It isn’t Comey’s job to impute what a “reasonable prosecutor” would do. I heard several former Federal prosecutors say that they would have run with the ball. One: Rudy Giuliani – Comey’s former boss.
Best analogy re: malicious intent that I heard yesterday was the case of a toddler who dies in a hot car when the parent forgets that the kid was in the backseat. Did the parent have “malicious intent”? Probably not, but the parent doesn’t walk away uncharged. It’s the action and the consequence, not the intent.
Easy answer to that one.
When Bubba stepped on AG Lynch’s plane, the playing field changed completely.
Lynch throws the ball into Comey’s court.
Retrospectively, that was an easy decision for Lynch.
Worst case: Comey says to indict, Lynch stands clear, Obama gets the ball and pardons Clinton, Hillary gets some sort of perverse sympathy vote and becomes president.
Case closed. History on course.
Instead – a couple of weeks before the Dem convention – AG Lynch punts to Comey.
Comey realizes that – given the timing and Bernie in the wings, no “rigged” Presidential pardon could happen – a recommendation to indict would probably kill Hillary’s nomination quest.
In other words, if Comey recommended indictment, he would have been the person who went down in history of having extinguished the chances of the Hillary becoming the first woman president.
Would he have drawn the same conclusion if the person of interest had been, say, John Kerry?
I doubt it.
Bottom line: He didn’t want to be the man who changed history.
My prediction: Now, after a long career beyond reproach, he’ll go down in history – perhaps unfairly — as just another political hack or a case study in legal illogic.
Worst case for Comey …
The Russians claim to have Hillary’s emails in their possession.
What if they release a couple of damning ones?
It’ll be be Comey and the American legal system that takes the hit … not Clinton.
Now, that would be historic.