October 24, 2017

PETER BERKOWITZ IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: James Comey and Robert Mueller Imperil the Rule of Law: The former FBI directors tend to investigate Republicans far more zealously than Democrats.

News broke last week about possible Russian wrongdoing in the U.S., and it didn’t involve the Trump campaign. The Hill reported that in 2009 the FBI “gathered substantial evidence that Russian nuclear industry officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion and money laundering designed to grow Vladimir Putin’s atomic energy business inside the United States.”

The FBI kept that information from Congress and the public, the Hill reported, even as Hillary Clinton’s State Department in 2010 approved a deal that transferred control of more than 20% of America’s uranium supply to a Russian company. The Hill also reported the FBI had documents showing that during this period Russia engineered the transmission of millions of dollars to the Clinton Foundation.

The FBI director at the time: Robert Mueller, now special counsel in charge of investigating “Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election and related matters.” The revelations can only heighten anxieties about Mr. Mueller, the FBI and the rule of law. . . .

Then-FBI Director Comey played softball with the 2015-16 Hillary Clinton investigation. Despite the gravity of the matter—military service members can be court-martialed and discharged for sending classified information on nonsecure systems—Mr. Comey mostly avoided issuing subpoenas and cooperated with the Obama Justice Department in obscuring the investigation’s criminal character. He permitted Mrs. Clinton and her team to destroy evidence and granted generous immunity deals to her advisers. He drafted a statement exonerating Mrs. Clinton months before the FBI interviewed her. And his FBI neither recorded the interview nor compelled her to answer questions under oath.

In addition, in a July 2016 press conference, Mr. Comey usurped the authority of Justice Department prosecutors by publicly exonerating Mrs. Clinton. In the process, he confused the pertinent legal issue by asserting she did not intend to violate the law. But intent wasn’t a necessary condition for a crime. Federal law criminalizes “gross negligence” in mishandling classified information. By Mr. Comey’s own account, Mrs. Clinton had been “extremely careless.”

With Mr. Trump, by contrast, Mr. Comey is playing hardball even after leaving government. In May, shortly after President Trump fired him, Mr. Comey—possibly in conflict with FBI policy—leaked notes of an Oval Office meeting with the president. His purpose, Mr. Comey publicly acknowledged, was to “prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”

Mr. Mueller is playing hardball too. Unlike the Clinton investigation into narrowly defined allegations, his mandate authorizes pursuit of unspecified crimes.

Hardball for Trump, softball for Hillary, and how dare you call us biased tools.

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