On Wednesday, the Senate held a hearing on Crossfire Hurricane and the corruption in the highest levels of the FBI. That probe led to the Russia collusion investigation into the president based on a fake dossier and a falsified FISA warrant. Through it all, former FBI Director James Comey was a slippery son-of-a-gun who had more memory lapses than Bill Clinton trying to remember what the word “is” is. That is, until Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) took the microphone and tore him apart like a young Perry Mason with better hair.
Comey kept insisting that it wasn’t just the FISA application (which destroyed Carter Page’s life) that was total garbage, but that all the FISA warrants that the FBI applied for were dumpster fires riddled with errors. It was an interesting defense that boiled down to: “I’m not corrupt, but everyone who worked for me was incompetent!”
But Hawley didn’t let him get away with that. You can skip to the video below to watch the exchange or you can read the transcript of my favorite parts here:
HAWLEY: We’ve heard you say a couple times that the OIG found problems in FISA applications across the board, but of course it was only this FISA application, these involving Carter Page that you signed off on, that drew an unprecedented rebuke from the FISA court, which I’m sure you remember. Let me just quote from that FISA court order: “The frequency and seriousness of these errors in a case that, given its sensitive nature, had an unusually high level of review at both DOJ and the Federal Bureau of Investigations, have called into question the reliability of the information proffered in other FBI applications.” Do you remember that order from the court?
COMEY: It came after I left, as I recall, but I remember reading about it, yes.
HAWLEY: And have you ever known the court to issue any other such order that you’re familiar with?
HAWLEY: You have known the court to issue orders rebuking the FBI for misleading it in the past?
COMEY: Yes, shortly before 9-11 there was significant criticism by the FISA court of the quality of FISA applications.
HAWLEY: And the court said that the frequency and seriousness of the errors led it to doubt the reliability of the information in all other cases?
Comey demurred on that one, not really answering the question, so Hawley repeated the rebuke from the court.
HAWLEY: Do you regret your role in this unprecedented misleading of a FISA court?
COMEY: I don’t regret my role, I regret that it happened.
HAWLEY: Why not? Why don’t you regret your role in the unprecedented misleading of a FISA court?
COMEY: I regret that the FBI supplied information to a FISA court that was inaccurate, incomplete, and should have been updated.
HAWLEY: Do you regret that you signed off on it?
COMEY: Well, I regret that it happened. The only reason that I’m hesitating is that what the FBI director does in connection with a FISA is actually very narrow. But put that to the side, it’s important that it be accurate and it wasn’t and I regret that.
HAWLEY: You’ve said this several times and I frankly don’t understand it—the certification that the statute requires is a certification by the FBI director as to the contents of the application. You signed off on it. The FISA court said it was so misleading that it now had reason to doubt the FBI’s truthfulness across the board. Are you responsible for these certifications or not?
COMEY: I don’t believe you’re accurately describing the statutory requirements…
HAWLEY: Are you responsible for these certifications, or not? Answer my question.
COMEY: I sign certifications on every FISA the FBI sends over to the FISA court, including these.
HAWLEY: Are you responsible for this misleading evidence given to the FISA court? Yes or no?
COMEY: Yes, in the sense of command responsibility. No, in that I didn’t have personal knowledge that would have led me to understand that we weren’t supplying complete information.
That’s baloney. He did have reason to believe the information was bogus and Hawley proved it.
HAWLEY: Let’s talk about what personal knowledge you have. When you certified the first Carter Page FISA application, you believed that Mr. Steele was working for the Democratic Party, didn’t you?
COMEY: I don’t remember if I knew the Democratic Party—I knew that he was working for political opponents of President Trump.
HAWLEY: Now let me remind you of your testimony under oath on December 7th, 2018, at the House Oversight Committee in which you said, and I quote, “Steele was retained by Republicans adverse to Mr. Trump during the primary season and then his work was underwritten after that by Democrats opposed to Mr. Trump during the general election season.” Now, surely you recognized at the time that relying so heavily on a biased source would undermine public confidence in the FBI’s activities, didn’t you?
COMEY: No, I did not.
HAWLEY: Why wouldn’t you? You told the same committee…and I quote, “When you’re the leader of a justice agency,” that’s YOU, “the appearance of bias is as important as the existence of actual bias.” You also said, “A reasonable appearance of bias can corrupt the American people’s faith in your work as much as actual bias can.” Do you stand by those remarks?
COMEY: Very much so.
HAWLEY: But you nevertheless allowed the Democratic Party to leverage the federal government’s most invasive intelligence capabilities against President Trump and you personally signed off on it. You also knew at the time that other officials in the Department of Justice had serious concerns.
Then Hawley pulled the ace out of his sleeve and showed America what a lying, no good snake James Comey is.
Do you know who Stuart Evans is?
COMEY: I do.
HAWLEY: Mr. Evans was a lawyer in the national security division of the DOJ under President Obama, wasn’t he?
COMEY: I don’t know. I think he was a career official at the Department of Justice…
HAWLEY: He was a lawyer in the national security division of the Department of Justice. Before the first Carter Page FISA application Mr. Evans raised serious concerns about the ostensively partisan nature of the information provided by Mr. Steele, did he not?
COMEY: I don’t know.
HAWLEY: He did. The IG reports it on pages 136 and 137 on this report and you knew of those concerns before you signed off on the FISA application, didn’t you?
COMEY: I don’t think I knew before. I remember reading a footnote that attempted to inform the court of potential bias.
HAWLEY: No, actually, the Inspector General found on page 139 of the report and I quote “on October 12, 2016 Evans’ concerns about Steele were briefed to Comey.”
HAWLEY: And yet you signed off, knowing that the research was funded by the Democrat Party, knowing that senior officials in the DOJ nat sec division had serious concerns, you signed off.
The shrugging moment made me want to come through my screen and wipe that smug look off Comey’s face myself. Multiple people’s lives were ruined by this investigation, which was predicated on a political hack job. James Comey can casually shrug and smirk in the face of what he has done because he’s not the one facing ruin and bankruptcy and the loss of his reputation or freedom like Carter Page and General Flynn. Instead, Comey is facing a tiring book tour and best-selling book sales for his efforts to subvert justice.
Hawley began to wrap up with, “How are the American people supposed to trust the FBI following abuses like this?” to which Comey blathered something about how much integrity he has. Hawley didn’t let him cling to that old canard and summed up Comey’s actions as a “dereliction of duty, indeed a betrayal of your responsibility as director of the FBI.”
The only question that remains: When will our lawmakers grow a pair and refer him for prosecution so we can finally see James Comey in handcuffs for this betrayal of law and justice?