04/10/2017

The Conflicts Of J. Edgar Comey

Kimberley A. Strassel, Wall Street Journal

We interrupt the Russia-scandal program to ask two simple questions of one of the nation’s top law-enforcement officers: What exactly is FBI Director Jim Comey doing about the only crime that has so far been revealed in this Russia probe? And is he too conflicted even to be doing it?

That crime is of course the leaking that toppled Donald Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn. The media and Democrats have done their best to avoid covering this, for the simple reason that some of them were complicit. Yet in the entire speculative drama over Russian interference in American elections, so far this is the only crime that is beyond any doubt.

It’s a serious crime, too. Someone in the U.S. government obtained highly classified information about a conversation between an incoming presidential adviser and a foreign official. Someone then leaked Mr. Flynn’s name and the contents of that conversation to the press, resulting in his resignation. As even Mr. Comey recently confirmed, the leaking of such material is an “extraordinarily unusual event.” It is also a felony, punishable by up to 10 years in federal prison.

Why? Because such leaks expose American intelligence sources and methods, putting national security at risk. Moreover, leaking the names of private citizens under surveillance (with the express intent to cause harm) is among the grossest violations of civil liberties. It is what police states do.

The Washington Post story about Mr. Flynn’s conversation cited as its sources “nine current and former officials” who “had access to reports from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies.” That means at least nine current or former Obama administration officials or bureaucrats should be looking at criminal charges.

Which brings us to Mr. Comey. Leaks are in the FBI’s purview, and this case ought to be a slam dunk. Unlike in some leak investigations, Mr. Comey has a trail of bread loaves to follow. Someone in the U.S. government had to take the first step of “unmasking”—requesting the identity of—Mr. Flynn. There are records of such requests, easily accessible by the FBI.

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