Former FBI Director James Comey influenced the course of the 2016 election, investigated presidential candidates from each party, and was fired by one of them for leading an inquiry into foreign interference with American democracy. So perhaps he found the chiding he received from Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz anticlimactic.
The IG’s report did not conclude that Comey broke any laws but that his “retention, handling, and dissemination of certain Memos” documenting his interactions with President Donald Trump and Trump’s efforts to influence the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election “violated Department and FBI policies, and his FBI Employment Agreement.” The Trump administration promptly and baselessly accused Comey of being a criminal.
Comey, who shares Trump’s appetite for dramatic public gestures that place him at the center of public attention, demanded an apology. Comey has never apologized for his role in placing Trump in office, but—like the president—he possesses a streak of self-righteousness that precludes reflection.
Nevertheless, the sanction Comey received was absurd: The IG concluded that Comey, fired by a president who was publicly seeking to cripple an investigation into a foreign hacking-and-disinformation campaign that helped put him in office, should have kept silent. That standard would not only incentivize presidential corruption, but establish that government officials who witness such corruption should not warn the public and instead adhere to a Mafialike omertà.