Which Republican is most likely to
impede Hillary Clinton’s race to the
White House? Most would say
Donald Trump, but FBI director
James Comey could be the surprise
obstacle on her path to 1600
Pennsylvania Avenue.
Comey, a former federal prosecutor
and ex-deputy attorney general, on
Tuesday offered a damning
assessment of her email practices
during her time at the State
Department — but did not
recommend she face criminal
charges.
In an explosive — and surprise —
15-minute speech, the towering
Comey — he stands 6’8″ (two
meters) tall — gave Clinton a
dressing down that is sure to
reverberate until voters head to the
polls in November to choose
President Barack Obama’s
successor.
He reiterated those views before a
congressional committee on
Thursday, facing a grilling over his
impartiality but remaining
unflappable under pressure, and
insisting the FBI’s conclusions were
sound.
Of course, by saying Clinton was not
criminally liable, Comey did not deal
a death blow to her White House
hopes. But the former first lady now
will face difficult questions on the
campaign trail for months until
election day on November 8.
It will not be easy to erase the words
uttered by Comey about Clinton —
his labeling of her as “extremely
careless” will certainly be used in
countless Trump attack ads.
Some experts even suggest the
fallout could haunt her all the way
to the Oval Office if she wins the
presidency.
Comey said while there was no firm
evidence that Clinton’s email was
successfully hacked, he also said he
could not rule it out, and that
sophisticated cyber criminals would
not have left any trace.
On Thursday, he said Clinton
“should have known not to send
classified information.” He also
blasted the State Department as
having a lax security culture under
her leadership.
Only time will tell how Comey’s
words will affect Clinton’s drive for
the presidency.
– Straight shooter –
Comey, who has been in his position
at the Federal Bureau of
Investigation since September 2013,
stole the spotlight from Attorney
General Loretta Lynch, who could
only announce Wednesday that she
was following his recommendations.
Lynch sparked controversy last week
when she met Clinton’s husband,
former president Bill Clinton, on the
tarmac at the Phoenix airport — a
chat that left Republicans crying
foul.
The year-long probe and its unusual
conclusion have reinforced the view
of Comey as a straight shooter,
ready to take the heat from all sides
in sticky situations.
Democrats are mad at how he
painted Clinton in his assessment,
and surprised at how much details
he offered in a process that is
usually kept secret.
Republicans are angry that she will
not be charged, saying it defies logic
given the errors that were made.
But Comey is a smooth operator
with tons of experience in
government.
– Connected –
For three decades, Comey has
circulated in political and legal
circles at the highest level, giving
him the confidence to sometimes
anger the country’s justice
department, and even the White
House.
In the wake of the 2014 fatal police
shooting of unarmed black teen
Michael Brown in Ferguson,
Missouri, Comey raised hackles by
supporting cops who were wary of
fulfilling their duties, for fear of their
actions being caught on video.
Many top US government careers
begin in New York, and Comey is no
exception — he hails from the
Manhattan suburbs. He cut his teeth
as a federal prosecutor in New York
and the Washington area.
In 2003, he became deputy attorney
general.
The following year, he faced one of
his toughest showdowns, cementing
his reputation for being independent
and unafraid.
Comey had become acting attorney
general due to the illness of his
boss John Ashcroft.
At Ashcroft’s bedside, the
presidential counsel to George W.
Bush, Alberto Gonzales, was trying
to persuade him to reauthorize a
controversial warrantless
eavesdropping program.
Comey — who was against extending
the program — later revealed the
incident to senators, unleashing a
political firestorm.

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