‘We are witnessing the criminalization of our politics’ – Katrina Vanden Heuvel
FBI Director James Comey, after discovering thousands more emails that may be related to national security, sent a letter to Congress last week that sent shockwaves through the Democratic Party. It read, in brief: “Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant… I believe it is important to update your committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.”
A few months ago Comey recommended to the US Justice Department that no charges be filed against Hillary Clinton. She was at the center of an FBI investigation after it was discovered she had used a private computer to send classified government documents. Comey now finds himself at the center of a political controversy, with Clinton supporters saying he may be attempting to manipulate the election.
RT: Hillary Clinton says there is no case here after the FBI announced it will be investigating new emails found in an unrelated case against former Congressman Anthony Weiner. What is your take on this?
Katrina Vanden Heuvel: I think that in the end this is going to be a side show that will do more to discredit James Comey and the FBI than to impact the election. I do think we’ve seen abuse and overreach of power by the FBI institution; it’s long been a politicized institution. J. Edgar Hoover is smiling somewhere as he watches pundits marvel at the politicalization of the FBI. I think there is a more serious problem. I think we are witnessing the criminalization of our politics. The morning of the day when Comey announced this new round, Representative [Jason] Chaffetz [Rep, UT] said he has two years of investigations planned if Clinton is elected. I think this is very dangerous for our country; I think we need justice and transparency, but we are not getting it in this process.
Our political process (…) is so extremely polarized; there is not a lot of patience with the political class to wait to see what the truth is and the facts are, they are more apt to jump to conclusions. It is pretty universally accepted that [FBI Director James] Comey is a man of integrity and in fact he was appointed by a Democratic administration. My suspicion is that something came to light of such significance that it had to be reopened. - Chad Peace, president IVC Media LLC, to RT.
RT: We are living in different political climates where both candidates have got trust issues with the public. Do you see criticism for what James Comey did?
KVH: I think put aside the two candidates - the two most widely disliked, mistrusted candidates in modern history, Trump wins that one. But the real problem here is that many have commented in the last 48 hours that Comey violated long-standing Department of Justice procedures, policies, precedents. That is a trans-partisan verdict on Comey. I think that at the bottom of this, to some extent, is a director of the FBI who wanted to cover his behind. And I think that has motivated him from the beginning that press conference in July, essentially clearing Secretary of State Clinton, even while attacking her, going to testify before Congress, giving Congress raw, unfiltered material. All of this is really not fitting for the director of an institution, which, as I’ve said, has a long history of abuse of power, of spying covertly on any civil rights activists…
FBI Director Comey, in letter to members of Congress, says FBI is investigating additional emails in Clinton private server case pic.twitter.com/Ue0qlhqT5w— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) October 28, 2016
RT: Full disclosure has been a theme of both campaigns. Do you think that this played into Comey’s decision? Because imagine he holds back the information, there are new emails, then there is election and then it comes out, and you can see where this could unravel. What are your thoughts on that?
KVH: But it is not his job to come forward. As a director of the FBI, his job is for his investigators to organize material and to bring it to the Department of Justice. It is the case that it takes two to tango. And the fact that former President Bill Clinton met with Loretta Lynch on an airport tarmac a few months ago probably made it much more difficult to follow normal procedures. I go back to Bernie Sanders, who said in the first debate: “Enough with those damn emails”. This is an election when this country faces historic choices and you have on one side someone who believes climate change is a Chinese hoax, and Hillary Clinton who would appoint a very different Supreme Court. Both of them on foreign policy are troubling. But I think we need to continue to keep our eyes on the prize, which is an election that will decide the fate of this country for the next at least four years. And an FBI that has a long history of interfering in presidential elections has done so again.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.