I am sure that i’m not the only one who found a perverse sense of pleasure in watching CNN’s Anderson Cooper making former FBI Director James Comey squirm.
Part of the enjoyment is watching this unfold on CNN, a placer where Comey likely thought he’d be safe from attack. Another aspect of the enjoyment, is FINALLY getting someone to nail Comey down and explain to him that if anybody else did what he had done… we would likely be in prison right now. Finally, while Cooper doesn’t defend the President outright, he does seem to connect with the President’s frustration as well as make it clear that Comey is no innocent in this entire debacle.
The interview took place in a Town Hall format, hosted by The College of William & Mary, and saw Comey attempting to defend his criminal activity while also passing himself off as some kind of heroic figure.
Anderson Cooper: But as someone who has the authority to classify documents you know that stuff is retroactively classified and I believe one of the documents was retroactively classified, the lowest level of classification, wasn’t it?
James Comey: Sure.
Anderson Cooper: If you’re releasing memos which may or may not be classified, which happened to Hillary Clinton as well, aren’t you taking a risk that you think you know, oh, this is not going to be classified but it turns out one of them was?
James Comey: I don’t think it was a risk. I don’t think of it as a risk. You’re making an educated judgment based on your training and your experience as to what’s classified and what’s not.
Anderson Cooper: So you did leak memos. Is it okay for somebody at the FBI to leak something, an internal document, even if it’s not classified? Isn’t that leaking?
James Comey: There is a whole lot wrong with your question, Anderson. First, I didn’t leak memos. I asked a friend to communicate the substance of one unclassified memo to the media.
Anderson Cooper: But it was an internal document and it was a document that you had written while you were FBI director. That is a leak. If you tell somebody don’t give them the document but tell them what’s in the document that’s still a leak, no?
James Comey: Not to get tangled up in it but I think of a leak as an unauthorized disclosure of classified information.
Anderson Cooper: Really? That’s it? That’s a leak?
James Comey: That’s how I thought about it as FBI director. We investigated leaks. Unauthorized disclosures.
Anderson Cooper: In your memo, when you said the president was eager to find leakers and would like to nail one to the doors as a message —
James Comey: I said that.
Anderson Cooper: Shouldn’t you be nailed to the door then? Aren’t you a leaker? You gave up a document that was released to The New York Times. I know you say it’s not classified but plenty of people leak non-classified information to reporters and the White House and the FBI get upset about it.
James Comey: The FBI gets upset when people make unauthorized disclosures of protected information. There was nothing protected about this. It wasn’t classified. It wasn’t privileged. It’s also in my book.
Anderson Cooper: So when you were FBI director and somebody on your team had given a friend documents that they were writing that you were involved with and said, oh, just tell The New York Times what’s in this document, you wouldn’t have had a problem with that?
James Comey: Depending on what was in the document.
Anderson Cooper: But even if it wasn’t classified information?
James Comey: Was it protected information? Was it investigative information? Was it classified information? Was it grand jury information?
Anderson Cooper: I guess I’m surprised you only think leaks, officially a leak is something that is classified.
James Comey: The reason I hesitated is that is how I think about it as a matter as a lawyer and the director of the FBI. In practice, the term gets applied to a broad range of things. I totally get it. I intentionally gave this information to a friend intending that it be out in the media. I wanted it to get out in the media. As a private citizen, I could do that and did do that, just as I’ve written about it in my book.
There’s one more thing in this interview that really satisfies, it’s that realization on Cooper’s face that Comey is a complete and utter hypocrite.
Even as Cooper corners him, proving that the former FBI Director is most assuredly a “leaker,” Comey still tries to weasel his way out of responsibility… and good for Cooper, for not letting him get away with it.
Here’s the full Town Hall:
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