The Slatest

Former FBI Chief Comey Blasts Republicans Over Nunes Memo: “That’s It?”

Former FBI Director James Comey leaves a closed session with the Senate Intelligence Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 8, 2017 in Washington, DC. Comey said that President Donald Trump pressured him to drop the FBI's investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and demanded Comey's loyalty during the one-on-one meetings he had with president.
Former FBI Director James Comey leaves a closed session with the Senate Intelligence Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill June 8, 2017 in Washington, D.C.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Former FBI Director James Comey sharply criticized Republicans, and by extension President Donald Trump, shortly after the House Intelligence Committee released the controversial memo that supposedly shows bias at the FBI and the Justice Department. It seems Comey, agrees with Slate’s Jeremy Stahl that the memo is a “complete flop” and “offers virtually no new information.”

In a tweet, Comey point-blank asks: “That’s it?” The partisan wrangling that preceded the release of the “dishonest and misleading” memo caused significant damage but doesn’t actually show any kind of malfeasance, the former FBI chief suggested. The debate over the document that has engulfed Washington for weeks “wrecked the House intel committee, destroyed trust with Intelligence Community, damaged relationship with FISA court, and inexcusably exposed classified investigation of an American citizen,” Comey wrote. “For what? DOJ & FBI must keep doing their jobs.”

The normally quiet Comey who usually likes to comment on the news in roundabout ways has been unusually direct recently. On Thursday evening, the former FBI director also took to Twitter to say that everyone “should appreciate the FBI speaking up.” Ultimately though, Comey, whose firing led to the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel, sounded an optimistic tone: “Take heart: American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field, so long as good people stand up. Not a lot of schools or streets named for Joe McCarthy.”

The FBI and Justice Department had staunchly opposed the release of the memo and there were reports that the White House was worried FBI Director Christopher Wray would resign with the release of the memo. But later reports claimed Wray had “no intention of quitting.”

Some are urging the FBI director to reconsider. Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, writes on NBC News’ website that Wray has no option but to resign now. Vladeck explains:

It’s not just that the release of the memo is a personal slight against him; it’s part of a broader, systematic campaign against the credibility and integrity of the very agency that he runs. And importantly, this agency’s credibility and integrity are cornerstones of our legal system. Wray shouldn’t resign because he himself has been slighted, or because he has been ordered to do something he believes to be unlawful or immoral; he should resign because of the institutional affront that the release of the memo reflects — a partisan political assault on the apolitical work in which tens of thousands of men and women are engaged on a daily basis. Adding insult to injury, these men and women under his leadership are generally not in a position to speak out for themselves.

Simply put, when the president chooses, for partisan political reasons, to override the recommendation of his own FBI director and pursue a course of action that could damage our national security (to say nothing of the FBI’s reputation), resignation is the most ethically appropriate and politically impactful means of registering protest, rather than acquiescing.