The Slatest

Comey: Kavanaugh’s “Obvious Lies” About Yearbook Are “Flashing Signal to Dig Deeper”

Former FBI Director James Comey talks backstage before a panel discussion about his book A Higher Loyalty on June 19, 2018 in Berlin, Germany.
Former FBI Director James Comey talks backstage before a panel discussion about his book A Higher Loyalty on June 19, 2018 in Berlin, Germany.
Carsten Koall/Getty Images

Former FBI chief James Comey is weighing in on the FBI investigation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh with a New York Times op-ed that amounts to an all-out defense of agents and their ability to do their job fairly. Even though “it is idiotic to put a shot clock on the FBI,” Comey insists that the probe won’t be “as hard as Republicans hope it will be.” The ground rules of the investigation seem in part designed to prevent answers from emerging, but FBI agents “are experts at interviewing people and quickly dispatching leads to their colleagues around the world to follow with additional interviews.”

In one of the most interesting passages of the op-ed, Comey said that the “obvious lies” regarding words in his yearbook (detailed here) amount to a “flashing signal to dig deeper.” The reason is simple: “Little lies point to bigger lies.”

Although Republicans have defended Kavanaugh by saying that the alleged assaults happened long ago so there’s no way the incidents could be remembered clearly, Comey insists that’s far from the truth. “Agents know time has very little to do with memory. They know every married person remembers the weather on their wedding day, no matter how long ago,” Comey wrote. “Significance drives memory.”

Agents won’t actually reach a conclusion about who is telling the truth but that doesn’t mean their reports won’t point the way. “Their granular factual presentation will spotlight the areas of conflict and allow decision makers to reach their own conclusions,” he wrote. In the end, those carrying out the probe know that whatever they say, they’ll be criticized by one side or the other. But that may not necessarily be a bad thing. “There is freedom in being totally screwed,” Comey wrote. “Agents can just do their work. Find facts. Speak truth to power.”