This is not intended as an attack on Ben Shapiro. Frankly, I have huge respect for Shapiro and have high hopes that his reasoned voice will be heard more and more. I agree with most of his positions on things.
However, like with everyone, I don’t agree with everything he says. When I don’t agree with something from someone whose judgement and reason I respect a great deal, it makes me think twice about the topic and work them through even more vigorously. That is what I did with the 6 points in Shapiro’s article on the Comey memos (see Tiff’s great summary of the memos here).
Hopefully this won’t earn me a headline at the DailyWire, “Idiot Challenges Shapiro. Shapiro CHRUSHES Him In Response.”
From Shapiro’s 6 Things You Need To Know About The Released Comey Memos
1. Comey Leaked The Memos To Prompt A Special Counsel In The First Place. After Comey’s firing, he leaked the memos to a “close friend” so that the press would see them, intending to prompt a special counsel investigation into his firing. The theory was that the memos showed that Comey was hot on Trump’s trail on the Russia investigation, and that Trump fired Comey in order to obstruct justice. Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee in June 2017, “I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter. I didn’t do it myself for a variety of reasons but I asked him to because I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.” But there’s nothing in the memos that suggests Trump was actually attempting to obstruct justice.
I think it’s conjecture that the intent of leaking the memos was to show obstruction of justice. Rather, it seems that Comey may have sincerely believed that the Russia investigation needed to continue and he was concerned that his firing would lead to that investigation being halted and swept under the rug. Comey then seemed to have concluded that the only option to prevent that from happening was to do something that would instigate a special counsel to be appointed and the only way to do that was to provide something that put Trump’s firing in context. I would ask anyone, if you actually believe that it was likely that people associated with the campaign, at the very top levels, of the President of the United States was involved in working with a foreign adversary to win the election, would you simply let it go when you were fired for looking into just that possibility?
2. The Letter From The DOJ To Congress Suggests Portions Of The Memo Were Classified. Comey said he hadn’t broken the law by showing the memos to a third party, because they were unclassified personal “recollection.” But the letter from the DOJ to Congress states, “Therefore, pursuant to your request, we are providing the requested memoranda in both redacted and unredacted formats for your convenience. … The unredacted documents are classified, and we will provide those in a separate, secure transmittal to the House Security office tomorrow.” This seems to suggest that Comey was wrong about the level of classification the memos required, meaning he could have broken the law — although Comey says he only leaked one of the memos to his friend, and that one was unclassified.
That last part of the last sentence Ben wrote where Comey has stated he did not leak all of the memos, but only parts that were not classified, seems to negate the gist of this point. So, we probably won’t know for sure unless we actually see specifically what he leaked. To suggest that he was wrong at this point is speculation.
3. The DOJ Seemingly Fibbed About The Importance Of The Memos. The DOJ refused to turn over the memos when requested under the Freedom of Information Act; they claimed that the release of the memos would interfere with the Mueller investigation. There’s nothing in the memos that seems to suggest this is true. And if it were true, why would the DOJ now release the memos to Congress, knowing full well that they would be leaked within minutes?
We have absolutely no idea how or why this may or may not affect the Mueller investigation since we have no idea what Mueller has or is doing. To conclude that the DOJ fibbed about this because you claim there is nothing in the memos to suggest it’s true is, again, pure speculation. Why would the DOJ now release them? Who knows? Perhaps they have more information on where Mueller’s investigation is and have determined that it no longer interferes because Mueller has concluded that part of the investigation? A perfectly plausible explanation, so no need to jump to the conclusion that the DOJ fibbed.
4. The Memos Don’t Suggest Obstruction. Upon release of the memos, Reps. Devin Nunes (R-CA), Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), and Trey Gowdy (R-SC) rightly tore into Comey. They stated that the memos “show the President made clear he wanted allegations of collusion, coordination, and conspiracy between his campaign and Russia fully investigated.” Furthermore, the memos demonstrate that Trump didn’t want the Russia election interference investigation ended, but the suggestion that he had engaged in lewd personal conduct. And as the Congressmen point out, “The memos also show former Director Comey never wrote that he felt obstructed or threatened.”
Again, as stated in point one, I don’t think Comey’s main motivation was to show obstruction, but rather to ensure the investigation continued. However, even though Trump “made clear he wanted allegations of collusion, coordination, and conspiracy between his campaign and Russia fully investigated” and “the memos demonstrate that Trump didn’t want the Russia election interference investigation ended”, it defies all reason to believe that. We have all watched Trump’s actions and words about the Russian investigation and there is absolutely no doubt, despite these claims quoted in the memos, that he desperately wants the entire investigation ended. To pretend otherwise is ludicrous.
5. Comey Held Trump To A Different Standard Than Obama Officials. Comey has stated that he interfered in the Hillary Clinton email investigation in an unprecedented way because he felt that Attorney General Loretta Lynch had undercut the credibility of the DOJ. But he never wrote contemporaneous memos about it. He reserved that for Trump, as the Congressmen point out: “He chose not to memorialize conversations with President Obama, Attorney General Lynch, Secretary Clinton, Andrew McCabe or others, but he immediately began to memorialize conversations with President Trump…These memos also lay bare the notion that former Director Comey is not motivated by animus.” Comey also never bothered to try to launch a special counsel investigation against Lynch and Clinton.
Or, it could simply mean that he sincerely believed that Trump, or at least those surrounding him at the highest levels, had or were still working with a foreign adversary and that the investigation of that was in imminent danger of being thwarted. It’s certainly possible that one can have different levels of concern about different things and, thus, act in different ways to address those different levels. It doesn’t mean that we should automatically assume the most nefarious possibility.
6. Comey Defended McCabe Repeatedly. Comey repeatedly defended his deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe from attacks by President Trump, and said that McCabe was professional. Now McCabe may be indicted for criminal activity for leaking material to the press without Comey’s permission or say-so.
Comey has also not defended McCabe concerning the lies that McCabe is accused of telling to Comey. If this was such a conspiracy between Comey and McCabe, why would he not cover for him? You can’t have it both ways. But that seems to be the case with many issues with Comey. He’s supposed to be a big partisan hack that has covered for Clinton/Obama but has tried to take down Trump, but he’s also done things to defy that narrative. Cherry-picking which actions he does to fit the narrative you want to promote while ignoring the other actions is not a good argument.
In the end, I have no idea what to think of the Comey memos at this point. Like everything else associated with this entire affair, it all needs much more context and specific details that we simply do not have. So my conclusion with the release of these memos at this time, is that we really don’t know anything more than we did before the release. In the end, nothing like this matters until we see a full report of the completed Mueller investigation so that we can put it all in the proper context. Until then…just more speculation on top of speculation.