How is the FBI director appointed
Comey: "stomach ache because of the US election"
James Comey was appointed FBI chief by then US President Barack Obama in 2013 - his term of office was supposed to be ten years. But in May 2017, the newly elected new President Donald Trump fired Comey and received harsh criticism for it. Trump was accused of obstructing the judiciary, and an investigation into possible contacts with Russia against Trump's campaign team was launched.
In the DW show Conflict Zone, the former FBI boss Comey said that because of his many years of experience in law enforcement, he does not want to jump to conclusions from the vehemence with which US President Trump denies any cooperation with Moscow. "The fact that someone behaves in this way does not necessarily mean that they were guilty of something," said Comey. "It could also be that all his life the president did nothing but attack when he felt threatened. But I cannot say what exactly drives him."
James Comey answered critical questions from DW presenter Tim Sebastian
It was Trump's character who persuaded Comey not to give up his office prematurely. "His manners have reassured me to keep my role and continue to serve and protect the FBI and the American people." When asked if he was concerned about betraying his beliefs if he stayed in the Trump administration, Comey said he saw the danger well. "Still, I felt I had to do my duty." Comey knew what he was getting into. "I knew that there would always be difficult situations, but I would have felt like a coward if I had just run away instead of running an organization that is actually independent."
Did Comey cost Hillary Clinton the election?
Comey became known even before Trump fired him. During the 2016 election campaign, he stated that the FBI had found no evidence of criminal activity after it became known that Hillary Clinton used a private e-mail server for official mail while she was US Secretary of State.
Comey called Clinton's handling of secret documents "careless", but also stated that there was insufficient evidence for a prosecution. Then, just eleven days before the election, he informed the House of Representatives that the FBI had received new emails that would provide "pertinent clues to the investigation." Comey told DW that everyone agreed to resume the investigation. However, there was controversy about whether the public should be informed or not.
Because of the US election result, Comey "still has a stomachache today"
"What would you do - eleven days before the election? Talk about it or keep it quiet? My assessment was: The FBI would suffer terrible damage to its image if we kept the whole thing secret. It would do much less damage if we made it public. [...] I came to the conclusion that we had to talk about it; we couldn't cover up the fact that what we said under oath in the summer was no longer true, "said Comey. "I would like to ask people what they would have done if they were me?"
Clinton accused Comey of complicity in the lost presidential election and scoffed at the fact that he too had sent private emails from FBI servers. Before it was announced, it was six percentage points ahead in polls. A week later there were only three. The voters, who were undecided to date, gave their majority vote to Donald Trump. So did Comey have a decisive influence on the elections? "I still get a stomachache today when I think about it," said Comey. "I hope it wasn't like that."
Two days after Comey's announcement that he would reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton, Democratic Senator Harry Reid wrote a letter to Comey accusing him of having a disturbing double standard of handling sensitive information. Reid criticized Comey for immediately dragging every little hint about Clinton to the public, but not comparable references about Donald Trump. Comey denied these accusations to DW: "Trump was not investigated during the election. [...] We knew that the Russians had a hand in our election. But the question was: Did any Americans help them? And we didn't know about anyone at the time. "
Did the email affair cost Clinton the presidency?
Comey also denied that he should have informed the public of suspected cases that Americans with ties to Trump's campaign team were guilty. "There is no serious reason why we should have started a completely new counterintelligence investigation if the presidential candidate had not been the subject of the investigation."
Comey himself had been heavily criticized for using a private email account for business emails during his time as FBI director. When asked if it wasn't hypocritical that he spent a year and a half investigating Hillary Clinton for a similar offense, he said, "No, but it shows that people don't understand what the Clinton investigation is about It wasn't about whether or not she was using a government server for her mail. It was about how she handled classified material. And that is a very important investigation and has nothing to do with whether she is now used a Gmail account, as I did, to send myself drafts of my public speeches, and there was never any charge of using any server to talk about classified documents.
In his latest book from April 2018, James Comey talks about "higher loyalty"
According to a Washington Post report, a small proportion of the documents in two emails from James Comey were also classified as classified. These documents were marked as "confidential", which corresponds to the lowest level of secrecy. Still, they were secret. In an interview with DW, Comey assumes that an investigation will also be initiated against him: "I have fully cooperated with the investigating authorities and am now waiting impatiently for their report," said Comey. "I want to get this over with now, I want the report to be published and to stop these silly allegations that I mishandled with classified information. [...] Without a doubt, as you put it, I am from them Deviated from the norm. But that was nothing compared to the investigation into one of the two presidential candidates during the election campaign. " Comey also said he is not afraid that Congress or the FBI will investigate him for handling the Hillary Clinton email affair.
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