As James Comey, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, appears Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he’ll do so on the heels of potentially narrative-shifting comments by Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic candidate for president, about his behavior during the campaign. Having lost Clinton the election thanks, in part, to his game-changing letter to members of Congress, Comey now gets to experience how a public appearance by Clinton, one day before the hearing, will affect the media narrative around his actions.
In a May 1 interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour at an event staged by Women for Women International, an advocacy group, Clinton came out swinging when assessing the reasons for her Electoral College loss. “The reason why I believe we lost were the intervening events in the last ten days,” Clinton said. Referring to the day before Comey told Congress he was effectively reopening an investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton said, “If the election had been on October 27, I’d be your president.”
Clinton told Amanpour that Comey essentially robbed her of victory by sending an unnecessary October 28 letter to congressional committee chairs to inform them that the FBI was scouring a laptop used by Clinton aide Huma Abedin for evidence that would show either her or her boss mishandling classified information—only to, just days before the election, effectively tell Congress, “Never mind. We found nothing of the sort.”
In fact, Comey’s October letter was not only unnecessary, but went against Justice Department policy, which states that public announcements regarding politically sensitive investigations should be avoided within 60 days before an election. As a candidate, President Donald Trump certainly benefited from the selective application of this policy: Comey made no public announcement of a major FBI investigation of interference in the campaign by Russia, a major foreign adversary.
Then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and her deputy, Sally Yates, both opposed Comey’s plan to send the letter about Abedin’s laptop (which she shared with her estranged husband and sexting addict Anthony Weiner), but the FBI head dismissed their concerns, believing them, according to The New York Times, to be based on partisan motivation. Later it emerged from the WikiLeaks dump of emails hacked from Democratic Party institutions and operatives—by hackers connected to the Russian government—that a single email from an operative who speculated that maybe, possibly, Lynch could stall the FBI email investigation was justification for mistrusting her.
I’m stroking my chin here, wondering what, if anything, Hillary Clinton, Sally Yates, and Loretta Lynch have in common, besides their party affiliation. Oh, right—they’re women! And everyone knows that women are duplicitous. Everyone knows that women lie. Just ask Adam, the first man, whose rib somehow produced humanity’s first duplicitous liar.
And Comey’s reopened investigation advanced that very idea during a campaign marked by the basest forms of misogyny ever seen in a modern presidential campaign.
(It should be noted here that when it came to reining in Comey, Lynch found herself in a weak position for having allowed former President Bill Clinton, the candidate’s husband, to board Lynch’s plane for the purpose of, according to the parties involved, saying hello. It was an epically bad move on Bill Clinton’s part to do so even as the FBI was investigating his wife, and a bad decision by Lynch to allow him to board. But I’m betting that Lynch would have extended the same courtesy to any former president.)
None of this is to say that Hillary Clinton ran a great campaign or was a perfect candidate. But it’s safe to say that America is a nation deeply uneasy with the notion of women in leadership. One merely needs to look at the U.S. Senate, where only 20 percent of those seated are women, despite the fact that women constitute a majority of the population.
There’s little doubt that misogyny played a significant role in the defeat of Clinton’s presidential bid. Particularly, perhaps, that of James Comey. Should Congress, the media, or the pollsters ever really want to get to the core of what happened in the 2016 campaign for the presidency, that line of inquiry cannot be ignored.