Issa Contends Comey’s ‘Insubordination’ Justified His Firing
Congressman says the former FBI head's behavior was 'more than sufficient to show he should have been terminated'
Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz’s much-anticipated report shows James Comey’s “insubordination” and “belligerent attitude” entirely justified President Donald Trump’s decision to fire the former FBI director, according to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.).
“Well, what we make of [the report] is that there was insubordination or belligerent, arrogant attitude by the FBI director, and that pattern continued,” Issa said Thursday on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom.”
“These kinds of actions, in addition to breaking protocol both starting and stopping and announcing the Hillary Clinton activity, all of those show an arrogance that, by definition, is not befitting the director of the FBI,” Issa said.
Issa was referring to information from the draft report leaked Wednesday, either from the IG’s staff or, more likely, from one of the individuals assessed in the report. Such individuals are always allowed to review the specific sections of IG reports in which they are mentioned.
The IG report is expected to be an exhaustive analysis of how DOJ and the FBI conducted key investigations, including the probe into 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct official business as secretary of state.
Issa, former chairman and current member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, reacted to ABC News’ Wednesday report citing “sources familiar with a draft report on the matter,” with one of the sources’ claiming the report accused Comey of being “insubordinate.” None of the sources were named.
Trump’s firing of Comey has been a focal point of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of allegations members of Trump’s 2016 campaign colluded with Russian interests in an attempt to influence the outcome of the election.
Although Trump cited Comey's conduct during the Russia probe among the grounds for firing him in May 2017, the president also cited Comey's improper handling of the initial Clinton email investigation and his decision to reopen it publicly just a few days before Election Day.
Issa urged caution, however, when he noted that IG report drafts often are "as strong as they're going to be when you first see them" before investigators "water them down" with "softer edges" following explanations from those under review.
"But the reality is, this is an indictment of the behavior of Comey more than sufficient to show he should have been terminated," Issa said of the upcoming IG report.
"What we do realize is that [Comey] serve[d] at the pleasure of the president. And if in fact he's arrogant, if in fact he's insubordinate, if in fact he has a double standard for Hillary and against Trump, all of those things are reason to terminate him," Issa emphasized.
"A lot of what this IG report is going to show is that he was properly terminated as somebody who really shouldn't be on the job," Issa added. "I think that's probably the most important thing that's going to come out of it."
Former New Jersey Judge Andrew Napolitano, a senior judicial analyst for Fox News, said Thursday on that station's "Fox & Friends" that he had "to caution against attempting to evaluate the IG report on the basis of snippets that have been leaked." Nevertheless, Napolitano said, "Insubordination is not what we are looking for. We are looking for lawbreaking."
Napolitano asked "Did [Comey] lie under oath when he gave different versions of events, events involving [former FBI Deputy Director] Andrew McCabe? And we are looking for very serious, probably politically motivated errors of judgment, like, 'We can't prosecute Mrs. Clinton for espionage because we can't prove intent.' Wait a minute, Jim, the statute doesn't require to you prove intent. You can convict under this statute on the basis of gross negligence."
Attorney General Jeff Sessions fired McCabe in March, only hours before he was scheduled to retire with a full pension. But Sessions acted after another Horowitz report documented that McCabe lied four times to federal investigators and Comey about leaking information to The Wall Street Journal about the Clinton probe.