I met former FBI Director James Comey a few years ago, although he would have no memory of me. My oldest son graduated from the FBI National Academy and Comey was the speaker. Afterwards, he met with the graduates and some of their families. He was a nice man, personable, and outgoing. It was a very brief encounter but one that left a positive impression.
So, when he was called to testify before a committee last week, I was interested. I was on my way to a meeting in Auburn, Ala., and the interview was carried on National Public Radio. Anyone who has followed this column is aware that Donald Trump was not my first through 16th choice for the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Nevertheless, I pray for this President as I have for the others and hope that he will be good for the country.
I was predisposed toward Director Comey and felt that his firing was unfortunate and mishandled. I wanted to hear his side of the story. What I did not expect to hear was the very thing that distressed me the most. The director of the FBI leaked information about a private meeting with his boss, the President, to a friend with the express purpose of getting it into the mainstream media. It was there that Comey lost my support.
Whatever one might say about how the President does business, there is no excuse for the director of the world’s premier law enforcement agency to stoop to this kind of surreptitious behavior. If one of Comey’s agents or other employees had leaked information to press about Comey, is there any doubt about what would have happened to that agent or employee? No, of course not. They would have been fired.
Years ago, I hired a staff member for the church I served as pastor. I told the new employee, “You can say anything you want to say to me face to face. If you barge into my office, jump up on my desk, point your finger in my face, and call me a son of a (gun), I will ask you to get off my desk, have a seat, and tell me why you think I am a son of a (gun).
“But,” I continued, “if you ambush me in front of my people, talk about me behind my back, or otherwise betray my trust, I will fire you on the spot. If you can’t work with me in that way, you need to find another job.” That was my position then and now.
I knew a police officer once that clandestinely slipped confidential information to a news reporter. I was very distressed about that and, though it was really none of my concern, I lost the immense respect that I had had for the officer. There’s just something about being a sneaky turncoat that bothers me.
So, from my point of view, Director Comey undid much of the good that he did do by his own words under oath. He admitted that the former attorney general gave him instructions with which he disagreed. Did he tell her this? No.
When Donald Trump had a conversation with Comey that, he says, made him uncomfortable, did he tell him this? No.
Did he tell his immediate superior, the attorney general, that he was going to release information to the press? No.
Did he think it was easier “to get forgiveness than permission”? Did he think he would never be found out? Was that the only time he leaked to the press or were there other times?
James Comey has had, until now, a long, distinguished, and respected career. Unfortunately, he now finds himself in the very place he should be — unemployed.
[David Epps — who has been writing opinion columns for The Citizen for more than 15 years — is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]