What Is James Comey Doing Now?
What Has the Former FBI Director Been Doing Since He Was Dismissed by President Trump?
Former FBI Director James Comey was fired by President Donald Trump in May 2017. Then, in June, he presented widely followed testimony before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which is investigating possible connections between the president and Russia, as reported by the Globe and Mail. The former director was then described by CNN as staying "mostly out of the spotlight" until he presented a poorly received speech at Howard University, welcoming new students, in September 2017.
"Get out James Comey — you're not our homey," was among the chants reported to drown out the former director's speech.
"I love the enthusiasm of young folks, but I wish they understood what a conversation is," Comey responded, as students continued to yell over top of him.
The disaffected students were described being "specifically troubled by Comey's views on the so-called, 'Ferguson effect,' which suggests police officers use restraint out of concern over being videotaped during violent confrontations."
More recently, on January 19, the College of William & Mary announced that James Comey will be teaching a course on "ethical leadership," together with Drew Stelljes, the school's executive assistant professor of education.
"Jim Comey is among William & Mary's most distinguished alumni," college President Taylor Reveley was quoted in a statement. "Over the years, he has been deeply committed to his alma mater. He understands to the core of his being that our leaders must have an abiding commitment to ethical behavior and sacrificial service if we are to have good government. Our students will benefit significantly from his experience and wisdom."
Also recently, Columbia University law professor Daniel Richman revealed that he was serving as James Comey's attorney. In his June 2017 testimony, the former director revealed that he leaked journal entries to Richman. The Federalist notes that at least one of these memos may have contained classified information.
"A review of FBI policies governing the handling of sensitive government documents suggests Comey violated FBI policy by leaking the memos, which were produced on government time, using government equipment, and directly related to his official government responsibilities, according to Comey’s own testimony before Congress."
James Comey: Senate Intelligence Committee Testimony Highlights
Comey's Suitability as Ethics Leader Questioned
Since news of William & Mary's planned James Comey-led ethics curriculum was announced, several observers have pondered whether the former director is the best choice for the job.
Jonathon Turley, with The Hill, notes the alumnus' "background and knowledge," but contends that "it is a bit premature to view him as an expert on ethics, given the allegations concerning his conduct after his termination. Indeed, his record at the FBI would make for a compelling case study of what not to do as an ethical leader in government."
At issue is the apparent leaking of memos James Comey produced while serving as FBI director. Turley notes that the date on which Comey retained Daniel Richman as a lawyer may prove significant — it may block the former director from any legal jeopardy associated with leaking classified material or breaking any other FBI regulations.
Olivia Goldhill, with Quartz, also questioned James Comey's background as it relates to teaching an ethics course, but focused on his announcement with regard to the reopening an investigation into Democratic presidential nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, just days before the November 2016 election.
Thomas Kolditz, with the Institute for New Leaders at Rice University, described his view that "morality is based on intention" when explaining that he didn't believe that James Comey had committed an "ethical breach" when he made the announcement about reopening the investigation into Clinton. However, Kolditz did assert that Comey made a "mistake."
Hillary Clinton has stated that if the election had been held the day before James Comey's announcement, on October 28, 2016, she would have won, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
"It makes me mildly nauseous to think that we might have had some impact on the election, but honestly, it wouldn't change the decision," the former director was quoted. "It was a hard choice, and I still believe in retrospect it was the right choice."
"It is not clear if any or all of this will be material for Comey’s new course on ethics," Jonathon Turley concluded. "It is rare for lecture powerpoints to include potential statements against interest by the professor, but this is one course that many people might want to audit."
James Comey has testified with regard to his belief that President Trump advanced a notion of a "patronage" relationship with the then-director, characterized by "loyalty," which was rebuffed. He was ultimately terminated.
James Comey Speaks at Howard University on September 22, 2017
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2018 Stephen Sinclair