Former FBI director, former special agent discuss Trump, political climate

Media Credit: Dean Whitelaw | Staff Photographer

At the event, former FBI director Jim Comey said the people he worked with at the agency were the highlight of his career there.

Former FBI director James Comey and CNN analyst Josh Campbell discussed their careers and their personal lives after leaving the agency at the Marvin Center Monday.

Campbell, a former FBI special agent who served under multiple presidents before resigning in February 2018, discussed his new book “Crossfire Hurricane,” which offers thoughts about the current political climate in the United States and President Donald Trump’s attacks on the FBI. Campbell was joined by his former boss, Comey, at the event, which was organized by independent bookstore chain Politics and Prose.

Amid recent impeachment efforts directed at Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and concerns raised about the FBI’s investigation over new allegations of sexual assault, Comey said people should focus more on the White House, which had ultimate say over the investigation, rather than the FBI.

“I’m a big believer in transparency, but the Bureau is the wrong focus there,” he said. “The Bureau does, in a background investigation like that, what it’s told to do and only what it’s told to do.”

Comey came under fire this month after a report from U.S. Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz emerged finding that Comey violated FBI policies in his investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Comey said Americans should examine the facts of the case and Horowitz’s report instead of relying on political figures to signal what to think.

“There’s been a whole lot of lying going on, by the president and those around him, including those in Congress,” Comey said. “I don’t think that there’s going to be a finding of significant misconduct, but let’s just see the facts.”

Both Comey and Campbell said the best part of their careers with the FBI was the people they worked with, people who believed in the mission of “protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution of the United States.”

“I do not miss the political weasels outside of the FBI, but I miss the people who devoted their lives to that mission,” Comey said. “There is no group of people you’ve ever encountered like that – I grieve for that all the time and that is a constant with me.”

Campbell said he anticipates an “escalation of what we’ve already seen” in terms of “political attacks” on institutions like the Justice Department and the FBI as the country approaches the 2020 election.

He said the FBI needs to regain the public’s trust because the loss of trust could lead people to refuse to cooperate with the agency going forward. Campbell said the law enforcement agency could implement more rigorous internal supervision to regain the American people’s confidence.

“That’s how you get past this,” he said. “By doing the right thing, telling your story and having oversight.”

Campbell said that government leaders who stand up for their agencies will be crucial to return to “a place of normalcy, stability and confidence in our institutions.”

“Whether you’re Republican or Democrat, I couldn’t care less,” he said. “Safety trumps any given election cycle. If you believe that, then good people who know these agencies and care about the law will have to speak up.”

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.