Shattuck: Taking a stand on ex-FBI director

By  Tom Shattuck

Opening statement reads like summer blockbuster

FBI Director James Comey and Gov. Charlie Baker attend the opening of the new FBI building in Chelsea on Tuesday, March 7, 2017.

James Comey just tossed a match on Washington, D.C., and the ensuing inferno will rage all summer.

The former FBI director’s statement reads like a political thriller, with secretive meetings, treacherous innuendo and hints of cold, calculated corruption.

“When the door by the grandfather clock closed, and we were alone, the President began by saying, ‘I want to talk about Mike Flynn,’ ” reads Comey’s statement.

“ ‘I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go, to letting Flynn go. He is a good guy. I hope you can let this go.’ ”

The Flynn scene will be the focus of the 20-person panels on CNN for the next four months. Buy stock in the terms “obstruction of justice” and “abuse of power.”

But suddenly, two quick paragraphs later, Comey takes the sting out, knocking down the Russian collusion angle. “I did not understand the President to be talking about the broader investigation into Russia or possible links to his campaign.”

In other words, like James Michael Curley, Trump “did it for a friend.”

Comey goes on to largely vindicate the president and notes that he informed Trump that he was not personally under investigation.

In addition, Comey notes that Trump actually encouraged him to pursue any wrongdoing by those affiliated with his campaign. “The President went on to say that if there were some ‘satellite’ associates of his who did something wrong, it would be good to find that out.”

And then the plot twists again.

“In an abrupt shift, he turned the conversation to FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, saying he hadn’t brought up ‘the McCabe thing’ because I had said McCabe was honorable, although (Terry) McAuliffe was close to the Clintons and had given him (I think he meant Deputy Director McCabe’s wife) campaign money.”

That will be read by Democrats and their media as, “That’s a nice FBI deputy director you got there … Be a shame if something happened to him.”

The incredible statement will mostly bolster both sides in their entrenched positions, but its cinematic nature will make passions boil. As usual, Comey portrays himself as a dutiful profile in courage and we’ll see today if that stoic heroism on the written page translates to real life in the Senate hearing.

Comey ends his summer blockbuster with a veiled, cryptic climax:

“ ‘I have been very loyal to you, very loyal; we had that thing you know.’ I did not reply or ask him what he meant by ‘that thing.’ ”

Was “that thing” the break he cut McCabe which was to be reciprocated by Comey in laying off Team Trump?

Stay tuned for the sequel: Bob Mueller, special counsel.

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