Twenty years ago, Bill Clinton gave us “it depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” James Comey has now given us it depends what the meaning of “vindicated” is.
The former FBI director sat down with Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday over the weekend, and it didn’t go well. Wallace repeatedly pressed Comey on critical findings in the Horowitz IG report, and Comey shimmied and dodged, in a master class in slipperiness and evasion.
To this point, Comey has tended to get away with a lot in media interviews, for several reasons — he has known more about the investigations in question than anyone interviewing him; not much objective, uncontested information about those matters was publicly available; and his interviewers tended to be sympathetic to the point, at times, of sycophancy.
All of these advantages were eroded or nonexistent on Sunday. …
… Off the bat, Wallace juxtaposed Comey’s claim that the IG report was a vindication with Michael Horowitz’s congressional testimony that no one who had anything to do with the FBI’s handling of the investigation should feel vindicated.
Hence, Comey’s posture, “Well, maybe it turns upon how we understand the word.”
He relied repeatedly on such mincing distinctions. Questioned how he can square his past statement that the Steele dossier was “part of a broader mosaic of facts” supporting the Carter Page FISA application with Horowitz’s finding that it was “central and essential” in deciding to seek the FISA order, Comey said there was no contradiction.
This is absurd. It’s true that the application literally had other things in it. But Comey’s “mosaic” characterization clearly minimized the role of the dossier, whereas the Horowitz report finds that the FISA application “relied entirely” on information from the Steele reports regarding Carter Page’s alleged coordination with the Russians.