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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Parties take turns hating and loving the FBI’s James Comey

FBI James Comey recently called on the Justice

FBI James Comey recently called on the Justice Department to refute President Donald Trump's claims he was wiretapped by former President Obama. Credit: AP / Susan Walsh

If someone created a James Comey Fan Club in Washington D.C., its membership would rotate rapidly between Democrats and Republicans.

Which is to say, if you’re a party loyalist and you don’t like our FBI director, maybe wait a few weeks. Comey’s popularity in partisan circles has been a seesaw:

July 2016: Hero to Democrats, bum to GOP.

Last July, GOP members of Congress howled in protest when Comey announced former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was extremely careless in her email handling but didn’t break the law.

“We’re mystified and confused by the fact pattern that you laid out and the conclusions that you reached,” Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) lectured Comey at a committee hearing. Clinton praised the Republican director’s independence.

October 2016: Hero to Republicans, bum to Democrats.

Eleven days before the election, the director let it be known he was reassessing that probe once new emails turned up, no less in an Anthony Weiner laptop.

Suddenly, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump sang Comey’s praises. “I was not his fan,” Trump said. “But I’ll tell you what: What he did, he brought back his reputation.”

November 2016: No hero to GOP, no friend to Democrats.

Once again, Comey found no reason to charge Clinton. “It’s a totally rigged system,” Trump whined.

But then he won the election.

January 2017: Target of Democratic blame, GOP celeb.

Clinton loyalists started blaming Comey for her loss. Her campaign manager John Podesta cited “forces within the FBI that wanted her to lose.”

Two days after his inauguration, at a White House reception, Trump greeted Comey, hugged him, and whispered in his ear.

March 2017: Back in transition

Trump suddenly blurted out on Twitter that former President Barack Obama had Trump Tower wiretapped.

Comey let it be known that he wanted the Justice Department to refute the assertion.

On Monday, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked if the president accepts Comey’s position. “You know, I don’t think he does,” she said.

Comey, 56, has a term of office that expires in 2023. “You’re stuck with me for another six years,” he quipped Wednesday.

Sounds as if, just maybe, he’s trying to do his job. Certainly if Comey writes a tell-all memoir one day, it will be a must-read.


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