James Comey
Credit: FBI/Flickr

The article began, “A load of manure was dumped outside the Democratic Party headquarters…” and you could be forgiven for thinking it was the local Cincinnati paper’s coverage of FBI Director James Comey’s decision to throw red meat to the Republican base by making wholly unsubstantiated suggestions and innuendos related to the bureau’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server.

In truth, however, this was no metaphor. For the second time, someone actually pulled a truck up to the Warren County, Ohio Democratic headquarters and unloaded a full load of manure on their doorstep.

A load of manure was dumped outside the Democratic Party headquarters in Warren County.

“What reasonable person thinks this is OK????” party chair Bethe Goldenfield said in a post in the Greater Cincinnati Politics Facebook Group. “I won’t be responding to anyone who thinks this is acceptable behavior. It is ILLEGAL!”

The same thing happened in 2012, Goldenfield noted. The suburban Cincinnati county is overwhelmingly Republican; Mitt Romney got 69 percent of the vote four years ago. It’s been almost 40 years since a Democrat was elected to countywide office.

Goldenfield told The Enquirer the Warren County Sheriff’s Office called her around 7:45 a.m. Saturday alerting her to the manure pile outside the Lebanon building. Deputies met party officials later to review video.

The local Republican Party denied any knowledge or responsibility and even offered to help clean up the mess.

Harry Reid thinks that James Comey’s manure dump may have been illegal, too, although the consensus of the larger Justice Department community seems to be that it was merely irresponsible and boneheaded at best or malicious and unjustifiable at worst.

Even former Bush Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey is calling it an “unworthy choice.”

What no one really disputes is that Comey’s letter to conservative Republican chairman in Congress was a steaming pile of shit.

Here’s how former Attorney General Eric Holder puts it:

…I am deeply concerned about FBI Director James B. Comey’s decision to write a vague letter to Congress about emails potentially connected to a matter of public, and political, interest. That decision was incorrect. It violated long-standing Justice Department policies and tradition. And it ran counter to guidance that I put in place four years ago laying out the proper way to conduct investigations during an election season. That guidance, which reinforced established policy, is still in effect and applies to the entire Justice Department — including the FBI.

The department has a practice of not commenting on ongoing investigations. Indeed, except in exceptional circumstances, the department will not even acknowledge the existence of an investigation. The department also has a policy of not taking unnecessary action close in time to Election Day that might influence an election’s outcome. These rules have been followed during Republican and Democratic administrations. They aren’t designed to help any particular individual or to serve any political interest. Instead, they are intended to ensure that every investigation proceeds fairly and judiciously; to maintain the public trust in the department’s ability to do its job free of political influence; and to prevent investigations from unfairly or unintentionally casting public suspicion on public officials who have done nothing wrong.

A lot of people are suggesting that the Democrats were fine with Comey when he announced in July that there would be no prosecution of Clinton for using a private email server as Secretary of State, but Holder sets them straight.

This controversy has its roots in the director’s July decision to hold a news conference announcing his recommendation that the Justice Department bring no charges against Hillary Clinton. Instead of making a private recommendation to the attorney general — consistent with Justice Department policy — he chose to publicly share his professional recommendation, as well as his personal opinions, about the case. That was a stunning breach of protocol. It may set a dangerous precedent for future investigations. It was wrong.

The only thing that has changed is that back in July it was the Republicans who were incensed enough to call for Comey’s resignation. Today, the Democrats have joined them.

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at ProgressPond.com