The Russia collusion story was as tiresome as it was libelous. Nothing so stupid and without substance has ever occupied such a prominent place in journalism and reporting. James Comey and the FBI are a big part of how that story was perpetuated and poisoned our political culture. The Showtime series The Comey Rule (now on Netflix) attempts to whitewash their malfeasance by justifying the Russia investigation. There is not even acknowledgement that it has since been debunked.
Russia Hoax Redux
According to The Federalist, an excellent source for exposing the corrupt Russia collusion investigation, FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page approved of FISA surveillance despite the fact that they knew that “Russia collusion” was a narrative concocted by the Clinton campaign. Andrew McCabe was likewise involved in discussions with Page and Strzok to develop a corrupt “insurance policy” against a Trump presidency. McCabe also collaborated in FISA warrants which gave license to spy on the Trump campaign by Comey’s FBI.
The Trump Tower meeting is likewise portrayed completely without context, so one can only assume that The Comey Rule does not particularly care about the truth.
Trump tells Comey of Russian collusion, “It was just an excuse for losing the election.”
Another source of the Russian collusion hype in The Comey Rule is Papadopoulos’ meeting with an Australian diplomat in a bar where he revealed that the Russians had Hillary’s emails. Left out is that Papadopoulos’ source for this, Joseph Misfed, is himself suspected of being connected to US intel agencies. In other words, Papadopoulos was given info about Russia collusion from the same people that were purportedly investigating it: the FBI. They fed Papadopoulos the info, and then considered it incriminating when he repeated what they told him.
The Steele Dossier is introduced to Comey, with the agent explaining they couldn’t independently corroborate it. Comey looks pained by the information, but says, “go on.” Comey just wants to find the truth, we are to believe.
As McCabe describes the Steele Dossier, The Comey Rule shows scenes of Trump cavorting with Russian prostitutes, suggesting to the viewer that these are real events. The Comey Rule never corrects that impression. The allegations around the Steele Dossier have no evidence, and no one could find evidence, despite millions of dollars and years wasted in trying to find it. Yet the intended audience of The Comey Rule just may be dumb enough to believe it’s true.
The FBI are shown to be scandalized by the Russia collusion evidence they’re finding (as though it weren’t generated by Hillary Clinton and…themselves). McCabe and Strozk are no longer disgraced, now they’re like boy scouts trying to find the truth, really with no dog in the fight. They’re the good guys now, in this shameless rewriting of history by The Comey Rule’s unethical writer and director Billy Ray.
If nothing else, The Comey Rule is a vehicle to perpetuate the notion that Russia “interfered with our elections.” It repeats the same misleading innuendo which was used at the time to instill this idea in the American consciousness. These people are nothing if not dogged.
Does the Intel Community Dictate US Foreign Policy?
The Comey Rule inadvertently shows the desire of the intel community to dictate the course of US politics. Trump advisor Stephen Miller, in an impassioned appearance on Tucker Carlson, gave a description of the issues vis-à-vis Trump and the Russia investigation.
“Donald Trump challenged the reigning foreign policy orthodoxies as president. He infuriated the neocons at the State Department and the Pentagon…”
“The moment that he got the nomination, we watched as the hidden powers centers of this country, came out beneath their rocks and began to pull the strings that they control. They began to leak information designed to sabotage him at every turn. They began to use every organ of control they have in the intelligence community, in the national security community, to try to control him and to control his presidency. Russia is the central example of this. They tried desperately to keep him from pursing detente with Russia. They tried desperately to stop him from holding that summit with Vladimir Putin. To try to have a relationship between our two countries.”
Comey and his colleagues in the intel community were not trying to stop wrongdoing emanating from Russia. Rather, they were fomenting conflict between the US and Russia, all the while casting doubt on Trump’s victory. When Comey receives news that the Trump team stated that the intel meeting confirmed that so-called Russian meddling had no impact on the election, Comey looks pained. This merely shows that Comey’s MO was to undermine the legitimacy of Trump’s victory. Trump sensed this, hence his reluctance to characterize so-called Russian interference in terms that Comey and Clapper might have liked. Not only would Trump have been perpetuating a false narrative, he would have been calling into doubt his own election victory. Fortunately, Trump was not so naive as to follow their suggestion.
Brendan Gleeson as Trump
Brendan Gleeson as Trump is ghastly. When he defends himself from the scurrilous accusations of the Steele dossier, the main impression is how goulish Gleeson as Trump appears. Comey clearly maintains the moral authority (despite that he’s spreading misinformation). Gleeson plays Trump as a combination of mafia boss, almost at times giving a nod to Brando as the Godfather, and at other times plays him as simply buffoonish. It is a portrayal which borders on parody, a la Alec Baldwin’s Trump portrayal.
Even Trump haters would have to admit that as a younger and middle-aged man, he was perfectly handsome. Still, he maintains some of that charm and charisma. To miss that is to fail in the project of capturing him as an actor.
If The Comey Rule wanted to be a great drama, it would have portrayed Trump’s view as reasonably as Comey’s perspective. Then the viewers judge the conflict for themselves. Instead, Comey and his political allies are portrayed as flawless, and Trump and his allies are clownish if not evil. Simply stated, Gleeson’s portrayal of Trump is not the attempt of an actor trying to understand and empathize with the human being, as one would imagine is the job of an actor taken on the role of a three-dimensional human being.
After all, a lot of what Trump is asking Comey for is perfectly reasonable: if he’s not under investigation, why is Comey being so cagey about communicating that to the public? Really, it doesn’t make sense. So Gleeson could have portrayed some of Trump’s righteous indignation.
According to IMDB, Jeff Daniels offered to play Trump is no one else could be found. That would have been interesting. Given Daniels’ sanctimonious performance as Comey, one wonders how he would have played Trump.
Trump Tries to Reason with Comey
In the meeting when Comey tells Trump:
“The dossier is out there, it will become public.”
Later meeting with McCabe, Comey says:
“He’s fixated on the prostitute thing.”
Maybe he was–because it came from oppo research in the Clinton campaign. A man has been falsely accused of something, yet now he’s regarded as “fixated.”
Anyway, the Steele Dossier was a slanderous lie which Comey helped to perpetuate. Are viewers unaware of this–that Comey himself is, if not the villain, certainly not the good guy?
There’s quite a contrast between Trump’s handshake with Comey and how it is portrayed in a sinister manner in The Comey Rule. In the real video, Trump seems much more normal and socially adept than in Gleeson’s bizarre portrayal, in which Trump seems monstrous:
In his dinner with Comey, Trump asks him if McCabe has a problem with him. Comey replies with some trite turn of phrase, McCabe puts his country first. Then, Comey claims of the FBI:
“Ours is an apolitical culture.”
Really? Events even as depicted in the partisan The Comey Rule shows the contrary.
The Mike Flynn controversy is indicative of the whole problem with the FBI during this time. Flynn talked to Kislyak during the transition before Trump was in the White House. In fact, Flynn was discussing the sanctions against Israel. The real collusion here, then, is actually on behalf of Israel, which strangely no one was worried about. Because Flynn did not properly recall or chose not to recall these events in an interview with Strzok, and because Flynn did not reveal his conversation to Pence, he was forced to resign. Trump tells Comey:
“Mike Flynn: he’s a good guy. Been through a lot. He lied to Pence, but he didn’t do anything wrong on the calls. I hope you can see your way clear to letting this go….but I hope you can let this go.”
Comey interprets this as a highly unethical request. Rather, when Trump said, “I hope you can let this go,” it refers to the fact that Russia collusion is an unhealthy obsession for Comey. When someone is obsessed with something pointless, you tell them, “let this go.” In this case, “Russia collusion” was ruining lives.
An Attempted Rehabilitation of Rod Rosenstein
The Comey Rule is in parts narrated by Rod Rosenstein, who is now supposed to be an affable guy. Rosenstein was Comey’s choice, which goes a long way towards explaining Rosenstein’s disposition towards Trump.
Rosenstein was a snake because he hid his true colors. For one thing, Rosenstein was all-in on the Russia investigation, appointing a special counsel, and perpetuating it in a way that wasted everyone’s time and resources. When Rosenstein is tasked by Trump with writing the letter explaining the decision to fire Comey, we see Rosenstein’s moral anguish, again attributing to him a moral integrity which he doesn’t have.
Meanwhile Trump, quite understandably, is trying to persuade Comey to drop the whole Russia thing in a phone call. Comey is clearly disturbed by this, as he furiously takes notes on the call. But why should this be so disturbing to Comey? After all, we know that the most central claim of the Russian investigation, the Steele Dossier, was a product of Clinton opposition research. Trump tells Comey of Russian collusion: “It was just an excuse for losing the election.” As it turns out, Trump was right. But who will record those facts?
When Comey learns he’s been fired, he was speaking at a “diversity recruitment” event. He bids farewell to the diverse candidates as though he is addressing something sacred, and he himself becomes like a prophet. If only he could have promoted diversity for just a little while longer. The diverse candidates love Comey, and this is supposed to communicate his essential goodness.
McCabe persuades Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel. Rosenstein weepily regrets how he was “used” by Trump in writing the letter to fire Comey. Rosenstein evokes the concept of using the 25th Amendment and even wearing a wire. This really happened, by the way. Rosenstein did raise the prospect of removing Trump from office for being mentally unfit–there are multiple FBI witnesses, including McCabe and Page, who wouldn’t really have reason to make such a thing up.
Sure, Rosenstein denied it, and alternately said he was joking. But we see how much his word is worth. It isn’t surprising that director Billy Ray would whitewash all of Rosenstein’s double-dealing and try to make him into a lovable if hapless witness to great events.
Rosenstein is something of a mess at this point. He’s antagonized the left by writing the letter to fire Comey. So he does a 180, becoming the number one persecutor of Trump as a way to perhaps get back in their good graces.
That he would consider wearing a wire portrays the depths of Rosenstein’s treachery. Even McCabe is a little taken aback. Yet McCabe tells the FBI that Crossfire Hurricane needs to be expanded to include Trump himself. McCabe explains:
“We have adequate predication to be investigating all of them.”
Much of that predication, however, is based on fabrications and entrapments by the Clinton campaign and the FBI itself. The “predication” is a circle, which leads back to the doorstep of McCabe and Comey.
A Dishonest Series
Although The Comey Rule constructs a narrative flattering to leftists, The Guardian contends that it might upset both sides, seeing as that some liberals might still be upset about the Hillary email press conference. But to view The Comey Rule as equally offensive to Republicans and Democrats is preposterous. It does tend to justify Comey’s decisions on the email investigation, but far more time is spent justifying the Russia investigation. The difference is that in the Clinton email investigation, one gets a sense of the other side of the argument: why Comey’s approach might not have been the best. In the case of the Russia investigation, no such balance is provided.
The comments of writer direct Billy Ray in The Guardian confirmed my suspicions. He decided beforehand that everyone on the right is a liar and that Comey isn’t. From that premise, he seeks to create a historical drama, and the results are predictable:
“What I think about James Comey is he has never once said a word in public that has been proven to be untrue. It’s not like anything he has said has been close to untrue or shaky. You certainly cannot say that about Donald Trump or Michael Flynn or Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Mike Pence or anybody else in that administration. When it comes to truthfulness, I’ll stick with Comey.”
Director Billy Ray is a weasel who has typically left-wing politics, which he unartfully imposes on his series. Much like the rest of the media, it falls to honest and independent journalists to correct the record. It’s a thankless task, yet at least we have the truth on our side.
The Comey Rule is an offense against honesty and integrity. It depends on the ignorance and the partisanship of the viewers for its conceits to be uncritically accepted.
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