|Former FBI Director James Comey on June 8, 2017, during his hearing before the US Senate.|
His testimony on Thursday, May 8, 2017, before the US Senate committee of inquiry, undermined US President Donald Trump, revealing unorthodox practices and even the limits of legality. But James Comey is not at his first political feat: during the 2016 presidential campaign, he was the one who opened an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails after he led in the 1990s and 2000s Two other instructions against the Democrat and her husband. A portrait of this zealous lawyer named FBI boss in 2013 by Barack Obama, to whom some attribute the defeat of Hillary Clinton.
He is the man through whom the scandal comes. Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) until his dismissal by Donald Trump in May, James Comey, 56, has been in the highest spheres of American power for more than two decades. He is a model family father, a forensic scientist with unfailing determination. His almost exemplary career is not, in fact, free from jolts, large-scale affairs, and shadows.
” Apart from the fictional characters, it is surely the best-known cop of the United States at the moment,” observes the Americanist political scientist Nicole Bacharan. But if James Comey was anonymous in the eyes of the majority until recently, his name has long been familiar to all who are interested in American political and judicial history.
“A solid and unalterable morality”
James Comey is a straight man. At least that is what those who have met him have said. Of Irish origin and grandfather, he was born in New York in 1960, to a family of the middle class: the father works in real estate, the mother in computer science. Student and gifted student, he studied at the College of William and Mary, the second-oldest higher education institution in the United States after Harvard.
In a hagiographic video of James Comey, made by the university after his appointment as head of the FBI, a former classmate, David Kelley, testifies: ” He is a man with a solid and unalterable morality. […] He is brilliant, very funny. James Comey has a strong connection with his university, financially supports him, and occasionally holds conferences throughout his career.
It is at the College of William and Mary that he meets his wife, Patrice Failor, with whom he still shares his life today. While studying law, he contracts malaria by visiting him while on a mission for the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone but saves his life by taking him to the hospital. The couple will have six children. In 1995, one of them died from a bacterial disease contracted during pregnancy. Then, the couple engages for better medical supervision of pregnant women.
Throughout his family life, James Comey appears to be a true model: he provides Sunday classes (religious classes organized on Sundays by the parishes, which are the responsibility of the most committed members of the community), Children of his city – ” I consider myself a good basketball player because he is big, ” says David Kelley. But from the top of its 2.03 meters, it is especially in the courts that James Comey stands out.
“He has a kind of charm that makes him very effective against a judge”
After graduating from the University of Chicago, he worked successively for John Walker Jr., the cousin of President Bush Sr., and as an assistant to the office of the federal prosecutor in Manhattan, then headed by Rudolph Giuliani, future mayor of New York. His colleagues salute his zeal: ” He managed more business than most of his colleagues, and he did it extremely well. He also has a kind of charm that makes him very effective against a judge or jury, “recalls one of his collaborators at the time, Gerard Lynch, interviewed in 2001 by the American newspaper The New York Times.
Described as humble and funny, James Comey made the effect. Anthony L. Ricco, who was with him at the time as a lawyer, recalls: “Jim possessed this rare mixture of common sense and academic intelligence … when you faced him, you had to fight Permanence to have the jury on your side.”
In the early 1990s, the rise took shape. The future first cop of the country becomes a member of the special committee of the Senate in charge of the Whitewater investigation. Already, James Comey is dealing with the Clinton. Bill and Hillary are suspected of having illegally enriched themselves through a real estate project – the Whitewater project – in Arkansas, a state of which Sir was governor from 1983 to 1992. Finally, there is no evidence to incriminate the couple. But it was from the case file that independent prosecutor Kenneth Starr broke the Lewinsky affair – named after the secretary with whom President Bill Clinton had sexual intercourse, which almost cost him his post at the end of the years 1990.
James Comey leaves for a time New York and joins Virginia. After a brief visit to a law firm, he is in charge of the management of the office of the federal prosecutor of the State of the North-East of the United States. In this post, he taps in the eye of the highest dignitaries of the country recovering the file of the attack of the towers Khobar, which made 19 American deaths, in 1996, in Saudi Arabia. In this case which dragged on for years and which it ships in a few months, it puts in examination 14 people. He and his team ” did what they had to do, they turned all the stones, explored all the tracks, ” greets the then FBI director Louis Freeh at the New York Times.
“A man who recognizes good from evil”
2001: The United States is knocked down by September 11th. The Bush administration, which closely monitors Comey’s counter-terrorism exploits, appoints him as the federal prosecutor for the southern district of New York State. He is 41 years old and inherits one of the most prestigious posts in the country, notably because of the international status of the largest city in the United States. For her predecessor, Mary Jo White ” is the ideal person for this position in this context. ”
The following year, James Comey again confronts the Clinton. He opened an investigation into the presidential pardon granted by Bill, on the last day of his presidency in 2001, to businessman Marc Rich. The man, with five nationalities, was accused of tax evasion and money laundering. Exiled, he was fleeing an arrest warrant issued by the FBI, which had included him in his list of the 10 most wanted people in the world. Marc Rich was suspected of having funded the Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton’s campaign for senators of the year 2000. James Comey eventually dropped the case for lack of evidence. Clinton 2 – Comey 0.
On October 3, 2003, he became number two in the US Department of Justice. Although appointed by the George W. Bush team, he does not hesitate to oppose the president’s advisers. One night in March 2004, Alberto Gonzales, future Minister of Justice, and Andrew Card, director of George W. Bush’s cabinet, landed in his superior’s room at George Washington Hospital. The then Minister of Justice, John Ashcroft, was then in intensive care for several days, but the president’s team needs his signature at the bottom of a text extending a telephone tapping program. Ashcroft and Comey are unfavorable and put an end to the Bush men. The numbers one and two of the Department of Justice will resign a year later:
James Comey then made a detour through the private sector to the highest legal authorities in several companies: the Bridgewater Associates investment fund, HSBC Bank, and even Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest arms Owe more than a third of its turnover to the US military. ” All the judges and high-ranking officials of the United States usually go through the private sector, “explains Emeritus Professor of American History at Paris 8 Jacques Portes. ” It is shocking, but it is normal in this country, even if the risk of conflict of interest is obvious,” adds the Americanist Nicole Bacharan.
Nearly 10 years after leaving the Department of Justice in 2013, James Comey returned to the spotlight. Barack Obama is the 17th director of the FBI. He succeeds Robert Mueller, who is now charged with conducting the independent investigation of Donald Trump. ” I met many extraordinary candidates for this post,” said the first black president of the United States at the time of taking office. What convinced me that James Comey was the right person was not his diplomas or his CV, but it was talking to him, meeting his admirable family, seeing that he was a man who Recognizes the good of evil, and who departs from there to act every day. Above all, Obama needs to convince the right wing of Congress to pass his reforms, and Comey,
” We make progress by making mistakes ”
The FBI director’s tenure normally lasts a decade. James Comey is an exception since he will have remained in office for less than 4 years. ” Obama never complained about him, there have never been apparent problems between them. He was an efficient judge, noticed, without saucepans, “observes American professor emeritus Jacques Portes. Noticed, James Comey will be even more so when he will stand up to Apple’s bosses to get the decryption of the cell phone from the San Bernardino killer.
Especially in the middle of the presidential campaign, in the summer of 2016, James Comey opened an inquiry about Hillary Clinton’s e-mails – when she was secretary of state for Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate did not use the mail service Of the White House, but a private reception box, jeopardizing national security. ” He made the findings of his inquiry public, which is totally unusual. Especially since they were formulated very strangely, develops Nicole Bacharan. Long, he explains what Clinton had done seriously, wrong … finally to conclude that there was no matter to prosecute. ”
Moreover, 11 days before the election, ” he publicly announced, on his own initiative, that he was reopening the investigation into Clinton’s emails. It is absurd, he had already seen all the emails. Eleven days before the election, it is mind-boggling, “continues the political scientist. Finally, this third judicial confrontation with the Clinton, after the Whitewater and Marc Rich cases, will be the right one: Hillary loses the election, and many observers blame James Comey.
“It can be said that he intervened in the campaign to make lose Hillary Clinton, affirms Nicole Bacharan. While normally, the FBI must stay out of the political game, it must remain above the fray. At the moment, it is the heart of the pugilate that is the former first cop of the United States. His suspicion of Trump prompted James Comey to record the content of all their exchanges – and his refusal to comply with his requests to abandon the inquiry into the ties between the president’s entourage and Russia. Have cost him his post.
Today, James Comey, a Republican justiciary who ended up dropping the Clinton, fell in turn in the twists and turns of what could be one of the biggest political scandals of recent decades. His pragmatic phlegm, which he did not shed during the three-hour hearing before the Senate on Thursday, May 8 in connection with the Trump affair, prompted him to assert, when he assumed his duties as head of the FBI, 2013: ” We make progress by making mistakes and correcting them, making promises and holding them “. Mistakes, the future will say if there were any. And promises, there is already one that can be made: the United States are not ready to forget the name of James Comey.