In the 82 year history of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, only one director had ever been fired until this week. That was back when Bill Clinton fired William Sessions for ethical concerns around such things as a tax evasion scheme about his use of an FBI limousine and billing the government for a fence around his home. Sounds rather small potatoes, don’t you think?
And the reason there had been only one prior firing is probably not because of the highly ethical character of all the men, and I do mean men, who have held the office. It’s because for almost half of those 82 years, the job was held by J. Edgar Hoover.
Now, to paraphrase Harry Truman, J. Edgar ran an FBI that was part secret police and which was “dabbling in sex-life scandals and plain blackmail.” Truman, who fired his attorney general and—more famously—Douglas MacArthur, never touched Hoover. Neither did any other President, and it would be left to Nixon to pry Hoover’s cold, dead hands off the levers of power at the FBI in 1972, after serving as director for 37 years.
But not poor James Comey. Here he goes, less than two months ago, testifying before the House Intelligence Committee that the FBI had been investigating possible coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia. Do you think for one minute J. Edgar would have done that without a sex tape or some other damning evidence against Trump? Of course not.
J. Edgar wouldn’t have started an investigation into Trump fully a year after his campaign for the Republican nomination began—J. Edgar would have started that file the first time Trump hinted he might run for the presidency. And J. Edgar wouldn’t have needed some foreign intelligence to tip him off that something might be going on with the Russians. And he wouldn’t have needed some British guy’s dossier—J. Edgar would have had his own dossier on Trump, and he would have had his own wiretaps, tapes, and God knows what else to back it up. Comey’s a boy scout playing Chutes and Ladders compared to J. Edgar and his game of Cutthroat.
And on top of all that, it wasn’t like J. Edgar had nothing to hide. Rumors that he was homosexual (I just can’t say he was gay) have been around since the 1940’s. And if some historians are correct, J. Edgar made his lover Clyde Tolson associate director at the FBI. Tolson was, in fact, the main heir to J. Edgar’s estate. All of that with no repercussions during his lifetime.
But back to poor James Comey. Let’s not mince words. He botched the Clinton email investigation. If she was guilty of some crime, he couldn’t get sufficient evidence to prosecute. If she wasn’t guilty, he besmirched her reputation and her presidential campaign with his press conference in July of last year, an unprecedented event in FBI history. His October 28 letter to members of Congress saying the FBI had discovered new Clinton emails was a move that one could credibly argue threw the election to Trump. And the new president, not one known for gratitude or loyalty, fired Comey this week in the most shady, most disrespectful manner I have ever seen anywhere at anytime. It seemed like Trump was channeling Bette Davis and Joan Crawford by having Comey find out about his firing in public after it was being reported in the media. I loved it.
So does America really need J. Edgar Hoover? Probably not. Did America need James Comey to get to the bottom of the Trump/Russia connection? Probably not. What America needs is just a handful of real “America First” leaders in the Senate and in the House—some people of integrity, plain-speaking, honest, and willing to do what is best for the country regardless of the political consequences for them or their party.
America needs you, Harry Truman.