Via America’s Lawyer: Mike Papantonio is joined by legal journalist Mollye Barrows to discuss the DOJ’s failure to prosecute former FBI director James Comey for his handling of private memos regarding interactions with President Trump. While liberal media outlets may herald Comey a hero for his actions, what precedent does this set concerning rule of law and FBI policy about handling sensitive materials?


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio:             Former FBI director James Comey has come under fire once again, this time for failing to submit private memos detailing exchanges with president Trump during Comey’s investigation into the administration’s ties with Russia, according to him. Legal journalist Mollye Barrows is here to walk us through it. I thought this was remarkable. MSNBC is calling this guy the new Paul Revere. I mean, he’s a criminal. I mean, he, he, he engaged in criminal conduct, but MSNBC, oh, he’s the new Paul Revere.

Here’s what’s so weird about this. All of a sudden you have this shift of liberals embracing the spook industry. I mean like they’re their buddies. Again, 20 years ago, no, we understood the spook industry for what they are. They churn up wars, they sell weapons, they promote imperialism in every kind of way. We undermined countries all over the world. That’s who, that’s who this guy is.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             I mean, he’s part of all that.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             Now you tell me, how does this come out? You know, you hear this term deep state. I, I, you know, you hear the legitimate, legitimate, legitimate media saying, yeah, it’s real. He’s kind of part of that, isn’t he?

Mollye Barrows:                Well, there are lots of discussions about that because basically what the whole reason that Comey said he kept these memos in the first place is because he was concerned that we had a president that was corrupt and was going to take steps that we’re going to cover up his corruption. And he based it on several conversations that he had with Donald Trump, including the first one back in January of 2017 where Donald Trump emphasized how important loyalty was to him. So his justification and eventually leaking these memos to a law professor who then leaked it to the Times it was that report of one of those memos about, hey, I need you to take it easy on Flynn is what Comey said Trump had told him that sparked the two year Robert Mueller investigation.

So Comey’s reasoning for that was, I was concerned, I love this nation. I felt like he was bucking the rule of law. And so going back to your deep state theory, there are those that are basically saying, well, you know, then you’re doing the same thing because you didn’t adhere to your own employment policy.

Mike Papantonio:             It’s a democracy.

Mollye Barrows:                Your own, FBI, and DOJ policies because you thought what you thought was strong feelings. I feel passionate about this. What I think is more important.

Mike Papantonio:             Look, Howard Zinn, you remember how critical Howard Zinn was to all of us understanding how democracy works.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             Chalmers Johnson always talked about characters like Comey, and they talked about the fact that once we allow a handful of people to determine where America handles, where we head for policy, we’re kind of, we, we’ve moved on beyond, beyond democracy.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             So Howard Zinn, pretty smart guy, you know, probably wrote the most important books ever written about, you know, America’s involvement with other countries where we push imperialism, we push wars, we churn. He would always return to the fact that it’s people like Comey.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             You know, he didn’t call it deep state, he called it, he called them king makers.

Mollye Barrows:                Well, their elitist way of thinking that we know what’s better than the average person. We’re more educated. We have more money. We understand how the world works, and I think there is this perception, especially in higher ups of law enforcement in any realm of government that perhaps they have access to more information. They know better than the average person. So what they feel about something should go, but ultimately that’s going back to your point. I mean, that’s why we have democracy. That’s why we are under the rule of law. Why this is supposed to be applicable fairly to all because it’s a standard by which you judge your behavior. You don’t get to pick and choose what you do and what or somebody does.

Mike Papantonio:             How does, how does MSNBC make him a hero? I mean, where, where does that come from? Is it just a hatred of Trump?

Mollye Barrows:                I…

Mike Papantonio:             We hate Trump so badly that anybody who is an enemy of my enemy is my friend. I mean, that’s almost what we’re seeing.

Mollye Barrows:                I think you’re seeing that across politics, across news media. The more segmented we are who at whatever somebody tells you that already fits in with what you believe.

Mike Papantonio:             Tribal.

Mollye Barrows:                That’s what you want to listen to.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, tribal.

Mollye Barrows:                And so yes, as long as Comey is doing and saying things that they feel like are in the better interest of what they personally feel, they are going to hold him up as a Paul Revere and a hero, but…

Mike Papantonio:             Paul Revere, honest to God, they called him a Paul, MSNBC.

Mollye Barrows:                One if by land, two if by sea. Memos by land.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, MSNBC called him a, look, not only that, they’re hiring all these people. They hired Brennan, they hired Clapper. They’re hiring all of these spooks.

Mollye Barrows:                Well, Sarah Sanders got picked up by Fox.

Mike Papantonio:             Well, exactly the, exactly. There’s two sides to it, but here’s the difference. Sarah Sanders doesn’t go on the air and churn up war. You see she’s, she’s a press secretary.

Mollye Barrows:                Right.

Mike Papantonio:             These guys come on the air is if they’re, as if they’re, they have inside information. They did it in Iraq.

Mollye Barrows:                Yes.

Mike Papantonio:             These guys, the Comey types got us involved in Iraq. They got us involved in a war based on lies. Okay. It is that elitism that you just talked about. It’s that king maker mentality that Howard Zinn talked about. Nevertheless, you’ve got these loony progressives that say, oh, we love these guys now. Really? We love them now?

Mollye Barrows:                Right, and you’re right. It’s completely unfair and it needs to go back to critical thinking. And thank goodness we had a guy like Michael Horowitz who was the inspector general for the DOJ who took a look at Comey’s handling of the memos as well as his handling of the Clinton email investigation, which Hillary Clinton blames to a great extent for her losing the election. But basically the same problems that he had with how he handled the Clinton email investigation were the same problems that he had with how he handled these memos and that it was, he basically usurp the authority of the attorney general.

He thought what he felt was more important than actually abiding by policies. That if he truly felt Trump was going to be a threat to the country or was trying to buck the rule of law, that he should go ahead and report it to other authorities and you don’t keep these personal memos and then hand them out to your attorneys and hand them out to the press, because of what you feel.

Mike Papantonio:             Howard, Howard Zinn and Chalmers Johnson were brilliant. They thought these types, these types were the biggest threat to democracy. Progressive’s used to believe that, not anymore.

Mollye Barrows:              Well they don’t see it as much.

Mike Papantonio:             They don’t see it anymore.

Mollye Barrows:                Until you talk about.

Mike Papantonio:             Yeah, well, thanks for joining me Mollye. Okay.

Mollye Barrows:                Thanks Pap.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.