The Lars Larson Show: Director James Comey Fired: An Interview With U.S. Attorney Kendall Coffey – May 10th, 2017
Kendall Coffey, one of the top rated business litigation attorneys in Miami, FL, made an appearance on the Lars Larson Show to offer his insight in the recent firing of FBI Director James Comey. Learn more about Mr. Coffey’s law background here: http://www.law.miami.edu/faculty/kendall-coffey
Lars Larson: Welcome back to the Lars Larson show. It is Tuesday night, and the biggest news of the night is that the Director of the FBI of the United States has been fired from his job by President Donald Trump on the recommendation of the Attorney General and the Assistant Attorney General. I want to get a perspective on this and what this means, and whether or not it was the right thing to do. I think it was the right thing to do. I thought Comey should have been fired a long time ago, but it’s a pleasure to welcome back to the program former U.S. Attorney and prominent South Florida lawyer Kendall Coffey, who has worked with Democrats, and you are a Democrat. Mr. Coffey thank you very much. Listen, I think it’s fantastic, I don’t get that many Democrats on the program.
Kendall Coffey: Well, I confess to the allegation. Thanks for having me on anyway. And it’s not a joyous occasion, in the sense that James Comey is a dedicated guy. I think he was a well-intentioned guy, and he served this country long and very well. On the other hand, you know, maybe the FBI needs a fresh start because the controversies continued, and he made, I think, a mistake that he never really got away from when he injected himself back in July of 2016 as the decider on the Hillary Clinton email investigation. He should have gone by the book. Once you sort of start writing a new book, it’s not in the existing law enforcement protocols. You know, all of a sudden you get into some crazy chapters, and of course we all know where it went from there.
So I have to say, it may end up being the best thing. I know there are going to be all kinds of accusations about politics and [that] the president didn’t want investigat[ion into] Russia and stuff like that. I don’t think that’s it at all. I just think [it] became this accumulation of concerns and complications and, frankly, some mistakes, [and it’s] time for a fresh start. The critical thing is of course going to be who is selected next because it is one of the most important government positions outside of the United States Cabinet in the Supreme Court, in the country. So all eyes will be watching the president as he finds a replacement for James Comey.
LL: Well, Mr. Coffey, I hope I didn’t put you off with the glee in my voice, but I want you to understand it this way. It’s the same kind of glee I would have in my voice anytime someone is dismissed from a job in which I think they have done a terrible disservice to the country, and I do [think that] not only [because he] injected himself as the decider. I agree, he should have handed off the results of the investigation to the Attorney General, who herself had compromised herself with that supposedly very secret meeting with Bill Clinton in the private jet. And then maybe she should have recused and handed it down to somebody else. Maybe she should have handed it to Sally Yates, you know, and then Sally Yates could take the blame for not prosecuting Hillary Clinton. But to a lot of us conservatives, Mr. Coffey, I looked at that and I thought, he just laid out the case that Hillary Clinton destroyed public documents, she hid public documents, she tried to keep them from the public, who own and have the right to see a lot of those documents. Not the secret ones, and she exposed classified information in a way that violated the law, and then he invented a part of the law. I’ve read the statute, [and] while I’m not an attorney, as you are, the statute doesn’t say “if you intended to,” you know, expose classified data. Intent is not part of the law. Intent is part of a lot of other laws that we have in America, but it’s not part of that law [regarding] classified data. So I thought, she broke the law, and he gave her cover, and that’s the way I read it at the time it happened in July, and I thought for that alone he should have been fired. Because when somebody does something like that, it’s terribly, well, it’s concerning to me that a law enforcement agency is run by somebody who apparently doesn’t believe in following the law as it’s written and doesn’t believe in keeping inside his lane when it comes to what his job is.
KC: Well, I’m going to agree that he didn’t explain the statute because there are a couple of different charging statutes that were being studied. One of the statutes does deal with recklessness, and one of the comments then-Director Comey made is that she had been extremely careless, so he never really explained why those two issues didn’t connect. But I also want to say and I’m not a Comey defender. I think the president probably made the right decision…The starting point on this was Attorney General Lynch meeting with former President Clinton. That’s a “you’ve got to be kidding” moment. Clinton, the husband [and] the real decider of a prosecution, Loretta Lynch, talking privately right before she’s about to make a decision that could transform the future of the United States. So I say, that was just a significant lapse of judgment, and in a way that kind of gave birth to call me thinking he had to jump into a role that really wasn’t suitable for an FBI director.
So anyway, there’s blame to go around for more than one person in terms of the odd succession of events we’ve had at the highest levels of the FBI.
LL: Well Mr. Coffey, because I’ve got your ear tonight, you were right in your supposition Senator Schumer is now out calling for a special prosecutor on Russia…So you knew where they were going to go with this, but let me ask you about this, from my perspective, and you tell me if I’m wrong, we’ve had ten or almost eleven months of investigation, dating all the way back to June or July of last year, of the allegation that there’s some connection between either Trump or his associates and Russia. And they’ve come up dry. Comey told Congress there was no evidence in his testimony, and Senator Feinstein, who was briefed behind closed doors [in an] intelligence briefing…answered [the] Wolf Blitzer question, “Is there any evidence of collusion?”–she said not at this time. If you go ten months into a dry hole and you still come up dry, what more is there to investigate about allegations of some collusion between the current president and his associates and the country Russia?
KC: Yeah, well, ten months in a dry hole, you don’t need a lot more time in the desert, as far as the collusion allegation [goes]. And I think the allegation of collusion is a dilution. It’s obviously got a marketplace because it’s used to drive fundraising within the Democratic Party. But there isn’t [evidence], and we’re not going to see evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and officials of the Russian government.
What we’re going to see is just some people along the way who hit some trip wires, and it could even be, and I don’t say this happily, but it could be General Flynn could in a legal sense be in harm’s way because of questions of whether he disclosed monies he received and stuff like that. So what we’re going to see is some kind of Russia-related cases where I don’t think we can predict the outcome. But we can say, I think, at this point, the collusion has not been proven. Time to move on from that theory of why Hillary Clinton lost the presidency.
LL: So when I talk to you two years from now, and the Democratic Party and its members are still pushing one theory or another, that there’s something fatally flawed about President Trump, should we just accept that that’s just the way it happens in American politics these days.
KC: It’s politics as long as it polls well within the Democratic Party. As long as the faithful hit the button on Internet fundraising. When they get email blasts about [how] you’ve got to do something about Russia, demand an independent prosecutor, all that stuff, it’s going to stay in the mix. And by the way, Lars, I love the media, you love the media, but the media gets a fair amount of feeding off of the so-called Russia controversy. So there are a couple of folks [who] want to keep it going. But at least there should be clarity on the most important issue: did the Trump campaign collude with the Russians? No, they didn’t. I think we reached a point [where that] ought to be a clear statement.
LL: I think you’re absolutely right. Mr. Coffey, thank you very much. That’s Kendall Coffey, former US Attorney, and you’ve got the Lars Larson show.
For more from Kendall Coffey, follow him on Twitter, @Kendall_Coffey.