“I have defended him in the past, but those days are over.” Former FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom slammed current FBI Director James Comey during an interview on Fox News Channel’s The Kelly File on July 5.
Kallstrom criticized Comey for not recommending charges against Hillary Clinton over her private email server. Before giving that recommendation, Comey listed multiple examples of questionable activity by Clinton and her staff, but argued that the apparent lack of intent cleared her of any wrong doing. As the MRC’s Nicholas Fondacaro noted, the evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC all ran the stories about the recommendation without asking if the law actually requires that there be proof of “intent” for a conviction.
Kallstrom told Megyn Kelly that he wasn’t the only one from the FBI who was disappointed in Comey’s announcement. “I've talked to about 15 different agents, both on the job and outside the job, that are -- you know, that are basically worried about the reputation of the agency they love, that they worked hard for all their life. And it's not Comey's right to sully that reputation and to soil that reputation.” He also described Comey’s decision as “nonsensical,” adding that he had “talked to two prosecutors today actually that would take that case in a heartbeat.”
MEGYN KELLY: Joining me now with more, James Kallstrom, former assistant director in charge of the FBI. Jim, good to see you tonight. Your reaction to what we saw from Director Comey today, who you've said in the past you think is a straight shooter.
JAMES KALLSTROM: Yeah, I did. I have defended him in the past, but those days are over, Megyn. You know, I thought the events of the last week, there was something fishy going on. And, you know, here he does, he goes through the whole charging memo. You know, he reads every paragraph of it, and then he comes to that nonsensical conclusion that really wasn't his to make. And I talked to two prosecutors today actually that would take that case in a heartbeat. And I've talked to about 15 different agents, both on the job and outside the job, that are -- you know, that are basically worried about the reputation of the agency they love, that they worked hard for all their life. And it's not Comey's right to sully that reputation and to soil that reputation. And I don't know what got over the guy. I mean, I don't understand where he's coming from. I mean it's -- it really makes no sense, Megyn.
KELLY: What do you think? I mean, do you think he was under political pressure because, you know, I don't have -- I don't know personally, but the reports are this is a Republican guy, that he's been fair and tough on both sides.
KALLSTROM: Well, I can only guess that. I don't know. I'm not a fly on the wall inside the FBI headquarters. But I have to think that he -- he got beat up, and he played the game. Probably, they were going to hand it off to the Justice Department for the decision without his comment.
KALLSTROM: But that thing in Phoenix probably put an end to that.
KELLY: The airplane meeting on the tarmac between Bill Clinton and the Attorney General Lynch?
KALLSTROM: Yeah, exactly.
So, you know, so they called on him to do it. And I sure wish he hadn't done it. You know, lying has got to be quite an act. I'm not saying he's lying. I'm saying he bent to political pressure. But lying in Washington is a hard thing to explain to your children and your grandchildren, and it's just something that goes on day in and day out. It's not what this country was founded on. It's not what this country is about.
KELLY: Do you, I mean, do you make any accounting, Jim, because we talked about this – we're going to talk about it with the lawyers right after you – for his statement that, look, I get it. And he went through what he said were, you know, clearly -- he didn't call them lies or misstatements, but when you match up what he said with what she said, it's clear. But his point was in all the other cases they looked at – and you got to believe Comey is lying to reject this. He said all the other cases they looked at, there was evidence of intent to steal the documents or intent to undermine national security.
KALLSTROM: Well, when you tell your staff to remove the classified markings, you know, in some of those, they don't even need intent. So, I think that's a red herring.
KELLY: Jim, it's good to see you. Thanks for being here.
KALLSTROM: Good to see you.