- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 10, 2019

James Baker, the former general counsel for the FBI’s James Comey, said now that the Justice Department’s inspector general has released its report, and that all looks good and golden on the department as to its reasons for kicking off the investigation into the president in the first place — his takeaway, not U.S. Attorney John Durham’s — that Donald Trump should step up and apologize.

That’s audacious. To say the least.

“I think the president should apologize to us,” said Baker, who served as a top FBI attorney when the Russia investigation kicked off, during a segment on CNN with host Chris Cuomo. “I respectfully ask him, I would ask him to apologize to me, to my colleagues, because the things he said are just wrong. And I think he should step up and do that at a minimum.”

What a hoot. When has the FBI ever apologized?

Let’s ask Richard Jewell.

You remember Richard Jewell — he was the guy the FBI fingered, erroneously so, as the suspect in the 1996 bombing of Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park. He was the guy who was working as a security guard at the Atlanta games, when he discovered a curious backpack and took a peek inside — and good thing, too; it contained a bomb. He then actually helped evacuate the area to save untold numbers of innocents. The bomb actually exploded, leaving two dead and more than 100 injured.

But had it not been for Jewell’s quick thinking and selfless action in the face of immediate danger, plenty more would’ve died.

For three days he wore a hero hat. Then came the FBI.

The FBI interviewed him several times, didn’t like the answers he gave, the attitude he displayed, the characteristics he showed — and decided he was their guy, he was the main suspect. He was the one responsible for planting the bomb in the first place. And how did we learn of the FBI’s suspicions? Well interestingly enough, after the FBI leaked it to the press.

Within the course of three days, Jewell went from hero to villain.

The media made his life an unbelievable circus show. An unbelievable circus show that lasted months, as the FBI’s investigation continued. It wasn’t until Oct. 26, 1996, that FBI bureaucrats ultimately cleared Jewell of any wrongdoing — but only after he had been treated to two lawsuits by bombing survivors, various death threats and a complete, dramatic, long-lasting upheaval of his life as he knew it.

Richard Jewell keeps being remembered as a suspect, not the hero of the 1996 Atlanta Olympics bombing,” The New York Daily News reported in August of 2016.

August of 2016 — 20 years after the bombing. Twenty years after then FBI screwed his life.

And the FBI’s response to all the chaos its investigators created — all the destruction of life its agents perpetrated?

“Jewell still waiting for his apology,” The Chicago Tribune wrote in 2003.

Well, truth be told, now-deceased Attorney General Janet Reno did formally apologize to Jewell, a year after the FBI and media destroyed his life. So there is that. And Jewell did take various media players to court to sue, successfully in some cases, over the lies that destroyed his life.

But Reno’s apology was half-hearted. And the FBI agents at the root of the investigation — the ones who actually persuaded Jewell to waive his rights to an attorney during their interrogation of him, for instance — stayed mum.

“I regret very much the leak that made [Jewell] an object of so much public attention,” Reno said at a news briefing in August of 1997, the Los Angeles Times reported. “If I could see Mr. Jewell, I would apologize to him.”

Great. How very noble. How very humble.

And now the FBI’s own wants the president of the United States to apologize?

“The conclusions are quite clear that the president’s statements over these past several years were all wrong — that there was no hoax, there was no conspiracy to overthrow anybody, there was no sedition, there was no treason, there was no evidence of any of that,” Baker said.

Here’s how Trump should respond: Bite me, Mr. Baker.

And that message should be written on a plain piece of paper, folded neatly in an envelope along with a pair of tickets to Clint Eastwood’s new movie, “Richard Jewell.” There’s the apology the FBI deserves.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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