- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 11, 2019

Former FBI director James Comey, in a recent CNN town hall, told host Anderson Cooper that yes indeed, based on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s redacted Russia collusion report, “it sure looks like” President Donald Trump had “criminal intent” to commit obstruction.

In other words, Comey is accusing the president of a thought crime.

Oh, not in so many words, of course. But that’s what he means.

The pertinent part of discussion began when Comey first said, “So the question is, did the president act in a way that manifested a corrupt intent — not the discharge of his constitutional duties, but a corrupt intent to interfere with an ongoing proceeding or to intimidate or tamper with a witness?”

CNN’s Cooper replied with this: “Do you think he had criminal intent, based on what you have seen now in the Mueller report?”

Comey answered, “It sure looks like he did.” Seconds later, he doubled down on what he called Trump’s “corrupt intent.”

Exactly what is that, please? Because from a legal standpoint, an area which Comey, as former law enforcement, is supposed to represent, “corrupt intent” and “criminal intent” are nothing burgers. They relate to a person’s mind, not actions.

Not only is it impossible for Comey to know the intentions of the president — the thoughts, feelings, motivations, and private deliberations of Trump. But it’s also impossible to prosecute for those thoughts.

There is no such thing as a thought crime in the American justice system.

Comey’s messaging is dangerous to America’s freedoms of speech.

It lays the groundwork for government infringements upon individual freedoms — for the stripping of Americans’ God-given freedoms. For the chilling of citizen speech.

Once upon a time in this country, a crime was a crime was a crime. Then came the notion of hate crime, and suddenly, some crimes — particularly those involving race — were deemed more egregious than others. Suddenly, justice, which is supposed to be blind, was asked to determine if skin color were a factor in the crime.

Suddenly, hate crime became an actual thing.

Once upon a time in this country, freedom of speech was recognized as a right to express objectionable viewpoints, particularly those involving political bents and blatantly offensive ideas.

Then came the notion of hate speech, and suddenly, certain forms of speech — particularly that coming from the mouths of conservatives — were deemed more offensive than others, to the point of being dangerous.

Suddenly, national discourse took a turn down censorship lane, and the prevailing view became that yes, certainly, freedom of speech was good, but the wrong kind of freedom of speech was bad.

College campuses began creating free speech zones. Conservatives found themselves under fire — banned even, booted from stages and podiums and social media sites with alarming regularity.

Suddenly, hate speech became an actual thing.

Now, enter Comey and his “criminal intent” and his “corrupt intent” — his thought crime messaging.

See where this is headed?

America, read the writing on the wall. If viewpoints like Comey’s are allowed to weave into the public consciousness without challenge, it won’t be long before they’re accepted as truth.

The bogus will become reality. 

But never forget — and never let the leftists and anti-Trumpers and progressives and socialists of the nation, the Comeys of the media world, change the narrative on this: There is no such thing as a thought crime.

Let’s keep the government out of our minds.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at cchumley@washingtontimes.com or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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