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Volokh Conspiracy

Do You Wish the FBI Had Shut Down "Lock Her Up" Language Because It Was "Hate Speech"?

That's what Christiane Amanpour asked former FBI Director James Comey.


From CNN, Apr. 2, 2019:

AMANPOUR: Going forward, the president had just said that, you know—I mean, you saw, we put a little bit of what he was saying about you, all sorts of nasty names, et cetera, and that there will be counter investigations, you know, sort of accounting for this hoax that exonerated him. You know what I'm saying.


AMANPOUR: To investigate perhaps you, perhaps others. Do you fear that? Do you think that's coming down the pike?

COMEY: I don't fear it personally. I fear it as a citizen, right. Investigative what? Investigate that investigations were conducted? And what would be the crime you'd be investigating? So, it's a terrible cycle to start. He's already started it with calling for the locking up of his political opponents, including people like me.

And so, it would just be more of that dangerous step. And I would hope, although he continue to disappoint me, the Republicans would finally stand up and say, "We don't do that kind of thing." But me personally—ask me questions. Go ahead. I'd like to answer them in the daylight if I could.

AMANPOUR: I've got one question —

COMEY: Ask me questions.

AMANPOUR:—because you just said look her up —


AMANPOUR:—or lock me up. Of course, lock her up was a feature of the 2016 Trump campaign. Do you, in retrospect, wish that people like yourself, the head of the FBI, I mean, the people in charge of law and order had shut down that language, that it was dangerous potentially, that it could have created violence, that kind of hate speech? Should that have been allowed?

COMEY: That's not a role for government to play. The beauty of this country is people can say what they want even if it's misleading and its demagoguery. The people should have shut it down. We're Republicans who understand the rule of law and the values that they claim to stand for, shame on them, but it wasn't a role for government to play.

Ah, "hate speech," the nonexistent First Amendment exception that just keeps on giving.