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Old Horse, New Tale

May 15, 2017

Ray Kelly is back in the news as a dark-horse candidate to head the FBI, following President Donald Trump’s dismissal of James Comey.

Click here to read what the police brass say about NYPD ConfidentialKelly’s credentials as NYC’s longest-serving police commissioner have been cited in New York media. His picture appeared in The New York Times. Reps. Dan Donovan of Staten Island and Peter King of Long Island have voiced support. And his Muslim surveillance policies that played at the edge of the U.S. Constitution dovetail with Trump’s views on immigrants from predominantly Muslim countries.

But there’s little to no chance Kelly will get the FBI job — although with Trump, it’s probably wisest to never say never. Kelly’s age — he turns 76 in September — plus other septuagenarian infirmities — including diabetes, hearing loss and quadruple bypass surgery — is not the reason. Today’s 75 is yesterday’s 65 or even 55. And with his vigorous workout schedule, Kelly could be today’s 35.

More important, Kelly is detested and distrusted by many at the FBI. Let us delineate the reasons.

As part of his Muslim surveillance policies, he refused to share information and credit with the FBI. He also fought with the bureau over jurisdiction. (See NYPD Confidential, Nov. 3, 2003.)

Click here to read the New York Times profile of Leonard LevittNYPD detectives assigned overseas rivaled the FBI’s legal attachés based in U.S. embassies around the world. After the 2004 Madrid train bombings, for example, NYPD detectives raced there to beat the FBI in interviewing the Spanish national police. According to an FBI official at the time, “The only information they passed to us as a result of the excursion to Madrid was material that had already been in the newspapers in the Spanish press. We know that later on they prepared a multi-page document that circulated within 1PP but we never saw it.” (See NYPD Confidential, May 20, 2004.)

After the arrest of radical Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri in London in 2004 on terrorism-related charges, Kelly publicly singled out for praise an NYPD detective who was part of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force. The detective was forced to return to New York for “security concerns” after Kelly outed him. That prompted then-FBI Assistant Director Pasquale D’Amuro to announce, “This is not how we do business.” (See NYPD Confidential, June 4, 2004.)

By 2006, relations with Kelly were so strained that when Mark Mershon was assigned to head the FBI’s New York office, then-FBI Director Robert Mueller told him his first priority was “to get along with Ray Kelly.” Mershon all but genuflected before him.

“He took [my] … call,” Mershon said at the time. “He knew who I was. I said, ‘Ray, I really need to address something with you about the real or exaggerated differences at our level. I have profound respect for your command presence and your ownership of the safety of the good people of New York. I hope we will stand shoulder to shoulder, reassuring those same people that we will do the right thing.’” (See NYPD Confidential, Jan. 9, 2006.)

Meanwhile, chances are that Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe won’t be around long in that capacity. He had the temerity, and the courage, to publicly contradict Trump over Comey. While Trump and deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said many FBI agents lost confidence in Comey, McCabe told the U.S. Senate that Comey was highly respected within the bureau.

Click here to read the Washington Post article on NYPD ConfidentialTrump now has changed the White House storyline for Comey’s dismissal. It turns out it wasn’t because Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommended it but because Trump wanted for months to fire the “showboat” and “grandstander.” Translation: Trump felt Comey was upstaging him.

What’s clear to anyone with even half a brain is that you can’t believe a word out of the president’s gob. Pols like the Clintons may be professionally calculating liars — i.e., Hillary’s emails, Bengazi and Bill’s secret tarmac meeting with former AG Loretta Lynch where they supposedly discussed their grandchildren.Trump lies from his gut, without thinking, and probably doesn’t even realize he is lying. Maybe that works in real estate. It doesn’t as president of the United States.

As for Kelly, Trump reportedly asked people about his “loyalty.” Two people he might consult are former mayors Michael Bloomberg and David Dinkins under whom Kelly served. He never embarrassed either of them and tailored his tactics to their policies, although Dinkins's and Bloomberg's policies were diametrically opposite. Whether that’s the kind of loyalty Trump is seeking remains to be seen.

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