Who Is Reinhold Niebuhr? James Comey May Be Using This "Secret" Twitter Account To Make A Comeback
There are only six tweets on the Twitter account with the username "@FormerBu" otherwise known as "Reinhold Niebuhr." Every single tweet has an image. One portrays white pelicans in the air while another is of a resplendent sunset casting golden light in Iowa's sky. The account might as well belong to a self-content farmer in the Midwest but it's former FBI director James Comey's social media account, one that he originally did not mean to share with the public. In a most recent tweet, Comey shared a cryptic message for his followers, "Goodbye, Iowa. On the road home. Gotta get back to writing. Will try to tweet in useful ways."
The part about Comey not publicly sharing his social media front was first unearthed by Gizmodo in March. Reporter Ashley Feinberg, who previously worked for Gizmodo and now is at The Huffington Post, claimed to have spent "four hours of sleuthing" to reach to the conclusion that "@FormerBu" was "almost certainly James Comey."
As was evident in Feinberg's investigative work, there was a lot of referential material to unpack. It turned out that the username "Reinhold Niebuhr" wasn't a random choice but apparently a reference to a historical theologian that Comey once wrote about in his undergraduate thesis.
Comey may not have been thrilled about the investigative work given the fact that the former FBI director has placed emphasis on the need for privacy. "I care deeply about privacy, treasure it," Comey said at The Intelligence and National Security Alliance Dinner in March.
"I have an Instagram account with nine followers. Nobody is getting in. They’re all immediate relatives and one daughter’s serious boyfriend. I let them in because they’re serious enough. I don’t want anybody looking at my photos. I treasure my privacy and security on the internet. My job is public safety," he told his audience.
Goodbye Iowa. On the road home. Gotta get back to writing. Will try to tweet in useful ways. pic.twitter.com/DCbu3Yvqt3— Reinhold Niebuhr (@FormerBu) October 23, 2017
In May, Donald Trump fired Comey from his position as the FBI's director. According to former press secretary Sean Spicer, who later on resigned as well, the suggestion to sack the bureau's director came from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. After being removed from his position, the former bureau director was seen in McLean, Virginia, where he appeared calm and rested, according to reports.
On the social media side, Comey has shared interesting content since spring. His first tweet appeared in late March and was of a funny image of actor Will Ferrell with the text "Actually I'm not even mad; that's amazing" plastered on. The text of the tweet cheekily links to FBI's job listings.
Most of Comey's tweets are musings on nature, more or less. You can read into it, if you want, but these are just (well-taken) photos of water and rocks. Comey does, however, touch upon "leadership and values" in one tweeted image of Little Round Top in Gettysburg.
Little Round Top, Gettysburg. Good place to think about leadership and values. pic.twitter.com/o1cKBXrLCl— Reinhold Niebuhr (@FormerBu) October 19, 2017
The one particular tweet getting a ton of attention from Twitter users shows Comey wearing running shoes which led to online speculation that the disposed director was possibly planning to run for president. One explanation for this rumor could be that Iowa is a politically vital state for primary elections. But these tweets are just that — speculation.
Former FBI director Jim Comey tweets this pensive photo from Iowa, wearing running shoes in the home of the caucuses. https://t.co/zAXvv3vx76— Robert Costa (@costareports) October 23, 2017
If "tweet analysts" were a thing, we might have had a chance to know what the mysterious message shared on Sunday meant. For now — and without any official comment from Comey himself — it seems like he is simply preparing to leave Iowa. The possible takeaway from reports on Comey's tweets, including this one, is that in spite of becoming a private citizen, his previous public status still seems to be firmly latched onto him. And it may not leave any time soon.