Another Day, Another Bombshell
Only eleven days before the election FBI Director James Comey has sent a letter to Congress effectively re-opening the Bureau’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server. The proximate cause was the discovery of additional Clinton e-mails “pertinent to the investigation” from an unrelated case.
It appears that the unrelated case is that of Anthony Weiner, former Congressman and estranged husband of Huma Abedin, a top aide of Hillary Clinton. The FBI found e-mails pertinent to the Clinton case on one of Weiner’s computers. According to The New York Times, a senior law enforcement official said that “tens of thousands” of e-mails belonging to Abedin were on Weiner’s laptop. Law enforcement indicated it didn’t know if any were duplicates of e-mails discovered earlier.
Not surprisingly these developments produced wall-to-wall news coverage, giving the faltering Trump campaign a shot in the arm while inflicting damage on Clinton in what was already a terrible week for her. The Comey letter comes on top of the news released by the Obama Administration that Obamacare premiums on average were slated to rise about 25% before subsidies. In addition there was a constant stream of Wikileaks revealing tension in the Clinton campaign over her email scandals.
Answering her own question about why Clinton tried to keep her e-mail arrangement secret, close advisor Neera Tanden who described the e-mails as a “Cheryl [Mills] special”, said: “I guess I know the answer. They wanted to get away with it.”
For her part Hillary Clinton reverted to form. She intimated that Comey sent his now famous letter only to Republicans. He didn’t. It was addressed to the Republican Chairs and Democratic Ranking Members of the relevant committees. Clinton also demanded that the FBI turn over the information to the public, which she knows the FBI is not going to do.
It is also worth paying attention to Secretary Clinton’s comment noting that millions of people have voted already. Which is to say that is a textbook example of why early voting schemes are a really bad idea.
Speculation is Now Over the Top
There is now rampant speculation as to why Comey decided to continue with the investigation, and to make that fact public. Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, claims there is a bombshell of a story in the newly discovered e-mails. He said
“We don’t know what this means yet except that it’s a real bombshell. And it is unthinkable that the Director of the FBI would take this action lightly, that he would put this letter forth to the Congress of the United States saying there is more information out there about classified e-mails and call it to the attention of congress unless it was something requiring serious investigation.”
Then again there is also the possibility that Comey was simply getting ahead of career FBI personnel who were about to leak the story anyway.
What Was Comey Thinking?
The better possibility is that the FBI was simply trapped by it’s own incompetence and had no choice. Here we have a situation in which it is reported that there are tens of thousands of Huma Abedin’s e-mails floating around on non-government servers, including her estranged husband’s laptop. How could the FBI possibly spend over a year investigating Hillary Clinton’s e-mail set up and be oblivious to all these e-mails in the possession of her top aide and her top aide’s husband? Didn’t they question Huma Abedin as part of the investigation? If not, why not? If so, how could they not have inquired about Abedin’s e-mails? Or did Abedin have some sort of immunity deal? Let’s not forget that as part of Cheryl Mills’s immunity deal, the FBI agreed to destroy her laptop.
Let’s also remember Comey’s rationale for jumping in to violate all protocols by announcing on television that he was not going to recommend prosecuting Clinton, thereby short-circuiting the process. In July he said: “Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” (emphasis added).
So Comey incorporated what lawyers refer to as “specific intent” as a requirement for prosecution even though (a) it is not part of the relevant statute and (b) it makes no sense to require intent when gross negligence is the evidentiary threshold specified in the statute, which it is in this case. You don’t intend to be negligent; you simply are negligent. Unless for some reason the FBI is investigating to see if there is evidence of specific intent in the new e-mails this is about as pointless as it gets, unless it involves some other area of malfeasance. For example, that could include evidence of a quid-pro-quo relating to the Clinton Foundation and government policy. With the Clinton’s that is always a very real possibility. Let’s face reality; it is a near certainty that a Hillary Clinton Presidency would bring with it unending scandal.
In the end, it is reasonable to assume that this whole situation stems from FBI incompetence combined with Clintonian corruption. Which is to say, same old, same old.