Monday, January 09, 2017

And That Was That?


The October Surprise

As the presidential campaign drew closer to its conclusion, everyone was waiting for the "October Surprise", the event or information that would change the course of the election. First there was the audio tape of Trump admitting to sexual misconduct. This was a huge "scandal", and the GOP was jumping ship in droves, trying to figure out how Trump could be replaced on the ballot so that their loss would not be total and humiliating. But strangely Trump's ability to BS his way through it allowed him to weather the storm as his core support stuck with him. Amazingly in a few days those abandoning the ship were climbing back up the ratlines. As Trump had said, he could shoot somebody in the middle of 5th Avenue and not lose a vote.

And then eleven days before election day, against tradition, protocol, and the strong suggestions of FBI and DOJ officials, Comey sent a letter to the Oversight Committee suggesting that the case against Clinton was being "reopened" because new information related to the case had suddenly been found. It was bad enough that Comey was making such an announcement within days of the election, but the decision was based on such vague "evidence" that Comey admitted in the letter that the FBI had no idea as to the scope or relevance of what they had found. The import of the information was completely unknown, but the impact of the announcement was potentially devastating to Clinton's campaign. National polls had Clinton up by 6% in the week prior to the Comey letter but by only 3% (within the margin of error) the week after.

In an effort to be "fair" to Clinton Comey declared that the FBI would expedite its investigation into the new "evidence" which consisted of metadata from 650,000 emails found on the laptop of Anthony Weiner who was being investigated for sending lewd pictures to an under age female. Weiner was the husband of Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's closest adviser. The metadata was information regarding sender, recipient, date, and subject, but not the actual content of the emails. A preliminary scan of the laptop found Hillary Clinton's name in the metadata, and this triggered the reaction. The current wisdom among the campaigns, the media, and "experts" was that the task of sorting out the information could not be done by the election. The damage had been done. Miraculously, the FBI did manage to determine that the subject emails came to be on the laptop when Abedin checked her work emails on her husband's laptop, and the laptop was synced to her work account. All the emails were copies of what the FBI already had. This information was announced by the FBI on the Sunday before election day. Some pollsters have theorized that the "clearing" of Clinton in this matter spurred her haters to make greater efforts to go to the polls and vote for Trump.

Why Did Comey Do It?

Comey said that he wrote the letter to the Oversight Committee eleven days before the election because he felt that he owed it to them to advise them on any new developments related to the previously concluded Clinton investigation. However, it is common knowledge that tradition dictates that no government agency should take any action likely to impact an election within 60 days of that election. Reportedly, high level officials at the FBI and the DOJ reminded Comey of that tradition and even characterized it as "protocol". Furthermore, Comey's own words betray the idea that the FBI even knew they had some new information, a "new development". So logically the Director's action was unwarranted and certainly ill-advised. Why then did he do it?

In July when Comey announced publicly that the FBI would not pursue an indictment against Hillary Clinton he said that the decision had been unanimous among the investigation team. This may have been true, but reporting after the election revealed that there was considerable dissension within the broader agency. Most people, myself included, have traditionally held the opinion that the individual agents of the FBI were passionate about solving crimes but were dispassionate when it came to politics. This turns out not to be the case. There were agents within the bureau who had long-term grudges against the Clintons, basically because they could never prove any wrong-doings by them. Remember in an earlier post that I described the only way the FBI could FINALLY get a solid case against Bill Clinton was to set up a perjury trap using Monica Lewinsky. There are agents in the FBI today who wish to see the Clintons destroyed once and for all.

The FBI had discovered the Weiner laptop metadata characterized as new information early in October, but Comey wasn't informed about it until just before he sent his letter to the Oversight Committee. Comey by now knew there were agents who wanted to hurt the Clinton campaign, and it was clear that a leak of the "new" information was likely. Former New York Mayor and US Attorney Rudy Giuliani was fluffing Fox News with hints that the Trump campaign had some big news coming out at any time. So Comey wanted to stay ahead of the curve, so to speak, by telling Congress before it was leaked to Fox. Apparently he had lost control of the agents within his agency, and this was the only way to cover his ass. In my opinion, if he was to say anything it should have been that there are rumors that the Clinton investigation is being reopened. Those rumors are without foundation and should be ignored. There have been several reports that Comey was not necessarily reluctant to hurt Clinton, and I personally believe that was a factor.


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