Comey’s Last-Minute Political Dirty Trick
As polls showed that the danger of the grossly unfit Republican nominee Donald Trump being elected president was plummeting, the biggest worry for Hillary Clinton’s supporters was some last-minute political dirty trick by the unethical Trump to sabotage the election.
No American ever should have expected that political sabotage to be committed by the director of the supposedly nonpartisan Federal Bureau of Investigation. Yet that is exactly what FBI Director James Comey chose to do 11 days before the election.
We now know that Director Comey was warned by U.S. Department of Justice superiors, in every sense of the word, that he would be violating long-standing department policy against commenting publicly on an ongoing investigation at a time when it could unfairly influence an election.
Jamie Gorelick and Larry Thompson, Democratic and Republican deputy attorneys general for President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush, co-wrote in The Washington Post that for decades, under both parties, the Justice Department has refrained from taking any public actions 60 days before an election that could be misinterpreted by voters to imply wrongdoing by a candidate.
Comey, a Republican, knew the rules he was breaking very well. Comey succeeded Thompson as deputy attorney general in Bush’s Justice Department.
Former Democratic Attorney General Eric Holder calls Comey’s violation “a serious error with potentially severe implications.”
Because, boy, are Trump and his supporters wildly misinterpreting Comey’s pre-election interference as evidence of wrongdoing by a candidate. They’re gleefully shrieking at rallies that Comey has evidence Clinton should be locked up, executed by firing squad and then hung in the streets.
What’s the head of the FBI doing inciting political mobs? He seems to be just like the demagogue lawmen Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who was trotted out by Trump at his crazed Republican convention.
The truth is Comey has no more evidence that Clinton has done anything wrong than he did in July when the FBI concluded its investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state.
Comey publicly announced at that time that Clinton had been careless, but there was no evidence she intentionally put any classified government information at risk, no reasonable prosecutor would bring charges and that it wasn’t even a close call.
So what’s changed now? Absolutely nothing, except that Comey has irresponsibly announced publicly the FBI would be looking at emails that surfaced in another case. But get this. Comey says he can’t “yet assess whether or not this material may be significant.”
Actually, it’s worse than that. Comey doesn’t even know if they are new emails. They could be duplicates of the same emails the FBI already reviewed in determining Clinton had done nothing wrong.
Why would Comey send a letter vaguely suggesting to Clinton-hating Republicans in Congress that there could be new evidence in the email investigation when there’s not at this point?
Comey’s irresponsible public announcement is the classic definition of a political dirty trick. It casts suspicion on Clinton without any evidence whatsoever immediately before Election Day so there isn’t enough time for her to refute whatever she is being accused of. Check.
Rule Forbids Late Revelations
In fact, Comey’s statement was so vague there is no way for Clinton to defend herself at all. Comey’s disingenuous cover story was he was trying to be transparent with Congress. But there’s nothing transparent about Comey’s letter; it simply inflames fact-free suspicion and innuendo.
The FBI discovered the emails in early October on a computer seized from former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is separated from his wife, Huma Abedin, who was deputy chief of staff in Clinton’s State Department.
Why did Comey wait until a week and a half before the election to make his public announcement? Good question.
The FBI had authority to search Weiner’s computer for evidence regarding his possible “sexting” with an underage girl. It didn’t even seek the necessary warrant to review emails on Weiner’s computer related to the Clinton case until two days after Comey went public.
Not only do voters have no idea whether the emails the FBI has just begun examining have any significance, they don’t even know whether they’re personal or government emails or whether Clinton sent or received any of them.
One of the excuses Comey expressed within the FBI for revealing the emails was that their existence might leak to the media and Republicans would accuse him of a cover-up. So he leaked the information himself.
First of all, we should be able to trust Comey’s FBI to keep its investigations secure, especially when they haven’t uncovered evidence of anything illegal. Secondly, who cares what highly partisan Republicans who want to destroy Clinton’s candidacy think?
The FBI is supposed to be nonpartisan. That’s why there should be a government rule against releasing preliminary information about investigations that can unfairly influence an election.
Oh wait. There is.