Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #906 The Destabilization of Hillary Clinton

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This pro­gram was record­ed in one, 60-minute seg­ment.

James B. Comey

Intro­duc­tion: CIA head­quar­ters is named for George Her­bert Walk­er Bush, who was defeat­ed for re-elec­tion by Bill Clin­ton in 1992, some­thing for which we feel major ele­ments of the Agency have nev­er for­giv­en the Clin­ton fam­i­ly. Much of the neg­a­tive “buzz” sur­round­ing the e‑mail serv­er inves­ti­ga­tion has come from Fox News, head­ed by Roger Ailes, who was George H.W. Bush’s cam­paign man­ag­er.

These are details worth bear­ing in mind as we exam­ine the con­tin­ued progress of “Clin­ton Derange­ment Syn­drome.”

QUICK: How many of you knew that Hillary Clin­ton had the 11th most lib­er­al vot­ing record as a U.S. Sen­a­tor (out of 100 Sen­a­tors.)?

The pun­dit­ry has been even more irre­spon­si­ble than is usu­al­ly the case, suc­cumb­ing to CDS to a greater extent than in the past. This pro­gram exam­ines to the extent to which media cov­er­age is delib­er­ate­ly slant­ed.

In con­nec­tion with Hillary Clin­ton’s e‑mail serv­er, we high­light the fol­low­ing details, gen­er­al­ly either unknown and/or under­re­port­ed in the main­stream media:

FACT: None Of The Emails Sent To Clin­ton Were Labeled As “Clas­si­fied” Or “Top Secret

FACT: Emails Orig­i­nat­ed In State Dept. Sys­tem, And Ques­tions About Retroac­tive Clas­si­fi­ca­tion Would Have Occurred Regard­less Of Clin­ton’s Serv­er Use

FACT: Experts Have Debunked Any Com­par­i­son Between Clin­ton’s Email Use And David Petraeus’ Crimes

FACT: IG Refer­ral To Jus­tice Depart­ment Was Not Crim­i­nal, And FBI Isn’t Tar­get­ing Clin­ton Her­self

In dis­cus­sion of the “e‑mail scan­dal,” CNBC’s “Morn­ing Joe Scar­bor­oughdelib­er­ate­ly dis­tort­ed state­ments by Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist David Ignatius. Ignatius opined: . . . .  My only point is I couldn’t find a case where this kind of activ­ity had been pros­e­cuted and that’s just worth not­ing as we assem­ble our Clin­ton e‑mail — and more thing, Joe, legal­ly there is no dif­fer­ence between her using her pri­vate serv­er and if she’d used State.gov, which is also not a clas­si­fied sys­tem. The idea that, oh this would have been fine if she used State.gov, not legal­ly, no dif­fer­ence. . . . Ignatius respond­ed by explain­ing that experts he spoke with dis­missed as far-fetched claims Clin­ton com­mit­ted a crim­i­nal offense. . . . As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do noth­ing but this kind of work, they said they couldn’t remem­ber a case like this, where peo­ple infor­mally and inad­ver­tently draw clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion into their phone con­ver­sa­tions or their unclas­si­fied serv­er con­ver­sa­tions, where there had been a pros­e­cu­tion. . . .”

But dur­ing the rebroad­cast of the seg­ment, Morn­ing Joe cut away from Ignatius’ expla­na­tion mid-sen­tence. Dur­ing the ini­tial broad­cast, Ignatius said (empha­sis added): “As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do noth­ing but this kind of work, they said they couldn’t remem­ber a case like this, where peo­ple infor­mally and inad­ver­tently draw clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion into their phone con­ver­sa­tions or their unclas­si­fied serv­er con­ver­sa­tions, where there had been a pros­e­cu­tion.”

Scar­bor­ough, a for­mer Repub­li­can mem­ber of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, has a long his­tory of hyp­ing the sup­posed Clin­ton email “scan­dal”despite all evi­dence to the con­trary. He edit­ed Ignatius’s state­ment as fol­lows: “ . . . . As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do noth­ing but this kind of work, they said they couldn’t remem­ber a case like this, . . . ”

It is of more than pass­ing inter­est that echoes from the “Fox News” cham­ber are rip­pling out­ward, fea­tur­ing slant­ed cov­er­age by The New York Times and Wash­ing­ton Post. The lat­ter out­lets have con­tract­ed with Peter Schweiz­er, a Koch broth­ers polit­i­cal spear car­ri­er and for­mer aide to Sarah Palin for access­ing his book Clin­ton Cash. Obvi­ous­ly, this rais­es seri­ous ques­tions about their objec­tiv­i­ty.

As Bernie Sanders con­tin­ues his attacks on Clin­ton, it is worth not­ing the extent to which Cit­i­zens Unit­ed has pro­pelled much of the anti-Clin­ton pro­pa­gan­da.  The cen­ter­piece of the Cit­i­zens Unit­ed case was an anti-Hillary doc­u­men­tary! (Cit­i­zens Unit­ed is a fre­quent tar­get of Sanders’ rhetor­i­cal flour­ish­es.) Of the links between Fox News, New York Times and Wash­ing­ton Post col­lab­o­ra­tor Peter Schweitzer and the Koch broth­ers, their anti-Clin­ton cam­paign and the Cit­i­zens Unit­ed milieu:

” . . . . Bardel­la declined to answer whether Schweiz­er was speak­ing in a fundrais­ing capac­ity for [Schweiz­er’s orga­ni­za­tion] GAI, or whether Schweiz­er or GAI received any funds from Koch-affil­i­at­ed orga­ni­za­tions.

Stephen Ban­non, the direc­tor of con­ser­v­a­tive pro­pa­ganda films like the Sarah Palin biopic “The Unde­feated” and a fre­quent col­lab­o­ra­tor with Cit­i­zens Unit­ed Pro­duc­tions, chairs GAI’s board. Anoth­er GAI board mem­ber is Ron Robin­son, who also sits on the boards of Cit­i­zens Unit­ed and Cit­i­zens Unit­ed Foun­da­tion.

Cit­i­zens Unit­ed Pro­duc­tions was the plain­tiff in the Supreme Court case Cit­i­zens Unit­ed v. Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion – the deci­sion that rolled back sig­nif­i­cant cam­paign finance law per­tain­ing to inde­pen­dent expen­di­tures. At the cen­ter of that land­mark case was a polit­i­cal doc­u­men­tary-cum-attack ad on Hillary Clin­ton called “Hillary: The Movie,” released ahead of the 2008 pri­mary. Now near­ly eight years lat­er ahead of the 2016 pri­mary, Schweitzer has pub­lished what could be con­sid­ered the fol­low-up, Hillary: The Book. . . .”

Pro­gram High­lights Include:

  • Review of FBI Direc­tor James Comey’s asso­ci­a­tion with Mitt Rom­ney in the 2012 Pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.
  • Comey’s piv­otal role in the FBI’s inves­ti­ga­tion of the Clin­ton “E‑Mail scan­dal.”
  • An overview of “Clin­ton Derange­ment Syn­drome” over the years, which debunks the notion that Hillary is “GOP Lite.” ” . . . . Indeed, when Clin­ton served in the Sen­ate, she was con­sid­ered the 11th most lib­er­al sen­a­tor. That’s basi­cal­ly in the top 20 per­centile in terms of lib­er­al votes. That’s lightyears away from being a DINO. . . .”
  • CNBC’s Chris Burke and his major sup­port for George W. Bush’s cam­paign. (CNBC airs the “Morn­ing Joe” pro­gram.)
  • Review of the CIA’s links to The New York Times and Wash­ing­ton Post.

1. Begin­ning with dis­cus­sion of Hillary Clin­ton’s e‑mail serv­er, we high­light the fol­low­ing details, gen­er­al­ly either unknown and/or under­re­port­ed in the main­stream media:

FACT: None Of The Emails Sent To Clin­ton Were Labeled As “Clas­si­fied” Or “Top Secret

FACT: Emails Orig­i­nat­ed In State Dept. Sys­tem, And Ques­tions About Retroac­tive Clas­si­fi­ca­tion Would Have Occurred Regard­less Of Clin­ton’s Serv­er Use

FACT: Experts Have Debunked Any Com­par­i­son Between Clin­ton’s Email Use And David Petraeus’ Crimes

FACT: IG Refer­ral To Jus­tice Depart­ment Was Not Crim­i­nal, And FBI Isn’t Tar­get­ing Clin­ton Her­self

“Myths and Facts on Hillary Clinton’s Email and Reports of ‘Top Secret’ Mate­ri­als” by Lis Pow­er and Katie Sul­li­van; Media Mat­ters; 8/12/2015.

 Media are exploit­ing news that two emails Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hillary Clin­ton turned over to the State Depart­ment from her time as sec­re­tary of state may be retroac­tive­ly clas­si­fied as “top secret” to push myths about Clin­ton’s han­dling of gov­ern­ment infor­ma­tion and scan­dal­ize her email use. Here are the facts.

FACT: None Of The Emails Sent To Clin­ton Were Labeled As “Clas­si­fied” Or “Top Secret

FACT: Emails Orig­i­nat­ed In State Dept. Sys­tem, And Ques­tions About Retroac­tive Clas­si­fi­ca­tion Would Have Occurred Regard­less Of Clin­ton’s Serv­er Use

FACT: Experts Have Debunked Any Com­par­i­son Between Clin­ton’s Email Use And David Petraeus’ Crimes

FACT: IG Refer­ral To Jus­tice Depart­ment Was Not Crim­i­nal, And FBI Isn’t Tar­get­ing Clin­ton Her­self

Intelligence Community IG Says Two Emails From Clinton’s Server Should Be Marked “Top Secret”

Intel­li­gence Com­mu­ni­ty Inspec­tor Gen­er­al Says Two Emails From Clin­ton’s Serv­er Con­tain “Top Secret” Infor­ma­tion. The inspec­tor gen­er­al for the Intel­li­gence Com­mu­ni­ty (ICIG), I. Charles McCul­lough, report­ed­ly informed lead­ers of key con­gres­sion­al over­sight com­mit­tees that two clas­si­fied emails pre­vi­ous­ly dis­cov­ered on Clin­ton’s serv­er con­tain top secret infor­ma­tion. As McClatchy report­ed:

The inspec­tor gen­er­al for the Intel­li­gence Com­mu­ni­ty noti­fied senior mem­bers of Con­gress that two of four clas­si­fied emails dis­cov­ered on the serv­er Clin­ton main­tained at her New York home con­tained mate­r­i­al deemed to be in one of the high­est secu­ri­ty clas­si­fi­ca­tions — more sen­si­tive than pre­vi­ous­ly known.

The notice came as the State Depart­ment inspec­tor gen­er­al’s office acknowl­edged that it is review­ing the use of “per­son­al com­mu­ni­ca­tions hard­ware and soft­ware” by Clin­ton’s for­mer top aides after requests from Con­gress. [McClatchy DC, 8/11/15]

State Depart­ment: It Remains Unclear Whether Mate­r­i­al In Two Emails Should Be Retroac­tive­ly Clas­si­fied. NBC not­ed that the State Depart­ment is still work­ing with the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty to deter­mine whether the infor­ma­tion in the two emails should in fact be labeled as clas­si­fied:

Clin­ton aides have main­tained that noth­ing on her serv­er was clas­si­fied at the time she saw it, sug­gest­ing that clas­si­fied mes­sages were giv­en the label after the fact.

John Kir­by, a spokesman for the State Depart­ment, said that was the case with two emails, adding that it remained unclear “whether, in fact, this mate­r­i­al is actu­al­ly clas­si­fied.”

“Depart­ment employ­ees cir­cu­lat­ed these emails on unclas­si­fied sys­tems in 2009 and 2011, and ulti­mate­ly some were for­ward­ed to Sec­re­tary Clin­ton,” Kir­by said Tues­day. “They were not marked as clas­si­fied.” [NBC News, 8/12/15]

MYTH: Clinton Received Emails Marked As “Top Secret”

Fox Anchor Bret Baier: “ ‘Top Secret’ Was Marked On The Emails” Sent To Clin­ton. Dur­ing the August 11 edi­tion of Spe­cial Report, host Bret Baier claimed that “ ‘top secret’ was marked on the emails” that Clin­ton received dur­ing her time as sec­re­tary of state:

MIKE EMANUEL: The break­ing news of the hour is that the intel­li­gence inspec­tor gen­er­al has told top law­mak­ers on Capi­tol Hill that two of those four clas­si­fied emails from Hillary Clin­ton’s per­son­al serv­er were top secret in nature. And they’re still study­ing the oth­er two to fig­ure out what the rel­e­vant clas­si­fi­ca­tion should be. Bret?

BRET BAIER: ‘Top secret’ marked on the emails. FBI inquiry obvi­ous­ly already ongo­ing to clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion improp­er­ly stored, they said, on her pri­vate serv­er. And also, Mike, a thumb dri­ve held by her attor­ney?

EMANUEL: Well that’s absolute­ly cor­rect. All of her emails have been stored by her per­son­al attor­ney. And a lot of folks on Capi­tol Hill have been ask­ing, why is that still out there? Why is that not con­trolled by the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty or by the State depart­ment, this exist­ing in the pos­ses­sion of a per­son­al attor­ney. And so lots more ques­tions on Capi­tol Hill and through­out the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty this evening. [Fox News, Spe­cial Report8/11/15]

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell: ICIG “Con­tra­dict­ed Clin­ton’s Repeat­ed Claim That Noth­ing On Those Pri­vate Emails Was Clas­si­fied.” On the August 12 edi­tion of NBC’s Today, Andrea Mitchell argued that the ICIG’s state­ment “con­tra­dict­ed” Clin­ton’s “repeat­ed past denials”:

ANDREA MITCHELL: More con­tro­ver­sy for Hillary Clin­ton today indeed. Despite her repeat­ed past denials, the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty’s Inspec­tor Gen­er­al now says two of her emails should have been clas­si­fied ‘top secret,’ the high­est lev­el of U.S. intel­li­gence, even as the FBI is final­ly get­ting con­trol of that pri­vate serv­er.

VOICEOVER OF MITCHELL: Hillary Clin­ton, in New Hamp­shire Tues­day, has aides con­firm she has turned over her pri­vate serv­er to the FBI. In addi­tion, her attor­ney David Kendall gave the FBI two thumb dri­ves con­tain­ing her emails.  All of this, as the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty’s watch­dog con­tra­dict­ed Clin­ton’s repeat­ed claim that noth­ing on those pri­vate emails was clas­si­fied.

[CLIP OF HILLARY CLINTON: I did not email any clas­si­fied mate­r­i­al to any­one on my email. There is no clas­si­fied mate­ri­als.]

MITCHELL: Clin­ton has said there was no clas­si­fied mark­ings on any of her emails.

[CLIP OF CLINTON: I am con­fi­dent that I have nev­er sent nor received any infor­ma­tion that was clas­si­fied at the time it was sent and received.]

MITCHELL: But the Inspec­tor Gen­er­al has now told Con­gress two of Clin­ton’s emails should have been clas­si­fied ‘top secret,’ with code words indi­cat­ing elec­tron­ic eaves­drop­ping from satel­lites, so sen­si­tive it could not be shared with for­eign allies. [NBC, Today8/12/15]

FACT: None Of The Emails Sent To Clinton Were Labeled As “Classified” Or “Top Secret”

Gov­ern­ment Offi­cials: None Of The Emails Were Marked As “Clas­si­fied” When They Were Sent.The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed that when the ICIG first “found infor­ma­tion that should have been des­ig­nat­ed as clas­si­fied” in four emails from Clin­ton’s serv­er — two of which he now says con­tain “top secret” infor­ma­tion — gov­ern­ment offi­cials acknowl­edged that the emails were not marked as clas­si­fied when they were sent (empha­sis added):

The Jus­tice Depart­ment said Fri­day that it has been noti­fied of a poten­tial com­pro­mise of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion in con­nec­tion with the pri­vate e‑mail account that Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton used while serv­ing as sec­re­tary of state.

A Jus­tice offi­cial said the depart­ment had received a “refer­ral” on the mat­ter, which the inspec­tor gen­er­al of the intel­li­gence agen­cies lat­er acknowl­edged came from him.

The inspec­tor gen­er­al, I. Charles McCul­lough III, said in a sep­a­rate state­ment that he had found infor­ma­tion that should have been des­ig­nat­ed as clas­si­fied in four e‑mails out of a “lim­it­ed sam­ple” of 40 that his agency reviewed. As a result, he said, he made the “secu­ri­ty refer­ral,” act­ing under a fed­er­al law that requires alert­ing the FBI to any poten­tial com­pro­mis­es of nation­al secu­ri­ty infor­ma­tion.

[...]

Offi­cials acknowl­edged that none of the e‑mails reviewed so far con­tain infor­ma­tion that was marked clas­si­fied when they were sent. But a new inquiry would pro­long the polit­i­cal con­tro­ver­sy Clin­ton is fac­ing over her un­or­tho­dox e‑mail sys­tem. [The Wash­ing­ton Post7/24/15]

IG Memo On Clas­si­fied Infor­ma­tion In Emails: “None Of The Emails ... Had Clas­si­fi­ca­tion Or Dis­sem­i­na­tion Mark­ings.” A memo from the ICIG clear­ly stat­ed that “none of the emails we reviewed had clas­si­fi­ca­tion or dis­sem­i­na­tion mark­ings”:

Since the ref­er­enced 25 June 2015 noti­fi­ca­tion, we were informed by State FOIA offi­cials that there are poten­tial­ly hun­dreds of clas­si­fied emails with­in the approx­i­mate­ly 30,000 pro­vid­ed by for­mer Sec­re­tary Clin­ton.  We note that none of the emails we reviewed had clas­si­fi­ca­tion or dis­sem­i­na­tion mark­ings, but some includ­ed IC-derived clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion and should have been han­dled as clas­si­fied, appro­pri­ate­ly marked, and trans­mit­ted via a secure net­work.  Fur­ther, my office’s lim­it­ed sam­pling of 40 of the emails revealed four con­tained clas­si­fied IC infor­ma­tion which should have been marked and han­dled at a SECRET lev­el. [Inspec­tor Gen­er­al of the Intel­li­gence Com­mu­ni­ty, 7/23/15]

MYTH: Emails Weren’t Marked As “Classified” Because Clinton Used A Private Server Instead Of State Dept. Email

Fox & Friends’ Steve Doocy: Emails “Were Nev­er Clas­si­fied” Because Clin­ton Used A Pri­vate Serv­er Rather Than The State Depart­men­t’s Email Sys­tem. Through­out the August 12 edi­tion of Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy repeat­ed­ly blamed the lack of clas­si­fi­ca­tion on Clin­ton’s use of a pri­vate serv­er instead of “the State Depart­ment email sys­tem,” argu­ing the emails “were nev­er clas­si­fied because she nev­er sub­mit­ted it” (empha­sis added):

STEVE DOOCY: The prob­lem here is the fact that she did­n’t want her boss­es at the White House to know what she was writ­ing about, it is per­ceived.

ANDREW NAPOLITANO: She also did­n’t want her col­leagues in the State Depart­ment to know.

DOOCY: Right. So she had her own serv­er, which is, you know, against pro­to­col. Her spokes­peo­ple, and she her­self has said, you know, it was­n’t clas­si­fied at the time. But that ignores how the process works. The rea­son you use the State Depart­ment email sys­tem is so that it is clas­sif — it is vet­ted before you hit ‘send.’

NAPOLITANO: She is prob­a­bly going to argue that because the phrase, boom, ‘top secret’ was not stamped on each doc­u­ment, it was­n’t top secret. That’s not what the law says. Before every per­son in the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, from the pres­i­dent to a file clerk, gets a nation­al secu­ri­ty clear­ance, they have a 30 minute in-per­son inter­view with an FBI agent who explains, if there’s doubt about whether it’s clas­si­fied or not, it’s clas­si­fied.

DOOCY: Let me just add this one thing. It was nev­er clas­si­fied because she nev­er sub­mit­ted it. [Fox News, Fox & Friends8/12/15]

FACT: Emails Originated In State Dept. System And Questions About Retroactive Classification Would Have Occurred Regardless Of Clinton’s Server Use

Emails Orig­i­nat­ed With State Depart­ment Employ­ees And Were For­ward­ed To Clin­ton. The State Depart­men­t’s state­ment on the retroac­tive “top secret” des­ig­na­tion made clear that the emails at issue orig­i­nat­ed with State Depart­ment employ­ees, not Clin­ton her­self:

The fol­low­ing is attrib­ut­able to Spokesper­son John Kir­by:

“The State Depart­ment takes seri­ous­ly its oblig­a­tions to pro­tect sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion, hold­ing its employ­ees to a high stan­dard of com­pli­ance with reg­u­la­tions and pro­ce­dures.

“The Intel­li­gence Com­mu­ni­ty has rec­om­mend­ed that por­tions of two of the four emails iden­ti­fied by the Intel­li­gence Com­mu­ni­ty’s Inspec­tor Gen­er­al should be upgrad­ed to the Top Secret lev­el. Depart­ment employ­ees cir­cu­lat­ed these emails on unclas­si­fied sys­tems in 2009 and 2011 and ulti­mate­ly some were for­ward­ed to Sec­re­tary Clin­ton.  They were not marked as clas­si­fied.

“These emails have not been released to the pub­lic. While we work with the Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence to resolve whether, in fact, this mate­r­i­al is actu­al­ly clas­si­fied, we are tak­ing steps to ensure the infor­ma­tion is pro­tect­ed and stored appro­pri­ate­ly.” [Twitter.com, 8/11/15]

Clin­ton Cam­paign: Emails Orig­i­nat­ed From “Unclas­si­fied .Gov Email Sys­tem.” A fact sheet released by the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign for the for­mer sec­re­tary of state explains that the emails at issue orig­i­nat­ed on “the unclas­si­fied .gov email sys­tem”:

Would this issue not have arisen if she used a state.gov email address?

Even if Clin­ton’s emails had been on a gov­ern­ment email address and gov­ern­ment device, these ques­tions would be raised pri­or to pub­lic release.

While State Depart­men­t’s review of her 55,000 emails brought the issue to the Inspec­tors Gen­er­als’ atten­tions, the four emails were on the unclas­si­fied .gov email sys­tem. They were not on the sep­a­rate, closed sys­tem used by State Depart­ment for han­dling clas­si­fied com­mu­ni­ca­tions. [hillaryclinton.com, “Updat­ed: The Facts About Hillary Clin­ton’s Emails,” accessed 8/12/15]

Vox: Whether Or Not Emails Should Have Been Marked Clas­si­fied Is Part Of “Bureau­crat­ic Turf War.” Vox point­ed out how the intra-agency dis­agree­ment over whether the emails were appro­pri­ate­ly cat­e­go­rized “is a bureau­crat­ic fight about how the State Depart­ment has han­dled the emails, not about Hillary Clin­ton” (empha­sis added):

The State Depart­ment has been ordered by a fed­er­al judge to make pub­lic the 55,000 pages of emails Clin­ton turned over to the agency. So the State Depart­ment has Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act experts sift­ing through the doc­u­ments to make sure that no infor­ma­tion will be released that is either clas­si­fied or sen­si­tive (mean­ing not tech­ni­cal­ly clas­si­fied but also not cov­er­ing mate­r­i­al that the gov­ern­ment does­n’t want in the pub­lic domain).

This has caused a bureau­crat­ic turf war between the depart­ment and the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty, which believes at least one email that’s already been released con­tains clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion and that hun­dreds of oth­ers in the full set may also have mate­r­i­al that’s not ready for pub­lic con­sump­tion. For a cou­ple of months, the inspec­tors gen­er­al of the State Depart­ment and the com­bined intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty agen­cies have been bat­tling Patrick Kennedy, the lead State Depart­ment offi­cial, over who has access to the doc­u­ments and the author­i­ty to release or with­hold them.

Now, accord­ing to the Times and oth­er pub­li­ca­tions, the IG team is ask­ing the Jus­tice Depart­ment to get involved in review­ing whether State has mis­han­dled the emails. If Clin­ton was send­ing infor­ma­tion that was, or should have been, clas­si­fied — and knew that it was, or should have been, clas­si­fied — that’s a prob­lem. But no one has accused her of that so far. Giv­en the ano­dyne nature of what she sent in the emails we’ve already seen, it’s entire­ly pos­si­ble, per­haps even like­ly, that any sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion was sent to Clin­ton, not by her (though it’s not clear whether for­ward­ing such emails would con­sti­tute a legal issue for her). [Vox, 7/28/15]

MYTH: Hillary Clinton’s Email Use Is Comparable To David Petraeus’ Crimes

Doocy: Clin­ton’s Email Use Is “The Same Thing That David Petraeus Plead­ed Guilty To.” On the August 12 edi­tion of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Doocy hyped the debunked claim that Clin­ton’s email use was sim­i­lar to Gen. David Petraeus’ ille­gal mis­han­dling of con­fi­den­tial infor­ma­tion:

DOOCY: Big ques­tion is — Will this Depart­ment of Jus­tice go ahead and ful­ly pros­e­cute? Because, keep in mind, she had unau­tho­rized, for a home serv­er, top secret doc­u­ments, which was a direct vio­la­tion of the U.S. laws. It’s the same that David Petraeus plead­ed guilty to. He had the same stuff at his house. She had at it at her house. He got, you know, they ran him up the flag pole, will they do the same for her? [Fox News, Fox & Friends,8/12/15]

Fox Judi­cial Ana­lyst Implies Clin­ton’s Email Use Is Worse Than Petraeus’ Crimes. Appear­ing on the August 12 edi­tion of Fox & Friends, senior judi­cial ana­lyst Andrew Napoli­tano claimed “it’s a grave sit­u­a­tion” for Hillary Clin­ton, argu­ing that Gen. Petraeus only had “the low­est lev­el mate­ri­als in a desk draw­er” while Clin­ton “had top secret mate­ri­als in the serv­er in her barn”:

NAPOLITANO: Here’s why it’s a grave sit­u­a­tion. A fed­er­al judge ordered the State Depart­ment to reveal — to make pub­lic — emails she had giv­en back to the State Depart­ment. The recip­i­ents of those e‑mails was the inspec­tors gen­er­al of State Depart­ment and  of the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty. They ran­dom­ly sam­pled 40 of them. Among the 40, they found four that were clas­si­fied.

[...]

They then revealed that they then sent that to FBI to com­mence either a crim­i­nal or a nation­al secu­ri­ty inves­ti­ga­tion, and they sent it to the Sen­ate and House Intel­li­gence and Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tees. Last night they revealed that two of the four were top secret. What does top secret mean? The gov­ern­ment has three clas­si­fi­ca­tions — the high­est is top secret. Mean­ing if it’s revealed, it could cause grave harm to nation­al secu­ri­ty. The mid­dle is secret, mean­ing if it’s revealed, it could cause seri­ous harm to nation­al secu­ri­ty. The bot­tom is con­fi­den­tial, mean­ing if it’s revealed, it could cause some hard to nation­al secu­ri­ty. Gen­er­al Patreaus was indict­ed, pros­e­cut­ed, and con­vict­ed for hav­ing con­fi­den­tial, the low­est lev­el mate­ri­als in a desk draw­er in his house. Mrs. Clin­ton, it has now been revealed, had top secret mate­ri­als in the serv­er in her barn at Chap­paqua. [Fox News, Fox & Friends8/12/15]

FACT: Experts Have Debunked The Comparison — Petraeus Knowingly Mishandled Classified Documents, Whereas Clinton Had Authorization To Use Private Email, And There’s No Evidence She Knowingly Emailed Classified Information

Petraeus Pled Guilty To Vio­lat­ing 18 U.S.C. § 1924, “Unlaw­ful­ly And Know­ing­ly” Mov­ing Clas­si­fied Mate­ri­als “With Intent To Retain Such Doc­u­ments ... At Unau­tho­rized Loca­tions.” Petraeus pled guilty to one count of vio­lat­ing Title 18, Unit­ed States Code, Sec­tion 1924:

Between in or about August 2011 and on or about April 5, 2013, defen­dant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS, being an employ­ee of the Unit­ed States, and by virtue of his employ­ment, became pos­sessed of doc­u­ments and mate­ri­als con­tain­ing clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion of the Unit­ed States, and did unlaw­ful­ly and know­ing­ly remove such doc­u­ments and mate­ri­als with­out author­i­ty and with the intent to retain such doc­u­ments and mate­ri­als at unau­tho­rized loca­tions, aware that these loca­tions were unau­tho­rized for the stor­age and reten­tion of such clas­si­fied doc­u­ments and mate­ri­als;

All in vio­la­tion of Title 18, Unit­ed States Code, Sec­tion 1924. [U.S. v. Petraeus, Bill of Infor­ma­tion, 3/3/15]

NY Times: “There Has Nev­er Been Any Legal Pro­hi­bi­tion Against” Using Per­son­al Email Accounts. Despite hav­ing pre­vi­ous­ly scan­dal­ized Clin­ton’s use of pri­vate emails as “alarm­ing,” the Times lat­er clar­i­fied that “there has nev­er been any legal pro­hi­bi­tion” against the prac­tice and that “[m]embers of Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s cab­i­net” use a “wide vari­ety of strate­gies” to han­dle their emails:

Mem­bers of Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s cab­i­net have a wide vari­ety of strate­gies, short­cuts and tricks for han­dling their email, and until three months ago there was no law set­ting out pre­cise­ly what they had to do with it, and when. And while the major­i­ty of Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials use gov­ern­ment email to con­duct their busi­ness, there has nev­er been any legal pro­hi­bi­tion against using a per­son­al account. [The New York Times3/13/15]

State Dept: Clin­ton Pre­served And Pro­vid­ed Emails In Line With 2009 Reg­u­la­tion And How We Han­dled Records At The Time. At the March 3 dai­ly press brief­ing, State Depart­ment deputy spokesper­son Marie Harf explained that Clin­ton turned over 55,000 pages of doc­u­ments as part of the State Depart­men­t’s “process of updat­ing our records man­age­ment” and empha­sized that Clin­ton is the only for­mer sec­re­tary of state to have done so. From Har­f’s brief­ing:

HARF: When in the process of updat­ing our records man­age­ment — this is some­thing that’s sort of ongo­ing giv­en tech­nol­o­gy and the changes — we reached out to all of the for­mer sec­re­taries of state to ask them to pro­vide any records they had. Sec­re­tary Clin­ton sent back 55,000 pages of doc­u­ments to the State Depart­ment very short­ly after we sent the let­ter to her. She was the only for­mer Sec­re­tary of State who sent doc­u­ments back in to this request. These 55,000 pages cov­ered her time, the breadth of her time at the State Depart­ment. [State Depart­ment Dai­ly Press Brief­ing,3/3/15]

Clin­ton: “I Am Con­fi­dent That I Nev­er Sent Or Received Any Infor­ma­tion That Was Clas­si­fied At The Time.” Clin­ton told reporters on July 26 that she nev­er sent or received infor­ma­tion that she knew was clas­si­fied at the time:

Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton said she nev­er know­ing­ly sent or received clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion using her pri­vate email serv­er and did not know what mes­sages were being cit­ed by intel­li­gence inves­ti­ga­tors as exam­ples of emails con­tain­ing clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion.

[...]

“I am con­fi­dent that I nev­er sent or received any infor­ma­tion that was clas­si­fied at the time it was sent and received. What I think you’re see­ing here is a very typ­i­cal kind of dis­cus­sion, to some extent dis­agree­ment among var­i­ous parts of the gov­ern­ment, over what should or should not be pub­licly released,” she said. [Asso­ci­at­ed Press, 7/26/15]

Direc­tor Of Project On Gov­ern­ment Secre­cy: “There’s No Com­par­i­son Between The Clin­ton Email Issue And The Petraeus Case.” Steven After­good told The Wash­ing­ton Times that “[e]veryone agrees that there was no infor­ma­tion in the Clin­ton emails that was marked as clas­si­fied,” and there­fore Clin­ton’s actions bear no resem­blance to Petraeus’s:

While offi­cials comb­ing tens of thou­sands of emails that moved through Mrs. Clin­ton’s serv­er have point­ed to the pres­ence of “hun­dreds” of pieces of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion — appar­ent­ly none of the mes­sages had any offi­cial clas­si­fi­ca­tion mark­ings on them.

It’s a sit­u­a­tion that has trig­gered heat­ed debate over the extent to which such infor­ma­tion was­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly clas­si­fied at the time Mrs. Clin­ton was email­ing it.

“To the best of my under­stand­ing, there is no com­par­i­son between the Clin­ton email issue and the Petraeus case,” says Steven After­good, who heads the Project on Gov­ern­ment Secre­cy at the Fed­er­a­tion of Amer­i­can Sci­en­tists. “Every­one agrees that there was no infor­ma­tion in the Clin­ton emails that was marked as clas­si­fied. So it would be dif­fi­cult or impos­si­ble to show that those who sent or received the emails know­ing­ly or neg­li­gent­ly mis­han­dled clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion.” [The Wash­ing­ton Times8/2/15]

Gov­ern­ment Secre­cy Expert: “There’s No Case” Against Clin­ton If She Did­n’t Know­ing­ly Mis­use Clas­si­fied Infor­ma­tion. William Jef­fress, an attor­ney who has han­dled gov­ern­ment secre­cy cas­es, told Time:

Legal­ly, the ques­tion is pret­ty clear-cut. If Clin­ton know­ing­ly used her pri­vate serv­er to han­dle clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion she could have a prob­lem. But if she did­n’t know the mate­r­i­al was clas­si­fied when she sent or received it she’s safe.

[...]

Clin­ton has explic­it­ly and repeat­ed­ly said she did­n’t know­ing­ly send or receive any clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion. “The facts are pret­ty clear,” she said last week­end in Iowa, “I did not send nor receive any­thing that was clas­si­fied at the time.” Intel­li­gence Com­mu­ni­ty Inspec­tor Gen­er­al I. Charles McCul­lough III, dis­agrees, say­ing some of the mate­r­i­al was in fact clas­si­fied at the time it was sent. But in his let­ter last week to Con­gres­sion­al intel­li­gence com­mit­tee lead­ers, McCul­lough report­ed that, “None of the emails we reviewed had clas­si­fi­ca­tion or dis­sem­i­na­tion mark­ings.” And there has been no indi­ca­tion Clin­ton knew she was send­ing and receiv­ing any­thing clas­si­fied.

The pub­lic does­n’t yet know the con­tent of the clas­si­fied emails, and the State Depart­ment and the inspec­tors gen­er­al have tens of thou­sands still to review. If evi­dence emerges that Clin­ton knew she was han­dling secrets on her pri­vate serv­er, “She could have a prob­lem,” says William Jef­fress, a lead­ing crim­i­nal tri­al lawyer at Bak­er Botts who has rep­re­sent­ed gov­ern­ment offi­cials in secre­cy cas­es. Bar­ring that, says Jef­fress, “there’s no way in the world [pros­e­cu­tors] could ever make a case” against her. [Time7/29/15]

MYTH: Clinton Is The Subject Of A Federal Criminal Investigation

Fox’s Chris Stire­walt: Clin­ton Might Be “The Sub­ject Of A Fed­er­al Crim­i­nal Inves­ti­ga­tion.” On the August 12 edi­tion of Fox News’ Amer­i­ca’s News­room, dig­i­tal edi­tor Chris Stire­walt claimed that Clin­ton might become “the first major par­ty nom­i­nee that is the sub­ject of a fed­er­al crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion.” [Fox News, Amer­i­ca’s News­room8/12/15]

FACT: IG Referral To Justice Department Was Not Criminal, And FBI Isn’t Targeting Clinton Herself

Reuters: Inspec­tor Gen­er­al Refer­ral Is Not Crim­i­nal. Reuters report­ed on July 24 that there was “no crim­i­nal refer­ral over [the] Clin­ton emails”:

The Jus­tice Depart­ment said Fri­day it has received a request to exam­ine the han­dling of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion relat­ed to the pri­vate emails from Hillary Clin­ton dur­ing her time as sec­re­tary of state, but it is not a crim­i­nal refer­ral. [Reuters, 7/24/15]

AP: U.S. Offi­cial Said That Request Of DOJ “Does­n’t Sug­gest Wrong­do­ing By Clin­ton Her­self.” The Asso­ci­at­ed Press quot­ed an anony­mous U.S. offi­cial who not­ed that the refer­ral did not impli­cate Clin­ton in any wrong­do­ing:

The New York Times first report­ed the refer­ral. The Clin­ton cam­paign said Fri­day that she “fol­lowed appro­pri­ate prac­tices in deal­ing with clas­si­fied mate­ri­als.” Spokesman Nick Mer­rill said emails deemed clas­si­fied by the admin­is­tra­tion were done so after the fact, not when they were sent.

One U.S. offi­cial said it was unclear whether clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion was mis­han­dled and the refer­ral does­n’t sug­gest wrong­do­ing by Clin­ton her­self. [Asso­ci­at­ed Press, 7/24/15]

Wash. Post: Offi­cials Say Clin­ton “Is Not A Tar­get” Of FBI Probe. The Wash­ing­ton Post report­ed that gov­ern­ment offi­cials said Clin­ton is “not a tar­get” of the FBI’s inves­ti­ga­tion:

Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton’s attor­ney has agreed to pro­vide the FBI with the pri­vate serv­er that housed her e‑mail dur­ing her four years as sec­re­tary of state, Clin­ton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign said Tues­day.

[...]

The inquiry by the FBI is con­sid­ered pre­lim­i­nary and appears to be focused on ensur­ing the prop­er han­dling of clas­si­fied mate­r­i­al. Offi­cials have said that Clin­ton, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial front-run­ner, is not a tar­get.

The FBI’s efforts have includ­ed con­tact­ing the Den­ver-based tech­nol­o­gy firm that helped man­age the Clin­tons’ unusu­al pri­vate ­e‑mail sys­tem. [The Wash­ing­ton Post8/11/15]

 

2. A piece by long­time polit­i­cal crit­ic Nor­man Orn­stein high­lights The New York Times’ cov­er­age of Hillary Clin­ton.

The New York Times’ Botched Sto­ry on Hillary Clin­ton” by Norm Orn­stein; The Atlantic; 7/28/2015.

I have read The New York Times since I was a teenag­er as the news­pa­per to be trust­ed, the paper of record, the defin­i­tive account. But the huge embar­rass­ment over the sto­ry claim­ing a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion of Hillary Clin­ton for her emails—leading the web­page, promi­nent on the front page, before being cor­rect­ed in the usu­al, cringe­wor­thy fash­ion of jour­nal­ists who stonewall any alleged errors and then down­play the real ones—is a direct chal­lenge to its fun­da­men­tal cred­i­bil­i­ty. And the paper’s response since the ini­tial huge error was uncov­ered has not been ade­quate or accept­able.

This is not some minor mis­take. Sto­ries, once pub­lished, take on a life of their own. If they rein­force exist­ing views or stereo­types, they fit per­fect­ly into Mark Twain’s obser­va­tion, “A lie can trav­el halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” (Or per­haps Twain nev­er said it, in which case the ubiq­ui­ty of that attri­bu­tion serves to val­i­date the point.) And a dis­tort­ed and inac­cu­rate sto­ry about a promi­nent polit­i­cal fig­ure run­ning for pres­i­dent is espe­cial­ly dam­ag­ing and uncon­scionable.

I give kudos to the paper for hav­ing a pub­lic edi­tor. Mar­garet Sullivan’s long analy­sis of the mul­ti­ple mis­cues was itself hon­est and straight­for­ward. But it raised its own ques­tions, for me at least, espe­cial­ly sur­round­ing the sourc­ing. Here is what top edi­tor Matt Pur­dy said about the story’s sources: They were “mul­ti­ple, reli­able, high­ly placed” and includ­ed some “in law enforce­ment.” What does that mean? First, it means that some of the sources were not in law enforce­ment. If they were from Con­gress, and, per­haps from Trey Gowdy’s spe­cial com­mit­tee on Beng­hazi, it would not be the first time that com­mit­tee has been a like­ly source for a front-page Times sto­ry on Clin­ton.

“We got it wrong because our very good sources got it wrong,” Pur­dy said. Excuse me—how are these “very good sources” if they mis­lead reporters about the fun­da­men­tal facts? Were the con­gres­sion­al sources—no doubt “very good” because they are eager­ly acces­si­ble to the reporters—careless in read­ing the refer­ral doc­u­ments, or delib­er­ate­ly mis­lead­ing the reporters? We know that a very good reporter for­mer­ly with The Times, Kurt Eichen­wald, read the mem­os from the inspec­tors gen­er­al about the Clin­ton emails and quite read­i­ly came to the con­clu­sion that this had noth­ing to do with a crim­i­nal refer­ral, but instead reflect­ed a fair­ly com­mon con­cern regard­ing the recent release of par­tic­u­lar doc­u­ments under Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act, FOIA, long after Clin­ton left the State Depart­ment.

Dean Baquet, the exec­u­tive edi­tor of The Times, does not fault his reporters. “You had the gov­ern­ment con­firm­ing that it was a crim­i­nal refer­ral,” he said. That raised anoth­er ques­tion. What is “the gov­ern­ment?” Is any employ­ee of the Jus­tice Depart­ment con­sid­ered the gov­ern­ment? Was it an offi­cial spokesper­son? A career employ­ee? A pol­i­cy-lev­el per­son, such as an assis­tant attor­ney gen­er­al or deputy assis­tant attor­ney gen­er­al? One defin­i­tive­ly with­out an ax to grind? Did the DOJ offi­cial tell the reporters it was a crim­i­nal refer­ral involv­ing Clin­ton, or a more gen­er­al crim­i­nal refer­ral? And if this was a mis­take made by an offi­cial spokesper­son, why not iden­ti­fy the offi­cial who screwed up big­time?

When very good sources get a big sto­ry wrong, and reporters, with­out see­ing the doc­u­ments, accept their char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of the facts and put it on the front page, they have an oblig­a­tion to tell read­ers more about who those sources were and about why they got it wrong. And as Eichen­wald notes, the sub­ject of whether the doc­u­ments were a crim­i­nal refer­ral, and whether they involved Hillary Clin­ton direct­ly, were not the only major errors in the story—for exam­ple, the Times sto­ry inac­cu­rate­ly says that the pri­vate Clin­ton email account was not sub­ject to the Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act. A com­bi­na­tion of errors on a huge, front-page story—and there is no fault on the part of the reporters? Hmmm.

This sto­ry, of course, also has a larg­er con­text. Michael Schmidt’s March sto­ry, the first on the pri­vate Clin­ton email serv­er, was itself “not with­out fault,” The Times’ pub­lic edi­tor con­clud­ed.* And The Times, going back to the mul­ti­ple, front page sto­ries on White­wa­ter in the 1990s—claiming mas­sive malfea­sance that was seri­ous­ly exaggerated—has raised many eye­brows over its decades-long treat­ment of the Clin­tons, in news pages and columns.

One might argue that this should make the paper and its edi­tors espe­cial­ly sen­si­tive to avoid­ing over­reach and inac­cu­ra­cies in sto­ries about the Clin­tons. I won’t make that claim. Rather, the paper of record needs to be deeply sen­si­tive at all times to inac­cu­rate report­ing and needs to respond with more than the usu­al buried cor­rec­tions. The Times’ edi­to­r­i­al page right­ly holds pub­lic fig­ures account­able for malfea­sance and mis­fea­sance. The same stan­dards should apply to The Times. This sto­ry demands more than a promise to do bet­ter the next time, and more than a shrug, as Matt Pur­dy and Dean Baquet gave, with Pur­dy blam­ing the sources and Baquet say­ing of his reporters, “I am not sure what they could have done dif­fer­ent­ly on that.”

I am. Hold­ing a sto­ry until you are sure you have the facts—as oth­er reporters did, with, it seems, “gov­ern­ment offi­cials” shop­ping the sto­ry around—or wait­ing until you can actu­al­ly read the doc­u­ments instead of rely­ing on your good sources, so to speak, pro­vid­ing mis­lead­ing and slant­ed details, is what they could have done dif­fer­ent­ly. If reporters are hot to pub­lish their scoops, it is up to edi­tors, in Wash­ing­ton and New York, to put the brakes on. And that is espe­cial­ly true if reporters have pre­vi­ous­ly made mis­takes and over­reached on sto­ries. Some­one should be held account­able here, with sus­pen­sion or oth­er action that fits the grav­i­ty of the offense. I want, and need, the old New York Times, the leader of respon­si­ble jour­nal­ism, the paper of record back.

3. Fox News, The New York Times, and The Wash­ing­ton Post have all signed a con­tract for exclu­sive agree­ments with the author of an upcom­ing book about Hillary Clin­ton and the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion. It wasn’t sur­pris­ing that Fox signed up for the deal since the author, Peter Schweiz­er, runs a right-wing knock off of the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­ity Office (called the “Gov­ern­ment Account­abiltiy Insti­tute”) and pre­vi­ously served as an advis­er to Sarah Palin. For the New York Times and Wash­ing­ton Post, the deci­sion raised a few eye­brows:

“. . . . Still oth­ers defend­ed the agree­ment, not­ing that it was no dif­fer­ent from using a campaign’s oppo­si­tion research to inform one’s report­ing — so long as that research is fact-checked and vet­ted. A spokesper­son for the Times did not pro­vide com­ment by press time. . . . ” LOL.

So with the New York Times and Wash­ing­ton Post also jump­ing on board with this book, the ques­tion is raised of whether or not we’re about to see a full blown zom­bie ideas apoc­a­lypse of Clin­ton-era con­spir­acy the­o­ries already or if this is just a teas­er for the 2016 zom­bie inva­sion?

After all, one of the biggest threats to Hillary Clinton’s can­di­dacy is prob­a­bly some sort of dor­mant 1990’s PTSD man­i­fest­ing itself as a vague ‘Clin­ton Fatigue’. But ‘Clin­ton Fatigue’ is just not very like­ly to be a major fac­tor unless the GOP scan­dal machine can cre­ate a new scan­dal that has some legs (which is what this new book seems to be attempt­ing). But if they can’t dig up a new scan­dal with teeth, the obvi­ous back up plan is to just throw­ing every­thing at the fan and hope the splat­ter ends up mak­ing Hillary une­lec­table and that’s obvi­ously going to include a big rehash­ing of the scan­dals, real and oth­er­wise, from the 90’s. Will The New York Times and Wash­ing­ton Post be on board for a full fledged 90’s rehash? Based on sign­ing up for exclu­sive deals with a for­mer Palin advis­er it seems like the answer is a ‘maybe’.

But just throw­ing old s@#t at the Hillary-fan doesn’t come with­out enor­mous risks that don’t exist for most oth­er politi­cians. Why? Because the oth­er side of a sto­ry from the 90’s, the Clin­tons’ side, is that a vast right-wing con­spir­acy spent eight years doing every­thing they could to destroy the Clin­tons and it didn’t work. And it’s not some casu­al risk for the GOP that the ‘right-wing con­spir­acy’ his­tor­i­cal inter­pre­ta­tion wins the day because we’ve just spent the eight years watch­ing the GOP go even cra­zier than they were were in the 90’s while oper­at­ing in ‘Tal­iban’ mode.

That’s all why, in a strange way, Hillary Clin­ton is a kind of night­mare can­di­date for the con­tem­po­rary GOP specif­i­cally because get­ting attacked by a vast right-wing con­spir­acy is sort of her ‘brand’ at this point and the GOP has spent the last 6 1/2 years bla­tantly behav­ing like a vast right-wing con­spir­acy against Barack Oba­ma. Grant­ed, it was pret­ty bla­tant in the 90’s too, but this is now fresh in people’s minds. And don’t for­get: the GOP’s crazy far right “firebrand“s from from the 90’s are now the mod­er­ates of a par­ty that pub­licly acts like a vast right-wing con­spir­acy. The par­ty has just got­ten so much cra­zier over the past two decades and any­one like Hillary that prompts a ‘then and now’ com­par­i­son of the 90’s GOP with today’s GOP just invites a very unfa­vor­able com­par­i­son because the GOP of the 90’s was total­ly insane by objec­tive stan­dards and yet so much more sane then than it is today.

So, the way the polit­i­cal chess board is set at this point, just as the Clin­ton-era 90’s scan­dals are bound to be tar­gets of media focus, the ‘vast right-wing con­spir­acy’ itself, which was always in part a media-based phe­nom­ena, is also guar­an­teed to be part of the dis­cus­sion. It’s real­ly just a ques­tion of whether or not Fox News and the tra­di­tional right-wing medi­a­s­phere com­pro­mise the bulk of the vast right-wing con­spir­acy this time around or whether or not the main­stream media insti­tu­tions like The New York Times and Wash­ing­ton Post decide to jump on board too. This recent deci­sion by the New York Times and Wash­ing­ton Post may not bode well but there’s a lot of time between now and the 2016 elec­tions with many, many more zom­bie ideas that they’ll get to choose to pro­mote or ignore. A Clin­ton-con­spir­a­cy zom­bie apoc­a­lypse takes a while to play out. Whether it involves or few mis­steps or one long sham­ble remains to be seen.

 The New York Times, The Wash­ing­ton Post and Fox News have made exclu­sive agree­ments with a con­ser­v­a­tive author for ear­ly access to his oppo­si­tion research on Hillary Clin­ton, a move that has con­founded mem­bers of the Clin­ton cam­paign and some reporters, the On Media blog has con­firmed.

“Clin­ton Cash: The Untold Sto­ry of How and Why For­eign Gov­ern­ments and Busi­nesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich” will debut on May 5. But the Times, the Post and Fox have already made arrange­ments with author Peter Schweiz­er to pur­sue some of the mate­r­ial includ­ed in his book, which seeks to draw con­nec­tions between Clin­ton Foun­da­tion dona­tions and speak­ing fees and Hillary Clinton’s actions as sec­re­tary of state. Schweiz­er is the pres­i­dent of the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­ity Insti­tute, a con­ser­v­a­tive research group, and pre­vi­ously served as an advis­er to Repub­li­can vice pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Sarah Palin.

Fox News’ use of Schweizer’s book has sur­prised no one. The bulk of the network’s pro­gram­ming is con­ser­v­a­tive, and the book’s pub­lisher, Harper­Collins, is owned by News Cor­po­ra­tion. But the Times and Post’s deci­sion to part­ner with a par­ti­san researcher has raised a few eye­brows. Some Times reporters view the agree­ment as unusu­al, sources there said. Still oth­ers defend­ed the agree­ment, not­ing that it was no dif­fer­ent from using a campaign’s oppo­si­tion research to inform one’s report­ing — so long as that research is fact-checked and vet­ted. A spokesper­son for the Times did not pro­vide com­ment by press time.

In an arti­cle about the book on Mon­day, the Times said “Clin­ton Cash” was “poten­tially more unset­tling” than oth­er con­ser­v­a­tive books about Clin­ton “both because of its focused report­ing and because major news orga­ni­za­tions includ­ing The Times, The Wash­ing­ton Post and Fox News have exclu­sive agree­ments with the author to pur­sue the sto­ry lines found in the book.”

Both the Times and the Post ini­tially did not respond to requests for com­ment on Mon­day. How­ever, at 2 p.m., hours after the ini­tial pub­li­ca­tion of this item, spokes­peo­ple from both news­pa­pers sent state­ments in which edi­tors defend­ed the deci­sions to work with Schweiz­er.

“We had access to some mate­r­ial in the book, but we want­ed to do our own report­ing,” Times Wash­ing­ton bureau chief and polit­i­cal direc­tor Car­olyn Ryan said.

“We made an arrange­ment with Peter Schweizer’s pub­lisher so we could read his book before pub­li­ca­tion because we are always will­ing to look at new infor­ma­tion that could inform our cov­er­age,” said Post Nation­al Edi­tor Cameron Barr. “Mr. Schweizer’s back­ground and his point of view are rel­e­vant fac­tors, but not dis­qual­i­fy­ing ones. What inter­ests us more are his facts and whether they can be the basis for fur­ther report­ing by our own staff that would be com­pelling to our read­ers. There is no finan­cial aspect to this arrange­ment.”

On Mon­day, a source with knowl­edge of the arrange­ments told the On Media blog that CBS’ “60 Min­utes” and ABC News turned down offers for sim­i­lar exclu­sive access to por­tions of the book’s con­tents. A “60 Min­utes” spokesper­son said only, “We do not dis­cuss the sto­ries we are work­ing on.” An ABC News spokesper­son did not respond to a request for com­ment.

Harper­Collins is mar­ket­ing “Clin­ton Cash” as a “metic­u­lously researched” book that “rais­es seri­ous ques­tions of judg­ment, of pos­si­ble indebt­ed­ness to an array of for­eign inter­ests, and ulti­mately, of fit­ness for high pub­lic office.” In it, Schweiz­er seeks to show how dona­tions to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion and speak­ing fees paid to for­mer pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton may have influ­enced Hillary Clinton’s deci­sions at the State Depart­ment.

Clinton’s defend­ers are already slam­ming the book. Media Mat­ters For Amer­ica, the lib­eral watch­dog group found­ed by Clin­ton ally David Brock, pub­lished a report on Mon­day detail­ing “ten inci­dents of sig­nif­i­cant errors, retrac­tions, or ques­tion­able sourc­ing by Schweiz­er.”

“Schweiz­er is a par­ti­san right-wing activist whose writ­ings have been marked with false­hoods and retrac­tions, with numer­ous reporters exco­ri­at­ing him for facts that ‘do not check out,’ sources that ‘do not exist,’ and a basic fail­ure to prac­tice ‘Jour­nal­ism 101,’” Brock said in a state­ment. “Buy­ers should beware and con­sider the source.”

...

 

4. Guess where Peter Schweiz­er, author of “Clin­ton Cash”, gave one of the fea­tured speech­es last sum­mer. Hint: the folks putting on the event are just a pair of cit­i­zens that plan to spend almost a bil­lion dol­lars from their per­sonal cash piles on unit­ing the coun­try in 2016. It’s a pret­ty big hint:

Cit­i­zens Unit­ed goes all the way back to White­wa­ter. As the say­ing goes, his­tory doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
“Look Who Was Fea­tured Speak­er at the Koch Sum­mit” by dig­by; Hul­la­baloo5/01/2015.

Peter Schweiz­er author of “Clin­ton Cash”, who they humor­ously call a “researcher.” And there’s audio of it:

[A]ccording to audio obtained by The Under­cur­rent and Lady Lib­er­tine from a source who was present, Schweiz­er spoke at a polit­i­cal strat­egy sum­mit for the Koch broth­ers last sum­mer, urg­ing donors to relent­lessly pur­sue the left and ral­ly­ing them ahead of a big fundrais­ing pitch. His own orga­ni­za­tion, the Gov­ern­ment Account­abil­ity Insti­tute receives fund­ing from Koch-fund­ed groups.

Schweiz­er told the crowd:

That debate is going to come down to the ques­tion of inde­pen­dence ver­sus depen­dence… The left and the aca­d­e­mic sphere is not going to let up. The ques­tion is, are we going to let up? And I would con­tend to you that we can­not let up.

Asked if “Clin­ton Cash” was moti­vated by this strat­egy of relent­less pur­suit, Kurt Bardel­la, whose firm, Endeav­or Strate­gies, rep­re­sents Schweiz­er, said:

As he has in sev­eral speech­es as a life­long con­ser­v­a­tive, Schweiz­er was espous­ing his view that con­ser­v­a­tives should be informed, engaged, and active.

Kevin Gen­try, the emcee and a vice pres­i­dent of the Charles Koch Foun­da­tion, lat­er named “com­pet­i­tive intel­li­gence,” the busi­ness ter­mi­nol­ogy equiv­a­lent of oppo­si­tion research, as one of the enu­mer­ated Koch polit­i­cal invest­ment areas.

...

You can find a tran­script at the link

He’s a Koch hit­man:

Schweizer’s speech, enti­tled “The Stakes: Who Will Define the Amer­i­can Dream,” teed up the Kochs’ appeal to raise $290 mil­lion in dona­tions for their fundrais­ing hub, Free­dom Part­ners, its affil­i­ated net­work of non-prof­its, and a new­ly cre­ated super-PAC called Free­dom Part­ners Action Fund. Bardel­la declined to answer whether Schweiz­er was speak­ing in a fundrais­ing capac­ity for GAI, or whether Schweiz­er or GAI received any funds from Koch-affil­i­at­ed orga­ni­za­tions.

Stephen Ban­non, the direc­tor of con­ser­v­a­tive pro­pa­ganda films like the Sarah Palin biopic “The Unde­feated” and a fre­quent col­lab­o­ra­tor with Cit­i­zens Unit­ed Pro­duc­tions, chairs GAI’s board. Anoth­er GAI board mem­ber is Ron Robin­son, who also sits on the boards of Cit­i­zens Unit­ed and Cit­i­zens Unit­ed Foun­da­tion.

Cit­i­zens Unit­ed Pro­duc­tions was the plain­tiff in the Supreme Court case Cit­i­zens Unit­ed v. Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion – the deci­sion that rolled back sig­nif­i­cant cam­paign finance law per­tain­ing to inde­pen­dent expen­di­tures. At the cen­ter of that land­mark case was a polit­i­cal doc­u­men­tary-cum-attack ad on Hillary Clin­ton called “Hillary: The Movie,” released ahead of the 2008 pri­mary. Now near­ly eight years lat­er ahead of the 2016 pri­mary, Schweitzer has pub­lished what could be con­sid­ered the fol­low-up, Hillary: The Book.

 

5. Giv­en the alarm­ing lev­els of Hillary Derange­ment Syn­drome already afflict­ing much of the US media estab­lish­ment, you have to won­der if Steve Burke, the Com­cast exec­u­tive who over­sees the NBCU­ni­ver­sal TV and enter­tain­ment unit (and who also hap­pens to have been a major George W. Bush fundrais­er), is in any way try­ing to ensure stuff like this hap­pens.


“MSNBC’s Morn­ing Joe Edits Out David Ignatius’ Debunk­ing Of Clin­ton Email ‘Scan­dal’ ” by Craig Har­ring­ton and Tim­o­thy John­son; Media Mat­ters;
9/4/2015.

Ignatius: “I Couldn’t Find A Case Where This Kind Of Activ­ity Had Been Pros­e­cuted... Legal­ly There Is No Dif­fer­ence Between [Clin­ton] Using Her Pri­vate Serv­er And If She’d Used State.gov”

Dur­ing an appear­ance on MSNBC’s Morn­ing Joe, Wash­ing­ton Post colum­nist David Ignatius thor­oughly debunked argu­ments that Hillary Clin­ton should be charged with a crime as a result of her use of a pri­vate email sys­tem while serv­ing as sec­re­tary of state. When MSNBC re-aired the first hour of its pro­gram lat­er in the morn­ing, the bulk of Ignatius’ debunk­ing had been edit­ed out.

On the Sep­tem­ber 4 edi­tion of Morn­ing Joe, co-hosts Joe Scar­bor­ough and Mika Brzezin­ski con­tin­ued their efforts to stoke con­tro­versy around Hillary Clinton’s email prac­tices while serv­ing as sec­re­tary of state. Both Scar­bor­ough and Brzezin­ski sug­gested that guest David Ignatius was sim­ply “get­ting tired” of the wall-to-wall media cov­er­age direct­ed at Clin­ton after the colum­nist authored an August 28 op-ed in The Wash­ing­ton Post argu­ing that “this ‘scan­dal’ is over­stated.” Ignatius respond­ed by explain­ing that experts he spoke with dis­missed as far-fetched claims Clin­ton com­mit­ted a crim­i­nal offense.

But dur­ing the rebroad­cast of the seg­ment, Morn­ing Joe cut away from Ignatius’ expla­na­tion mid-sen­tence. Dur­ing the ini­tial broad­cast, Ignatius said (empha­sis added), “As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do noth­ing but this kind of work, they said they couldn’t remem­ber a case like this, where peo­ple infor­mally and inad­ver­tently draw clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion into their phone con­ver­sa­tions or their unclas­si­fied serv­er con­ver­sa­tions, where there had been a pros­e­cu­tion.”

When the seg­ment re-aired, Ignatius is heard say­ing, “As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do noth­ing but this kind of work, they said they couldn’t remem­ber a case like this,” before the show skipped for­ward to a remark by co-host Mika Brzezin­ski about Clin­ton aide Cheryl Mills.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, the rebroad­cast failed to include the con­clu­sion of Ignatius’ thought, which is that Clinton’s email prac­tices do not amount to a pros­e­cutable offense, accord­ing to sev­eral expert attor­neys he talked to. Here are Ignatius’ unedit­ed remarks (empha­sis added):
[see video of full]

JOE SCARBOROUGH: David, so you have over the past week or two turned a bit in some of your edi­to­r­ial, in some of your op-eds, you’ve said you would rather hear Hillary’s pol­icy posi­tions than more talk about the servers, you said you don’t think she faces any crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion. You haven’t exact­ly said noth­ing is here, move along, move along, but you’ve cer­tain­ly –

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Get­ting tired of it, which is what they’re hop­ing.

SCARBOROUGH: — Yeah, I mean aren’t you play­ing into what the Clin­ton sort of scan­dal response team wants, which is so much stuff comes at you that at some point you just say, “Come on, let’s just move on.”

DAVID IGNATIUS: Joe, I’ve tried to respond as a jour­nal­ist but in par­tic­u­lar I’ve tried to look at what is a real pros­e­cutable offense here. There are vio­la­tions clear­ly both of admin­is­tra­tive pro­ce­dure and prob­a­bly tech­ni­cally of law and how clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion was han­dled. As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do noth­ing but this kind of work, they said they couldn’t remem­ber a case like this, where peo­ple infor­mally and inad­ver­tently draw clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion into their phone con­ver­sa­tions or their unclas­si­fied serv­er con­ver­sa­tions, where there had been a pros­e­cu­tion.

[CROSS TALK]

SCARBOROUGH: But this isn’t hap­pen­stance. This is a very cal­cu­lated move to say if you want to com­mu­ni­cate with the Sec­re­tary of State, as Edwards Snow­den said, whether you are a for­eign diplo­mat or a spy chief from anoth­er coun­try or a leader of anoth­er coun­try, which they all did, you’ve got to come to this unse­cured serv­er, whether it is in Col­orado or wher­ever it is, and there is a stan­dard in the U.S. Code under pros­e­cu­tions for this sort of thing which is gross neg­li­gence. It’s not a know or should have known -

[...]

IGNATIUS: This issue comes up sur­pris­ingly often because there is an admin­is­tra­tive prob­lem where peo­ple do these things and their secu­rity offi­cers sum­mon them and warn them and issue rep­ri­mands and it goes in their file and it’s a seri­ous per­son­nel admin­is­tra­tive prob­lem. My only point is I couldn’t find a case where this kind of activ­ity had been pros­e­cuted and that’s just worth not­ing as we assem­ble our Clin­ton e‑mail — and more thing, Joe, legal­ly there is no dif­fer­ence between her using her pri­vate serv­er and if she’d used State.gov, which is also not a clas­si­fied sys­tem. The idea that, oh this would have been fine if she used State.gov, not legal­ly, no dif­fer­ence.

Here is how Morn­ing Joe re-aired the seg­ment:

[see replayed video of above seg­ment where where every­thing after “As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do noth­ing but this kind of work, they said they couldn’t remem­ber a case like this” is edit­ed out]

Scar­bor­ough, a for­mer Repub­li­can mem­ber of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, has a long his­tory of hyp­ing the sup­posed Clin­ton email “scan­dal”despite all evi­dence to the con­trary. He recent­ly claimed that Clin­ton inten­tion­ally timed a press con­fer­ence to coin­cide with a mass-shoot­ing in Vir­ginia and false­ly claimed that Clin­ton white­washed a for­eign country’s ties to inter­na­tional ter­ror­ism in exchange for a char­i­ta­ble dona­tion to her fam­ily foun­da­tion. As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do noth­ing but this kind of work, they said they couldn’t remem­ber a case like this, where peo­ple infor­mally and inad­ver­tently draw clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion into their phone con­ver­sa­tions or their unclas­si­fied serv­er con­ver­sa­tions, where there had been a pros­e­cu­tion. . . .

6. Repub­li­can James Comey–a Mitt Rom­ney sup­port­er in 2012–is tak­ing actions that are caus­ing seri­ous prob­lems for the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion and for the Hillary Clin­ton can­di­da­cy. In par­tic­u­lar, the e‑mail scan­dal appears to have been Comey’s baby.

He has also ruf­fled feath­ers with the alto­geth­er com­pli­cat­ed Apple “ISIS­pho­ne” con­tro­ver­sy. That con­sum­mate­ly impor­tant case, Byzan­tine in its com­plex­i­ty and mul­ti-dimen­sion­al­i­ty (to coin a term) will be dealt with in a future pro­gram.

Comey was pre­vi­ous­ly the gen­er­al coun­sel for Bridge­wa­ter Asso­ciates, a hedge fund that helped cap­i­tal­ize Palan­tir, which (their dis­claimers to the con­trary notwith­stand­ing) makes the Prism soft­ware that is at the epi­cen­ter of “L’Af­faire Snow­den.” (CORRECTION: In past pro­grams and posts, we incor­rect­ly iden­ti­fied Comey as gen­er­al coun­sel for Palan­tir, not Bridge­wa­ter.)

The Bridgewater/Palantir/Comey nexus is inter­est­ing, nonethe­less. Palan­tir’s top stock­hold­er is Peter Thiel, a backer of Ted Cruz and the man who pro­vid­ed most of the cap­i­tal for Ron Paul’s 2012 Pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. Ron Paul’s Super PAC was in–of all places–Provo Utah, Rom­ney coun­try. Paul is from Texas. The alleged mav­er­ick Paul was, in fact, close to Rom­ney.

Recall that “Eddie the Friend­ly Spook” is a big Ron Paul fan and Bruce Fein, Snow­den’s first attor­ney and the coun­sel for the Snow­den fam­i­ly, was the chief legal coun­sel for Ron Paul’s cam­paign.

The pos­si­ble impli­ca­tions of these rela­tion­ships are worth con­tem­plat­ing and will be dis­cussed at greater length in future pro­grams.

“Comey’s FBI Makes Waves” by Cory Ben­nett and Julian Hat­tem; The Hill; 3/09/2016.

The aggres­sive pos­ture of the FBI under Direc­tor James Comey is becom­ing a polit­i­cal prob­lem for the White House.

The FBI’s demand that Apple help unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardi­no killers has out­raged Sil­i­con Val­ley, a sig­nif­i­cant source of polit­i­cal sup­port for Pres­i­dent Oba­ma and Democ­rats.

Comey, mean­while, has stirred ten­sions by link­ing ris­ing vio­lent crime rates to the Black Lives Mat­ter movement’s focus on police vio­lence and by warn­ing about “gaps” in the screen­ing process for Syr­i­an refugees.

Then there’s the biggest issue of all: the FBI’s inves­ti­ga­tion into the pri­vate email serv­er used by Hillary Clin­ton, Obama’s for­mer sec­re­tary of State and the lead­ing con­tender to win the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion.

A deci­sion by the FBI to charge Clin­ton or her top aides for mis­han­dling clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion would be a shock to the polit­i­cal sys­tem.

In these cas­es and more, Comey — a Repub­li­can who donat­ed in 2012 to Mitt Rom­ney — has proved he is “not attached to the strings of the White House,” said Ron Hosko, the for­mer head of the FBI’s crim­i­nal inves­tiga­tive divi­sion and a crit­ic of Obama’s law enforce­ment strate­gies.

Pub­licly, admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials have not betrayed any wor­ry about the Clin­ton probe. They have also down­played any dif­fer­ences of opin­ion on Apple.

But for­mer offi­cials say the FBI’s moves are clear­ly ruf­fling feath­ers with­in the admin­is­tra­tion.

With regards to the Apple stand­off, “It’s just not clear [Comey] is speak­ing for the admin­is­tra­tion,” said Richard Clarke, a for­mer White House coun­tert­er­ror­ism and cyber­se­cu­ri­ty chief. “We know there have been admin­is­tra­tion meet­ings on this for months. The pro­pos­al that Comey had made on encryp­tion was reject­ed by the admin­is­tra­tion.”

Comey has a rep­u­ta­tion for speak­ing truth to pow­er, dat­ing back to a dra­mat­ic con­fronta­tion in 2004 when he rushed to a hos­pi­tal to stop the Bush White House from renew­ing a war­rant­less wire­tap­ping pro­gram while Attor­ney Gen­er­al John Ashcroft was grave­ly ill. Comey was Ashcroft’s deputy at the time.

That show­down won Comey plau­dits from both sides of the aisle and made him an attrac­tive pick to lead the FBI. But now that he’s in charge of the agency, the pres­i­dent might be get­ting more than he bar­gained for.

“Part of his role is to not nec­es­sar­i­ly be in lock step with the White House,” said Mitch Sil­ber, a for­mer intel­li­gence offi­cial with the New York City Police Depart­ment and cur­rent senior man­ag­ing direc­tor at FTI Con­sult­ing.

“He takes very seri­ous­ly the fact that he works for the exec­u­tive branch,” added Leo Tad­deo, a for­mer agent in the FBI’s cyber divi­sion. “But he also under­stands the impor­tance of main­tain­ing his inde­pen­dence as a law enforce­ment agency that needs to give not just the appear­ance of inde­pen­dence but the real­i­ty of it.”

The split over Clinton’s email serv­er is the most polit­i­cal­ly charged issue fac­ing the FBI, with noth­ing less than the race for the White House poten­tial­ly at stake.

Oba­ma has pub­licly defend­ed Clin­ton, say­ing that while she “made a mis­take” with her email set­up, it was “not a sit­u­a­tion in which America’s nation­al secu­ri­ty was endan­gered.”

But the FBI direc­tor has bris­tled at that state­ment, say­ing the pres­i­dent would not have any knowl­edge of the inves­ti­ga­tion. Comey, mean­while, told law­mak­ers last week that he is “very close, per­son­al­ly,” to the probe.

Obama’s com­ments reflect­ed a pat­tern, sev­er­al for­mer agents said, of the pres­i­dent mak­ing improp­er com­ments about FBI inves­ti­ga­tions. In 2012, he made sim­i­lar­ly dis­mis­sive com­ments about a pend­ing inquiry into then-CIA Direc­tor David Petraeus, who lat­er plead­ed guilty to a mis­de­meanor charge for giv­ing clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion to his mis­tress and biog­ra­ph­er, Paula Broad­well.

“It serves no one in the Unit­ed States for the pres­i­dent to com­ment on ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tions,” Tad­deo said. “I just don’t see a pur­pose.”

Hosko sug­gest­ed that a show­down over poten­tial crim­i­nal charges for Clin­ton could lead to a reprise of the famous 2004 hos­pi­tal scene, when Comey threat­ened to resign.

“He has that man­tle,” Hosko said. “I think now there’s this expec­ta­tion — I hope it’s a fair one — that he’ll do it again if he has to.”

Comey’s inde­pen­dent streak has also been on dis­play in the Apple fight, when his bureau decid­ed to seek a court order demand­ing that the tech giant cre­ate new soft­ware to bypass secu­ri­ty tools on an iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the two ter­ror­ist attack­ers in San Bernardi­no, Calif.

Many observers ques­tioned whether the FBI was mak­ing an end-run around the White House, which had pre­vi­ous­ly dis­missed a series of pro­pos­als that would force com­pa­nies to decrypt data upon gov­ern­ment request.

“I think there’s actu­al­ly some peo­ple that don’t think with one mind­set on this issue with­in the admin­is­tra­tion,” said Sen. Tom Carp­er (D‑Del.), the Sen­ate Home­land Secu­ri­ty Committee’s top Demo­c­rat, at a Tues­day hear­ing. “It’s a tough issue.”

While the White House has repeat­ed­ly backed the FBI’s deci­sion, it has not ful­ly endorsed the poten­tial pol­i­cy ram­i­fi­ca­tions, leav­ing some to think a gap might devel­op as sim­i­lar cas­es pop up. The White House is poised to soon issue its own pol­i­cy paper on the sub­ject of data encryp­tion.

“The posi­tion tak­en by the FBI is at odds with the con­cerns expressed by indi­vid­u­als [in the White House] who were look­ing into the encryp­tion issue,” said Neema Singh Guliani, a leg­isla­tive coun­sel with the Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union (ACLU).

This week, White House home­land secu­ri­ty advis­er Lisa Mona­co tried to down­play the dif­fer­ences between the two sides. The White House and FBI are both grap­pling with the same prob­lems, she said in a dis­cus­sion at the Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions.

“There is a recog­ni­tion across the admin­is­tra­tion that the virtues of strong encryp­tion are with­out a doubt,” Mona­co said on Mon­day. “There is also uni­for­mi­ty about the recog­ni­tion that strong encryp­tion pos­es real chal­lenges.”

7. The so-called pro­gres­sive sec­tor con­tin­ues to par­rot the dis­in­for­ma­tion about Clin­ton being “GOP-lite.” How many of you knew this?: ” . . . . Indeed, when Clin­ton served in the Sen­ate, she was con­sid­ered the 11th most lib­er­al sen­a­tor. That’s basi­cal­ly in the top 20 per­centile in terms of lib­er­al votes. That’s lightyears away from being a DINO. . . .”

“Ready for Hillary Derange­ment Syn­drome” by Bob Cesca; The Dai­ly Ban­ter; 4/13/2015.

. . . . One thing that has­n’t changed, how­ev­er, is the per­va­sive­ness of Hillary Derange­ment Syn­drome, from both the left and the right (though as you’ll see, the right’s derange­ment is far worse). Sun­day’s Polit­i­cal Twit­ter turned in it’s most insuf­fer­able day since the tan suit deba­cle last Labor Day — every­one weigh­ing in with both recy­cled old boil­er­plate crit­i­cisms of Clin­ton, as well as some tru­ly despi­ca­ble new ones. Let’s begin with the left.

Hillary is Repub­li­can-lite.

No, no she’s not, actu­al­ly. Admit­ted­ly, she’s not Sen. Bernie Sanders (I‑VT) either. Then again, Bernie Sanders would be une­lec­table nation­al­ly. Nev­er­the­less, this car­i­ca­ture of Clin­ton main­ly has to do with her for­eign pol­i­cy posi­tions — at least the ones we know of. And oth­er than her 2002 vote in sup­port of the Iraq Autho­riza­tion for Use of Force (AUMF), she’s large­ly in line with Pres­i­dent Oba­ma on preda­tor drones, inter­ven­tion, NSA oper­a­tions and so forth.

That aside, watch care­ful­ly to see if any Repub­li­cans release a video favor­ably show­ing two men hold­ing hands. Else­where, Clin­ton will like­ly appoint cen­ter-left jus­tices to the Supreme Court; she’ll veto any leg­is­la­tion to repeal Oba­macare; and she’ll con­tin­ue the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion’s approach to the cli­mate cri­sis. All of that aside, the whole “GOP-lite” meme is just anoth­er ver­sion of the “both par­ties are the same” meme — it’s good for some RTs on Twit­ter, but makes lit­tle sense in terms of a break-down of Clin­ton’s posi­tions on the issues. Indeed, when Clin­ton served in the Sen­ate, she was con­sid­ered the 11th most lib­er­al sen­a­tor. That’s basi­cal­ly in the top 20 per­centile in terms of lib­er­al votes. That’s lightyears away from being a DINO. . . .

 

Discussion

47 comments for “FTR #906 The Destabilization of Hillary Clinton”

  1. Not sure, but does­n’t the Sec­re­tary of State have declas­si­fi­ca­tion author­i­ty in any case?

    Posted by Mike Dvorak | May 27, 2016, 11:24 am
  2. Check out the lat­est mem­ber of Don­ald Trump’s oppo­si­tion research team. It’s an infor­mal mem­ber­ship:

    Salon

    Wik­iLeaks will release new Clin­ton emails to add to incrim­i­nat­ing evi­dence, Julian Assange says, in “big year ahead”

    Assange says the gov­ern­ment like­ly won’t indict “war hawk” Hillary Clin­ton, but it has more than enough evi­dence

    Ben Nor­ton
    Tues­day, Jun 14, 2016 04:00 PM CST

    Julian Assange, edi­tor-in chief of Wik­iLeaks, says the whis­tle-blow­ing jour­nal­ism orga­ni­za­tion will soon be pub­lish­ing unre­leased emails from Hillary Clin­ton.

    Clin­ton, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty pres­i­den­tial front-run­ner, has been under crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion by the FBI for using a per­son­al email account on a pri­vate serv­er in her home that con­tained top-secret infor­ma­tion.

    Assange doesn’t believe that Clin­ton will be indict­ed, but argues that the gov­ern­ment has more than enough evi­dence, in both her emails and in the deal­ings of the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, if it were tru­ly com­mit­ted to doing so.

    “We have upcom­ing leaks in rela­tion to Hillary Clin­ton,” Assange said. “Wik­iLeaks has a very big year ahead.”

    Assange made these remarks in an inter­view with the British ITV net­work on Sun­day. The host not­ed Wik­iLeaks has been “tak­ing inter­est” in Clinton’s use of the pri­vate email serv­er.

    “‘Tak­ing inter­est’ I think is putting it mild­ly,” Assange replied. “We’ve pub­lished 32,000 of them and some analy­sis.”

    Asked about the FBI inves­ti­ga­tion, the Wik­iLeaks head said he thinks Clin­ton “unfor­tu­nate­ly” won’t be indict­ed.

    “We have accu­mu­lat­ed a lot of mate­r­i­al about Hillary Clin­ton; we could pro­ceed to an indict­ment,” Assange said, but Attor­ney Gen­er­al Loret­ta Lynch, the top offi­cial at the Depart­ment of Jus­tice, who was appoint­ed by Pres­i­dent Oba­ma, won’t indict Clin­ton, Assange argued.

    “It’s not going to hap­pen,” he said. “But the FBI can push for con­ces­sions from a Clin­ton gov­ern­ment.”

    Assange stressed that “there’s very strong mate­r­i­al, both in the emails and in rela­tion to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion,” that incrim­i­nates Clin­ton.

    A recent report revealed that the FBI is inves­ti­gat­ing then-Sec­re­tary of State Clin­ton and oth­er State Depart­ment offi­cials for “back­ing” CIA drone assas­si­na­tions in Pak­istan with their cell­phones.

    In anoth­er exam­ple, Assange not­ed in the inter­view, Wik­iLeaks pub­lished an email in which Clin­ton tells her staff to remove the clas­si­fied head­er on a clas­si­fied doc­u­ment and to send it by non-clas­si­fied fax. This clear­ly vio­lates U.S. clas­si­fi­ca­tion pro­ce­dures.

    “Of course I think, per­son­al­ly, a lot of these [clas­si­fi­ca­tion] pro­ce­dures are ridicu­lous,” Assange added, “but Hillary Clin­ton has been push­ing to pros­e­cute oth­ers, and so has Barack Oba­ma, who vio­late, tech­ni­cal­ly, these pro­ce­dures.”

    The Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion has used these pro­ce­dures and the Espi­onage Act to pun­ish whistle­blow­ers who leaked to jour­nal­ists more than all pre­vi­ous pres­i­den­tial admin­is­tra­tions com­bined.

    Assange said he is wor­ried a poten­tial Pres­i­dent Clin­ton would go after him and Wik­iLeaks.

    The emails Wik­iLeaks has already pub­lished show that Clin­ton receives con­stant updates on Assange’s sit­u­a­tion, he stressed in the inter­view.

    Assange also point­ed out that Clin­ton has pre­vi­ous­ly pushed for pros­e­cu­tion of Wik­iLeaks for its whis­tle-blow­ing.

    “We do see her as a bit of a prob­lem for free­dom of the press more gen­er­al­ly,” he said.

    The Wik­iLeaks edi­tor also blast­ed Clin­ton for her extreme hawk­ish­ness.

    Assange point­ed out that Clinton’s emails “show that Hillary was over­rid­ing the Pentagon’s reluc­tance to over­throw [Libyan dic­ta­tor] Muam­mar Qaddafi, because they pre­dict­ed that the post-war out­come would be some­thing like what it is, which is ISIS tak­ing over the coun­try.”

    Numer­ous reports have high­light­ed the lead­ing role Clin­ton played in the dis­as­trous 2011 NATO war in Libya, which desta­bi­lized the oil-rich North African nation, now home to ISIS’ largest base out­side of Syr­ia and Iraq.

    Clin­ton “has a long his­to­ry of being a lib­er­al war hawk, and we pre­sume that she is going to pro­ceed,” Assange con­clud­ed.

    In an inter­view with Salon in Feb­ru­ary, Assange made sim­i­lar remarks.

    “We can expect many more sub­se­quent dis­as­ters if Clin­ton becomes pres­i­dent,” he said, warn­ing “she is very hawk­ish” and would be a “dis­as­trous” pres­i­dent.

    He also con­demned the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion for “its harsh repres­sion of whis­tle-blow­ers and nation­al secu­ri­ty jour­nal­ists,” call­ing Oba­ma “the mean­est pres­i­dent” in those regards.

    The Wik­iLeaks edi­tor said insur­gent left-wing can­di­date Bernie Sanders’ poli­cies in regards to Wall Street and cor­po­rate dom­i­na­tion were refresh­ing, but, empha­siz­ing that his spe­cial­ty is in for­eign pol­i­cy, not­ed Bernie “has a lot of prob­lems” in that area too.

    ...

    “We have upcom­ing leaks in rela­tion to Hillary Clinton...WikiLeaks has a very big year ahead.”
    Well, it sounds like we’ll just have to wait what Assange comes up with. And who knows, maybe Wik­iLeaks will even release some­thing about Don­ald Trump, although that assumes there’s much of any­thing about him in the Wik­iLeaks trea­sure trove. It also assumes that Assange would­n’t actu­al­ly pre­fer a Trump pres­i­den­cy. And while Assange has­n’t come out and endorsed Trump yet, he def­i­nite­ly does­n’t seem very keen on crit­i­ciz­ing him:

    The Inquisitr

    Hillary Clin­ton FBI Inves­ti­ga­tion: Enough Evi­dence of an Indict­ment, But More Emails Com­ing, Wik­ileaks Founder Julian Assange Claims

    June 13, 2016

    Robert Jonathan

    The Hillary Clin­ton FBI inves­ti­ga­tion should cul­mi­nate in an indict­ment of the Demo­c­rat pre­sump­tive pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, con­tro­ver­sial Wik­iLeaks founder Julian Assange believes.

    Should is per­haps the key word in that he also con­tends that pol­i­tics will shield Clin­ton from any legal jeop­ardy for the alleged mis­han­dling of sen­si­tive fed­er­al gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments while she was U.S. Sec­re­tary of State.

    ...

    Against this back­drop, Peston won­dered if Assange would pre­fer that Don­ald Trump, the GOP pre­sump­tive nom­i­nee, wins the White House in Novem­ber.

    Assange answered in the con­text of Libya devolv­ing into an ISIS enclave as a result of U.S. inter­ven­tion because of “lib­er­al war hawk” Hillary Clin­ton.

    “Trump is a com­plete­ly unpre­dictable phenomenon—you can’t pre­dict what he would do in office….from my per­son­al perspective…we do see her as a bit of a prob­lem for free­dom of the press more generally…in rela­tion to wars, the emails we revealed about her involve­ment in Libya and state­ments by Pen­ta­gon gen­er­als show that Hillary was over­rid­ing the Pentagon’s reluc­tance to over­throw Muam­mar Gaddafi because they pre­dict­ed the post-war out­come would be some­thing like what it is, which is ISIS tak­ing over the country…she has a long his­to­ry of being a lib­er­al war hawk.”

    ...

    “Trump is a com­plete­ly unpre­dictable phenomenon—you can’t pre­dict what he would do in office…
    And that basi­cal­ly sum­ma­rizes Assange’s thoughts on Trump. Or at least the thoughts he was will­ing to share when direct­ly asked.

    So the Wik­iLeaks par­ty line on the US 2016 elec­tion appears to be some­thing along the lines of, “who knows what a Trump pres­i­den­cy will bring, but you can be sure that Hillary will be a com­plete dis­as­ter!” That sure sounds like a ‘non-endorse­ment endorse­ment’ of Don­ald Trump. Imag­ine that.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 15, 2016, 5:06 pm
  3. Don­ald Trump was tweet­ing about the ‘big speech’ he has planned for Wednes­day that he promis­es will focus on “the failed poli­cies and bad judge­ment of Crooked Hillary Clin­ton”. And if anoth­er tweet he made in the mid­dle of the night about a new sala­cious tell-all book from a Clin­ton White House Secret Ser­vice agent is any indi­ca­tion of the con­tent of that speech, it sounds like we might be get­ting a rehash of a book the Clin­ton-era Secret Ser­vice vet­er­ans have already denounced as bogus:

    Politi­co

    Secret Ser­vice vet­er­ans denounce anti-Clin­ton tell-all book

    For­mer agents blast writer Gary Byrne for hav­ing ‘under­ly­ing motives.’

    By Edward-Isaac Dovere

    06/21/16 05:22 AM EDT

    The author of a new tell-all book about Hillary Clin­ton could nev­er have seen any of what he claims — he was too low-rank­ing — say sev­er­al high-lev­el mem­bers of Secret Ser­vice pres­i­den­tial details, includ­ing the pres­i­dent of the Asso­ci­a­tion of For­mer Agents of the Unit­ed States Secret Ser­vice.

    On Tues­day, AFAUSSS, which is strict­ly non­par­ti­san, is set to release a state­ment blast­ing Gary Byrne author of “Cri­sis in Char­ac­ter,” say­ing mem­bers “strong­ly denounce” the book, which they add has made secu­ri­ty hard­er by erod­ing the trust between agents and the peo­ple they pro­tect.

    “There is no place for any self-mor­al­iz­ing nar­ra­tives, par­tic­u­lar­ly those with an under­ly­ing motive,” reads the state­ment from the group’s board of direc­tors, which says Byrne has pol­i­tics and prof­it on his mind.

    AFAUSSS rarely issues pub­lic state­ments of any kind.

    The book has ran­kled cur­rent and for­mer mem­bers of the Secret Ser­vice, who don’t like any­one air­ing their busi­ness in pub­lic — but who also take issue with Byrne inflat­ing his role. Byrne was a uni­formed offi­cer in Bill Clinton’s White House. But that’s the low­est lev­el of pro­tec­tion with­in the White House and around the pres­i­dent.

    Peo­ple famil­iar with West Wing secu­ri­ty laugh at the idea that Byrne or any uni­formed offi­cer ever would have walked in on Bill Clin­ton any­where, whether in a meet­ing or, as a New York Post arti­cle over the week­end claims, in the mid­dle of a make-out ses­sion in the Map Room with the late daugh­ter of for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Wal­ter Mon­dale. The Secret Ser­vice pres­i­den­tial detail would have stopped him. (That affair was a well-worn rumor dur­ing the Clin­ton years, though strong­ly denied by Eleanor Mon­dale, who died of brain can­cer in 2011.)

    “The inner perime­ter is 100 per­cent con­trolled by the pres­i­den­tial pro­tec­tive divi­sion,” said a for­mer super­vi­sor of the pres­i­den­tial pro­tec­tive divi­sion, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied by name.

    And if Byrne or any uni­formed offi­cer had been post­ed near a room the pres­i­dent entered, he would have been moved at least 15 yards away, to the out­er edges of the secu­ri­ty bub­ble — not quite what Byrne describes in his book: “I stood guard, pis­tol at my hip, out­side the Oval Office, the last bar­ri­er before any­one saw Bill Clin­ton,” accord­ing to the Post, which has been teas­ing excerpts of the book.

    “Oper­a­tional­ly, one who has the work­ing knowl­edge of how things are done there would real­ize that cer­tain of those state­ments do not coin­cide with the oper­a­tional plan,” said Jan Gilhooly, AFAUSSS pres­i­dent and a 29-year Secret Ser­vice vet­er­an.

    The group’s state­ment, which POLITICO obtained in advance of its release, very care­ful­ly calls Byrne a liar.

    “One must ques­tion the verac­i­ty and con­tent of any book which implies that its author played such an inte­gral part of so many [claimed] inci­dents. Any cri­tique of man­age­ment by one who has nev­er man­aged per­son­nel or pro­grams resounds hol­low. Addi­tion­al­ly, why would an employ­ee wait in excess of ten years after ter­mi­nat­ing his employ­ment with the Ser­vice to make his alle­ga­tions pub­lic?” it reads.

    The clos­est con­tact that Byrne could have had, accord­ing to Gilhooly and oth­ers, is see­ing the pres­i­dent or the first lady pass in the hall­way — far from the inti­mate access he would have need­ed to catch Bill Clin­ton in the act or see Hillary Clin­ton fly into the curs­ing rages he now writes have con­vinced him that she doesn’t have the “integri­ty and tem­pera­ment” to be pres­i­dent.

    “There could be a cir­cum­stance where a uni­formed offi­cer might be in the prox­im­i­ty. It’s not as if it nev­er hap­pens,” Gilhooly said. “It is pos­si­ble, but not on a con­tin­u­um.”

    The for­mer super­vi­sor of the pres­i­den­tial pro­tec­tive divi­sion said that at best Byrne is work­ing from office rumors that he’s cin­e­mat­i­cal­ly writ­ten him­self into. Peo­ple spend decades on pres­i­den­tial details and don’t rack up the num­ber of amaz­ing scenes Byrne claims to have wit­nessed in just a few years as a uni­formed offi­cer.

    “Did Gary Byrne hear an anec­do­tal sto­ry being told by a cou­ple of agents? Maybe. But did Gary Byrne see it the way he’s pur­port­ing to have seen it? No way. That’s a life­time worth of events this indi­vid­ual saw in a very short amount of time,” the for­mer super­vi­sor said. “If any of the things he says hap­pened did hap­pen, it was told to him by a third par­ty.”

    ...

    “The for­mer super­vi­sor of the pres­i­den­tial pro­tec­tive divi­sion said that at best Byrne is work­ing from office rumors that he’s cin­e­mat­i­cal­ly writ­ten him­self into. Peo­ple spend decades on pres­i­den­tial details and don’t rack up the num­ber of amaz­ing scenes Byrne claims to have wit­nessed in just a few years as a uni­formed offi­cer.”
    Oh look, it appears the “let’s soak the rubes who will believe (and pay for) any­thing with anoth­er anti-Clin­ton book”-club has a new mem­ber. Wel­come to the par­ty, Gary Byrne!

    So we’ll see if Don­ald Trump’s big anti-Hillary speech is basi­cal­ly just a a rehash­ing of all the 90’s Clin­ton con­spir­a­cies we’re now famil­iar with plus what­ev­er fun new alle­ga­tions he finds in Byrne’s book to make it appear that Hillary was pro­tect­ing Bill in his var­i­ous sex­u­al indis­cre­tions. It was basi­cal­ly guar­an­teed that such an argu­ment is going to be made by who­ev­er the GOP nom­i­nee end­ed up being, so if that argu­ment isn’t made by Trump tomor­row you can be sure it will be made at some point. But it’s worth not­ing that Don­ald Trump sud­den­ly has a new rea­son to ensure that the alle­ga­tions he even­tu­al­ly makes against the Clin­tons are as sala­cious as he can pos­si­bly come up with. Why? To help dis­tract from the fact that Don­ald Trump was just accused of rap­ing an under­age girl in a fed­er­al law­suit:

    Alter­net

    Don­ald Trump Accused of Rape in Fed­er­al Court Law­suit
    The assaults are alleged to have tak­en place at the home of bil­lion­aire and con­vict­ed sex offend­er Jef­frey Epstein.

    By Kali Hol­loway
    June 21, 2016

    A new law­suit filed in Man­hat­tan Fed­er­al Court alleges that Don­ald Trump repeat­ed­ly raped a 13-year-old girl a lit­tle over 20 years ago. Accord­ing to the now-adult woman’s fil­ing, the sex­u­al assaults took place at par­ties held by Jef­frey Epstein, the bil­lion­aire for­mer hedge fun­der who plead­ed guilty in 2008 to charges involv­ing solic­it­ing sex from under­age girls as young as 14.

    In the fil­ing, the woman states the assaults took place in 1994. She said Epstein lured her to his Upper East Side home—then dubbed Wexn­er Mansion—with promis­es of a career in mod­el­ing and large sums of mon­ey. Once there, Jane Doe says she was vio­lent­ly raped by Trump, accord­ing to Death and Tax­es:

    In the court fil­ing, “Defen­dant Trump” alleged­ly “ini­ti­at­ed sex­u­al con­tact with Plain­tiff at four dif­fer­ent par­ties. On the fourth and final sex­u­al encounter with Defen­dant Trump, Defen­dant Trump tied Plain­tiff to a bed, exposed him­self to Plain­tiff, and then pro­ceed­ed to forcibly rape Plain­tiff. Dur­ing the course of this sav­age sex­u­al attack, Plain­tiff loud­ly plead­ed with Defen­dant Trump to stop but with no effect. Defen­dant Trump respond­ed to Plaintiff’s pleas by vio­lent­ly strik­ing Plain­tiff in the face with his open hand and scream­ing that he would do what­ev­er he want­ed.”

    In the next sec­tion, she adds that “Imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing this rape, Defen­dant Trump threat­ened Plain­tiff that, were she ever to reveal any of the details of the sex­u­al and phys­i­cal abuse of her by Defen­dant Trump, Plain­tiff and her fam­i­ly would be phys­i­cal­ly harmed if not killed.”

    Jane Doe describes, in graph­ic detail, being anal­ly and vagi­nal­ly raped, and also being phys­i­cal­ly struck by Epstein. The com­plaint goes on to allege that Epstein threat­ened Jane Doe’s safe­ty and that of her fam­i­ly should she reveal the attack to out­side sources. “Both defen­dants let plain­tiff know that each was a very wealthy, pow­er­ful man and indi­cat­ed that they had the pow­er, abil­i­ty and means to car­ry out their threats,” the com­plaint states, accord­ing to the Real Deal.

    Death and Tax­es reports a sec­ond anony­mous woman, iden­ti­fied as “Tiffany Doe,” who cor­rob­o­rates the charges in the law­suit, stat­ing that she wit­nessed the rape. Tiffany Doe tes­ti­fied that between 1991 and 2001, Epstein put her on his pay­roll, task­ing her with bring­ing under­age girls to par­ties.

    Epstein—who was alleged to have preyed on dozens of under­age girls through­out the 1990s and ear­ly aughts, but was con­vict­ed on a sin­gle charge for which he served 13 months—has refut­ed the woman’s claims. Trump Orga­ni­za­tion vice pres­i­dent and gen­er­al coun­sel Alan Garten issued a state­ment say­ing the charges are “cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly untrue, com­plete­ly fab­ri­cat­ed and polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed,” accord­ing to the Dai­ly News.

    The law­suit was orig­i­nal­ly filed in a Cal­i­for­nia court. At the time, Jane Doe—who used her real name—did not have the aid of coun­sel in fil­ing and the suit was dis­missed due to prob­lems with paper­work. Doe’s new lawyer, Thomas Meagher, told the Dai­ly News the first fil­ing also “cit­ed statutes that did not apply to the case.”

    Jane Doe is suing for $75,000, pay­ment of her attorney’s fees, and an order of pro­tec­tion against Trump. She says she wait­ed many years before fil­ing suit out of fear that Trump and Epstein would make good on their promis­es to harm her fam­i­ly.

    Trump has long admit­ted to being friend­ly with Epstein, telling New York Mag­a­zine sev­er­al years ago, “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Ter­rif­ic guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beau­ti­ful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it, Jef­frey enjoys his social life.”

    In 2009, Mark Epstein, Jeffrey’s broth­er, tes­ti­fied under oath that Trump flew at least once on Epstein’s pri­vate plane, the so-called “Loli­ta Express,” accord­ing to Vice. (Accord­ing to flight logs, so did Bill Clin­ton.) The site also notes that Epstein’s pri­vate phone book, of which the FBI has a copy, includes phone num­bers and infor­ma­tion for Don­ald Trump, along with Prince Ban­dar of Sau­di Ara­bia, Tony Blair, for­mer Utah gov­er­nor and Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Jon Hunts­man, Sen­a­tor Edward Kennedy, Hen­ry Kissinger, and David Koch.

    Vice writes that “in 2010, Epstein pled the Fifth when asked by a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing one of Epstein’s vic­tims about his rela­tion­ship with Trump:

    Q: Have you ever had a per­son­al rela­tion­ship with Don­ald Trump?

    A. What do you mean by “per­son­al rela­tion­ship,” sir?

    Q. Have you social­ized with him?

    A. Yes, sir.

    Q. Yes?

    A. Yes, sir.

    Q. Have you ever social­ized with Don­ald Trump in the pres­ence of females under the age of 18?

    A: Though I’d like to answer that ques­tion, at least today I’m going to have to assert my Fifth, Sixth, and 14th Amend­ment rights, sir.”

    ...

    “Trump has long admit­ted to being friend­ly with Epstein, telling New York Mag­a­zine sev­er­al years ago, “I’ve known Jeff for 15 years. Ter­rif­ic guy. He’s a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beau­ti­ful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side. No doubt about it, Jef­frey enjoys his social life.””

    So we have a new anti-Clin­ton book com­ing out by an author of high­ly ques­tion­able cred­i­bil­i­ty right around the same time Don­ald Trump is fac­ing a new fed­er­al law­suit for rap­ing a 13 year old 20 years ago at one of Jef­frey Epstein’s sex par­ties. And we’re not even half way through 2016.

    Beyond the imme­di­ate ques­tion of whether nor not these charges against Trump have any truth behind them, one of the inter­est­ing ques­tions Don­ald Trump is prob­a­bly ask­ing him­self at this point is what exact­ly the right-wing media is going to do with these charges if Trump los­es and los­es big. Because if Hillary Clin­ton was fac­ing any­one oth­er than Trump, you can bet we would be hear­ing about Jef­fery Epstein and the ‘Loli­ta Express’ non­stop through­out this entire elec­tion cycle due to the fact that Bill Clin­ton also knew Epstein. With Trump at the top of the tick­et the sto­ry can’t real­ly get any play. But that won’t be an issue if Trump los­es and los­es so big he effec­tive­ly burns his bridges with the GOP.

    The Epstein scan­dal poten­tial­ly cast a bad light on Bill Clin­ton and poten­tial­ly por­trays Trump as a rapist, so any sto­ry relat­ed to Epstein is sort of a no go zone for both cam­paigns. But if Hillary becomes pres­i­dent, do we real­ly expect the right-wing media to lay off the Epstein angle as much as it has already when that sto­ry com­plete­ly fits the nar­ra­tive the right-wing media machine has built up of Bill Clin­ton as not just a horn­dog but a vio­lent, preda­to­ry rapist horn­dog. If Hillary wins, isn’t puff­ing up that nar­ra­tive going to be a cen­tral right-wing media focus from day one. And won’t that mean throw­ing Trump under the right-wing media bus too? It unclear how that can be avoid­ed, but it’s also unclear why the right-wing media will care about doing that if Trump ends up trash­ing the par­ty. Who knows, trash­ing Trump could end up being part of the heal­ing process. Plus, Just image the GOP in ‘Taliban’-mode against Hillary. It’s going to be nuts.

    So as sala­cious as the pol­i­tics of 2016 already is, if you’re Don­ald Trump you prob­a­bly should­n’t assume 2017 isn’t going to get worse.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 21, 2016, 7:01 pm
  4. @Pterrafractyl

    With the sto­ries float­ing about how big right-wing mon­ey inter­ests (re: Koch Bros.) are sac­ri­fic­ing inter­est in this year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion cycle to focus on Senate/House/local State elec­tions, com­bined with the main head­line in my local paper today about how Trump’s cam­paign is off to a piti­ful fundrais­ing start; it seems to me that the final part of your post above hints very close­ly at GOP strat­e­gy. If they burn ties to Trump, then they can high­light their recov­ery and sup­posed sep­a­ra­tion from Trump’s rhetoric, and then focus on tar­nish­ing the Clin­tons fur­ther with this sto­ry there­by mak­ing a strong chal­lenge after her first term, along with caus­ing mas­sive leg­isla­tive grid­lock relat­ed to that con­tro­ver­sy.

    Com­bine that with the infor­ma­tion Daniel Hop­sick­er is report­ing about vot­ing machine fraud and there’s quite a recipe for polit­i­cal dis­as­ter in 2018 and 2020 with the right wing boa con­stric­tor tight­en­ing its choke hold. I’d sus­pect deals being made regard­ing ten­ta­tive domes­tic sup­port for Clin­ton’s poli­cies (to an extent) if she goes along with inter­na­tion­al NATO pos­tur­ing against Russ­ian inter­ests illus­trat­ed by all the recent joint mil­i­tary exer­cis­es and con­tin­ued con­ces­sions for inter­na­tion­al finance such as the TPP.

    Posted by Sampson | June 22, 2016, 5:42 am
  5. @Sampson: You can bet that the name “Epstein” will be a house­hold name for the next 4 to 8 years if Hillary wins. But con­sid­er­ing the num­ber of pow­er­ful peo­ple around the globe that could be impli­cat­ed via guilt by Epstein-asso­ci­a­tion, it’s going to be inter­est­ing to see how a sus­tained media cam­paign on that top­ic unfolds. But it’s com­ing.

    Anoth­er one of the inter­est­ing aspects of the GOP’s Trumpian gam­bit this year is that, while los­ing the 2016 race could have a long-term impact on the make­up of the Supreme Court, as you point out, there are some clear poten­tial ben­e­fits to los­ing too. And one of the biggest poten­tial ben­e­fits is for the right-wing base to be super fired up in 2020. And why is 2020 so impor­tant? Because it’s a redis­trict­ing year AND a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, some­thing that only hap­pens every two decades. And that is exact­ly the kind of sit­u­a­tion that should give the Democ­rats a boost for the entire 2020–2030 decade sim­ply because the Demo­c­ra­t­ic base has the utter­ly baf­fling habit of not vot­ing near­ly as much when it’s not a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion year. The GOP’s 2010 route was­n’t just a great midterm vic­to­ry for the GOP where we saw the rise of the Tea Par­ty. After the epic ger­ry­man­der­ing that year it basi­cal­ly became impos­si­ble for the Democ­rats to win back the House this decade. That redis­trict­ing sce­nario could basi­cal­ly flip in 2020, and if Pres­i­dent Trump assumes office in 2017 the odds of a 2020 out­come in favor of the the Democ­rats that hap­pen­ing will be a lot high­er than if we have anoth­er Pres­i­dent Clin­ton.

    So we have this unusu­al sce­nario where the 2016 elec­tion is a ‘must win’ elec­tion sim­ply because of the unusu­al­ly high num­ber of Supreme Court jus­tices that could get appoint­ed over the next four years, but win­ning in 2016 is prob­a­bly going to make win­ning in 2020 too a lot hard­er and the 2020 elec­tion could have a sig­nif­i­cant impact on which par­ty con­trols the House from 2020–2030. Those are both sub­stan­tial prizes, so you have to won­der how much the poten­tial prize of a bet­ter 2020 turnout for the GOP if Trump los­es in 2016 is impact­ing the GOP pow­er bro­kers’ cost/benefit analy­sis regard­ing a Trump loss. He is offer­ing insane­ly huge tax cuts for the super-rich, after all, but he’s also poten­tial­ly risk­ing seri­ous brand dam­age to the GOP, the ulti­mate Gold­en Goose for the oli­garchy. Just today George Will offi­cial­ly left the GOP and called fro Repub­li­cans to work to ensure Trump los­es and focus on 2020 instead so at least some of the GOP estab­lish­ment is still push­ing to move things in that direc­tion.

    Anoth­er part of what must make the Clin­tons hard to risk assess for the oli­garchy is the real­i­ty that the Clin­tons are, in one sense, two of the most promi­nent fig­ures of “the Estab­lish­ment” of the last cou­ple of decades sim­ply be hold­ing a num­ber of pow­er­ful offices and doing so under an unre­lent­ing right-wing char­ac­ter assas­si­na­tion pro­gram. But at the same time, as the “vast right-wing con­spir­a­cy” made very clear through­out the 90’s and beyond, Bill and Hillary Clin­ton are two of the most hat­ed fig­ures by “the Estab­lish­ment” that we’ve ever seen in US polit­i­cal his­to­ry. As a result, you’d prob­a­bly be pret­ty hard pressed to find to estab­lish­ment fig­ures that have more rea­son to hate the estab­lish­ment than Bill and Hillary Clin­ton and that’s not some­thing the estab­lish­ment can eas­i­ly ignore unless Hillary makes it clear that they have noth­ing to fear, which would be a mas­sive mis­take since the Clin­tons’ ene­mies are sort of one of their biggest sell­ing points.

    That’s all part of why it’s going to be fas­ci­nat­ing to see not just how many of the GOP’s pow­er bro­kers and mega donors try to keep their dis­tance from the Trump cam­paign, but how many of them basi­cal­ly place a bet on Hillary now and try to cur­ry favor by active­ly bash­ing Trump and pro­mot­ing her. It will be espe­cial­ly inter­est­ing because one of the clever­est trick plays the right-wing could do to actu­al­ly help Trump win is have a bunch of sleazy con­ser­v­a­tive pow­er bro­kers pub­licly jump on board the Hillary train which could have the effect of try­ing to por­tray her as the ulti­mate Estab­lish­ment insid­er. It’s sort of a win-win move: get on Hillary’s good side while indi­rect­ly assist­ing Trump by intro­duc­ing a sleaze fac­tor, although there could be con­se­quences for back­ing Hillary if Trump ends up win­ning.

    Regard­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty that Hillary will be offered by estab­lish­ment fac­tions var­i­ous deals along the lines of “we’ll back your domes­tic pro­gram if you back our inter­na­tion­al agen­da”, you can be sure that there are at least going to be attempts to make deals of that nature, espe­cial­ly the clos­er we get to the elec­tion if it looks like Hillary is going to win. But while pow­er bro­kers might be able to offer such a deal, there’s no way to make such a deal that actu­al­ly applies to the elect­ed GOP offi­cials in the House and Sen­ate who are going to be in per­ma­nent “burn the witch!” mode. The polit­i­cal cal­cu­lus for elect­ed GOP offi­cials will man­date “burn the witch!” behav­ior if they want to be reelect­ed. The GOP base sim­ply expects that.

    So let’s hope Hillary isn’t fool­ish enough to make a deal, espe­cial­ly one the MIC can’t even back up like a pledge to keep the GOP from going into “burn the witch!” mode. Plus, she has also got to be aware of just how eas­i­ly the sit­u­a­tions in Ukraine and Syr­ia could blow up into even big­ger night­mares and the real­i­ty that’s she’s the one that will take the blame when things go sour. It cer­tain­ly would­n’t help her reelec­tion chances.

    The Clin­tons have a rather unusu­al hybrid ‘outside’/‘insider’ sta­tus and that’s one of the under­sold poten­tial strengths of a sec­ond Clin­ton admin­is­tra­tion. They know where the bod­ies are buried in part because so many pow­er­ful peo­ple have been try­ing to send them to the polit­i­cal grave­yard for decades. There real­ly was a “vast right-wing con­spir­a­cy” that real­ly did do every­thing it could to destroy the Clin­tons and it’s still oper­at­ing. It’s just most­ly been focused on Oba­ma in recent years. And that same “vast right-wing con­spir­a­cy” of far-right oli­garchs and pow­er-bro­kers is ALSO one of the key forces that basi­cal­ly ensure the US is a polit­i­cal­ly dys­func­tion­al democ­ra­cy. The “vast right-wing con­spir­a­cy” isn’t just con­spir­ing against the Clin­tons and Oba­mas. It’s pri­mar­i­ly con­spir­ing against all of us. The Clin­tons just got in the way of that in the 90’s and become a prime tar­get.

    Giv­en all that, we would be hard pressed to find a polit­i­cal pow­er cou­ple with both the moti­va­tion to under­cut and expose that vast right-wing con­spir­a­cy but also the expe­ri­ence to pull it off. Of course, what­ev­er she does will be high­ly depen­dent on whether or not the pro­gres­sive base just checks out after the elec­tion and does­n’t check back in until 2020. That’s the kind of sce­nario that guar­an­tees 2018 will be a nasty elec­tion year and would cre­ate the kinds of polit­i­cal con­di­tions that tra­di­tion­al­ly lead a Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­dent to veer more to the right in order to cater to the more right-lean­ing mid-term elec­tion vot­ers. So avoid­ing the repeat of 2010, where the left just went AWOL for the mid-terms, is prob­a­bly one of the best things the US left can do to cre­ate the polit­i­cal space for the Clin­tons to keep to a pro­gres­sive agen­da. And there’s no rea­son that can’t include apply­ing pres­sure to find de-esca­lat­ing solu­tions to the con­flicts in Ukraine and Syr­ia in addi­tion to keep­ing the heat on the vast right-wing con­spir­a­tors who will be doing their best to trash the place.

    So let’s ensure she man­ages to keep the MIC and war mon­gers in check by hav­ing the pro­gres­sive base keep her and the entire Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty in check. This is where the Bernie rev­o­lu­tion could find its future call­ing. If they stay engaged and build the Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty through 2018 and 2020, that can hap­pen. It’s one of the coun­ter­in­tu­itive aspects of democ­ra­cy, but the politi­cians often are free to be great politi­cians until the peo­ple force them to do it. Let’s force her to be great.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 25, 2016, 1:53 pm
  6. FBI Direc­tor James Comey Breaks Fed­er­al Pros­e­cu­tor Rules by Smear­ing but Not Indict­ing Clin­ton Over Emails

    http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/fbi-director-james-comey-breaks-federal-prosecutor-rules-smearing-not-indicting

    FBI direc­tor James Comey’s deci­sion not to indict Hillary Clin­ton over the fact that 110 of 30,000 pri­vate emails she sent while Sec­re­tary of State were clas­si­fied (an error rate of 0.36 per­cent) is now a full-on nation­al polit­i­cal fren­zy.

    The Asso­ci­at­ed Press now alleges Clin­ton lied—for say­ing there were no clas­si­fied emails. House and Sen­ate Repub­li­cans are demand­ing Comey imme­di­ate­ly tes­ti­fy. House Speak­er Paul Ryan told Fox News that “peo­ple have been con­vict­ed for less.” The New York Times’ front page called Comey’s tes­ti­mo­ny “an attack ad, ready-made.” And Don­ald Trump, who ini­tial­ly attacked Comey’s deci­sion as “rigged,” then post­ed videos of his com­ments.

    But what almost nobody is ques­tion­ing is whether the FBI direc­tor crossed the line, abus­ing his dis­cre­tion and his pow­er, by smear­ing Clin­ton in the press and inter­fer­ing in a polit­i­cal cam­paign. The Depart­ment of Justice’s man­u­al for fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors bars them from mak­ing state­ments about peo­ple who aren’t indict­ed.

    “It goes beyond dis­cre­tion,” said an ex-Con­necti­cut pub­lic defend­er. “It’s com­plete­ly improp­er when there’s not going to be a tri­al.”

    The Depart­ment of Justice’s volu­mi­nous U.S. Attor­neys Man­u­al has sec­tions restrict­ing press com­ments when there’s no indict­ment in all but the most excep­tion­al cas­es, bar­ring pros­e­cu­tors from inter­fer­ing in polit­i­cal cam­paigns. It states that pros­e­cu­tors should not name unin­dict­ed defen­dants, and even cites fed­er­al court rul­ings chastis­ing pros­e­cu­tors for doing exact­ly that.

    Comey, a Repub­li­can appoint­ed as FBI direc­tor by Pres­i­dent Oba­ma, crossed all three of those lines. Very few com­men­ta­tors not­ed that Comey shouldn’t have said any­thing at all, and how unusu­al it was that he did. One excep­tion was Ben­jamin Wittes, edi­tor in chief of the Law­fare blog and a senior fel­low in gov­er­nance stud­ies at the Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion.

    “The first notable thing in FBI direc­tor Jim Comey’s state­ment on the Clin­ton email flap is that he issued it,” he wrote. “Nor­mal­ly, the FBI does not issue reports on its inves­tiga­tive find­ings sep­a­rate from Jus­tice Depart­ment deci­sions regard­ing what to do with those find­ings. Much less does it make pub­lic its rec­om­men­da­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly in a fash­ion that effec­tive­ly pre­empts the Jus­tice Depart­men­t’s pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al deci­sions with respect to those rec­om­men­da­tions.”

    Comey’s hubris didn’t stop there, Wittes not­ed. The man who drew Obama’s atten­tion because as an FBI offi­cial he pri­vate­ly opposed the Bush admin­is­tra­tion’s tor­ture pro­pos­als, told the press Tues­day that, “I have not coor­di­nat­ed or reviewed this state­ment in any way with the Depart­ment of Jus­tice or any oth­er part of the gov­ern­ment. They do not know what I am about to say.”

    Beyond the fact that the DOJ pros­e­cu­tors’ man­u­al states that all state­ments have to be cleared through depart­ment fil­ters, Comey’s asser­tion that his remarks are called for as mat­ter of great pub­lic interest—“Only facts mat­ter, and the FBI found them here in an entire­ly apo­lit­i­cal and pro­fes­sion­al way”—falls flat upon close scruti­ny. What he pre­sent­ed was extreme­ly polit­i­cal, and if the DOJ pros­e­cu­tors’ man­u­al is to be tak­en seri­ous­ly, equal­ly unpro­fes­sion­al.

    What Did Comey Say?

    Comey began his remarks by call­ing them “unusu­al” but jus­ti­fied in a case of “extreme pub­lic inter­est.” He explained that the heart of the FBI inves­ti­ga­tion into Clinton’s use of a series of pri­vate email servers while Sec­re­tary of State con­cerned 30,000 replies to oth­er depart­ment offi­cials.

    “From the group of 30,000 emails returned to the State Depart­ment, 110 emails in 52 email chains have been deter­mined by the own­ing agency to con­tain clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion at the time they were sent or received,” Comey said. “Eight of those chains con­tained infor­ma­tion that was top secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains con­tained secret infor­ma­tion at the time; and eight con­tained con­fi­den­tial infor­ma­tion, which is the low­est lev­el of clas­si­fi­ca­tion. Sep­a­rate from those, about 2,000 addi­tion­al emails were ‘up-clas­si­fied’ to make them con­fi­den­tial; the infor­ma­tion in those had not been clas­si­fied at the time the emails were sent.”
    This tiny num­ber of clas­si­fied emails is what’s fuel­ing the polit­i­cal fren­zy, like the AP call­ing Clin­ton a liar and GOP demands in Con­gress for addi­tion­al hear­ings. For per­spec­tive, those 110 out of 30,000 emails rep­re­sents an error rate of 0.36 per­cent. Con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans, who are look­ing for any way to attack the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, claim that Clin­ton inten­tion­al­ly with­held emails from them. Comey said that wasn’t quite right, yet he also took a swat at Clin­ton’s legal team.

    “The lawyers doing the sort­ing for Sec­re­tary Clin­ton in 2014 did not indi­vid­u­al­ly read the con­tent of all of her emails, as we did for those avail­able to us; instead, they relied on head­er infor­ma­tion and used search terms to try to find all work-relat­ed emails among the report­ed­ly more than 60,000 total emails remain­ing on Sec­re­tary Clinton’s per­son­al sys­tem in 2014,” he said. “It is high­ly like­ly their search terms missed some work-relat­ed emails, and that we lat­er found them, for exam­ple, in the mail­box­es of oth­er offi­cials or in the slack space of a serv­er.”

    But then Comey went in for the polit­i­cal hit, judg­ing Clin­ton in the media and the court of pub­lic opin­ion at the same time he was build­ing toward his con­clu­sion that there would be no indict­ment because noth­ing she did deserves to be pros­e­cut­ed.

    “They were extreme­ly care­less in their han­dling of very sen­si­tive, high­ly clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion,” Comey said, refer­ring to Clinton’s tech-sup­port staff. “For exam­ple, sev­en email chains con­cern mat­ters that were clas­si­fied at the top secret/special access pro­gram lev­el when they were sent and received… Any rea­son­able per­son in Sec­re­tary Clinton’s posi­tion, or in the posi­tion of those gov­ern­ment employ­ees with whom she was cor­re­spond­ing about these mat­ters, should have known that an unclas­si­fied sys­tem was no place for that con­ver­sa­tion.”

    Then came a series of addi­tion­al slaps and smears.

    “None of these emails should have been on any kind of unclas­si­fied sys­tem, but their pres­ence is espe­cial­ly con­cern­ing because all of these emails were housed on unclas­si­fied per­son­al servers not even sup­port­ed by full-time secu­ri­ty staff, like those found at depart­ments and agen­cies of the U.S. gov­ern­ment or even with a com­mer­cial ser­vice like Gmail,” Comey said. “Even if infor­ma­tion is not marked ‘clas­si­fied’ in an email, par­tic­i­pants who know or should know that the sub­ject mat­ter is clas­si­fied are still oblig­at­ed to pro­tect it.”

    Comey then hit the State Depart­ment for allow­ing Clin­ton to use pri­vate emails, with­out acknowl­edg­ing that for­mer Repub­li­can Sec­re­tary of State Col­in Pow­ell did the same thing.

    “The secu­ri­ty cul­ture of the State Depart­ment in gen­er­al, and with respect to use of unclas­si­fied email sys­tems in par­tic­u­lar, was gen­er­al­ly lack­ing in the kind of care for clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion found else­where in the gov­ern­ment,” he said, essen­tial­ly call­ing the depart­ment an unin­dict­ed co-con­spir­a­tor.

    Then came more guilt-by-asso­ci­a­tion.

    “We do assess that hos­tile actors gained access to the pri­vate com­mer­cial email accounts of peo­ple with whom Sec­re­tary Clin­ton was in reg­u­lar con­tact from her per­son­al account,” he said, which trans­lat­ed, means peo­ple she was com­mu­ni­cat­ing with were like­ly tar­get­ed by hack­ers. He spec­u­lat­ed, “Giv­en that com­bi­na­tion of fac­tors, we assess it is pos­si­ble that hos­tile actors gained access to Sec­re­tary Clinton’s per­son­al email account.”

    Then Comey back­tracked, con­clud­ing that none of this care­less­ness rose to the lev­el of a crim­i­nal vio­la­tion that could be pros­e­cut­ed.

    “Although there is evi­dence of poten­tial vio­la­tions of the statutes regard­ing the han­dling of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion, our judg­ment is that no rea­son­able pros­e­cu­tor would bring such a case,” he said.

    J. Edgar Hoover’s Ghost

    Main­stream media and Repub­li­cans fawned over Comey’s com­ments, even as GOP con­gres­sion­al lead­ers claimed their sense of jus­tice was offend­ed because the oppos­ing party’s pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee would not face fed­er­al charges.

    Vir­tu­al­ly nobody out­side of legal cir­cles and acad­e­mia ques­tioned the appro­pri­ate­ness or out­ra­geous­ness of Comey’s com­ments.

    One aca­d­e­m­ic legal blog­ger, Stet­son Uni­ver­si­ty Col­lege of Law pro­fes­sor Ellen Pod­gor, not­ed that most FBI inves­ti­ga­tions with no indict­ments don’t issue pub­lic state­ments; that the FBI’s inves­ti­ga­tion was one-sided; that Comey cit­ed hypo­thet­i­cals with­out facts; that his accu­sa­tions about her lawyers were unnec­es­sary and unpro­fes­sion­al; and that it is Con­gress’ respon­si­bil­i­ty to upgrade the IT pro­to­cols of fed­er­al agen­cies like the State Depart­ment.

    “When they do pro­vide an announced rec­om­men­da­tion of non-indict­ment, the FBI should lim­it their state­ment to just that,” she said. “There is no need to tar­nish a per­son­’s rep­u­ta­tion in the process—especially when there is no con­crete evi­dence to sup­port the hypo­thet­i­cals.”

    Oth­er prac­tic­ing lawyers were more blunt.

    “The Depart­ment of Jus­tice poli­cies are you don’t com­ment on peo­ple you don’t indict. You don’t pun­ish them in the press,” said an ex-Con­necti­cut pub­lic defend­er. “The oth­er thing is the DOJ pol­i­cy is you don’t do things to affect elec­tions, peri­od. I don’t see any­body ques­tion­ing this. Every­body thinks the FBI is sacro­sanct.”

    “I think it was high­ly inap­pro­pri­ate,” said John Williams, a civ­il rights lawyer from New Haven, Con­necti­cut. “I sup­pose he will get away with it because [as FBI direc­tor] he is not a pros­e­cu­tor. And you do get that all too often. Law enforce­ment will issue a press release and the pros­e­cu­tor will not say any­thing.”

    “It’s like a perp walk, but this is worse, because they’re say­ing we will not arrest them,” Williams said. “To hold a press con­fer­ence where he [Comey] makes com­ments on the behav­ior of the per­son who will not be indict­ed? That’s not appro­pri­ate. I don’t recall ever see­ing that by a FBI direc­tor. It harkens back to J. Edgar Hoover’s days.”

    Steven Rosen­feld cov­ers nation­al polit­i­cal issues for Alter­Net, includ­ing Amer­i­ca’s retire­ment cri­sis, democ­ra­cy and vot­ing rights, and cam­paigns and elec­tions. He is the author of “Count My Vote: A Cit­i­zen’s Guide to Vot­ing” (Alter­Net Books, 2008).

    Posted by Roger | July 8, 2016, 8:09 pm
  7. For­mer Labor Sec­re­tary Robert Reich who has unques­tioned integri­ty has the fol­low­ing to say about spe­cial inter­ests dis­cred­it­ing Hillary’s:

    http://www.alternet.org/election-2016/what-explains-underlying-distrust-hillary-clinton

    What Explains the Under­ly­ing Dis­trust of Hillary Clin­ton?
    Giv­en her his­to­ry of being under relent­less attack, it’s under­stand­able that Clin­ton seeks to min­i­mize small over­sights. But that’s a mis­take.

    By Robert Reich / RobertReich.org July 15, 2016

    Hillary Clinton’s 6‑point lead over Don­ald Trump in last month’s CBS News poll has now evap­o­rat­ed. As of mid-July (even before Trump enjoys a pre­dictable post-con­ven­tion bump in the polls) she is tied with him. Each gar­ners the sup­port of 40 per­cent of vot­ers.

    This is astound­ing, giv­en that Trump’s cam­paign is in sham­bles while hers is a well-oiled machine; that he’s done almost no adver­tis­ing while she began the month spend­ing $500,000 a day on ads; and that Repub­li­can lead­ers are desert­ing him while Democ­rats are lin­ing up behind her.

    The near tie is par­tic­u­lar­ly aston­ish­ing giv­en that Trump has no expe­ri­ence and offers no coher­ent set of poli­cies or prac­ti­cal ideas but only ven­omous big­otry and mind­less xeno­pho­bia, while Hillary Clin­ton has a boat­load of expe­ri­ence, a store­house of care­ful­ly-craft­ed poli­cies, and a deep under­stand­ing of what the nation must do in order to come togeth­er and lead the world.

    What hap­pened? Appar­ent­ly the FBI’s recent report on Clinton’s email height­ened what already were pub­lic con­cerns about her hon­esty and trust­wor­thi­ness. Last month, on that same CBS poll, 62 per­cent of vot­ers said she’s not hon­est and trust­wor­thy; now 67 per­cent of vot­ers have that view.

    So as the Repub­li­can con­ven­tion pre­pares to nom­i­nate the least qual­i­fied and most divi­sive can­di­date in Amer­i­can his­to­ry, the Democ­rats are about to nom­i­nate among the most qual­i­fied and yet also most dis­trust­ed.

    What explains this under­ly­ing dis­trust?

    I’ve known Hillary Clin­ton since she was 19 years old. For twen­ty-five years I’ve watched as she and her hus­band became quar­ries of the media – espe­cial­ly, but not sole­ly, the rightwing media.

    I was there in 1992 when she defend­ed her hus­band against Jen­nifer Flower’s charges of infi­deli­ty. I was in the cab­i­net when she was accused of fraud­u­lent deal­ings in White­wa­ter, and then accused of wrong­do­ing in the ser­i­al rumor mills of “Trav­el­gate” and “Troop­er­gate,” fol­lowed by with­er­ing crit­i­cism of her role as chair of Bill Clinton’s health­care task force.

    I saw her be accused of con­spir­a­cy in the trag­ic sui­cide of Vince Fos­ter, her friend and for­mer col­league, who, not inci­den­tal­ly, wrote short­ly before his death that “here [in Wash­ing­ton] ruin­ing peo­ple is con­sid­ered sport.“

    Rush Lim­baugh claimed that “Vince Fos­ter was mur­dered in an apart­ment owned by Hillary Clin­ton,” and the New York Postre­port­ed that admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials “fran­ti­cal­ly scram­bled” to remove from Foster’s office safe a pre­vi­ous­ly unre­port­ed set of files, some of them relat­ed to White­wa­ter.

    I saw Ken­nth Starr’s White­wa­ter inves­ti­ga­tion metas­ta­size into the soap opera of Bill Clinton’s sec­ond term, fea­tur­ing Mon­i­ca Lewin­sky, Paula Jones, and Juani­ta Broad­drick, among oth­ers – cul­mi­nat­ing in Bill Clinton’s impeach­ment and Hillary’s very pub­lic (and, pre­sum­ably, intense­ly pri­vate) humil­i­a­tion.

    Then, more recent­ly, came the storm over Beng­hazi, which led to inquiries about her email serv­er, fol­lowed by the ques­tions about whether or how the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion char­i­ta­ble work and the Clin­tons’ own for-prof­it speech­es might have inter­sect­ed with her work at the State Depart­ment.

    It is worth not­ing that despite all the sto­ries, alle­ga­tions, accu­sa­tions, insin­u­a­tions, and inves­ti­ga­tions spread over a quar­ter cen­tu­ry – there has nev­er been any find­ing that Hillary Clin­ton engaged in ille­gal behav­ior.

    But it’s under­stand­able why some­one who has been under such relent­less attack for a large por­tion of her adult life might be reluc­tant to expose every minor error or mis­step that could be blown up into anoth­er “scan­dal,” anoth­er media cir­cus, anoth­er inter­minable set of inves­ti­ga­tions gen­er­at­ing half-baked con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and seem­ing­ly end­less impli­ca­tions of wrong­do­ing.

    Giv­en this his­to­ry, any sane per­son might reflex­ive­ly seek to min­i­mize small over­sights, play down inno­cent acts of care­less­ness, or not ful­ly dis­close mis­takes of no appar­ent con­se­quence, for fear of cut­ting loose the next attack dogs. Such a per­son might even be reluc­tant to let their guard down and engage in impromp­tu news con­fer­ences or veer too far off script.

    Yet that reflex­ive impulse can itself gen­er­ate dis­trust when such respons­es even­tu­al­ly come to light, as they often do – as when, for exam­ple, Hillary was shown to be less than forth­right over her emails. The cumu­la­tive effect can cre­ate the impres­sion of some­one who, at worst, is guilty of ser­i­al cov­er-ups, or, at best, shades the truth.

    So while Hillary Clinton’s impulse is under­stand­able, it is also self-defeat­ing, as now evi­denced by the grow­ing por­tion of the pub­lic that doesn’t trust her.

    It is crit­i­cal­ly impor­tant that she rec­og­nizes this, that she fight her under­stand­able impulse to keep poten­tial attack­ers at bay, and that from here on she makes her­self far more open and acces­si­ble – and clear­ly and fear­less­ly tells all.

    Robert B. Reich has served in three nation­al admin­is­tra­tions, most recent­ly as sec­re­tary of labor under Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton. His lat­est book is “Sav­ing Cap­i­tal­ism: For the Many, Not the Few.” His web­site is http://www.robertreich.org.

    Posted by Alexander J. Montgomery | July 16, 2016, 1:10 pm
  8. http://www.democracynow.org/2016/7/18/why_a_member_of_the_democratic

    Cor­nel West is head­ing to Philadel­phia next, where he will serve on the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Plat­form Draft­ing Com­mit­tee, but he has announced he won’t be back­ing the party’s pre­sump­tive nom­i­nee. West talks about why he is back­ing the Green Party’s Jill Stein over Hillary Clin­ton.

    TRANSCRIPT
    This is a rush tran­script. Copy may not be in its final form.

    AMY GOODMAN: You are endors­ing Dr. Jill Stein. You were a sur­ro­gate for Bernie Sanders. You spoke all over the coun­try for him.

    CORNEL WEST: Yes, yes, yes.

    AMY GOODMAN: What made you decide to sup­port the Green Par­ty pres­i­den­tial can­di­date as opposed to Hillary Clin­ton?

    CORNEL WEST: Well, I’ve nev­er been tied to one par­ty or one can­di­date or even one insti­tu­tion. And that’s true even with one church as a Chris­t­ian. I’m com­mit­ted to truth and jus­tice. And Broth­er Bernie, no doubt, was the stan­dard-bear­er for truth and jus­tice dur­ing the pri­ma­ry at a nation­al lev­el, at a high­ly vis­i­ble lev­el. Once he endorsed Hillary Clin­ton, who, for me, is a neolib­er­al dis­as­ter, it was clear—

    ....AMY GOODMAN: What hap­pened with the Demo­c­ra­t­ic plat­form? You were one of the peo­ple on the com­mit­tee. A lot of peo­ple don’t know how this stuff is made, how the sausage is made. Explain what hap­pened. What did you win? What did you lose?

    CORNEL WEST: Well, I was blessed to be put on the com­mit­tee by Broth­er Bernie Sanders. We had won­der­ful delib­er­a­tions. Broth­er Eli­jah Cum­mings was very fair. He was the chair­per­son. But we lost TPP. We lost Medicare for all. We lost, of course, Israeli occu­pa­tion and Israeli set­tle­ments includ­ed with­in the plat­form, keep­ing track while pre­cious Pales­tin­ian broth­ers and sis­ters—

    AMY GOODMAN: What about them? You lost—what do you mean, you lost them?

    CORNEL WEST: We lost them, in that we made the case, and we lost the vote.

    AMY GOODMAN: What were you look­ing for?

    CORNEL WEST: We were look­ing to include them with­in the plat­form, so at least it was on paper. Now, of course, putting it on paper is dif­fer­ent than putting it in prac­tice. A dec­la­ra­tion is dif­fer­ent from the exe­cu­tion. But we lost over and over again, because the Clin­ton peo­ple lined up and vot­ed against it. That’s why I, of course, abstained, ini­tial­ly, at the move from writ­ing the draft, and then we took it to the plat­form com­mit­tee in Orlan­do. I was also a mem­ber of the plat­form com­mit­tee. And I had to abstain again, because—even though they didn’t allow for absten­tion; it was just no or yes. But there’s no way, based on moral grounds, those based on my own moral con­science, that I could sup­port that plat­form.

    And once my dear broth­er moved into his endorse­ment, his strong endorse­ment of the neolib­er­al dis­as­ter that Sis­ter Hillary rep­re­sents, there was no way that I could stay with Bernie Sanders any longer, had to break with the two-par­ty sys­tem.

    Posted by Tiffany Sunderson | July 19, 2016, 2:10 pm
  9. @Tiffany Sun­der­son–

    Nev­er for­get the nature of the fab­ric from which Amy Good­man was made:

    http://spitfirelist.com/news/sheesh-democray-now/

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | July 19, 2016, 9:56 pm
  10. Behold the lat­est chap­ter in Julian Assange’s quest to get Don­ald Trump elect­ed Pres­i­dent: Wik­iLeaks just released a new search­able data­base of Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee emails. Since the data­base con­sists of 19,252 emails so, as you can imag­ine, there’s quite a bit of con­tent avail­able to the pub­lic. Con­tent like inno­cent donors’ cred­it card, social secu­ri­ty, and pass­port num­bers:

    Giz­mo­do

    Wik­iLeaks Just Pub­lished Tons of Cred­it Card and Social Secu­ri­ty Num­bers

    Michael Nunez

    7/22/2016 1:55pm

    Wik­iLeaks firm­ly believes in rad­i­cal trans­paren­cy, the idea that the world would be bet­ter if there were no secrets. That lev­el of trans­paren­cy can be used for good, like the time the site pub­lished a video called “Col­lat­er­al Mur­der” show­ing inno­cent jour­nal­ists shot to obliv­ion by US troops in 2010. But not always.

    The orga­ni­za­tion has also used that tra­di­tion of trans­paren­cy for less just caus­es, like today when the site pub­lished 19,252 emails from top US Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee mem­bers, many of which includ­ed per­son­al infor­ma­tion about inno­cent donors includ­ing cred­it card, social secu­ri­ty num­bers, and pass­port num­bers.

    If you vis­it the Wik­iLeaks DNC emails web­site, you can browse the emails using a sim­ple boolean search. Typ­ing a word like “con­tri­bu­tion” will actu­al­ly turn up hun­dreds of results. The emails include unen­crypt­ed, plain-text list­ings of donor emails address­es, home address­es, phone num­bers, social secu­ri­ty num­bers, pass­port num­bers, and cred­it card infor­ma­tion. Wik­iLeaks proud­ly announced the data dump in a sin­gle tweet.

    ...

    The new leak is part of the organization’s ongo­ing Hillary Leaks series, which launched in March as a search­able archive of more than 30,000 emails and attach­ments sent to and from Clinton’s pri­vate email serv­er, while she was Sec­re­tary of State. The orig­i­nal email dump includ­ed doc­u­ments from June 2010 to August 2014. The new release includes emails from Jan­u­ary 2015 to May 2016.

    This isn’t the first time Wik­iLeaks has reck­less­ly pub­lished per­son­al infor­ma­tion of inno­cent civil­ians, either. Human rights groups such as Amnesty Inter­na­tion­al and Afghan Inde­pen­dent Human Rights Com­mis­sion have pre­vi­ous­ly request­ed that Wik­iLeaks remove names of Afghan civil­ians in 77,000 clas­si­fied mil­i­tary doc­u­ments pub­lished online. The civil­ians were (iron­i­cal­ly) col­lat­er­al dam­age in the same leak that spurred the “Col­lat­er­al Mur­der” video obtained by Wik­ileaks.

    ...

    “The new leak is part of the organization’s ongo­ing Hillary Leaks series, which launched in March as a search­able archive of more than 30,000 emails and attach­ments sent to and from Clinton’s pri­vate email serv­er, while she was Sec­re­tary of State. The orig­i­nal email dump includ­ed doc­u­ments from June 2010 to August 2014. The new release includes emails from Jan­u­ary 2015 to May 2016.”

    It appears that Wik­iLeak­s’s man­age­ment is of the opin­ion that donat­ing to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty is a crime worth of hav­ing your sen­si­tive per­son­al info dumped on the web. Either that or they got so car­ried away with the thrill of help­ing the Trump cam­paign that they released all that info with­out ful­ly vet­ting it. Maybe there are oth­er expla­na­tions, but those two sce­nar­ios some­how seem the most like­ly.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 22, 2016, 5:30 pm
  11. Holo­caust denier and Julian Assange asso­ciate, Israel Shamir, runs the Wik­ileaks Russ­ian depart­ment. I’m inclined to point the fin­ger at Shamir over Putin and Russ­ian intel­li­gence regard­ing 20,000 stolen emails from the DNC com­put­er servers. On the eve of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Con­ven­tion Sanders sup­port­ers are up in arms, the Trump team is euphor­ic and the desta­bi­liza­tion of Hilary Clin­ton picks up momen­tum. Plus Putin gets smeared as well. Sev­er­al dif­fer­ent itch­es get­ting scratched with this one, very bad news indeed.

    Posted by Dennis | July 24, 2016, 7:57 pm
  12. @Dennis and Pter­rafractyl–

    Don’t for­get who else is in Rus­sia: a very high-pro­file CIA offi­cer (and for­mer NSA con­trac­tor) named “Edward.” I think his last name begins with an “S.”

    It was, of course, Snow­den’s jour­ney to Rus­sia, effect­ed by Sarah Har­ri­son and Wik­iLeaks, that put the final nail in the cof­fin of Barack Oba­ma and (ahem) Hillary Clin­ton’s reboot with Rus­sia.

    Con­nect­ing some dots: The Clin­ton e‑mail non-scan­dal was an out­growth of the Beng­hazi inves­ti­ga­tions (nine of them by the GOP), which grew out of the so-called Arab Spring.

    In FTR #733 http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-733-wikileaks-soup-the-roveing-reporter-a-night-in-tunisia/

    and FTR 734 (http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-734-a-night-in-tunisia-pt-ii-are-karl-rove-and-wikileaks-working-with-the-muslim-brotherhood/) we not­ed that Karl Rove was act­ing as a top advi­sor to the prime min­is­ter of Swe­den at the time that Wik­iLeaks land­ed on Karl Lund­strom’s serv­er.

    The launch of the Arab Spring stemmed from a leaked State Depart­ment cable.

    Karl Rove was also chan­nel­ing mon­ey to Bernie Sanders: http://spitfirelist.com/news/bern-this-why-is-karl-rove-a-bernie-bro/

    Karl Rove was very friend­ly with Paula Broad­well, whose affair with David Petraeus led to his ouster at CIA RIGHT after the 2012 Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. This placed Michael J. Morell, who briefed Dubya on intel­li­gence mat­ters and who was WITH Dubya on the morn­ing of 9/11, at the head of CIA. http://spitfirelist.com/news/benghazi-david-petraeus-michael-j-morell-and-the-destabilization-of-the-obama-administration/

    Assange, like Snow­den, is a big Ron Paul fan: http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-755-the-adventures-of-eddie-the-friendly-spook-part-2-dramatis-personae-part-2-wikifascism-part‑3/

    Ron Paul is very close to Mitt Rom­ney: http://spitfirelist.com/news/nazi-linked-pied-piper-ron-paul-all-roads-lead-to-romney/

    Although he is from Texas, Paul’s Super PAC was in Pro­vo, Utah.

    It was large­ly cap­i­tal­ized by Peter Thiel, the largest stock­hold­er in Palan­tir which–its dis­claimers notwithstanding–makes the PRISM soft­ware at the core of L’Af­faire Snow­den.

    Peter Thiel is now a Trump del­e­gate.

    James Comey, head of the FBI, was a big sup­port­er of Mitt Rom­ney.

    He was the for­mer gen­er­al coun­sel for Bridge­wa­ter Asso­ciates, which pro­vid­ed a big chunk of start-up cap­i­tal for Palan­tir.

    http://spitfirelist.com/news/is-comey-destabilizing-the-democratic-party-for-the-gop/

    David Duke has been a big sup­port­er of Trump.

    Duke has been net­work­ing with Snow­den pres­i­den­tial selec­tion Ron Paul for decades.

    Carl Lund­strom (who financed the Pirate Bay site at which Wik­iLeaks land­ed) arranged a speak­ing tour for David Duke.

    Jermas/Shamir is part of a Russ­ian and Ukrain­ian fas­cist milieu that net­works with David Duke.

    A con­spir­a­cy?

    Nah, could­n’t be.

    I don’t believe in con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | July 25, 2016, 8:51 pm
  13. Dave I can­not dis­agree with any of your obver­sa­tions. In fact it’s over­whelm­ing­ly depress­ing. The fas­cist lin­eage of Dulles, Project Paper­clip, Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, Repub­li­can eth­nic out­reach, Yock­ey, CIA-Bush fam­i­ly endures through Rove, Assange, Snow­den, the Pauls, Thiel, IS etc. in oth­er words the Under­ground Reich. If Trump wins Amer­i­ca it will be fol­lowed by Le Pen in France and it will be much worse than just the visu­als of Nazi arm salutes in the after­math.

    Posted by Dennis | July 26, 2016, 7:41 pm
  14. @Dennis–

    Depress­ing it most assured­ly is, my friend.

    And, for me, infu­ri­at­ing.

    I’ve been watch­ing this stuff gain momen­tum for decades and peo­ple just don’t learn.

    Of course, refer­ring to the Bernie Bots as “peo­ple” is, admit­ted­ly, a reach.

    Watch­ing their pre­dictably dis­gust­ing antics in Philadel­phia brings to mind Dr. John­son’s obser­va­tion cen­turies ago: “Those who make beasts of them­selves escape the pain of being human.”

    Saint Bernard and his camp fol­low­ers think they invent­ed the wheel.

    In fact, the prob­lem of con­cen­tra­tion of own­er­ship is not only much old­er, but much more deeply entrenched than they imag­ine.

    Just lis­ten to the con­clu­sion of the orig­i­nal “Uncle Sam and the Swasti­ka” broad­cast, record­ed on May 23, 1980.

    http://spitfirelist.com/archives/f‑511b_edit.mp3

    The prob­lem most assured­ly will not be cor­rect­ed quick­ly, if ever, and cer­tain­ly not by a bunch of intem­per­ate lint-heads who could­n’t tell a dirt road from a chick­en with lips.

    I agree with the bulk of the stat­ed goals of Sanders’ cam­paign. I would also like to live for­ev­er.

    The two have the same chance of tak­ing place.

    Do not fail to note how the Assange­holes are man­i­fest­ing “tech­no­crat­ic fas­cism,” as set forth by David Golum­bia.

    http://spitfirelist.com/news/smart-technology-is-actually-a-stealthy-euphemism-for-surveillance-a-world-where-we-no-longer-exert-control-over-objects-weve-bought-from-corporations-but-corporations‑e/

    Oh well, got­ta keep on work­ing. BTW–do not fail to note that the James Stew­art Mar­tin book is avail­able for down­load for free.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | July 26, 2016, 9:02 pm
  15. Don­ald Trump spec­u­lat­ed that Russ­ian hack­ers may have also hacked Hillary Clin­ton’s email serv­er in addi­tion to the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee emails dur­ing a press con­fer­ence this morn­ing. He pro­vid­ed no evi­dence of that, but did pro­ceed to call for Rus­sia to release those emails if they have them. So the spec­u­la­tion over whether or not Don­ald Trump has some sort of spe­cial rela­tion­ship with the Krem­lin (or is sim­ply the Krem­lin’s pre­ferred US pres­i­dent with­out any spe­cial rela­tion­ship) prob­a­bly isn’t going away any time soon:

    Talk­ing Points Memo Livewire

    Trump: ‘I Hope’ Rus­sia Has Clin­ton’s Delet­ed Emails – And Releas­es Them!

    By Kather­ine Krueger
    Pub­lished July 27, 2016, 11:17 AM EDT

    In a terse press con­fer­ence Wednes­day morn­ing at his prop­er­ty in Doral, Flori­da, Don­ald Trump said he hopes that Hillary Clin­ton’s “lost” emails have fall­en into Russ­ian hands and urged the for­eign gov­ern­ment to release them.

    When asked about doc­u­ments stolen in a cyber attack on the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee’s servers, Trump sug­gest­ed hack­ers had also breached Clin­ton’s per­son­al email serv­er.

    “By the way, if they hacked, they prob­a­bly have her 33,000 emails. I hope they do,” the GOP nom­i­nee told reporters, refer­ring to Rus­sia, who secu­ri­ty experts sus­pect was behind the hack. “They prob­a­bly have her 33,000 emails that she lost and delet­ed.”

    He also addressed the coun­try direct­ly: “Rus­sia, if you’re lis­ten­ing, I hope you can find the 33,000 emails that are miss­ing. I think you will prob­a­bly be reward­ed might­i­ly by our press.”

    Clin­ton’s cam­paign has main­tained they hand­ed over all work-relat­ed State Depart­ment emails to the FBI as part of a probe into Clin­ton’s use of the pri­vate serv­er. But Trump and oth­er con­ser­v­a­tives have repeat­ed­ly ham­mered Clin­ton for delet­ing more than 30,000 emails that staffers said were “per­son­al and pri­vate,” which they have tout­ed as evi­dence of malfea­sance.

    Lat­er on in the press­er, NBC News reporter Katy Tur asked Trump to clar­i­fy his remarks.

    “Do you have any qualms about ask­ing a for­eign gov­ern­ment, Rus­sia, Chi­na, any­body, to inter­fere, to hack into a sys­tem of anybody’s in this coun­try?” she asked.

    “It’s up to the Pres­i­dent. Let the Pres­i­dent talk to them. Look, here’s the prob­lem, here’s the prob­lem, Katy. He has no respect –” Trump replied.

    “You said, ‘I wel­come them to find those 30,000 emails,’” Tur said before the mogul cut her off.

    “Well, they prob­a­bly have them. I’d like to have them released,” Trump said.

    Tur asked again: “Does that not give you pause?”

    “Nope, gives me no pause,” Trump fired back. “If they have them, they have them.”

    The GOP nom­i­nee went on to say Clin­ton’s emails give him “more pause” and shut down reporters who tried to cut in with “Be qui­et, I know you want to save her,” an appar­ent ref­er­ence to Tur.

    After the press con­fer­ence, Trump took to his pre­ferred social medi­um to some­what refine his orig­i­nal sweep­ing direc­tive.

    If Rus­sia or any oth­er coun­try or per­son has Hillary Clin­ton’s 33,000 ille­gal­ly delet­ed emails, per­haps they should share them with the FBI!— Don­ald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 27, 2016

    In a state­ment, Hillary Clin­ton’s senior pol­i­cy advis­er Jake Sul­li­van said Trump’s remarks have esca­lat­ed to “a nation­al secu­ri­ty issue.”

    ...

    “Rus­sia, if you’re lis­ten­ing, I hope you can find the 33,000 emails that are miss­ing. I think you will prob­a­bly be reward­ed might­i­ly by our press.”

    In tan­gen­tial­ly relat­ed news, some­one claim­ing to be “Anony­mous Offi­cial” appears to have hacked come­di­an Sarah Sil­ver­man’s twit­ter account and post­ed an anti-Hillary video after to Sil­ver­man, who was an enthu­si­as­tic Bernie Sanders sup­port­er through­out the pri­ma­ry, called the “Bernie or Bust” sup­port­ers “ridicu­lous” and endorsed Hillary Clin­ton at the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nation­al Con­ven­tion.

    So Anony­mous, or at least some fac­tion of Anony­mous, might be climb­ing aboard the Trump Train which is some­thing to keep in mind now that Don­ald Trump is open­ly call­ing for Rus­sia to hack Hillary Clin­ton and dump the doc­u­ments. Espe­cial­ly giv­en the recent Anony­mous civ­il war over whether to hack or back Trump:

    The Guardian

    Anti-Trump cam­paign sparks civ­il war among Anony­mous hack­ers

    Crit­ics say tar­get­ing Repub­li­can coun­ters hack­ing collective’s tra­di­tion of not tak­ing sides in polit­i­cal con­tests and oth­ers allege move­ment is being hijacked

    Nicky Woolf in Los Ange­les

    Thurs­day 24 March 2016 09.00 EDT

    The rip­ple effects of Don­ald Trump’s pres­i­den­tial can­di­da­cy have led to a civ­il war in the Repub­li­can par­ty. But they have also had the unex­pect­ed con­se­quence of lead­ing to a sub­ter­ranean civ­il war with­in Anony­mous, the mys­te­ri­ous hack­ing col­lec­tive.

    Most of the polit­i­cal oper­a­tions tar­get­ed by Anony­mous – includ­ing the Church of Sci­en­tol­ogy, Isis and the KKK – have insti­gat­ed some lev­el of inter­nal dis­pute among peo­ple claim­ing to be part of Anony­mous. But when the group announced their next tar­get would be the Trump cam­paign, it set off the most heat­ed debate yet with­in the move­ment – which has no leader and no spe­cif­ic set of aims.

    Many dis­avowed the anti-Trump oper­a­tion as being counter to Anonymous’s tra­di­tion of not tak­ing sides in polit­i­cal con­tests. (A pre­vi­ous oper­a­tion against Trump was sim­i­lar­ly derailed, albeit on a small­er scale, when anoth­er hack­er call­ing him­self Black Mafia wrest­ed con­trol of the Twit­ter account.)

    Oth­ers have even alleged the move­ment is being hijacked by either cam­paign oper­a­tives or activists try­ing to co-opt Anony­mous for their own polit­i­cal ends. On 15 March, a video was released.

    “We are feel­ing deeply con­cerned about an oper­a­tion that was launched in our name – the so-called Oper­a­tion Trump,” says the video, which, in clas­sic Anony­mous style, is nar­rat­ed by a dis­em­bod­ied com­put­erised voice.

    “We – Anony­mous – are warn­ing you about the lies and deceits pushed under our ban­ner,” the voice con­tin­ues.

    But a user named Beem­see post­ed a mes­sage to a site called Ghost­bin to defend the oper­a­tion.

    “There has been large amounts of oppo­si­tion to this oper­a­tion as many think that OpTrump aims to cen­sor Don­ald Trump’s free speech,” said Beem­see, who is linked to the Twit­ter account OpTrumpHQ. “This is not the case. We do NOT stand for a spe­cif­ic polit­i­cal ide­ol­o­gy,” Beem­see con­tin­ued.

    The Twit­ter account YourA­non­Cen­tral is one of the longest-stand­ing nodes for Anony­mous com­mu­ni­ca­tions. Its admin­is­tra­tor, who has been involved in the move­ment since its incep­tion around 2006 on the anar­chic image-board 4chan, said that the Trump and Sanders cam­paigns had been seen “active­ly attempt­ing to sub­vert and mis­use Anony­mous for their own gains”.

    “They are both using Anony­mous as a prop in their ‘war’ and it is a lie,” the admin­is­tra­tor said over Twit­ter direct mes­sage. “Anony­mous comes from every part of the polit­i­cal spec­trum, the only things we could be all (most­ly) aligned on are against the cen­sor­ship of can­di­dates by the media or against human rights vio­la­tions or sim­i­lar,” adding that mim­ic­k­ing the style of Anony­mous would be “real­ly easy” for any­one moti­vat­ed to do so.

    Some per­son­al infor­ma­tion on Trump has been released as part of the oper­a­tion, but many in the move­ment have derid­ed it as includ­ing only infor­ma­tion that was already in the pub­lic domain.

    OpTrumpTruth was one of the ear­ly Twit­ter accounts asso­ci­at­ed with the pur­port­ed action against Trump. The oper­a­tor of the account said that she had joined Anony­mous nine months ago, and had been part of pre­vi­ous oper­a­tions against Sea­World and cam­paigns in sup­port of Chelsea Man­ning.

    She described her­self as polit­i­cal­ly inde­pen­dent but said, also over Twit­ter direct mes­sage, that “we believe Mr Trump is a bla­tant hate­ful racist with enough mon­ey to buy his way to pow­er that’s some­thing that we in good con­science can’t allow”.

    Asked about the schism in the move­ment, she said that many of the major Anony­mous accounts – includ­ing YourA­non­Cen­tral – were opposed to the anti-Trump oper­a­tion because “they say Anony­mous is against the whole sys­tem not just one man.”

    She also said that there were many Trump sup­port­ers with­in Anony­mous and “those peo­ple will not want to see any­thing that brings him down.”

    ...

    “She also said that there were many Trump sup­port­ers with­in Anony­mous and “those peo­ple will not want to see any­thing that brings him down.””

    As we can see, Anony­mous has its pro-Trump and anti-Trump con­tin­gents. And while there is a Bernie Sanders con­tin­gent too, it’s real­ly not clear at all that any­one in Anony­mous is back­ing Hillary. Maybe that changed now the Bernie endorsed Hillary and Trump is poised to destroy the world but there’s no indi­ca­tion so far.

    So with pro-Trump DNC email dumps from Wik­ileaks and the ongo­ing hys­ter­ics over Hillary’s email serv­er amaz­ing­ly emerg­ing as big issues in the 2016 race and Don­ald Trump now call­ing for more hacks and data dumps, it’s worth keep­ing in mind that there’s a pro-Trump/an­ti-Trump civ­il war of sorts grip­ping Anony­mous and the results of that Anony­mous civ­il war could poten­tial­ly have a huge impact in deter­min­ing the next US Pres­i­dent.

    Because the 2016 race appar­ent­ly was­n’t f*#! up enough already.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | July 27, 2016, 2:44 pm
  16. Julian Assange made a bit of news dur­ing his inter­view on Bill Maher’s show on Fri­day: First, Assange reit­er­at­ing that Wik­ileaks ‘saved Edward Snow­den’s ass’ by escort­ing him from Hong Kong to Rus­sia (con­trary to Snow­den’s claims that he was mere­ly trapped in Moscow on route to Latin Amer­i­ca). Sec­ond, and more top­i­cal­ly, when asked why Wik­leaks isn’t released any­thing on Trump like his still undis­closed tax returns, Assange replied “we’re work­ing on it”:

    Raw Sto­ry

    Bill Maher press­es Wik­ileaks’ Assange: ‘Why don’t you hack into Trump’s tax returns?’

    Arturo Gar­cia
    05 Aug 2016 at 23:07 ET

    While dis­cussing Wik­ileaks’ release of infor­ma­tion con­cern­ing the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee, Real Time host Bill Maher took a sec­ond to ask the site’s edi­tor-in-chief, Julian Assange, about tak­ing on the oth­er side.

    “Why don’t you hack into Don­ald Trump’s tax returns?” Maher asked Assange, who was speak­ing via satel­lite from the Ecuado­ri­an embassy in Lon­don.

    “We’re work­ing on it,” Assange replied.

    While Maher told Assange he felt he should win a Nobel Prize, the two did spar when Assange said his site’s find­ings — which spurred the res­ig­na­tion of DNC head Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz — con­sti­tut­ed evi­dence of “a plot” by Demo­c­ra­t­ic offi­cials against Sen. Bernie Sanders’ cam­paign.

    “Why haven’t we seen any­thing hacked from the Trump cam­paign?” Maher asked. “Obvi­ous­ly we know these came from Rus­sia. And we also know that you do not like Hillary Clin­ton at all, as does not Vladimir Putin. It looks like you are work­ing with a bad actor, Rus­sia, to put your thumb on the scale and basi­cal­ly f*ck with the one per­son who stands in the way of us being ruled by Don­ald Trump.”

    Assange respond­ed by ask­ing Maher if he was the “William Maher” who gave a “Clin­ton-affil­i­at­ed enti­ty” $1 mil­lion.

    “F*ck no,” Maher said, after explain­ing that he donat­ed $1 mil­lion to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s 2012 re-elec­tion cam­paign as a sym­bol­ic ges­ture.

    Maher also point­ed out that for­mer NSA con­trac­tor Edward Snow­den crit­i­cized Wik­ileaks for what he called a “hos­til­i­ty to even mod­est cura­tion.”

    “He doesn’t real­ly know the def­i­n­i­tion of cura­tion,” Assange said, before argu­ing that he and Wik­ileaks “saved his ass” after Snowden’s own leak and helped him seek asy­lum.

    “I know Edward is try­ing to get a par­don at the end of the Oba­ma pres­i­den­cy,” Assange argued. “He’s play­ing that game, I under­stand.”

    ...

    ““I know Edward is try­ing to get a par­don at the end of the Oba­ma pres­i­den­cy,” Assange argued. “He’s play­ing that game, I under­stand.””

    LOL. Well, that’s pos­si­ble that Edward Snow­den is angling for a par­don although it’s unclear what Snow­den has been doing to try to get that par­don. But in mak­ing that com­ment, Assange does raise the obvi­ous ques­tion of whether or not he’s try­ing to arrange for some sort of spe­cial favor from a future Pres­i­dent Trump (this is ignor­ing Assange’s his­to­ry of cryp­to-far-right pol­i­tics and asso­ciates that would nat­u­ral­ly align him with some­one like Trump any­way).

    Of course, if Wik­ileaks real­ly was “work­ing on” get­ting Trump’s tax returns hacked and leaked that would be a strong indi­ca­tion that Assange isn’t actu­al­ly hop­ing for Pres­i­dent Trump’s bless­ings. For­tu­nate­ly, for Assange, Wik­ileaks isn’t actu­al­ly work­ing on leak­ing Trump’s tax­es. It was all a joke:

    Raw Sto­ry

    Wik­ileaks denies they’re look­ing for Trump’s tax returns — Assange claim on Maher was a ‘joke’

    Tom Bog­gioni
    06 Aug 2016 at 12:47 ET

    Sat­ur­day morn­ing, hack­tavist group Wik­iLeaks dis­missed claims by edi­tor-in-chief Julian Assange that they are active­ly search­ing for GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump’s tax returns.

    Assange, who is the face of the most­ly anony­mous orga­ni­za­tion, got into a con­tentious debate Fri­day night with HBO Real Time host Bill Maher who chal­lenged the group to inves­ti­gate Trump with the same fer­vor they have for going after for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton.

    “Why don’t you hack into Don­ald Trump’s tax returns?” Maher asked Assange, who is cur­rent­ly holed up in the Ecuado­ri­an embassy in Lon­don.

    “We’re work­ing on it,” Assange replied.

    “Why haven’t we seen any­thing hacked from the Trump cam­paign?” Maher con­tin­ued. “Obvi­ous­ly we know these [emails] came from Rus­sia. And we also know that you do not like Hillary Clin­ton at all, as does not Vladimir Putin. It looks like you are work­ing with a bad actor, Rus­sia, to put your thumb on the scale and basi­cal­ly f*ck with the one per­son who stands in the way of us being ruled by Don­ald Trump.”

    Address­ing the com­ments on Sat­ur­day morn­ing, Wik­ileaks denied look­ing into Trump or his finances, call­ing Assange’s response a “joke.”

    “Wik­iLeaks isn’t ‘work­ing on’ hack­ing Trump’s tax-returns. Claim is a joke from a com­e­dy show. We are ‘work­ing on’ encour­ag­ing whistle­blow­ers,” they post­ed on Twit­ter.

    Assange has not fol­lowed up, but was expect­ed to make a “major” announce­ment — pre­sum­ably about Clin­ton — dur­ing a video inter­view to be broad­cast at the Green Par­ty Con­ven­tion being held in Hous­ton Sat­ur­day.

    ...

    “Assange has not fol­lowed up, but was expect­ed to make a “major” announce­ment — pre­sum­ably about Clin­ton — dur­ing a video inter­view to be broad­cast at the Green Par­ty Con­ven­tion being held in Hous­ton Sat­ur­day.”

    Yep, it was all a joke. Haha. And then Assange speaks the next day at the Green Par­ty con­ven­tion, a par­ty that is, at best, deeply con­fused about the win­ner-take-all nature of the US elec­toral sys­tem or, more like­ly, is basi­cal­ly ded­i­cat­ed to help­ing Repub­li­cans win in the hopes of cre­at­ing such a mas­sive GOP-led dis­as­ter that the pub­lic sud­den­ly expe­ri­ences a green epiphany.

    So we went from Assange jok­ing about releas­ing leaks on Trump, to Wike­leaks deny­ing it, to Assange speak­ing at the Green Par­ty con­ven­tion in less than 24 hours. What’s next for Wik­ileaks and their cam­paign to make Trump pres­i­dent? Well, since he’s already pro­claimed that he has a lot more infor­ma­tion to release about Hillary, what’s next would appear to be some­thing for Julian to decide, at a time of his choos­ing. A time that will no doubt be cho­sen to max­i­mize the odds of a Trumpian pres­i­den­cy.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 8, 2016, 5:12 pm
  17. Now that we have Don­ald Trump once again hint­ing at vio­lence as the solu­tion to a Hillary Clin­ton pres­i­den­cy along with Roger Stone sug­gest­ing that the elec­tion will be rigged and the gov­ern­ment invalid and Julian Assange mak­ing it clear that he wants to do what­ev­er he can to ensure Hillary Clin­ton los­es and has more doc­u­ments that he’s sit­ting on for the right “Octo­ber Sur­prise” moment to polit­i­cal­ly dam­age her, it’s prob­a­bly worth not­ing that Roger Stone just claimed he’s in con­tact with Assange:

    Talk­ing Points Memo Livewire

    Roger Stone Claims He’s In Touch With Wik­ileaks’ Assange About Clin­ton Emails

    By Alle­gra Kirk­land
    Pub­lished August 9, 2016, 2:19 PM EDT

    Long­time Don­ald Trump ally Roger Stone claimed on Mon­day that he was in touch with the founder of Wik­ileaks about doc­u­ments the orga­ni­za­tion plans to release to derail Hillary Clin­ton’s cam­paign.

    Dur­ing a Mon­day speech to the South­west Broward Repub­li­can Orga­ni­za­tion, Stone was asked for his “fore­cast” on what the “Octo­ber sur­prise” Wik­ileaks founder Julian Assange had promised to reveal about Clin­ton may be.

    “Well, it could be any num­ber of things,” Stone said, accord­ing to video of his remarks obtained by Media Mat­ters. “I actu­al­ly have com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Assange. I believe the next tranche of his doc­u­ments per­tain to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion but there’s no telling what the Octo­ber sur­prise may be.”

    These remarks fly in the face of Stone and oth­er Trump allies’ repeat­ed claims that the gen­er­al elec­tion results may be “rigged” in Clinton’s favor.

    In July, Wik­ileaks pub­lished a trove of emails hacked from the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Committee’s servers that showed senior par­ty offi­cials mock­ing Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I‑VT) cam­paign. Com­ing just days before the party’s con­ven­tion, the emails embar­rassed the DNC and led to the ouster of for­mer chair­woman Rep. Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz (D‑FL).

    Wik­ileaks said that release was the first part of the group’s new “Hillary Leaks series,” and Assange told CNN at the time that his group might release “a lot more mate­r­i­al” rel­e­vant to the 2016 race as the elec­tion draws near­er.

    Since late July, Stone has pushed the claim that a Clin­ton vic­to­ry could only result from a “rigged” elec­tion sys­tem that favored her cam­paign.

    “If there’s vot­er fraud, this elec­tion will be ille­git­i­mate, the elec­tion of the win­ner will be ille­git­i­mate, we will have a con­sti­tu­tion­al cri­sis, wide­spread civ­il dis­obe­di­ence, and the gov­ern­ment will no longer be the gov­ern­ment,” Stone said in a pod­cast with Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopou­los, despite the over­whelm­ing evi­dence that vot­er fraud is vir­tu­al­ly nonex­is­tent in the Unit­ed States.

    ...

    “I actu­al­ly have com­mu­ni­cat­ed with Assange. I believe the next tranche of his doc­u­ments per­tain to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion but there’s no telling what the Octo­ber sur­prise may be.”

    Well, since Wik­ileaks is now clear­ly work­ing as the unof­fi­cial hack­ing squad for Trump cam­paign’s dirty tricks team it does kind of make sense that Assange would be in com­mu­ni­ca­tion with the cam­paign’s unof­fi­cial dirty tricks orga­niz­er. It may be sleazy but it makes sense, espe­cial­ly if there’s a quid pro quo being arranged between the Trump cam­paign and Assange.

    Plus, Roger is a mas­ter dirty trick­ster so he prob­a­bly has a lot of use­ful advice for Assange’s planned Octo­ber Sur­prise, which rais­es the ques­tion of what specif­i­cal­ly Roger is rec­om­mend­ing to Julian regard­ing the nature and tim­ing of planned leaks. Is Wik­ileaks going to try and help Trump trig­ger a bloody ‘Amer­i­can Spring’ this Fall? Now that the Trump cam­paign’s cen­tral strat­e­gy appears to be pre­emp­tive­ly dele­git­imiz­ing a Clin­ton pres­i­den­cy and/or prep­ping the Trump base for acts of polit­i­cal vio­lence it’s a pret­ty big ques­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 9, 2016, 5:48 pm
  18. Glenn Green­wald is now play­ing the “Jew card” against Hillary and claim­ing she is insuf­fi­cient­ly anti-semit­ic com­pared to... George W!

    https://theintercept.com/2016/07/12/george-w-bush-v-clinton-led-democrats-on-palestinians-equality-and-the-israeli-occupation/

    Posted by CarobSteviaMatte | August 10, 2016, 11:30 am
  19. @CarobSteviaMatte–

    I think Cit­i­zen Green­wald’s fas­cist cre­den­tials (his well-groomed, well-pub­li­cized “pro­gres­sive” image notwith­stand­ing) are legion (see the pro­gram descrip­tion in the upper right-hand of this page and check out the pro­gram.) I would add, how­ev­er, that being crit­i­cal of Israeli pol­i­cy vis a vis the set­tle­ments and Pales­tini­ans, in and of itself, by no means con­notes anti-Semi­tism.

    There was a recent full-page ad in the New York Times by numer­ous for­mer chiefs of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, heads of both Shin-Bet (Israel’s mil­i­tary intel­li­gence agency) and Mossad (Israel’s civil­ian for­eign intel­li­gence ser­vice) crit­i­ciz­ing Israeli pol­i­cy in this regard in strong terms.

    http://weknowwhatsup.blogspot.com/2016/07/israeli-military-and-intelligence.html

    One termed the fail­ure to arrive at a two-state solu­tion “an exis­ten­tial threat.”

    There were five or six of EACH!

    They could not be called anti-Semi­tes.

    I will be updat­ing my cov­er­age of the fas­cist ele­ment in Israel and the Zion­ist move­ment lat­er in the year.

    A key to under­stand­ing pol­i­tics is “fol­low the mon­ey.”

    In Israel, as in most places, there has been an enor­mous con­cen­tra­tion of wealth.

    Rough­ly 20 indi­vid­u­als and insti­tu­tions con­trol the coun­try.

    I think it is FUNDAMENTALLY impor­tant to grasp that the chief financier of Netanyahu is Shel­don Adel­son.

    Adel­son is also the #1 indi­vid­ual cam­paign con­trib­u­tor to the GOP.

    (The Koch broth­ers have an over­all greater finan­cial polit­i­cal war chest, but Adel­son is the largest indi­vid­ual donor.)

    One of the prin­ci­pal sources of Adel­son’s largesse is a boom­ing casi­no busi­ness in Macao, a for­mer Por­tugese colony that was set aside in the 1944 Bre­ton Woods Con­fer­ence as, in effect, a gold bul­lion mon­ey-laun­der­ing epi­cen­ter.

    This was at a time when Anto­nio Salazar was the fas­cist dic­ta­tor of Por­tu­gal. http://spitfirelist.com/news/bormann-jews-in-ukraine-and-israel-gold-warriors-bubie/

    It would be dif­fi­cult to think of a bet­ter mon­ey-laun­der­ing vehi­cle than a bunch of casi­nos.

    It is no acci­dent that both the GOP and the Likud sent rep­re­sen­ta­tives to the con­gress of Gian­fran­co Fini’s Allean­za Nazionale in the late ’90s.

    Ehud Barak–former Prime Min­is­ter and Defense Min­is­ter of Israel and its most dec­o­rat­ed veteran–recently not­ed that “the seeds of fas­cism” have been sown in Israel. http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2016/0523/Is-fascism-rising-in-Israel

    The deputy chief of the Israel Defense Force said–on Holo­caust Rem­brance Day, no less–that what hap­pened in Europe in the 1930s was hap­pen­ing in Israel now. Nei­ther he nor Barak can be char­ac­ter­ized as anti-Semi­tes. http://www.timesofisrael.com/a‑holocaust-remembrance-day-to-remember/

    The best thing for the Under­ground Reich is to main­tain the sit­u­a­tion as is, with young peo­ple increas­ing­ly sus­cep­ti­ble to the “Inter­na­tion­al Jew­ish Con­spir­a­cy” meme.

    In 200 years, I’m afraid, Hitler’s birth­day will be cel­e­brat­ed as an inter­na­tion­al hol­i­day. It will be said that “Yes, Hitler went too far, but he was just try­ing to save Ger­many from expe­ri­enc­ing the fate that befell the Unit­ed States.”

    This after the U.S. has been brought low by a series of WMD ter­ror­ist and/or cyber-ter­ror­ist attacks by Al-Qae­da, ISIS or oth­er Mus­lim Broth­er­hood linked and/or inspired ter­ror­ist groups. (Prob­a­bly assist­ed by Nazi/White suprema­cist ele­ments.) They will ratio­nal­ize this in their PR com­miniques after the acts have been com­mit­ted as strik­ing back at the inter­na­tion­al Zion­ist con­spir­a­cy.

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | August 11, 2016, 4:06 pm
  20. Mr. Emory, if you haven’t already you may want to fire up a “Bad­jack­et­ing Hillary Clin­ton” FTR series.

    The anti-Putin/Rus­sia pro­pa­gan­da cam­paign is hit­ting its stride with these Olympic games and giv­ing plen­ty of mal­con­tents enough mate­r­i­al for their dai­ly 2‑Minute Hate ses­sions. It appears Wacky-Leaks is a key com­po­nent in this Putin-Hate casse­role now being served on a tele­vi­sion near you. Astro-turf­ing is trend­ing up on FB as well in which sup­posed grass­roots left-wing pages are tout­ing this Trump/Putin alle­giance in an attempt to manip­u­late opin­ion to being favor­able for arm­ing right-wing Ukrain­ian fas­cists. Hillary’s going to be forced into action on some pho­ny Russ­ian issue or will be forced away from mak­ing any attempts at rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, much like what was done to the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion.

    Posted by Sampson | August 16, 2016, 6:14 am
  21. Roger Stone appears to be expand­ing on the “it’s all rigged” meme that’s emerg­ing as the Trump’s path to vic­to­ry: In addi­tion to in-per­son vot­er fraud (a GOP fix­a­tion which is almost non-exis­tent in the US) and elec­tron­ic vot­ing machine vot­er fraud (a far more seri­ous pos­si­bil­i­ty), Stone is assert­ing the polls are all rigged against Trump too.

    So you know all those polls that have been show­ing a grow­ing gap between Hillary Clin­ton and Trump? Yeah, those are all rigged accord­ing to Roger so if Trump is behind big on elec­tion day and los­es big, it’s because the polls and the votes were all rigged:

    The Hill

    Can the 2016 elec­tion be rigged? You bet

    By Roger Stone, con­trib­u­tor
    August 16, 2016, 09:27 am

    Don­ald Trump has said pub­licly that he fears the next elec­tion will be rigged. Based both on tech­ni­cal capa­bil­i­ty and recent his­to­ry, Trump’s con­cerns are not unfound­ed.

    A recent study by Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty proved that Hillary Clinton’s cam­paign rigged the sys­tem to steal the nom­i­na­tion from Bernie Sanders..

    What was done to Bernie Sanders in Wis­con­sin is stun­ning.

    Why would the Clin­tons not cheat again?

    The issue here is both vot­er fraud, which is lim­it­ed but does hap­pen, and elec­tion theft through the manip­u­la­tion of the com­put­er­ized vot­ing machines, par­tic­u­lar­ly the DIEBOLD/PES vot­ing machines in wide usage in most states.

    POLITICO pro­filed a Prince­ton pro­fes­sor — who has demon­strat­ed how the elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines that are most wide­ly used can be hacked in five min­utes or less! Robert Fitrakis Pro­fes­sor of Polit­i­cal Sci­ence in the Social and Behav­ioral Sci­ences Depart­ment at Colum­bus State Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege has writ­ten a must-read book on the strip and flip tech­nique sued to rig these machines. Pro­fes­sor Fitrakis is a Green Par­ty activist.

    A com­put­er hack­er showed CBS how to vote mul­ti­ple times using a sim­ple $15.00 elec­tron­ic device.

    To be very clear both par­ties have engaged in this skull­dug­gery and it is the par­ty in pow­er in each state that has cus­tody of the machines and con­trol of their pro­gram­ing. This year, the results of machines in Penn­syl­va­nia, Vir­ginia and Ohio, where Gov­er­nor John Kasich con­trols the machines, must be matched with exit polls, for exam­ple..

    Illi­nois is anoth­er obvi­ous state where Trump has been run­ning sur­pris­ing­ly strong, in what has become a Blue state. Does any­one trust May­or Rahm Emanuel, a long­time Clin­ton hatch­et man. not to mon­key with the machines? I don’t. He was using City fund­ed Com­mu­ni­ty groups to recruit anti-Trump “pro­tes­tors” who posed such a threat to pub­lic safe­ty the Trump Chica­go event was can­celed when the Secret Ser­vice couldn’t guar­an­tee his safe­ty.

    How do the pols of both par­ties do it? As easy as deter­min­ing, on the basis of hon­est polling, who is going to win. Then, if it isn’t your can­di­date, sim­ply have the votes for the oth­er guy be giv­en to your guy and vice ver­sa. You keep the total vote the same. This is where the “strip and flip” tech­nique described by Pro­fes­sor Fitrakis comes in.

    Maybe you don’t need all the votes the oth­er guy was going to get. If you have a plan in mind involv­ing votes and their redis­tri­b­u­tion, you can find a pro­gram­mer who can design the machine instruc­tions to pro­duce that out­come. Or you can hack the machine you are vot­ing in with that $15 device that you can get at BEST BUY.

    Europe has reject­ed elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines because they are untrust­wor­thy. This is not a secret. The media con­tin­ues a drum beat insist­ing vot­er fraud is non exis­tent with­out ever address­ing the more omi­nous ques­tion of manip­u­la­tion of the vot­ing machines. It keeps those in con­trol in con­trol.

    Addi­tion­al­ly some states still use machines that include no paper trail. The “evi­dence” is destroyed. Florida’s machines have no paper trail in Bush v. Gore.

    ...

    Here’s the recipe now:

    (1) Pub­lish a poll con­trived to sug­gest the result you are going to bring about.

    (2) Manip­u­late the machines to bring about pre­cise­ly your desired out­come.

    As some­one with great sen­ti­men­tal attach­ment to the Repub­li­can Par­ty, as I joined as the par­ty of Gold­wa­ter, both par­ties have engaged in vot­ing machine manip­u­la­tion. Nowhere in the coun­try has this been more true than Wis­con­sin, where there are strong indi­ca­tions that Scott Walk­er and the Reince Priebus machine rigged as many as five elec­tions includ­ing the defeat of a Walk­er recall elec­tion.

    Math­e­mati­cian and vot­ing sta­tis­tic expert Richard Charnin has pro­duced a com­pelling study by com­par­ing polling to actu­al results and exit polls to make a com­pelling case for vot­ing machine manip­u­la­tion in the Bad­ger state.

    When the Trump vs. Cruz pri­ma­ry took place, the same pat­tern emerged again of a Mar­quette Uni­ver­si­ty poll show­ing a 20 point shift from Trump ahead by 10% to Trump behind by 10%, which was sim­ply absurd. Shifts like that don’t hap­pen over brief inter­vals of time, absent a nuclear explo­sion. It didn’t make any sense — unless you knew what was going on was an “instant replay” of Walker’s vic­to­ries. The machine Priebus built was deliv­er­ing for Cruz big time.

    Today, the polling indus­try has been report­ed to be “in a state of cri­sis” because they are alter­ing their sam­ples to favor Hillary. The Reuters poll actu­al­ly got bust­ed for over­sam­pling Democ­rats in order to inflate Hillary’s lead. We even had the absur­di­ty of a Gallup poll pro­claim­ing that 51% of those who had heard Trump’s speech were less like­ly to vote for him, which was end­less­ly repeat­ed by the shills at MSNBC.

    I pre­dict­ed that Trump would lead in the polls after his high­ly suc­cess­ful con­ven­tion (despite the media fren­zy over the non-issue of a Mela­nia Trump staffer pla­gia­riz­ing a hand­ful of words). In fact, post con­ven­tion polling for the Trump effort by poll­ster Tony Fab­rizio in key swing states was encour­ag­ing. Per­haps this is why the estab­lish­ment elites have gone into over-dri­ve to attack Trump.

    Hillary hasn’t exact­ly had smooth sail­ing. Julian Assange of Wik­ileaks said he had incon­vert­ible proof that as Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton armed Isis LINK. The IRS has opened an inves­ti­ga­tion to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion and it’s many off­shoots, and Hillary got caught lying about what FBI Direc­tor Comey did say about her.

    But you will see less of Hillary’s prob­lems in the main­stream media, which has gone com­plete­ly over­board in its relent­less, even hys­ter­i­cal, efforts to lam­baste Trump and pro­mote her. Every remote­ly objec­tive com­men­ta­tor has been stunned. Trump will, how­ev­er, have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to dri­ve these points home in the debates.

    We are now liv­ing in a fake real­i­ty of con­struct­ed data and pho­ny polls. The com­put­er­ized vot­ing machines can be hacked and rigged and after the expe­ri­ence of Bernie Sanders there is no rea­son to believe they won’t be. Don’t be tak­en in.

    “We are now liv­ing in a fake real­i­ty of con­struct­ed data and pho­ny polls. The com­put­er­ized vot­ing machines can be hacked and rigged and after the expe­ri­ence of Bernie Sanders there is no rea­son to believe they won’t be. Don’t be tak­en in.”

    So there we have it: Accord­ing to Roger Stone, the polling indus­try and basi­cal­ly all elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines are rigged. And not just rigged but pri­mar­i­ly rigged against Trump. And evi­dence for this includes...the GOP appar­ent­ly rig­ging the Wis­con­sin votes includ­ing the Wis­con­sin GOP pri­ma­ry:

    ...
    As some­one with great sen­ti­men­tal attach­ment to the Repub­li­can Par­ty, as I joined as the par­ty of Gold­wa­ter, both par­ties have engaged in vot­ing machine manip­u­la­tion. Nowhere in the coun­try has this been more true than Wis­con­sin, where there are strong indi­ca­tions that Scott Walk­er and the Reince Priebus machine rigged as many as five elec­tions includ­ing the defeat of a Walk­er recall elec­tion.

    Math­e­mati­cian and vot­ing sta­tis­tic expert Richard Charnin has pro­duced a com­pelling study by com­par­ing polling to actu­al results and exit polls to make a com­pelling case for vot­ing machine manip­u­la­tion in the Bad­ger state.

    When the Trump vs. Cruz pri­ma­ry took place, the same pat­tern emerged again of a Mar­quette Uni­ver­si­ty poll show­ing a 20 point shift from Trump ahead by 10% to Trump behind by 10%, which was sim­ply absurd. Shifts like that don’t hap­pen over brief inter­vals of time, absent a nuclear explo­sion. It didn’t make any sense — unless you knew what was going on was an “instant replay” of Walker’s vic­to­ries. The machine Priebus built was deliv­er­ing for Cruz big time.

    ...

    That’s some fas­ci­nat­ing evi­dence for why all this rig­ging would be done in favor of Hillary Clin­ton. So is Scott Walk­er assumed to be root­ing for the Clin­ton cam­paign at this point? That would appear to be one of Stone’s assump­tions. But beyond that, Stone must be assum­ing that almost all GOP gov­er­nors are plan­ning on rig­ging their state elec­tions against Trump since, as he sug­gest­ed, its the par­ty in con­trol of each state that ulti­mate­ly con­trols the elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines and their code:

    ...

    To be very clear both par­ties have engaged in this skull­dug­gery and it is the par­ty in pow­er in each state that has cus­tody of the machines and con­trol of their pro­gram­ing. This year, the results of machines in Penn­syl­va­nia, Vir­ginia and Ohio, where Gov­er­nor John Kasich con­trols the machines, must be matched with exit polls, for exam­ple.

    ...

    Now, if there is some sort of orga­nized vote rig­ging in a state it’s not unrea­son­able to assume that the par­ty in con­trol of the state gov­ern­ment is going to be one doing the rig­ging. But when you con­sid­er that the GOP has a sys­tem­at­ic advan­tage in win­ning state gov­ern­ments (due to the over­whelm­ing num­ber of states that elect their gov­er­nors in off-year elec­tions) and 70 per­cent of state leg­is­la­tures, 60 per­cent of gov­er­nors, and 55 per­cent of attor­neys gen­er­al and sec­re­taries of state are con­trolled by the GOP, by Roger Stone’s own log­ic the cam­paign that should be freak­ing out about elec­tron­ic vot­ing machine fraud is the Clin­ton cam­paign unless Stone is sug­gest­ing that GOP gov­er­nors like Kasich are secret­ly going to try to rig the vote for Clin­ton, it would seem that the cam­paign that should be seri­ous­ly con­cerned about the GOP rig­ging the vote in states like Ohio is the Clin­ton cam­paign. Which is prob­a­bly a rea­son­able Clin­ton cam­paign con­cern. Espe­cial­ly now that Roger Stone is not sim­ply lay­ing the ground­work for try­ing to dele­git­imize a Clin­ton vic­to­ry by declar­ing polls and elec­tron­ic vot­ing machines all rigged, he’s also lay­ing the ground­work for the GOP to steal the elec­tion even if Trump is way down in the polls on elec­tion day.

    How so? Well, recall the mys­tery fol­low­ing the 2012 elec­tion when some­one from Anony­mous claimed to have wit­ness and thwart­ed an attempt­ed GOP vote-rig­ging scheme. Well, whether or not that was true, there’s noth­ing stop­ping a pro-Trump Anony­mous fac­tion from declar­ing the same thing this year as cov­er for a real pro-Trump vote-rig­ging scheme. Think about it: Let’s assume the GOP just goes all out and rigs the vote (elec­tron­i­cal­ly and via all its oth­er vot­er-sup­pres­sion tech­niques) enough to give Trump a tight vic­to­ry despite polls show­ing Hillary with a sub­stan­tial lead. Well, thanks to Stone’s “it’s all rigged” cam­paign, when every­one is scratch­ing their head try­ing to fig­ure out Trump’s incred­i­ble come from behind vic­to­ry when all the polls showed him way behind, Roger Stone will be there say­ing “hey, I’ve told you guys all along that those polls were all rigged and now our Anony­mous friends stopped the planned vote rig­ging too. We won, losers!” Who knows, maybe Julian Assange will join in the fun.

    And while that kind of out­come might not pass muster with most of the coun­try and would prob­a­bly lead to a major chal­lenge to the elec­tion result, it could be enough to sat­is­fy the GOP base. And at that point, it’s pre­sum­ably back to Stone’s Plan B (where “B” is for “Blood­bath”) in the event of any elec­tion result chal­lenges, but Plan B from the much more advan­ta­geous posi­tion of hav­ing alleged­ly won.

    So that’s where are. The cam­paign out to burn down soci­ety has declared that noth­ing is real. Noth­ing except the meta­phys­i­cal cer­tain­ty that Don­ald Trump can’t lose.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | August 16, 2016, 3:17 pm
  22. Here is an alter­na­tive view to the right wing attacks on Hillary Clin­ton that gets min­i­mal media atten­tion:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/plum-line/wp/2016/08/23/the-latest-clinton-email-story-just-isnt-a-scandal/?utm_term=.2c0409e7852b

    The lat­est Clin­ton email sto­ry just isn’t a scan­dal

    There’s a new round of “rev­e­la­tions” con­cern­ing Hillary Clinton’s time at the State Depart­ment today, and since it involves some peo­ple send­ing emails to oth­er peo­ple, it gets wrapped up with that oth­er sto­ry about Clin­ton. Are you ready for the shock­ing news, the scan­dalous details, the mind-blow­ing malfea­sance? Well hold on to your hat, because here it is:

    When Hillary Clin­ton was Sec­re­tary of State, many peo­ple want­ed to speak with her.

    Aston­ish­ing, I know.

    Here’s the truth: every devel­op­ment in any sto­ry hav­ing to do with any­thing involv­ing email and Hillary Clin­ton is going to get trum­pet­ed on the front page as though it were scan­dalous, no mat­ter what the sub­stance of it actu­al­ly is. I’ll dis­cuss some rea­sons why in a moment, but we could have no bet­ter evi­dence than the treat­ment of this par­tic­u­lar sto­ry.

    Let’s briefly sum­ma­rize what’s so earth-shak­ing that it gets front-page treat­ment on both the New York Times and the Wash­ing­ton Post today, not to men­tion untold hours of breath­less cable news dis­cus­sion. There are actu­al­ly two sto­ries in one.

    The first is that a fed­er­al judge has ordered the State Depart­ment to speed up its review of approx­i­mate­ly 15,000 pre­vi­ous­ly undis­closed emails that the FBI retrieved off of Clinton’s serv­er. We have no idea what’s in them. It could be some­thing hor­ri­fy­ing, or it could be utter­ly banal. My money’s on the lat­ter, but it’ll be a while before we know.

    The sec­ond sto­ry is that Judi­cial Watch, an orga­ni­za­tion that has been pur­su­ing Clin­ton for many years, has released a trove of emails it obtained through Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act requests, emails that sup­pos­ed­ly show how donors to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion got spe­cial access, and pre­sum­ably spe­cial favors, from Clin­ton while she was at State.

    The only prob­lem is that the emails in ques­tion reveal noth­ing of the sort. What they actu­al­ly reveal is that a few foun­da­tion donors want­ed access, but didn’t actu­al­ly get it.

    Let’s look at that sto­ry. It men­tions three spe­cif­ic requests sent to Clin­ton aide Huma Abe­din by Doug Band, an exec­u­tive at the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, on behalf of peo­ple who had con­tributed to the Foun­da­tion:

    A sports exec­u­tive who had donat­ed to the foun­da­tion want­ed to arrange for a visa for a British soc­cer play­er to vis­it the Unit­ed States; he was hav­ing trou­ble get­ting one because of a crim­i­nal con­vic­tion. Abe­din said she’d look into it, but there’s no evi­dence she did any­thing and the play­er didn’t get his visa.

    Bono, who had donat­ed to the foun­da­tion, want­ed to have some kind of arrange­ment where­by upcom­ing U2 con­certs would be broad­cast to the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion. Abe­din was puz­zled by this request, and noth­ing was ever done about it.

    The Crown Prince of Bahrain, who had donat­ed to the foun­da­tion, want­ed to meet with Clin­ton on a vis­it to Wash­ing­ton. Abe­din respond­ed to Band that the Bahrai­nis had already made that request through nor­mal diplo­mat­ic chan­nels. The two did end up meet­ing.
    And that’s it. If there were any­thing more scan­dalous there, have no doubt that Judi­cial Watch would have brought it to reporters’ eager atten­tion. So: Nobody got spe­cial favors and nobody got “access,” except for the sec­ond-high­est-rank­ing offi­cial of an impor­tant U.S. ally in the Mid­dle East (Bahrain is, among oth­er things, the site of an Amer­i­can naval base that is home to the 5th Fleet and the U.S. Naval Forces Cen­tral Com­mand). While Bahrain has donat­ed mon­ey to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion to fund a schol­ar­ship pro­gram that the Foun­da­tion admin­is­ters, it’s safe to say that the Crown Prince meet­ing with the U.S. Sec­re­tary of State is not an unusu­al occur­rence.

    Here I’ll insert my usu­al caveat, which is that Clin­ton was wrong to use a pri­vate sys­tem for email while she was at the State Depart­ment. Among oth­er things, it was a vio­la­tion of depart­men­tal pol­i­cy. It will also be remem­bered as one of the most colos­sal polit­i­cal screw-ups in mod­ern times. In an effort to save her­self the has­sle of end­less FOIA requests and law­suits from the likes of Judi­cial Watch (I don’t believe her asser­tion that she want­ed to use a pri­vate sys­tem for the sake of con­ve­nience), she cre­at­ed mon­u­men­tal polit­i­cal trou­ble for her­self, to the point that it’s the one thing that might keep her from win­ning the White House.

    But that doesn’t mean that any sto­ry touch­ing on her emails deserves scream­ing head­lines and dark insin­u­a­tions, and this one cer­tain­ly doesn’t. So why isn’t it on page A14 where it belongs? The most impor­tant rea­son is the old­est one: the “Clin­ton Rules,” which state that any alle­ga­tion about Bill and/or Hillary Clin­ton, no mat­ter how out­landish and no mat­ter how thin the evi­dence for it, should be treat­ed as seri­ous and wor­thy of extend­ed atten­tion and unre­strained spec­u­la­tion. In 2016, that’s even more true for any­thing involv­ing anybody’s emails.

    And it means that the most com­mon habits and occur­rences will often be cast in sin­is­ter terms, even when there’s noth­ing out of the ordi­nary about them. Do pow­er­ful peo­ple, orga­ni­za­tions, and coun­tries donate mon­ey to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion so they can rub shoul­ders with Bill Clin­ton? You bet they do. That’s the whole mod­el: exploit Clinton’s celebri­ty to raise mon­ey which can then be used to make progress on impor­tant issues like cli­mate change and glob­al health. It’s also the mod­el every celebri­ty uses when they try to raise mon­ey for their pet caus­es, whether it’s George Clooney or Pey­ton Man­ning or even Don­ald Trump.

    Like­wise, a healthy por­tion of Huma Abedin’s job as Clinton’s clos­est aide seems to have con­sist­ed of field­ing requests from peo­ple who want­ed to get her boss’s time and atten­tion. That’s the way it is with many pow­er­ful peo­ple, in pol­i­tics or any oth­er realm. If we were able to see all the emails from the office of any sen­a­tor, Demo­c­rat or Repub­li­can, we’d see the same thing: a steady stream of peo­ple ask­ing, on their own behalf or some­one else’s, for the senator’s time. Donors, busi­ness­peo­ple, advo­cates, con­stituents, they all want to talk to the per­son whose pic­ture is on all the walls.

    If we find cas­es where some­one actu­al­ly received some favor or con­sid­er­a­tion they didn’t deserve, then depend­ing on the details it might actu­al­ly be scan­dalous. But an email dis­cus­sion of Bono’s wacky idea to send U2 con­certs to the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion is not a scan­dal.

    Posted by Anonymous | August 25, 2016, 4:41 am
  23. With the US media estab­lish­ment clear­ly intent on doing what­ev­er it can to help Don­ald Trump become pres­i­dent by fix­at­ing on Rorschach ‘scan­dals’ like Hillary Clin­ton’s email serv­er or who made dona­tions to the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion, it’s worth not­ing that it was just report­ed that one of the two major can­di­dates was forced to pay a $2,500 IRS penal­ty over a polit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tion made by their char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion over a dona­tion that foun­da­tion made to a gov­ern­ment offi­cial who was inves­ti­gat­ing this can­di­date over cor­rup­tion and fraud charges. It’s also worth not­ing that there has­n’t actu­al­ly been much report­ing on this report most­ly like­ly because it’s about Don­ald Trump:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Trump pays IRS a penal­ty for his foun­da­tion vio­lat­ing rules with gift to aid Flori­da attor­ney gen­er­al

    By David A. Fahren­thold Sep­tem­ber 1, 2016

    Don­ald Trump paid the IRS a $2,500 penal­ty this year, an offi­cial at Trump’s com­pa­ny said, after it was revealed that Trump’s char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion had vio­lat­ed tax laws by giv­ing a polit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tion to a cam­paign group con­nect­ed to Flori­da’s attor­ney gen­er­al.

    The improp­er dona­tion, a $25,000 gift from the Don­ald J. Trump Foun­da­tion, was made in 2013. At the time, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Pam Bon­di was con­sid­er­ing whether to inves­ti­gate fraud alle­ga­tions against Trump Uni­ver­si­ty. She decid­ed not to pur­sue the case.

    Ear­li­er this year, The Wash­ing­ton Post and a lib­er­al watch­dog group raised new ques­tions about the three-year-old gift. The watch­dog group, Cit­i­zens for Respon­si­bil­i­ty and Ethics in Wash­ing­ton, filed a com­plaint with the IRS — not­ing that, as a reg­is­tered non­prof­it, the Trump Foun­da­tion was not allowed to make polit­i­cal dona­tions.

    The Post report­ed anoth­er error, which had the effect of obscur­ing the polit­i­cal gift from the IRS.

    In that year’s tax fil­ings, The Post report­ed, the Trump Foun­da­tion did not noti­fy the IRS of this polit­i­cal dona­tion. Instead, Trump’s foun­da­tion list­ed a dona­tion — also for $25,000 — to a Kansas char­i­ty with a name sim­i­lar to that of Bondi’s polit­i­cal group. In fact, Trump’s foun­da­tion had not giv­en the Kansas group any mon­ey.

    The pro­hib­it­ed gift was, in effect, replaced with an inno­cent-sound­ing but nonex­is­tent dona­tion.

    Trump’s busi­ness said it was unaware of any of these mis­takes until March, when it heard from the watch­dog group and The Post.

    On Thurs­day, Jef­frey McConney — senior vice pres­i­dent and con­troller at the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion — said that after being noti­fied, Trump filed paper­work inform­ing the IRS of the polit­i­cal gift and paid an excise tax equal to 10 per­cent of its val­ue.

    McConney said that Trump had also per­son­al­ly reim­bursed the Trump Foun­da­tion for $25,000, cov­er­ing the full val­ue of the improp­er gift. McConney blamed a series of mis­takes, all of them unin­ten­tion­al. McConney said there had been no attempt to deceive.

    “It was just an hon­est mis­take,” McConney said. He added: “It wasn’t done inten­tion­al­ly to hide a polit­i­cal dona­tion, it was just an error.”

    McConney said that he believed Trump had now done every­thing nec­es­sary to rec­ti­fy the error. “We’ve done what [we] were instruct­ed to do,” he said.

    Trump start­ed the Don­ald J. Trump Foun­da­tion in the late 1980s, to give away pro­ceeds from his book, “The Art of the Deal.” He remains the foun­da­tion’s pres­i­dent, but — in recent years — Trump has stopped putting his own mon­ey into its cof­fers. Tax records show no gifts from Trump him­self to the foun­da­tion since 1988; it has instead received dona­tions from a smat­ter­ing of Trump’s friends and busi­ness asso­ciates.

    The Trump Foun­da­tion has no paid staff and rel­a­tive­ly lit­tle mon­ey for a super­wealthy man’s per­son­al char­i­ty: At the end of 2014, it had $1.3 mil­lion in the bank. The foun­da­tion’s giv­ing is small and scat­ter­shot, with its gifts often sent to peo­ple whom Trump knows, or char­i­ties that hold their galas at his prop­er­ties in New York and Flori­da.

    In this case, Trump staffers said that a series of unusu­al — and unre­lat­ed — errors by peo­ple work­ing for Trump had led to both the improp­er dona­tion and to the omis­sion of that dona­tion from the foun­da­tion’s tax fil­ings.

    The sequence began when Bon­di her­self solicit­ed a dona­tion from Trump. That solic­i­ta­tion was report­ed this year by the Asso­ci­at­ed Press. That request came as Bon­di was con­sid­er­ing alle­ga­tions that Trump Uni­ver­si­ty — a real estate sem­i­nar busi­ness — had defraud­ed cus­tomers in Flori­da.

    Trump decid­ed to give to the group con­nect­ed to Bon­di, called “And Jus­tice for All.”

    Then, a request for a check was sent to an accounts-payable clerk at Trump’s head­quar­ters. This clerk was empow­ered to cut checks from both Trump’s per­son­al account and from the Trump Foun­da­tion.

    In most cas­es, polit­i­cal con­tri­bu­tions were paid out of Trump’s own account. But, in this case, that did­n’t hap­pen.

    In March, Trump’s chief finan­cial offi­cer told The Post that a mis­take occurred when an account­ing clerk — fol­low­ing office pro­to­col — looked in a book that con­tained a list of all offi­cial char­i­ties. The clerk’s stand­ing order from Trump was that, if the pay­ee was list­ed in this book of char­i­ties, the check should be paid from the Trump Foun­da­tion, not from Trump’s own account.

    The clerk found a group called “And Jus­tice for All” list­ed in the book.

    The clerk cut the check from the Trump Foun­da­tion.

    But that was wrong.

    Trump’s chief finan­cial offi­cer, Allen Weis­sel­berg, told The Post that the char­i­ty in the book was actu­al­ly from Utah, and uncon­nect­ed to Bon­di. If the clerk had known that the check was meant for a polit­i­cal group, Weis­sel­berg said, “we would have tak­en it out of [Trump’s] own per­son­al account.”

    After that, a check from the foun­da­tion went out. It did not go to Utah but to Bondi’s group in Flori­da, and was deposit­ed.

    Then, when the Trump Foun­da­tion sent in its tax fil­ings that year, it com­pound­ed the orig­i­nal error by leav­ing out any men­tion of a polit­i­cal gift. When the IRS form asked if the Trump Foun­da­tion had spent mon­ey for polit­i­cal pur­pos­es that year, the foun­da­tion wrote “No.”

    Then, the Trump Foun­da­tion told the IRS about a gift that did not exist.

    The foun­da­tion told the IRS that it had giv­en $25,000 to a third group, a char­i­ty in Kansas with a sim­i­lar name, “Jus­tice for All.” In fact, the Trump Foun­da­tion had not actu­al­ly sent the Kansas group any mon­ey.

    This new, incor­rect list­ing had the effect of cam­ou­flag­ing the pro­hib­it­ed gift. Trump’s CFO said that the list­ing of the Kansas group was anoth­er mis­take, made by the foun­da­tion’s accoun­tants.

    The Post asked McConney, the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion con­troller, for a copy of the IRS form that Trump had filed along with his $2,500 penal­ty tax. McConney said he would check to see if it could be released.

    ...

    But on Thurs­day, the lib­er­al watch­dog group said that the Trump Foun­da­tion needs to do more that it has. Under IRS rules, it appears that the Trump Foun­da­tion must seek to get the mon­ey back from the polit­i­cal group.

    Although Trump has appar­ent­ly reim­bursed the foun­da­tion, “that’s not the same,” said Jor­dan Libowitz, of Cit­i­zens for Respon­si­bil­i­ty and Ethics in Wash­ing­ton. “It’s about get­ting the mon­ey back from the orga­ni­za­tion that was­n’t allowed to have it in the first place.”

    So far, that has­n’t hap­pened.

    In fact, the trea­sur­er of Bondi’s polit­i­cal group said that she had actu­al­ly tried to send the mon­ey back, with­out suc­cess.

    “I wrote a check, sent it via FedEx. I received a call from the Trump Foun­da­tion, say­ing that they had declined to accept the refund,” said Nan­cy Watkins in an inter­view with The Post. She said this had hap­pened in the spring, after she learned that the Trump Foun­da­tion was not allowed to make polit­i­cal gifts.

    Watkins said she was told, “Mr. Trump had reim­bursed the foun­da­tion with a per­son­al check. And that was the end of it.”

    “The sequence began when Bon­di her­self solicit­ed a dona­tion from Trump. That solic­i­ta­tion was report­ed this year by the Asso­ci­at­ed Press. That request came as Bon­di was con­sid­er­ing alle­ga­tions that Trump Uni­ver­si­ty — a real estate sem­i­nar busi­ness — had defraud­ed cus­tomers in Flori­da.”

    Yes, this com­e­dy of “errors” all start­ed after Flori­da’s Attor­ney Gen­er­al solicit­ed Don­ald Trump for a dona­tion as she was con­sid­er­ing fraud alle­ga­tions against him. A com­e­dy of errors that appears to involve both mak­ing the ille­gal dona­tion and then lying about it to the IRS:

    ...
    In March, Trump’s chief finan­cial offi­cer told The Post that a mis­take occurred when an account­ing clerk — fol­low­ing office pro­to­col — looked in a book that con­tained a list of all offi­cial char­i­ties. The clerk’s stand­ing order from Trump was that, if the pay­ee was list­ed in this book of char­i­ties, the check should be paid from the Trump Foun­da­tion, not from Trump’s own account.

    The clerk found a group called “And Jus­tice for All” list­ed in the book.

    The clerk cut the check from the Trump Foun­da­tion.

    But that was wrong.

    Trump’s chief finan­cial offi­cer, Allen Weis­sel­berg, told The Post that the char­i­ty in the book was actu­al­ly from Utah, and uncon­nect­ed to Bon­di. If the clerk had known that the check was meant for a polit­i­cal group, Weis­sel­berg said, “we would have tak­en it out of [Trump’s] own per­son­al account.”

    After that, a check from the foun­da­tion went out. It did not go to Utah but to Bondi’s group in Flori­da, and was deposit­ed.

    Then, when the Trump Foun­da­tion sent in its tax fil­ings that year, it com­pound­ed the orig­i­nal error by leav­ing out any men­tion of a polit­i­cal gift. When the IRS form asked if the Trump Foun­da­tion had spent mon­ey for polit­i­cal pur­pos­es that year, the foun­da­tion wrote “No.”

    Then, the Trump Foun­da­tion told the IRS about a gift that did not exist.

    ...

    And after all that, he ends up only pay­ing only a $2,500 fine.

    So, giv­en the fact that the press has appar­ent­ly already decid­ed that, despite any evi­dence, the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion is some sort of giant mon­ey-laun­der­ing front for the pur­pose of hid­ing all the mon­ey the Clin­tons get from dic­ta­tors around the world to finance her goal of cor­rupt­ing every­thing and cre­at­ing a glob­al dic­ta­tor­ship intent on killing free­dom every­where, one might expect that there would be all sorts of atten­tion to this sto­ry about Trump actu­al­ly get­ting caught mak­ing “pay for play” dona­tions to an Attor­ney Gen­er­al who was inves­ti­gat­ing him over fraud alle­ga­tions and then lying about it to the IRS. How could there not be? If Hillary Clin­ton gave a white nation­al­ist rant about how Lati­nos are a threat to democ­ra­cy, that would be pret­ty big news, right? And yet some­how Trump get­ting caught doing exact­ly the kind of thing the press is obsessed with sug­gest­ing that Hillary might be doing is a total none-sto­ry. Again! Don’t for­get that this isn’t the first time there’s been report­ing on this top­ic that made it very clear that Trump was buy­ing off Flori­da’s Repub­li­can Attor­ney Gen­er­al. It’s only popped up again because the IRS fine was­n’t known before.

    So some­how what should be a block­buster sto­ry about Don­ald Trump engag­ing in exact­ly the kind of behav­ior the press is obsessed with asso­ci­at­ing with Hillary Clin­ton is get­ting basi­cal­ly ignored again. Just a cou­ple months before the elec­tion. It’s an amaz­ing­ly deranged sit­u­a­tion:

    Talk­ing Points Memo Edi­tor’s blog

    You Failed, Chumps

    By Josh Mar­shall
    Pub­lished Sep­tem­ber 3, 2016, 2:05 PM EDT

    We’ve had a num­ber of looks recent­ly at how The New York Times appears to be revis­it­ing its ‘white­wa­ter’ glo­ry days with its increas­ing­ly par­o­d­ic cov­er­age of the “Clin­ton Foun­da­tion” — I’m adding scare quotes to match the dra­mat­ic effect, even though of course the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion is a named legal enti­ty. Beyond the ‘clouds’ and ‘shad­ows’ TPM Read­er AR flagged to our atten­tion, as Paul Glas­tris explains here, the lat­est install­ment from the Times explains how Bill Clin­ton’s request for diplo­mat­ic pass­ports for aides accom­pa­ny­ing him on a mis­sion to secure the release of two US jour­nal­ists held cap­tive in North Korea con­sti­tutes the lat­est damn­ing rev­e­la­tions about the cor­rupt ties between the Foun­da­tion and the Clin­ton State Depart­ment.

    The Times unique­ly, though only as a lead­ing exam­ple for the rest of the nation­al press, has a decades’ long his­to­ry of being lead around by rightwing oppo­si­tion researchers into dead ends which amount to jour­nal­is­tic com­e­dy — espe­cial­ly when it comes to the Clin­tons. But here, while all this is hap­pen­ing we have a real live spec­i­men exam­ple of direct polit­i­cal and pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al cor­rup­tion, mis­use of a 501c3 non­prof­it and var­i­ous efforts to con­ceal this cor­rup­tion and the under­ly­ing cor­rup­tion of Trump’s ‘Trump Uni­ver­si­ty’ real estate sem­i­nar scam. It’s all there — light­ly report­ed here and there — but large­ly ignored.

    The core infor­ma­tion here isn’t new and it’s def­i­nite­ly not based on my report­ing. Much of it stems form the on-going and seem­ing­ly inde­fati­ga­ble work of Wash­ing­ton Post reporter David A. Fahren­thold who’s been chron­i­cling Trump’s long list of non-exis­tent or promised but non-exis­tent char­i­ta­ble con­tri­bu­tions. In this case, it goes to a $25,000 con­tri­bu­tion Trump made to the reelec­tion cam­paign of Flori­da Attor­ney Gen­er­al Pam Bon­di in 2013. The neglect­ed sto­ry has only popped up again now because Trump was penal­ized by the IRS for a rel­a­tive­ly tech­ni­cal part of the cor­rupt act.

    This first prob­lem was ele­men­tary and obvi­ous, prob­a­bly stem­ming from Trump’s almost patho­log­i­cal cheap­ness. He made the cam­paign con­tri­bu­tion from his Foun­da­tion. This part is straight­for­ward. You can’t do that.

    But then, as Fahren­thold details, Trump or how­ev­er was han­dling the paper­work went to great lengths to con­ceal the improp­er con­tri­bu­tion.. In this case, the efforts to con­ceal the con­tri­bu­tions from the rel­e­vant fed­er­al author­i­ties is a much big­ger deal than the under­ly­ing offense since the ini­tial con­tri­bu­tion could con­ceiv­ably have been made by some­one in Trump’s orga­ni­za­tion who did­n’t real­ize that funds could­n’t be com­min­gled in this way. The first step could have been based in igno­rance or haste; the sec­ond clear­ly stems from bad faith and pos­si­bly crim­i­nal intent.

    But all of these pale in com­par­i­son to the essence of the trans­ac­tion itself. Trump made this sub­stan­tial con­tri­bu­tion to Bon­di at just the moment when her office was eval­u­at­ing whether to bring legal action against Trump’s ‘Trump Uni­ver­si­ty’ real estate sem­i­nar scam. Indeed, Bon­di admits she reached out to Trump to solic­it the con­tri­bu­tion just as the deci­sion was on her desk. She even­tu­al­ly declined to take legal action against Trump, over­rul­ing the rec­om­men­da­tions of career inves­ti­ga­tors.

    A mount­ing legal case was also under­way in Texas, by career inves­ti­ga­tors under then-Attor­ney Gen­er­al and now Gov­er­nor Greg Abbott. Abbott over­ruled the inves­ti­ga­tors rec­om­men­da­tion for legal action. Short­ly there­after Abbott got $35,000 from Trump. In this case Trump at least mad the con­tri­bu­tion with­out the com­min­gling of non­prof­it funds that go them in trou­ble in Flori­da.

    The one place where Trump’s mon­ey or influ­ence did­n’t make the cut was in New York State under Attor­ney Gen­er­al Eric Schnei­der­man. The New York State case is one of sev­er­al pub­lic and pri­vate law­suits try­ing to recoup dam­ages for vic­tims of Trump’s sem­i­nar scam.

    At the risk of stat­ing the obvi­ous, these facts are text­book exam­ples of the sort of polit­i­cal and pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al cor­rup­tion jour­nal­ists are sup­posed to uncov­er. Trump used mon­ey to buy pro­tec­tion from the con­se­quences of his bad acts from friend­ly politi­cians. He then tried to cov­er up his pay­ment of pro­tec­tion mon­ey. And on top of all that he made the either bizarre or incom­pe­tent mis­take of pay­ing the pro­tec­tion mon­ey out of his Foun­da­tion — the mon­ey from which most­ly comes from oth­er peo­ple beside Trump.

    So here you have straight-up bad acts, polit­i­cal cor­rup­tion to enable pros­e­cu­to­r­i­al cor­rup­tion to escape the con­se­quences of fraud per­pe­trat­ed on vul­ner­a­ble con­sumers. And yet the page space gets ded­i­cat­ed to Clin­ton Foun­da­tion sto­ries which raise ‘ques­tions’ that could ‘cre­ate appear­ances’ and all oth­er jour­nal­is­tic workarounds reporters use when they haven’t found what they were look­ing for. The North Korea res­cue mis­sion Glas­tris pin­points in the Times lat­est sal­vo just gets the whole enter­prise to the point of self-par­o­dy.

    Now why this dis­junc­ture?

    I think there are basi­cal­ly three rea­sons, some more under­stand­able than oth­ers but none of them good. The first is that the Times had a decades long insti­tu­tion­al issue with the Clin­tons. There’s no oth­er way to put. It goes beyond sin­gle reporters and even indi­vid­ual exec­u­tives edi­tors. Why this is the case I’ll leave to biog­ra­phers and psy­chol­o­gists. But that it is the case is obvi­ous from read­ing a quar­ter cen­tu­ry of their report­ing on the top­ic.

    The oth­er two rea­sons are dif­fer­ent. Many reporters and edi­tors sim­ply take it as a giv­en that Trump’s a crook. So sto­ries about Trump’s cor­rup­tion amount to what jour­nal­ists call dog bites man sto­ries — not real­ly news because it’s the norm and whol­ly expect­ed. The sec­ond relat­ed point is that many reporters and edi­tors at a basic lev­el don’t take Trump seri­ous­ly as a real can­di­date. Jour­nal­ists only probed so far into Ben Car­son­’s var­i­ous mul­ti-lev­el mar­ket­ing scams and churn­ing through mil­lions of dol­lars of small donor con­tri­bu­tions to enrich con­sul­tants because Ben Car­son was clear­ly nev­er going to be pres­i­dent.

    ...

    I should be clear here that while the Times is pos­si­bly the worst offend­er because of the scale of the fail­ure and the influ­ence the Times exerts far beyond its own pages, it’s far from alone. They’re just the tip of the spear of the gen­er­al­ized fail­ure to apply even a small frac­tion of the scruti­ny to Trump that they have to the Clin­tons or to make an hon­est eval­u­a­tion of the fact that the sto­ry they were sold by var­i­ous right wing groups — crit­i­cal ones fund­ed by none oth­er than Bre­it­bart’s Steve Ban­non (now Trump’s cam­paign man­ag­er) — sim­ply did­n’t pan out.

    In the sim­plest sense, they were just suck­ered and used and got played. It’s a fail­ure of gre­hat pro­por­tions, not at all unlike back when they were played by sim­i­lar forces in the ‘white­wa­ter’ era. As Trump might say, Sad!

    “I should be clear here that while the Times is pos­si­bly the worst offend­er because of the scale of the fail­ure and the influ­ence the Times exerts far beyond its own pages, it’s far from alone. They’re just the tip of the spear of the gen­er­al­ized fail­ure to apply even a small frac­tion of the scruti­ny to Trump that they have to the Clin­tons or to make an hon­est eval­u­a­tion of the fact that the sto­ry they were sold by var­i­ous right wing groups — crit­i­cal ones fund­ed by none oth­er than Bre­it­bart’s Steve Ban­non (now Trump’s cam­paign man­ag­er) — sim­ply did­n’t pan out.

    Part of what’s so sad about all this is that the bizarre deci­sions of the main­stream media to basi­cal­ly ignore Trump’s estab­lished pat­terns of crim­i­nal­i­ty — because that would be a ‘dog bites man’ sto­ry — and instead hyper­fo­cus on every last spec­u­la­tive alle­ga­tion against Hillary Clin­ton, is both the aver­age pub­lic and the elites are simul­ta­ne­ous­ly using Hillary Clin­ton as sort of Wick­er­woman for the pur­pose of purifi­ca­tion through rit­u­al immo­la­tion: There seems to be this sen­ti­ment that if the pub­lic rejects Hillary (by vot­ing third-par­ty or vot­ing for Trump), they have effec­tive­ly reject­ed that entire pow­er estab­lish­ment that Hillary has come to rep­re­sent in the minds of so many vot­ers. Hillary is the pro-elites/pro-super-rich/pro-oli­garch “Estab­lish­ment”. She is its avatar in the minds of a large swathe of vot­ers. And if she los­es in Novem­ber, the Amer­i­can “Estab­lish­ment” los­es. At least the per­cep­tion held by a num­ber of vot­er. At the same time, the main­stream press and right-wing press — which is over­whelm­ing owned by the super-rich and large­ly push­es a pro-super-rich agen­da — has been engag­ing in full-throat­ed Clin­ton Derange­ment Syn­drome for years, where sto­ries about alleged and/or sus­pect­ed cor­rup­tion (i.e. right-wing rumor mon­ger­ing) are breath­less­ly cov­ered while the far more exten­sive, and doc­u­ment­ed, sto­ries about ram­pant sys­temic cor­rup­tion (like almost every­thing the GOP does these days) gets ignored. By por­tray­ing Hillary as the Witch Queen of the Amer­i­can Estab­lish­ment, the rab­ble gets a fake purg­ing of the Estab­lish­ment and the Estab­lish­ment gets a real purg­ing of any mean­ing­ful dis­cus­sion about the role it’s played in cre­at­ing a gov­ern­ment loathed by so much of the pub­lic.

    In a way, this whole farce demon­strates one of the most impor­tant and sad­dest facts of the cur­rent Amer­i­can sit­u­a­tion: while the US pub­lic is, right­ly, extreme­ly dis­tressed about how the US estab­lished has behaved and basi­cal­ly cap­tured the coun­try over the last 40 years or so, it’s also very clear that the US pub­lic basi­cal­ly has no mean­ing­ful idea of who the “Estab­lish­ment” is and how it oper­ates. There’s no recog­ni­tion of the very real Estab­lish­ment fac­tion­al­ism and the real­i­ty that the Clin­tons usu­al­ly been on the gen­uine­ly pop­ulist reformist side of the Estab­lish­ment which is why she is so hat­ed by the far more pow­er­ful pro-oli­garchy side of the Estab­lish­ment. When the Clin­tons have failed as lead­ers (like agree­ing to over­turn Glass-Stea­gall), it’s almost always been when they agreed to the demands of the dom­i­nant right-wing pro-oli­garchy Estab­lish­ment fac­tion, the same fac­tion that’s been try­ing to destroy the Clin­tons for decades. In oth­er words, their the Clin­tons’ biggest fail­ings have occurred when they com­pro­mised with their biggest ene­mies — the “vast right-wing con­spir­a­cy”, so to speak — because the “vast right-wing con­spir­a­cy” is the biggest ene­mies of the Amer­i­can pub­lic too. But when the Amer­i­can pub­lic kept vot­ing for Repub­li­can pres­i­dents in the 80’s and a Repub­li­can Con­gress in the 90’s, it’s not like the Clin­tons had that much of a choice. Some­how the pro­found role the GOP played (and the pub­lic who kept vot­ing Repub­li­cans into pow­er) in basi­cal­ly forc­ing the Clin­tons to com­pro­mise with “the vast right-wing con­spir­a­cy” gets com­plete­ly for­got­ten. Clin­ton Derange­ment Syn­drome basi­cal­ly lets the Estab­lish­ment media and pow­er struc­ture avoid hav­ing to look at itself in the mir­ror. It’s a remind that “Clin­ton Derange­ment Syn­drome” is as much like Alzheimer’s as it is Schiz­o­phre­nia.

    Beyond that, what this whole sit­u­a­tion high­lights is the real­i­ty that the “Rea­gan Rev­o­lu­tion” and its var­i­ous reman­i­fes­ta­tions over the last 40 years — the assault on any gov­ern­ment pro­grams help­ing the non-rich and the mas­sive shift of wealth to the upper 0.01% — has basi­cal­ly been one big intra-Estab­lish­ment fight between the cen­ter left New Deal fac­tion of the Estab­lish­ment and the far-right Oli­garchs-for-Oli­garchs-Only fac­tion of the Estab­lish­ment. And the neo-feu­dal oli­garchs won! A while ago. The decades of Clin­ton Derange­ment Syn­drome is both a symp­tom of, and cause for, the wild suc­cess of the far-right Estab­lish­ment fac­tion vic­to­ry.

    So now, after wit­ness­ing both the good and the bad the Clin­tons for decades, we have an oppor­tu­ni­ty to use Hillary’s pres­i­den­tial run as an excuse for reex­am­ing the past quar­ter of a cen­tu­ry of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and pow­er. Not just the role the Clin­tons have played as a pow­er cou­ple in shap­ing Amer­i­can pol­i­cy but also the role played by that vast net­work of mil­lion­aires and bil­lion­aires, think-tanks, armies of lob­by­ists, and the strong right­ward lurch of the Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment since Ronald Rea­gan declared gov­ern­ment the ene­my of the pub­lic. We could exam­ine where the Clin­tons opposed that vast right-wing pow­er estab­lish­ment and where they worked with them. And we could use that analy­sis to final­ly break down the meme that “both par­ties are in a secret cabal to work togeth­er to destroy the Repub­lic (except Don­ald Trump)” and replace it with the recog­ni­tion that we have a non-homo­ge­neous Estab­lish­ment prone to fac­tion­al­ism, under­stand­ing that fac­tion­al­ism is crit­i­cal to under­stand­ing both the Clin­tons’ lega­cy and how our coun­try works in gen­er­al and that the New Deal fac­tion is basi­cal­ly the only one that has a mean­ing­ful shot of “fix­ing” things for the Amer­i­can pub­lic with­out first burn­ing the entire coun­try down. We could also mean­ing­ful­ly exam­ine where a far-right “blood and soil” race-baiter like Don­ald Trump fits into this non-homo­ge­neous Estab­lish­ment and what that tells us about the forces behind him. We could use Hillary Clin­ton’s run as a great excuse to do that which the “vast right-wing con­spir­a­cy” hates see­ing the most: learn about and mean­ing­ful­ly ana­lyze how our gov­ern­ment works behind these sad and super­fi­cial meme pumped out by the “vast right-wing con­spir­a­cy” and duti­ful­ly repeat­ed by its use­ful idiots in the main­stream press.

    We could do all that. Or we could fever­ish­ly spec­u­late about what might have been in Hillary’s emails.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 3, 2016, 5:21 pm
  24. Sep­tem­ber 5, 2016 The Wash­ing­ton Post: Trump’s his­to­ry of cor­rup­tion is mind-bog­gling. So why is Clin­ton sup­pos­ed­ly the cor­rupt one?

    https://www.washingtonpost. com/blogs/­plum-line/w­p/2016/ 09/05/trumps-his­to­ry-of- cor­rup­tion-is-mind-bog­gling- so-why-is-clin­ton-sup­pos­ed­ly- the-corrupt-one/?utm_term=. e96c3ed5c0ef

    Posted by Artemus | September 8, 2016, 10:16 pm
  25. Sep­tem­ber 9, 2016 Dai­ley Mail (UK) arti­cle titled — Clin­ton camp rais­es mon­ey off Matt Lauer ‘fail­ure’ to chal­lenge Trump

    The arti­cle states “Instead of stop­ping Trump in his tracks dur­ing the ses­sion at the Intre­pid Sea, Air & Space Muse­um in Man­hat­tan, Lauer accept­ed his answer and imme­di­ate­ly moved onto the next ques­tion — even though Clin­ton had told him dur­ing her inter­view before­hand that Trump had backed the war.”

    NOTE: The arti­cle explains Hillary’s posi­tion on clas­si­fied. If the head­er had clas­si­fied she did not open it. Implic­it­ly, if a trail­ing e‑mail had a clas­si­fi­ca­tion she could not see it before open­ing it.

    http://dailym.ai/2cmw40q

    Posted by Artemus | September 8, 2016, 10:21 pm
  26. Here’s a reminder that there’s a decent chance the con­tem­po­rary GOP isn’t plan­ning on accept­ing a Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee to the Supreme Court. Ever again:

    The Huff­in­g­ton Post

    Repub­li­cans May Block Any Of Clinton’s Supreme Court Nom­i­nees, McCain Says
    So much for let­ting the peo­ple and the next pres­i­dent decide.

    Cris­t­ian Farias Legal Affairs Reporter
    10/17/2016 02:53 pm ET | Updat­ed

    The main pre­text Repub­li­can sen­a­tors have offered for leav­ing open the Supreme Court seat of the late Jus­tice Antonin Scalia is that the next pres­i­dent, not Barack Oba­ma, should be the one to fill it.

    But now that his party’s nom­i­nee, Don­ald Trump, seems head­ed for a loss in Novem­ber, Sen. John McCain (R‑Ariz.) appears to be chang­ing his tune — and may be sig­nal­ing that more unprece­dent­ed obstruc­tion is on the hori­zon if Hillary Clin­ton wins the White House.

    “I promise you that we will be unit­ed against any Supreme Court nom­i­nee that Hillary Clin­ton, if she were pres­i­dent, would put up. I promise you,” McCain said Mon­day, accord­ing to CNN.

    The sen­a­tor made the com­ments dur­ing a Penn­syl­va­nia radio inter­view in which he threw sup­port behind his col­league Pat Toomey, who is strug­gling in the polls and may be key to Repub­li­cans retain­ing con­trol of the Sen­ate.

    “This is the strongest argu­ment I can make” for Pat Toomey’s re-elec­tion, McCain said, and that is “so we can make sure there is not three places on the Unit­ed States Supreme Court that will change this coun­try for decades.”

    Three jus­tices will be in their 80s dur­ing the next admin­is­tra­tion, mak­ing the prospect of retire­ment and more vacan­cies like­ly.

    The Ari­zona sen­a­tor didn’t spec­i­fy if Sen­ate uni­fi­ca­tion against any Supreme Court nom­i­na­tion by a Pres­i­dent Clin­ton means not hold­ing con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings or tak­ing a vote on them at all — as they have done to Obama’s choice, Mer­rick Gar­land, already the longest-wait­ing nom­i­nee in his­to­ry — or if it means vot­ing them down no mat­ter who the nom­i­nees are.

    He also didn’t note whether oth­er sen­a­tors are in on this new strat­e­gy. But last week, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah indi­cat­ed he might be ready to reject any name Clin­ton puts for­ward, under a the­o­ry that Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nees to the high court don’t vote “inde­pen­dent­ly” from par­ty inter­ests.

    As with many oth­er things this cam­paign sea­son, none of this may mat­ter. Lat­er on Mon­day, McCain, through a spokes­woman, reversed course on his ear­li­er remarks about future Clin­ton nom­i­nees and not­ed he’d “vote for or against that indi­vid­ual based on their qual­i­fi­ca­tion,” accord­ing to Talk­ing Points Memo.

    The com­ments come amid a push by the Clin­ton cam­paign to spend aggres­sive­ly in McCain’s home state, where Clin­ton is inch­ing up on Trump in the polls, as well as plans for first lady Michelle Oba­ma to vis­it Ari­zona on Thurs­day and do what she does best.

    ...

    “This is the strongest argu­ment I can make” for Pat Toomey’s re-elec­tion, McCain said, and that is “so we can make sure there is not three places on the Unit­ed States Supreme Court that will change this coun­try for decades.””

    Yes, John McCain’s pledge that the GOP would block ALL Supreme Court nom­i­nees from Hillary Clin­ton was made as part of a cam­paign pitch to give fel­low GOP Sen­a­tor Pat Toomey a boost in the polls. As McCain put, that pledge was the strongest argu­ment he could make for Toomey’s re-elec­tion. And pre­sum­ably McCain’s own re-elec­tion. So rig­ging the Supreme Court by per­ma­nent­ly block­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nees is appar­ent­ly one of the pledges Repub­li­cans Sen­a­tors are now open­ly using to appeal to vot­ers. Vot­ers who are prob­a­bly moti­vat­ed by a sense that ‘Wash­ing­ton does­n’t work’ and want to elect politi­cians who will ‘blow things up’ to fix it. Deeply con­fused vot­ers.

    So, as we can see, the GOP’s infa­mous 2009 GOP’s ‘Tal­iban mode’ procla­ma­tion is repeat­ing itself a lit­tle ear­ly this elec­tion cycle...because it’s now part of the elec­tion sea­son sales pitch.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 17, 2016, 7:00 pm
  27. Check out FBI direc­tor James Comey’s lat­est gift to the Trump cam­paign: In an inves­ti­ga­tion unre­lat­ed to the inves­ti­ga­tion of Hillary Clin­ton’s email serv­er — specif­i­cal­ly, the inves­ti­ga­tion of Antho­ny Wein­er, ex-hus­band of Hillary’s long-time top aide Human Abe­din — the FBI come across a num­ber of emails from Clin­ton that they pre­vi­ous­ly had­n’t reviewed in their inves­ti­ga­tion of her serv­er. So Comey decid­ed that not only should the FBI exam­ine those emails in rela­tion to the pre­vi­ous­ly con­clud­ed email serv­er inves­ti­ga­tion to see if there are any clas­si­fied emails or some­thing in there. Comey also decid­ed to inform Con­gress about this devel­op­ment. So, despite there being no indi­ca­tion that the FBI has actu­al­ly dis­cov­ered any clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion in these emails, the media is very pre­dictably inun­dat­ed with sto­ries about how the FBI just reopened the email serv­er inves­ti­ga­tion:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Com­put­er seized in Wein­er probe prompts FBI to take new steps in Clin­ton email inquiry

    By Ros­alind S. Hel­der­man, Matt Zapo­to­sky and Sari Hor­witz
    Octo­ber 28 at 4:14 PM

    New­ly dis­cov­ered emails found on a com­put­er seized dur­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion of dis­graced for­mer Rep. Antho­ny Wein­er have prompt­ed the FBI to make new inquiries relat­ed to Hillary Clinton’s pri­vate email serv­er, accord­ing to three peo­ple famil­iar with the delib­er­a­tions.

    FBI Direc­tor James B. Comey informed con­gres­sion­al lead­ers Fri­day that the agency would take “appro­pri­ate inves­tiga­tive steps” to deter­mine whether the new­ly dis­cov­ered emails con­tain clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion and to assess their impor­tance to the Clin­ton serv­er probe.

    The emails were found on a com­put­er used joint­ly by both Wein­er and his wife, top Clin­ton aide Huma Abe­din, accord­ing to a per­son with knowl­edge of the inquiry. Fed­er­al offi­cials have been exam­in­ing Weiner’s alleged sex­u­al­ly sug­ges­tive online mes­sages with a teenage girl. The link to the Wein­er probe was first report­ed by the New York Times.

    Comey’s announce­ment appears to restart the FBI’s probe of Clinton’s serv­er, which pre­vi­ous­ly end­ed in July with no charges. The explo­sive announce­ment, com­ing less than two weeks before the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, could reshape a cam­paign that Clin­ton, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee, has been lead­ing in pub­lic polls.

    In a brief let­ter to con­gres­sion­al lead­ers, Comey said that the FBI, in con­nec­tion with an “unre­lat­ed case,” had recent­ly “learned of the exis­tence of emails that appear to be per­ti­nent to the Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tion.”

    Comey wrote that he had been briefed on the new mate­r­i­al Thurs­day. “I agreed that the FBI should take appro­pri­ate inves­tiga­tive steps designed to allow inves­ti­ga­tors to review these emails to deter­mine whether they con­tain clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion, as well as to assess their impor­tance to our inves­ti­ga­tion,” he wrote.

    An FBI spokesman on Fri­day declined to elab­o­rate, and a spokesman for Attor­ney Gen­er­al Loret­ta E. Lynch declined to com­ment.

    Clin­ton cam­paign chair­man John Podes­ta called it “extra­or­di­nary that we would see some­thing like this just 11 days out from a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion” and called on Comey to pro­vide a fuller expla­na­tion.

    He not­ed that Comey, in July, had said that “no rea­son­able pros­e­cu­tor” would bring such a case. And he said the cam­paign was “con­fi­dent this will not pro­duce any con­clu­sions dif­fer­ent from the one the FBI reached in July.”

    Comey pro­vid­ed no details about the unre­lat­ed case that result­ed in the find­ing of the new emails. A law enforce­ment offi­cial, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymi­ty, said the emails were “numer­ous.”

    The offi­cial said once informed of the find, Comey felt an oblig­a­tion to inform Con­gress, since he had pre­vi­ous­ly told law­mak­ers the inves­ti­ga­tion had been com­plet­ed. As a tech­ni­cal mat­ter, how­ev­er, the Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tion was nev­er for­mal­ly closed, the offi­cial said.

    Abe­din, who has worked for Clin­ton since the 1990s, is vice-chair­man of Clinton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. She exchanged thou­sands of emails with Clin­ton while serv­ing as her deputy chief of staff at the State Depart­ment. She, like Clin­ton, used an email address rout­ed through the pri­vate serv­er. She announced in August that she was sep­a­rat­ing from Wein­er fol­low­ing a report in the New York Post about a Wein­er sex­ting inci­dent.

    When he announced the FBI’s find­ings in July, Comey said that Clin­ton had been “extreme­ly care­less” in her han­dling of clas­si­fied mate­r­i­al, which had been found among the emails exchanged on her pri­vate serv­er.

    He had said that his inves­ti­ga­tors found evi­dence of poten­tial vio­la­tion of laws gov­ern­ing the han­dling of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion.

    In par­tic­u­lar, he said inves­ti­ga­tors did not find evi­dence that there had been inten­tion­al mis­han­dling of clas­si­fied mate­r­i­al or indi­ca­tions of dis­loy­al­ty to the U.S. or efforts to obstruct jus­tice.

    Comey had come under enor­mous pres­sure from Repub­li­cans for his rec­om­men­da­tion to bring no case against Clin­ton. Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Don­ald Trump has repeat­ed­ly cit­ed the deci­sion as a sign of cor­rup­tion endem­ic to Wash­ing­ton insti­tu­tions and promised that, if elect­ed, he would reopen the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Podes­ta on Fri­day cit­ed the polit­i­cal pres­sure on Comey in ques­tion­ing the director’s actions, say­ing that Repub­li­cans had been “brow­beat­ing” career FBI offi­cials “to revis­it their con­clu­sion in a des­per­ate attempt to harm Hillary Clinton’s pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.”

    Trump, address­ing sup­port­ers in New Hamp­shire Fri­day, hailed the FBI’s announce­ment — say­ing he had “great respect” for the agency’s deci­sion to “right the hor­ri­ble mis­take that they made.”

    “Per­haps, final­ly, jus­tice will be done,” he said, as the crowd pumped fists and cheered, “Lock her up! Lock her up!”

    As the news broke, the Dow Jones indus­tri­al aver­age dropped more than 150 points.

    Word also began to spread quick­ly on Capi­tol Hill, where law­mak­ers saw the announce­ment as a poten­tial game-chang­er for the elec­tion.

    “A total bomb­shell,” said Rep. Peter T. King (R‑N.Y.), mem­ber of the House Home­land Secu­ri­ty Com­mit­tee. King pre­dict­ed the FBI would not close its inquiry pri­or to the elec­tion, and said he believed Comey want­ed the pub­lic to know of his move regard­less of the out­come.

    “He wants it all out there,” King said.

    ...

    “Comey’s announce­ment appears to restart the FBI’s probe of Clinton’s serv­er, which pre­vi­ous­ly end­ed in July with no charges. The explo­sive announce­ment, com­ing less than two weeks before the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, could reshape a cam­paign that Clin­ton, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­nee, has been lead­ing in pub­lic polls.”

    So that’s one more “Octo­ber Sur­prise” of sorts. Or rather, one more “Octo­ber ‘Sur­prise’ “.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 28, 2016, 2:41 pm
  28. @Pterrafractyl–

    Don’t for­get that Comey was a Mitt Rom­ney sup­port­er and got his appoint­ment through “deriv­a­tives” of the “Con­ga Line Ops” I talked about in FTR #885.

    http://spitfirelist.com/for-the-record/ftr-885-what-the-hell-does-dave-emory-mean-by-the-earth-island-boogie-part-2-the-conga-line-ops/

    Comey was seen as accept­able to the obstruc­tion­ist GOP, due to his actions rebuff­ing Ashcroft on wire­tap­ping.

    That in the wake of Eddie the Friend­ly Spook’s “op.”

    Inter­est­ing, is it not, that Comey does­n’t seem com­pelled to go after all the para­mil­i­tary right-wingers threat­en­ing intim­i­da­tion and/or vio­lence dur­ing the elec­tion and/or dur­ing its after­math?

    Also: Read “The Mak­ing of Don­ald Trump” by David Cay John­ston.

    https://www.amazon.com/Making-Donald-Trump-David-Johnston/dp/1612196322

    Trump is so crooked, as the late Hunter S. Thomp­son might have said, that he “has to screw his pants on in the morn­ing.”

    Why isn’t Comey going after him?

    Best,

    Dave

    Posted by Dave Emory | October 28, 2016, 5:06 pm
  29. What a god damn mess days before the elec­tion! Two words keep
    rolling around my brain. “Cults” and “spies”!
    In and of itself the Trump phe­nom­e­non is a tox­ic mix of Jon­estown, the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood and the Nation­al Social­ist Par­ty.
    But the Antho­ny Wiener-Huma Abe­din mar­riage resem­bles a mar­riage of con­ve­nience between two intel­li­gence net­works, nei­ther of them demo­c­ra­t­ic. Reac­tionary pub­li­ca­tions like Bre­it­bart make the point that Abe­d­in’s moth­er is an advo­cate of sharia law. And Wein­er him­self seems like a mind-con­trolled hand grenade lobbed into the Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty.
    At politico.com Gar­rett M. Graf referred to James Comey’s for­mer
    employ­er “Bridge­wa­ter — whose cor­po­rate cul­ture of high-achiev­ing
    intel­lec­tu­als resem­bles a mon­eyed man­age­ment cult that shares more
    in com­mon with the 1970s per­son­al-improve­ment fad est than it does
    with a typ­i­cal Wall Street firm.”
    As Dave often says “spies rhymes with lies.”
    Cults and spies, what a god damn mess!

    Posted by Dennis | October 29, 2016, 11:23 am
  30. @Dave: Jane Mey­er has a piece in the New York­er that ads some rather explo­sive con­text not just to the vague nature of Comey’s let­ter to Con­gress but also the deci­sion to write the let­ter at all: The Depart­ment of Jus­tice, and specif­i­cal­ly Attor­ney Gen­er­al Loret­ta Lynch, pre­ferred that Comey not release that infor­ma­tion, in keep­ing with the Depart­ment of Jus­tice’s long-stand­ing poli­cies regard­ing these kinds of polit­i­cal­ly tox­ic dis­clo­sures right before an elec­tion, but Comey did it any­way:

    The New York­er
    James Comey Broke with Loret­ta Lynch and Jus­tice Depart­ment Tra­di­tion

    By Jane May­er , 01:25 A.M

    On Fri­day, James Comey, the direc­tor of the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion, act­ing inde­pen­dent­ly of Attor­ney Gen­er­al Loret­ta Lynch, sent a let­ter to Con­gress say­ing that the F.B.I. had dis­cov­ered e‑mails that were poten­tial­ly rel­e­vant to the inves­ti­ga­tion of Hillary Clinton’s pri­vate serv­er. Com­ing less than two weeks before the Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Comey’s deci­sion to make pub­lic new evi­dence that may raise addi­tion­al legal ques­tions about Clin­ton was con­trary to the views of the Attor­ney Gen­er­al, accord­ing to a well-informed Admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial. Lynch expressed her pref­er­ence that Comey fol­low the department’s long­stand­ing prac­tice of not com­ment­ing on ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tions, and not tak­ing any action that could influ­ence the out­come of an elec­tion, but he said that he felt com­pelled to do oth­er­wise.

    Comey’s deci­sion is a strik­ing break with the poli­cies of the Depart­ment of Jus­tice, accord­ing to cur­rent and for­mer fed­er­al legal offi­cials. Comey, who is a Repub­li­can appointee of Pres­i­dent Oba­ma, has a rep­u­ta­tion for integri­ty and inde­pen­dence, but his lat­est action is stir­ring an extra­or­di­nary lev­el of con­cern among legal author­i­ties, who see it as poten­tial­ly affect­ing the out­come of the Pres­i­den­tial and con­gres­sion­al elec­tions.

    “You don’t do this,” one for­mer senior Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cial exclaimed. “It’s aber­ra­tional. It vio­lates decades of prac­tice.” The rea­son, accord­ing to the for­mer offi­cial, who asked not to be iden­ti­fied because of ongo­ing cas­es involv­ing the depart­ment, “is because it impugns the integri­ty and rep­u­ta­tion of the can­di­date, even though there’s no find­ing by a court, or in this instance even an indict­ment.”

    Tra­di­tion­al­ly, the Jus­tice Depart­ment has advised pros­e­cu­tors and law enforce­ment to avoid any appear­ance of med­dling in the out­come of elec­tions, even if it means hold­ing off on press­ing cas­es. One for­mer senior offi­cial recalled that Janet Reno, the Attor­ney Gen­er­al under Bill Clin­ton, “com­plete­ly shut down” the pros­e­cu­tion of a polit­i­cal­ly sen­si­tive crim­i­nal tar­get pri­or to an elec­tion. “She was adamant—anything that could influ­ence the elec­tion had to go dark,” the for­mer offi­cial said.

    Four years ago, then Attor­ney Gen­er­al Eric Hold­er for­mal­ized this prac­tice in a memo to all Jus­tice Depart­ment employ­ees. The memo warned that, when han­dling polit­i­cal cas­es, offi­cials “must be par­tic­u­lar­ly sen­si­tive to safe­guard­ing the Department’s rep­u­ta­tion for fair­ness, neu­tral­i­ty, and non­par­ti­san­ship.” To guard against unfair con­duct, Hold­er wrote, employ­ees fac­ing ques­tions about “the tim­ing of charges or overt inves­tiga­tive steps near the time of a pri­ma­ry or gen­er­al elec­tion” should con­sult with the Pub­lic Integri­ty Sec­tion of the Crim­i­nal Divi­sion.

    The F.B.I. direc­tor is an employ­ee of the Jus­tice Depart­ment, and is cov­ered by its poli­cies. But when asked whether Comey had fol­lowed these guide­lines and con­sult­ed with the Pub­lic Integri­ty Sec­tion, or with any oth­er depart­ment offi­cials, Kevin Lewis, a deputy direc­tor of pub­lic affairs for the Jus­tice Depart­ment, said, “We have no com­ment on the mat­ter.”

    Accord­ing to the Admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial, Lynch asked Comey to fol­low Jus­tice Depart­ment poli­cies, but he said that he was oblig­ed to break with them because he had promised to inform mem­bers of Con­gress if there were fur­ther devel­op­ments in the case. He also felt that the impend­ing elec­tion cre­at­ed a com­pelling need to inform the pub­lic, despite the tra­di­tion of act­ing with added dis­cre­tion around elec­tions. The Admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial said that Lynch and Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials are study­ing the sit­u­a­tion, which he called unprece­dent­ed.

    Matthew Miller, a Demo­c­rat who served as the pub­lic-affairs direc­tor at the Jus­tice Depart­ment under Hold­er, recalled that, in one case, the depart­ment wait­ed until after an elec­tion to send out sub­poe­nas. “They didn’t want to influ­ence the election—even though the sub­poe­nas weren’t pub­lic,” he said. “Peo­ple may think that the pub­lic needs to have this infor­ma­tion before vot­ing, but the thing is the pub­lic doesn’t real­ly get the infor­ma­tion. What it gets is an impres­sion that may be false, because they have no way to eval­u­ate it. The pub­lic always assumes when it hears that the F.B.I. is inves­ti­gat­ing that there must be some­thing amiss. But there may be noth­ing here at all. That’s why you don’t do this.”

    “Comey is an out­stand­ing law-enforce­ment offi­cer,” Miller said, “but he mis­tak­en­ly thinks that the rules don’t apply to him. But there are a host of rea­sons for these rules.”

    As Miller sees it, Comey’s “orig­i­nal sin” was the press con­fer­ence he held in July regard­ing the Clin­ton e‑mail inves­ti­ga­tion. At that press con­fer­ence, Comey stat­ed that the F.B.I. had found no rea­son to bring crim­i­nal charges against Clin­ton for using a pri­vate e‑mail serv­er to han­dle much of her State Depart­ment busi­ness, but that Clin­ton and her staff had been “extreme­ly care­less in their han­dling of very sen­si­tive, extreme­ly clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion.” Comey made clear that he had decid­ed to make this com­ment with­out any sign-off from the Jus­tice Depart­ment. Ordi­nar­i­ly, when no charges are brought, such mat­ters are not exposed to pub­lic view, let alone addressed at press con­fer­ences.

    Comey’s sup­port­ers argue that he had to act inde­pen­dent­ly, and pub­licly, because Lynch had com­pro­mised her­self by hav­ing an impromp­tu vis­it with Bill Clin­ton late in the inves­ti­ga­tion. In the ensu­ing uproar, Lynch promised to accept Comey’s rec­om­men­da­tion on whether to bring charges against Clin­ton. But, as Miller notes, Comey’s press con­fer­ence trig­gered a series of oth­er events, includ­ing con­gres­sion­al hear­ings where Comey was forced to defend his deci­sion not to rec­om­mend pros­e­cu­tion. Comey’s let­ter to Con­gress on Fri­day updat­ed his ear­li­er state­ments that the Clin­ton e‑mail inves­ti­ga­tion had end­ed.

    In a let­ter to F.B.I. employ­ees sent soon after the let­ter to Con­gress, Comey tried to explain his unusu­al deci­sions. In the let­ter, which was obtained by the Wash­ing­ton Post, he acknowl­edged, “Of course, we don’t ordi­nar­i­ly tell Con­gress about ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tions, but here I feel an oblig­a­tion to do so giv­en that I tes­ti­fied repeat­ed­ly in recent months that our inves­ti­ga­tion was com­plet­ed. I also think it would be mis­lead­ing to the Amer­i­can peo­ple were we not to sup­ple­ment the record. At the same time, how­ev­er, giv­en that we don’t know the sig­nif­i­cance of this new­ly dis­cov­ered col­lec­tion of emails, I don’t want to cre­ate a mis­lead­ing impres­sion. In try­ing to strike that bal­ance, in a brief let­ter and in the mid­dle of an elec­tion sea­son,” he not­ed, “there is sig­nif­i­cant risk of being mis­un­der­stood.”

    ...

    “On Fri­day, James Comey, the direc­tor of the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion, act­ing inde­pen­dent­ly of Attor­ney Gen­er­al Loret­ta Lynch, sent a let­ter to Con­gress say­ing that the F.B.I. had dis­cov­ered e‑mails that were poten­tial­ly rel­e­vant to the inves­ti­ga­tion of Hillary Clinton’s pri­vate serv­er. Com­ing less than two weeks before the Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, Comey’s deci­sion to make pub­lic new evi­dence that may raise addi­tion­al legal ques­tions about Clin­ton was con­trary to the views of the Attor­ney Gen­er­al, accord­ing to a well-informed Admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial. Lynch expressed her pref­er­ence that Comey fol­low the department’s long­stand­ing prac­tice of not com­ment­ing on ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tions, and not tak­ing any action that could influ­ence the out­come of an elec­tion, but he said that he felt com­pelled to do oth­er­wise.

    Yes, amaz­ing­ly, giv­en the biggest legal ques­tions raised by this entire sit­u­a­tion are legal ques­tions about the Direc­tor of the FBI. And keep in mind that there are reports that ALL of the new­ly dis­cov­ered emails might be dupli­cates of emails that the FBI has already looked at, which means this very vague dis­clo­sure, all the very pre­dictable polit­i­cal fall­out that would fol­low, may have been based on infor­ma­tion that was so pre­lim­i­nary the FBI did­n’t even know if it had new emails on its hands. It’s anoth­er day for our 2016 bizarro elec­tion, albeit an espe­cial­ly bizarre bizarro day.

    And with 10 days to go in the elec­tion, it’s clear that this issue is going to be evolv­ing over the com­ing days as we learn more about how much, or how lit­tle, the FBI knew about the new emails it was using as a basis for cre­at­ing a major polit­i­cal event. And how much this deci­sion may have vio­lat­ed DOJ pol­i­cy. But as Josh Mar­shall notes, one of the major fac­tors influ­enc­ing Comey’s deci­sion is prob­a­bly a “cov­er you ass” reflex instilled in Comey after an end­less bar­rage of crit­i­cisms from the GOP over his deci­sion not to pros­e­cute Hillary over the email serv­er back in July. But as Mar­shall also notes, he’s hear­ing uncon­firmed reports that, if con­firmed, would be rather sub­stan­tial giv­en appear­ance that Comey was oper­a­tion out­side the bounds of DOJ pol­i­cy: Rep. Jason Chaf­fetz, the chair­man of the House Over­sight Com­mit­tee who has already declared that the GOP has years of inves­ti­ga­tions lined up for Hillary Clin­ton if she wins, may have got­ten wind of this new email cache and pres­sured Comey write the let­ter:

    Talk­ing Points Memo Edi­tor’s Blog

    Comey’s Judg­ment Looks Far Worse on Day Two

    By Josh Mar­shall
    Pub­lished Octo­ber 29, 2016, 2:00 PM EDT

    Let me share a few thoughts on the lat­est on the emails front.

    We have two con­tend­ing points of view on the case. One group says Comey fla­grant­ly vio­lat­ed long­stand­ing DOJ pol­i­cy (through mul­ti­ple admin­is­tra­tions) by send­ing this let­ter to the Hill. Indeed, we now have mul­ti­ple reports that Attor­ney Gen­er­al Lynch told Comey he was act­ing out­side of DOJ pol­i­cy. In this view, what­ev­er his moti­va­tions, he reck­less­ly inter­fered in a nation­al elec­tion based on lit­tle more than an effort inoc­u­late him­self from future Repub­li­can crit­i­cism. This view seems backed up by numer­ous for­mer fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors from both par­ties.

    The oth­er group says Comey was in an impos­si­ble posi­tion. He had tes­ti­fied at length defend­ing his deci­sion not to rec­om­mend charges and said that the probe was over, if not offi­cial­ly closed. Based on new infor­ma­tion, he had no choice but to sup­ple­ment his tes­ti­mo­ny. Beyond this legal oblig­a­tion, Comey knew there was a good chance infor­ma­tion would leak and force his hand or that he would be blamed after the elec­tion for with­hold­ing infor­ma­tion.

    I put myself large­ly in camp one. But I think both sides have decent argu­ments on their side. One point that seems clear to me from the total­i­ty of what we’ve seen is that Comey is more sen­si­tive to avoid­ing present or future crit­i­cism than address­ing the equi­ties behind the DOJ and FBI pro­to­cols that coun­sel against what he did. He’s been under non-stop attack — ref-play­ing — from con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans for over three months. I’ve heard uncon­firmed reports that Rep. Chaf­fetz (R‑UT) may have got­ten wind of this new email cache and pres­sured Comey write the let­ter. Whether or not that is true, the broad­er point remains. Comey felt he would face Repub­li­can crit­i­cism either now or in the future if he did­n’t send this let­ter.

    But here is the issue that I think is big­ger than either of these argu­ments. Start­ing more than a year ago and cer­tain­ly after his July speech, Comey has total­ly depart­ed from nor­mal FBI pro­ce­dure in han­dling this case. He has said as much. He’s jus­ti­fied this depar­ture by not­ing the extreme pub­lic inter­est in the case and a height­ened need for trans­paren­cy.

    This is not a bad argu­ment. The prob­lem of course is that you cre­ate a self-per­pet­u­at­ing cycle in which the more par­ti­sans impugn the inves­ti­ga­tion, the greater need there is to break with pro­to­col and dis­cuss it pub­licly. Wher­ev­er we come down on that ques­tion, Comey did go down this path. When did so he did much more than he need­ed to do. He could have giv­en a fac­tu­al expla­na­tion of what was reviewed and the log­ic of the rec­om­men­da­tion against pros­e­cu­tion. He also includ­ed extend­ed per­son­al crit­i­cisms and reflec­tions which were entire­ly inap­pro­pri­ate and not jus­ti­fied by any need for trans­paren­cy. By going down this path — giv­ing his unprece­dent­ed and harsh speech and tes­ti­fy­ing at length about the inves­ti­ga­tion before Con­gress — he may have tied his own hands when it came to updat­ing Con­gress based on the new infor­ma­tion.

    But that’s not the end of the sto­ry. If he felt he was oblig­at­ed to inform Con­gress, he must have real­ized that that noti­fi­ca­tion would rapid­ly become pub­lic. Because of that, he was oblig­at­ed to pro­vide sub­stan­tial­ly more infor­ma­tion. From the total­i­ty of what we know based on the last 24 hours of report­ing, that dif­fer­ent let­ter would have gone some­thing like this:

    In the course of the inves­ti­ga­tion of Antho­ny Wein­er, inves­ti­ga­tors dis­cov­ered a new batch of emails from Clin­ton aide Huma Abe­din. We do not yet know whether any of those emails con­tain clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion or whether some or all are in fact dupli­cates of emails the FBI already obtained and scru­ti­nized dur­ing its inves­ti­ga­tion of Sec­re­tary Clin­ton’s pri­vate email serv­er. At present we have no rea­son to believe these new­ly dis­cov­ered emails would change the deci­sion reached in July. How­ev­er, based on the rec­om­men­da­tions of inves­ti­ga­tors, I have decid­ed that we will review these emails from on the Weiner/Abedin com­put­er to ascer­tain the answers to both of those ques­tions. Out of an abun­dance of cau­tion, I have tak­en the step to inform Con­gress of this new devel­op­ment.

    Such a let­ter still would have been a major cam­paign sto­ry. But it would have had the ben­e­fit of replac­ing clar­i­fy­ing infor­ma­tion with ambi­gu­i­ty and con­fu­sion.

    Comey’s rejoin­der would almost cer­tain­ly be that the FBI does not dis­cuss on-going inves­ti­ga­tions and cer­tain­ly does not try to pre­judge on-going reviews. Nor­mal­ly, that is 100% right. That is the bureau­crat­ic reflex action. But that horse left the barn months ago. Comey’s key, crit­i­cal error was not real­iz­ing that hav­ing already dis­pensed with the most cen­tral guide­lines of FBI pro­ce­dure on these mat­ters he could not main­tain oth­er norms and guide­lines in their entire­ty with­out a fur­ther analy­sis of how to address the var­i­ous equi­ties and inter­ests these poli­cies are nor­mal­ly intend­ed to pro­tect. In oth­er words, once he was oper­at­ing total­ly out­side the lines — though, per­haps for good rea­son — he need­ed to give much more thought to how to address the imper­a­tive of non-inter­fer­ence in an elec­tion while oper­at­ing out­side the lines. There is lit­tle doubt that that meant shar­ing con­sid­er­ably more detail about what was hap­pen­ing than he did in his let­ter to Rep. Chaf­fetz (R‑UT) and the oth­er com­mit­tee chairs.

    ...

    “I put myself large­ly in camp one. But I think both sides have decent argu­ments on their side. One point that seems clear to me from the total­i­ty of what we’ve seen is that Comey is more sen­si­tive to avoid­ing present or future crit­i­cism than address­ing the equi­ties behind the DOJ and FBI pro­to­cols that coun­sel against what he did. He’s been under non-stop attack — ref-play­ing — from con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans for over three months. I’ve heard uncon­firmed reports that Rep. Chaf­fetz (R‑UT) may have got­ten wind of this new email cache and pres­sured Comey write the let­ter. Whether or not that is true, the broad­er point remains. Comey felt he would face Repub­li­can crit­i­cism either now or in the future if he did­n’t send this let­ter.

    Score one more for the vast right-wing con­spir­a­cy, whether or not the uncon­firmed report about Chaf­fetz specif­i­cal­ly influ­enc­ing Comey to go against DOJ pol­i­cy gets con­firmed. Still, it’s going to be very inter­est­ing to see if it does get con­firmed. Talk about try­ing to rig the elec­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 29, 2016, 1:24 pm
  31. One of the ques­tions raised by James Comey’s bomb­shell let­ter to Con­gress about Hillary Clin­ton’s emails 11 days before the elec­tion is just how long it would have tak­en for the FBI to deter­mine whether or not these were actu­al­ly new emails or copies of emails they already reviewed. And here’s an answer: Prob­a­bly a few days at most using mod­ern legal data-min­ing tech­nol­o­gy:

    Talk­ing Points Memo Edi­tor’s Blog

    Just a Few Days

    By Josh Mar­shall
    Pub­lished Octo­ber 29, 2016, 7:37 PM EDT

    Last night I not­ed that cur­rent news report­ing sug­gests that the FBI has not even deter­mined whether any of the Huma Abe­din emails are new — i.e., they have not con­firmed how many if any were not already pro­duced and scru­ti­nized by the FBI in the inves­ti­ga­tion that end­ed in July. Now we’ve heard from TPM Read­er GL (not actu­al ini­tials) on the amount of time it would take to ascer­tain such infor­ma­tion. Accord­ing to GL ascer­tain­ing how many dupli­cates there are and a basic review of whether they are rel­e­vant to the inves­ti­ga­tion would like­ly take only a few days.

    I’m writ­ing because I’m hear­ing news reports (Pete Williams/NBC) that the FBI has said it can­not review the new Abedin/Wiener email pro­duc­tion in time for the elec­tion. I’m an attor­ney with over a decade of fed­er­al law enforce­ment expe­ri­ence, cur­rent­ly in a senior role [REDACTED] I have up-to-date eDis­cov­ery expe­ri­ence, and review large doc­u­ment pro­duc­tions, some­times in the midst of fast-mov­ing lit­i­ga­tion and even tri­al, on a reg­u­lar basis.

    To the FBI’s posi­tion, I say — it depends on what your def­i­n­i­tion of “review” is. If they mean that a human being at the FBI won’t be able to lay eyes on every sin­gle doc­u­ment in time, that’s one thing, and prob­a­bly true, at least with­out a dis­rup­tive real­lo­ca­tion of resources. But this is much more rel­e­vant: if they mean to say that they can­not con­fi­dent­ly get the gist of what sev­er­al tens of thou­sands of emails con­tain in the space of eleven days, that’s ridicu­lous. Ordi­nary eDis­cov­ery doc­u­ment man­age­ment tools, to say noth­ing of the newest AI-based review tools, can be used quick­ly to iden­ti­fy a set of poten­tial­ly rel­e­vant doc­u­ments for review almost instan­ta­neous­ly, even for pro­duc­tions much larg­er than the one at issue here. It’s impor­tant to use a high-qual­i­ty set of search terms. These the FBI sure­ly has on the shelf, hav­ing pre­vi­ous­ly inves­ti­gat­ed this mat­ter, includ­ing review­ing oth­er doc pro­duc­tions from Sec­re­tary Clin­ton her­self. Hav­ing iden­ti­fied doc­u­ment “hits,” human beings at the FBI then need to pass their eyes over the respon­sive doc­u­ments. This human doc review is what’s rel­a­tive­ly time-con­sum­ing. But in tens of thou­sands of emails in a dump from an indi­vid­u­al’s PC, it is high­ly unlike­ly that more than a small per­cent­age are even poten­tial­ly going to be hits, i.e., worth review­ing. This means that the man­u­al review should not take long — an attor­ney or para­le­gal doing doc review nor­mal­ly goes through at least hun­dreds of doc­u­ments in a day. So with even a small com­mit­ment of labor, the FBI should be able to get its arms around what is in this pro­duc­tion with­in just a cou­ple of days, at most. Final­ly the obvi­ous point should be not­ed that because a doc­u­ment is respon­sive to a search term does not mean that it’s actu­al­ly rel­e­vant to the inves­ti­ga­tion, and in fact most aren’t — that’s why you have a sec­ond-lev­el man­u­al review.

    Now, it’s one thing to iden­ti­fy poten­tial­ly hot doc­u­ments, and it’s anoth­er to go through super­vi­so­ry review and make an insti­tu­tion­al deter­mi­na­tion about their sig­nif­i­cance, if any, to your inves­ti­ga­tion. But, real­ly, imag­ine that there are hot docs in this pro­duc­tion. Giv­en the num­bers I’ve run through above, the pos­si­bil­i­ty that more than a few dozen such docs exist (if any exist at all) is min­i­mal. The man­agers in ques­tion could review what they need to in less than an hour.

    Put sim­ply, if the FBI starts work on this on Mon­day, they should be able to have a con­fi­dent sense of what they have in hand by COB Fri­day. And, espe­cial­ly if they were to put a few extra peo­ple on the project, prob­a­bly sev­er­al days soon­er.

    It seems ele­men­tary that de-dup­ing the emails would be even faster, almost instant. I con­firmed this in a sub­se­quent exchange with GL.

    Clear­ly mak­ing a final deter­mi­na­tion is a deci­sion-mak­ing process that can be more com­pli­cat­ed and time-con­sum­ing. But Comey seems to have tossed this bomb­shell into the last two weeks of the elec­tion with no infor­ma­tion at all about how rel­e­vant any of these emails may be. It seems like quite a lot of high­ly rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion could be learned before the elec­tion. Sim­i­lar­ly, such a basic deter­mi­na­tion could have been made pri­or to con­tact­ing mem­bers of Con­gress in the first place.

    “Put sim­ply, if the FBI starts work on this on Mon­day, they should be able to have a con­fi­dent sense of what they have in hand by COB Fri­day. And, espe­cial­ly if they were to put a few extra peo­ple on the project, prob­a­bly sev­er­al days soon­er.”

    Well, while the deci­sion to write this let­ter to Con­gress might have been a dis­as­ter, at least it sounds like we might get a clar­i­fy­ing answer from the FBI in a few days as to whether they actu­al­ly found any new emails. Except, accord­ing to Michael Isikof­f’s sources, the FBI has­n’t even received a war­rant yet;

    Yahoo News

    Exclu­sive: FBI still does not have war­rant to review new Abe­din emails linked to Clin­ton probe

    Michael Isikoff
    Chief Inves­tiga­tive Cor­re­spon­dent
    Octo­ber 29, 2016

    When FBI Direc­tor James Comey wrote his bomb­shell let­ter to Con­gress on Fri­day about new­ly dis­cov­ered emails that were poten­tial­ly “per­ti­nent” to the inves­ti­ga­tion into Hillary Clinton’s pri­vate email serv­er, agents had not able to review any of the mate­r­i­al, because the bureau had not yet got­ten a search war­rant to read them, three gov­ern­ment offi­cials who have been briefed on the probe told Yahoo News.

    At the time Comey wrote the let­ter, “he had no idea what was in the con­tent of the emails,” one of the offi­cials said, refer­ring to recent­ly dis­cov­ered emails that were found on the lap­top of dis­graced ex-Rep. Antho­ny Wein­er, the estranged hus­band of top Clin­ton aide Huma Abe­din. Wein­er is under inves­ti­ga­tion for alleged­ly send­ing illic­it text mes­sages to a 15-year-old girl.

    As of Sat­ur­day night, the FBI had still not got­ten approval from the Jus­tice Depart­ment for a war­rant that would allow agency offi­cials to read any of the new­ly dis­cov­ered Abe­din emails, and there­fore are still in the dark about whether they include any clas­si­fied mate­r­i­al that the bureau has not already seen.

    “We do not have a war­rant,” a senior law enforce­ment offi­cial said. “Dis­cus­sions are under way [between the FBI and the Jus­tice Depart­ment] as to the best way to move for­ward.”

    That Comey and oth­er senior FBI offi­cials were not aware of what was in the emails — and whether they con­tained any mate­r­i­al the FBI had not already obtained — is impor­tant because Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign and Repub­li­cans in Con­gress have sug­gest­ed that the FBI direc­tor would not have writ­ten his let­ter unless he had been made aware of sig­nif­i­cant new emails that might jus­ti­fy reopen­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into the Clin­ton serv­er.

    But a mes­sage that Comey wrote to all FBI agents Fri­day seek­ing to explain his deci­sion to write the con­tro­ver­sial let­ter strong­ly hint­ed that inves­ti­ga­tors did not not yet have legal author­i­ty estab­lish­ing “prob­a­ble cause” to review the con­tent of Abedin’s emails on Weiner’s elec­tron­ic devices.

    In that mes­sage, Comey told agents that he had only been briefed on Thurs­day about the mat­ter and that the “rec­om­men­da­tion” of inves­ti­ga­tors was “with respect to seek­ing access to emails that have recent­ly been found in an unre­lat­ed case.”

    Comey approved the rec­om­men­da­tion to seek judi­cial access to the mate­r­i­al that day, he wrote.

    “Because those emails appear to be per­ti­nent to our inves­ti­ga­tion, I agreed that we should take appro­pri­ate steps to obtain and review them,” he told agents.

    Comey’s let­ter to Con­gress has sub­ject­ed the FBI direc­tor to with­er­ing crit­i­cism. Top Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials were described by a gov­ern­ment source as “apoplec­tic” over the let­ter. Senior offi­cials “strong­ly dis­cour­aged” Comey from send­ing it, telling FBI offi­cials last week it would vio­late long­stand­ing depart­ment pol­i­cy against tak­ing actions in the days before an elec­tion that might influ­ence the out­come, a U.S offi­cial famil­iar with the mat­ter told Yahoo News. “He was act­ing inde­pen­dent­ly of the guid­ance giv­en to him,” said the U.S. offi­cial.

    Comey insist­ed in his mes­sage to agents that he felt he had “an oblig­a­tion” to inform Con­gress about the new mate­r­i­al because he had pre­vi­ous­ly tes­ti­fied that the bureau’s inves­ti­ga­tion into the Clin­ton email serv­er was com­plet­ed. He said it would be “mis­lead­ing to the Amer­i­can peo­ple were we not to sup­ple­ment the record.” He added, “Giv­en that we don’t know the sig­nif­i­cance of this new­ly dis­cov­ered col­lec­tion of emails, I don’t want to cre­ate a mis­lead­ing impres­sion.”

    The deci­sion to send the let­ter “wasn’t easy,” said the senior law enforce­ment offi­cial. Comey and top FBI offi­cials debat­ed what course to take once they learned about the dis­cov­ery on Weiner’s lap­top – said to include thou­sands of Abedin’s emails. In the end, the offi­cial said, Comey feared that if he chose to move for­ward and seek access to the emails and didn’t imme­di­ate­ly alert Con­gress, the FBI’s efforts would leak to the media and the direc­tor would be accused of con­ceal­ing infor­ma­tion.

    “This was the least bad choice,” the senior offi­cial said.

    But Comey’s let­ter to Con­gress — sug­gest­ing that the FBI might now revis­it the Clin­ton email probe — may have been even more mis­lead­ing, some crit­ics charged Sat­ur­day.

    “This let­ter is trou­bling because it is vague­ly word­ed and leaves so many ques­tions unan­swered,” Sen. Patrick Leahy, the rank­ing Demo­c­rat on the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee, and three oth­er Democ­rats on the pan­el wrote Comey and Attor­ney Gen­er­al Loret­ta Lynch.

    “It is not clear whether the emails iden­ti­fied by the FBI are even in the cus­tody of the FBI, whether any of the emails have already been reviewed, whether Sec­re­tary Clin­ton sent or received them, or whether they even have any sig­nif­i­cance to the FBI’s pre­vi­ous inves­ti­ga­tion,” the sen­a­tors wrote.

    ...

    “That Comey and oth­er senior FBI offi­cials were not aware of what was in the emails — and whether they con­tained any mate­r­i­al the FBI had not already obtained — is impor­tant because Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign and Repub­li­cans in Con­gress have sug­gest­ed that the FBI direc­tor would not have writ­ten his let­ter unless he had been made aware of sig­nif­i­cant new emails that might jus­ti­fy reopen­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into the Clin­ton serv­er.”

    Yeah, the fact that the FBI appar­ent­ly has­n’t reviewed the emails at all or even get­ting a war­rant yet seems like maybe some­thing that could have been includ­ed in that let­ter to Con­gress. Some­how that detail got left out.

    So we’ll see as this unfolds. But note the one con­cern that Comey may have had that real­ly could have been out­side his con­trol and poten­tial­ly pan­icked him into pre­ma­ture­ly writ­ing this email: con­cern that some­one, pre­sum­ably some­one in the FBI, was going to leak it to Con­gress any­way and cre­ate an even big­ger scan­dal:

    ...
    The deci­sion to send the let­ter “wasn’t easy,” said the senior law enforce­ment offi­cial. Comey and top FBI offi­cials debat­ed what course to take once they learned about the dis­cov­ery on Weiner’s lap­top – said to include thou­sands of Abedin’s emails. In the end, the offi­cial said, Comey feared that if he chose to move for­ward and seek access to the emails and didn’t imme­di­ate­ly alert Con­gress, the FBI’s efforts would leak to the media and the direc­tor would be accused of con­ceal­ing infor­ma­tion.
    ...

    Who knows if that’s real­ly what moti­vat­ed Comey or it was just a con­ve­nient excuse, although it’s not implau­si­ble that it was fac­tor. It’s a reminder that the vast right-wing con­spir­a­cy is, you know, pret­ty vast.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 29, 2016, 5:47 pm
  32. A num­ber of news out­lets includ­ing CNN and NBC are report­ing that John Podesta’s Gmail account
    may have been hacked as the result of a phish­ing expe­di­tion from an IP address in Dne­propetro­vsk
    Ukraine. How inter­est­ing! Could it be that the Maid­an coup which thrust Nazi par­ties Svo­bo­da and
    Right Sec­tor into pow­er in Kiev has come to roost in the US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, the lat­est incar­na­tion
    of the Con­ga- line Ops? From the stand­point of dark humour the hue of Don­ald Trump’s spray-on tan
    makes him a good fig­ure­head for a domes­tic Orange Rev­o­lu­tion in the US, but seri­ous­ly has the Arab Spring
    mor­phed into an Amer­i­can Fall?

    Posted by Dennis | October 31, 2016, 1:19 pm
  33. It’s look­ing more and more like a com­bi­na­tion of right-wing FBI agents threat­en­ing to leak the played a sig­nif­i­cant role in effec­tive­ly forc­ing FBI Direc­tor James Comey’s hand in releas­ing infor­ma­tion about the emails found on Antho­ny Wein­er’s com­put­er. Whether or not Comey him­self is one of those right-wing FBI agents or mere­ly caved to those pres­sures is unclear, but as Josh Mar­shall points out, at this point it’s beside the point:

    Talk­ing Points Memo Edi­tor’s Blog

    Deeply Dis­turb­ing

    By Josh Mar­shall
    Pub­lished Octo­ber 30, 2016, 8:33 PM EDT

    James Comey’s deci­sion to send his let­ter to Capi­tol Hill seemed like a bad one from the start. But it did not seem as egre­gious as it does now because many assumed he was faced with a tough bal­anc­ing act between inform­ing Con­gress of sig­nif­i­cant new evi­dence and fol­low­ing long­stand­ing DOJ/FBI guide­lines about avoid­ing poten­tial elec­tion inter­fer­ence. Even faced with that dilem­ma he could have pro­vid­ed more infor­ma­tion than a terse let­ter cer­tain to dri­ve wild spec­u­la­tion. But every­thing we’ve learned over the last 48 hours-plus sug­gests Comey had no basis to believe there was sig­nif­i­cant new evi­dence, indeed no clear rea­son to think there was any­thing new at all. At best, Comey com­bined extreme­ly poor judg­ment with a deci­sion to place a near absolute pri­or­i­ty on pro­tect­ing him­self from crit­i­cism over car­ry­ing out his pro­fes­sion­al and eth­i­cal oblig­a­tions.

    It is quite telling that even at this late stage of the elec­tion, when par­ti­san tem­pers are nat­u­ral­ly run­ning at their fiercest, for­mer career DOJ lawyers, for­mer high lev­el DOJ appointees and legal experts on both sides of the aisle are lin­ing up to say this was not only an extreme­ly poor deci­sion but may even have vio­lat­ed the law. (Note here: Pres­i­dent George W. Bush’s top ethics lawyer sug­gest­ing Comey may even have bro­ken the law. Anoth­er exam­ple is here.) As far as I can see, no one who actu­al­ly knows what Comey’s legal, pro­fes­sion­al and eth­i­cal respon­si­bil­i­ties were in this case can find a basis to defend his actions. Even Repub­li­cans who might be inclined to inter­pret ambigu­ous facts through a par­ti­san prism don’t seem able to come up with one.

    I’ve said a num­ber of times that I do not believe Comey act­ed out of a desire to inter­fere with the out­come of the elec­tion. I still believe that. But I’m not sure it mat­ters. What seems inescapable is that Comey has made avoid­ing crit­i­cism from Repub­li­cans (and leaks by FBI agents that would gen­er­ate such crit­i­cism) his top, almost his sole pri­or­i­ty. That being the case, his intent seems all but irrel­e­vant. It amounts to some pro­fes­sion­al equiv­a­lent of reck­less dis­re­gard, per­haps with a smat­ter­ing of gen­er­al­ly irrel­e­vant naïveté thrown in.

    It is impor­tant return to is why these rules about law enforce­ment and non-inter­fer­ence in elec­tions are in place in the first place. These rules are in place to pre­vent pre­cise­ly the kind of sit­u­a­tion we are now in, a poten­tial­ly high­ly dam­ag­ing blowup on the eve of an elec­tion. Those rules are there to pre­vent this from hap­pen­ing when noth­ing has in fact been proven or is even like­ly to be proven. But in this case, even that sit­u­a­tion is not what we have. In this case, there seems to be no basis at all. Just the exis­tence of oth­er emails from Huma Abe­din, which may even be dupli­cates of ones already inves­ti­gat­ed.

    I may not be con­vinced of mal­ice on Comey’s part. But it seems extreme­ly like­ly — indeed, we all but know it based on infor­ma­tion sur­faced over the last forty-eight hours — that he is being played by peo­ple who are act­ing with mal­ice. Or, per­haps more damn­ing, he is unwill­ing to do the right thing because it could led to crit­i­cism from Repub­li­cans. I’ve said it sev­er­al times: that self-pro­tec­tion seems to be gov­ern­ing his actions.

    ...

    Still more trou­bling is the infor­ma­tion con­tained in this just released arti­cle in The Wall Street Jour­nal by Devlin Bar­rett. It describes what the arti­cle describes as a feud with­in the FBI and between the FBI and the Depart­ment of Jus­tice over the Clin­ton probe. It now seems clear that what are essen­tial­ly rogue FBI agents have been look­ing for all sorts of dif­fer­ent angles to pur­sue inves­ti­ga­tions of Hillary Clin­ton and her fam­i­ly. Indeed, they’ve pre­sent­ed their evi­dence to career pub­lic cor­rup­tion pros­e­cu­tors at DOJ and been told they don’t have any­thing. But it has­n’t stopped. They clear­ly were not hap­py with the deci­sion in the emails probe even though Comey said not even a close call.

    This seems to be the back­sto­ry of what hap­pened on Fri­day. Agents push­ing for more aggres­sive inves­ti­ga­tions on var­i­ous fronts, Comey fear­ing he’d be blamed after the fact for not noti­fy­ing Con­gress in the let­ter he sent and specif­i­cal­ly being afraid that some of these agents would leak news of the pos­si­bly new Huma Abe­din emails to Con­gress. These are not fun sit­u­a­tions to be in, I am sure. But they are ones an FBI Direc­tor should, indeed must, be will­ing to stand up to.

    Here’s some­thing to look at very close­ly. Last week we heard this sto­ry of how the Bureau’s now sec­ond in com­mand, Andrew McCabe might have been undu­ly influ­enced because Vir­ginia Gov. Ter­ry McAu­li­ffe (D) con­tributed sub­stan­tial sums to McCabe’s wife’s failed state sen­ate cam­paign in an effort to reclaim con­trol of the Vir­ginia state sen­ate for the Democ­rats. I won’t rehearse the details of that arti­cle. But the dates and the log­ic of the argu­ment sim­ply don’t hold up. The author of that arti­cle was the WSJ’s Devlin Bar­rett, the same reporter who wrote the just dis­cussed arti­cle about agents at war with their supe­ri­ors at the FBI.

    It is quite clear those agents have Bar­ret­t’s ear. Indeed, it seems extra­or­di­nar­i­ly like­ly that that ear­li­er arti­cle (the McAu­li­ffe one) was a first effort to push the Clin­ton emails sto­ry back into the cam­paign spot­light, indeed to dis­cred­it the deci­sion made in July to close the case.

    Har­ry Reid is now out with extreme crit­i­cism of Comey and accu­sa­tions about FBI find­ings about Don­ald Trump and con­nec­tions with Rus­sia. I not­ed a few weeks ago that this is what is so dam­ag­ing when peo­ple start vio­lat­ing norms, inter­fer­ing in elec­tions. It starts to seem ratio­nal for oth­ers to do it as well. I will suf­fice it to say that there seem to be at least two inves­ti­ga­tions on-going into issues relat­ed to Don­ald Trump. Comey has felt no anal­o­gous need to pro­ceed with what we might call the extreme trans­paren­cy he has cho­sen with the emails probe of Hillary Clin­ton. Again, he’s dri­ven by fear of Repub­li­can crit­i­cism and leaks by agents try­ing to stron­garm supe­ri­ors.

    All of this, the ini­tial action and now these reac­tions are pre­cise­ly what these rules are meant to avoid. It might be bet­ter to say that they are meant to avoid devel­op­ments in good faith inves­ti­ga­tions being made pub­lic in close prox­im­i­ty to elec­tions. What you have hear looks more like a worst case sce­nario: rogue agents try­ing to rehash already con­clud­ed inves­ti­ga­tions or launch still oth­er ones in time to effect an elec­tion that is only days away. It is no secret that the the rank-and-file of the FBI leans Repub­li­can, much the same can be said about law enforce­ment gen­er­al­ly. There’s no crime in that. But some­one in Comey’s posi­tion is charged with pur­su­ing jus­tice and the admin­is­tra­tion of jus­tice free from par­ti­san moti­va­tion and in line with the poli­cies and norms that gov­ern such inves­ti­ga­tions. He’s failed in that com­plete­ly, even after being warned of the con­se­quences of his actions. His intent, the mix of self-pro­tec­tion or naivete or even bad motive if it exists, is basi­cal­ly irrel­e­vant.

    “I may not be con­vinced of mal­ice on Comey’s part. But it seems extreme­ly like­ly — indeed, we all but know it based on infor­ma­tion sur­faced over the last forty-eight hours — that he is being played by peo­ple who are act­ing with mal­ice. Or, per­haps more damn­ing, he is unwill­ing to do the right thing because it could led to crit­i­cism from Repub­li­cans. I’ve said it sev­er­al times: that self-pro­tec­tion seems to be gov­ern­ing his actions.

    Repub­li­can threats and bul­ly­ing may have caused the head of the FBI to poten­tial­ly break the law. Wow. And some of that bul­ly­ing may have come for peo­ple work under Comey. Dou­ble wow:

    ...

    Still more trou­bling is the infor­ma­tion con­tained in this just released arti­cle in The Wall Street Jour­nal by Devlin Bar­rett. It describes what the arti­cle describes as a feud with­in the FBI and between the FBI and the Depart­ment of Jus­tice over the Clin­ton probe. It now seems clear that what are essen­tial­ly rogue FBI agents have been look­ing for all sorts of dif­fer­ent angles to pur­sue inves­ti­ga­tions of Hillary Clin­ton and her fam­i­ly. Indeed, they’ve pre­sent­ed their evi­dence to career pub­lic cor­rup­tion pros­e­cu­tors at DOJ and been told they don’t have any­thing. But it has­n’t stopped. They clear­ly were not hap­py with the deci­sion in the emails probe even though Comey said not even a close call.

    ...

    So rogue agents who refuse to take “you have no case” as an answer may have just effec­tive­ly forced the FBI direc­tor to pre­emp­tive­ly leak to the GOP by mak­ing it obvi­ous that they would leak it them­selves to the GOP even close to the elec­tion, cre­at­ing a poten­tial­ly big­ger scan­dal. Dis­turb­ing, yes. But also keep in mind that it’s only one expla­na­tion and one of the more char­i­ta­ble pos­si­ble expla­na­tions at that. And it’s a expla­na­tion that still leaves open the ques­tion of whether or not it was fears of future Repub­li­can bul­ly­ing that may have been moti­vat­ing Comey or bul­ly­ing that start­ed before Comey informed Con­gress after Con­gress­man Chaf­fetz was informed of the new­ly dis­cov­ered emails by those same rogue agents:

    Crooks and Liars

    What Did Jason Chaf­fetz Know And When Did He Know It?

    By Sarah P

    10/30/16 11:38am

    Look­ing back on the day before the Comey let­ter leaked about this insane pos­si­ble new Hillary Clin­ton email non-scan­dal... I mean, Huma’s emails, ...I mean, Antho­ny Weiner’s...er..., some­thing seems odd. A few things hap­pened that just don’t add up.

    Joan Walsh of The Nation asks a ques­tion many of us in the media have been pon­der­ing over the last few days: When did Jason Chaf­fetz find out about this Comey let­ter?

    Walsh says:

    There is a lot of spec­u­la­tion that he had heads up on the Comey rev­e­la­tion. He tweet­ed it out before his Demo­c­ra­t­ic col­leagues had got­ten the let­ter. He seemed to know that some­thing was com­ing. He actu­al­ly reversed his Trump endorse­ment the day before. What was his role? Was he leaked some of this new infor­ma­tion so that he put pres­sure on Comey?

    First of all, we start with Chaf­fetz, endors­ing Trump, then un-endors­ing him three weeks ago, then re-endors­ing him four days ago. Yes, he flipped, flopped and flipped back again in just a few weeks. I have whiplash from try­ing to keep up.

    So the first two flips and flops I get. First, he sup­port­ed the GOP nom­i­nee. Fine. Par­ty lines and all. And then he flopped to un-endorse after the release of that hor­rif­ic “grab that p*ssy” video by say­ing: “I’m out. I can no longer in good con­science endorse this per­son for pres­i­dent” because he could no longer look his 15-year-old daugh­ter in the eye after what he called “some of the most abhor­rent and offen­sive com­ments that you can pos­si­bly imag­ine.”

    Strong words, right?

    Well, total­ly out of the blue on Wednes­day night, Chaf­fetz tweet­ed this spine­less tweet out about not endors­ing, but def­i­nite­ly vot­ing for, Don­ald Trump:

    I will not defend or endorse @realDonaldTrump, but I am vot­ing for him. HRC is that bad. HRC is bad for the USA.— Jason Chaf­fetz (@jasoninthehouse) Octo­ber 27, 2016

    Gah, you are the worst, Chaf­fetz. Good luck explain­ing to your daugh­ter how not only are you vot­ing for a man who brags about sex­u­al assault, has been accused by twelve women of doing just that and is on tri­al for the rape of a 13 year old. But hey, at least you aren’t “endors­ing” him.

    Any­how, back to Fri­day. So now there is spec­u­la­tion that maybe, pos­si­bly, prob­a­bly, Chaf­fetz got wind of these emails and put pres­sure on Comey to release some late Octo­ber bomb­shell. Hence his non-endorse­ment sup­port. Oh, and there is the whole, tweet­ing this out before the Dems even saw the let­ter:

    FBI Dir just informed me, “The FBI has learned of the exis­tence of emails that appear to be per­ti­nent to the inves­ti­ga­tion.” Case reopened— Jason Chaf­fetz (@jasoninthehouse) Octo­ber 28, 2016

    ...

    So here is the mil­lion dol­lar ques­tion — did Chaf­fetz and his army of GOP goons put pres­sure on Comey to release this infor­ma­tion to try to sway the elec­tion? Only time will tell what actu­al­ly hap­pened behind the scenes, but when you look at the entire pic­ture and time­line, it is all too con­ve­nient to be coin­ci­dence.

    “Any­how, back to Fri­day. So now there is spec­u­la­tion that maybe, pos­si­bly, prob­a­bly, Chaf­fetz got wind of these emails and put pres­sure on Comey to release some late Octo­ber bomb­shell. Hence his non-endorse­ment sup­port. Oh, and there is the whole, tweet­ing this out before the Dems even saw the let­ter

    That’s right, House Over­sight Com­mit­tee Chair­man Jason Chaf­fetz, who sud­den­ly reversed is pri­or dis­avowals of Trump on Wednes­day night, then sud­den­ly tweets that the FBI was going to ‘reopen’ the email inves­ti­ga­tion a half hour before the Democ­rats even saw Comey’s let­ter. It’s quite a mys­tery. Per­haps even the kind of mys­tery the FBI should be investiga...oh wait, nev­er mind.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | October 31, 2016, 1:54 pm
  34. Uhhhh...so either one of the FBI’s twit­ter accounts got hacked and they don’t want to admit it, or some­one at the FBI just reopened a dor­mant “FBI Records Vault” twit­ter account over the last two days to issue a bunch of tweets clear­ly intend­ed to be embar­rass­ing for the Clin­ton cam­paign:

    Van­i­ty Fair

    Is Some­body at the F.B.I. Try­ing to Throw the Elec­tion?
    A series of tweets from a long-dor­mant F.B.I. Twit­ter account sug­gest an ulte­ri­or motive.

    by Emi­ly Jane Fox

    Novem­ber 1, 2016 4:47 pm

    The Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion, while under the aegis of the Jus­tice Depart­ment, is nom­i­nal­ly an inde­pen­dent orga­ni­za­tion, allow­ing it to remain non­par­ti­san. This explains in part the out­rage on the left (and by some on the right) when F.B.I. direc­tor James Comey sent a let­ter Fri­day noti­fy­ing Con­gress that the agency had renewed its inves­ti­ga­tion into Hillary Clinton’s pri­vate e‑mail serv­er, a case it had closed months ear­li­er. Comey was imme­di­ate­ly derid­ed for his deci­sion to send the let­ter with so few specifics so close to the elec­tion, effec­tive­ly rais­ing all sorts of flags and chang­ing the cam­paign dia­logue with­out expla­na­tion. Sen­a­tor Har­ry Reid wrote a let­ter of his own, argu­ing that Comey’s “par­ti­san actions” may have vio­lat­ed fed­er­al law. He also made the point of ask­ing why the F.B.I. direc­tor didn’t give sim­i­lar treat­ment to what he called “explo­sive infor­ma­tion” link­ing Trump and his cam­paign staff to the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment.

    Now, a new inter­a­gency mys­tery is rais­ing ques­tions about whether the F.B.I. has become politi­cized, just days before the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. On Sun­day, a long-dor­mant F.B.I. Twit­ter account sud­den­ly sprung to life, blast­ing out a series of links to case files that cast the Clin­tons in a decid­ed­ly neg­a­tive light. One tweet links to pub­licly avail­able doc­u­ments relat­ed to the agency’s inves­ti­ga­tion into Hillary Clinton’s pri­vate e‑mail serv­er, fol­lowed imme­di­ate­ly by anoth­er tweet link­ing to the inves­ti­ga­tion of for­mer gen­er­al David Petraeus for com­pro­mis­ing clas­si­fied material—a jar­ring jux­ta­po­si­tion giv­en the alle­ga­tions against Clin­ton. Then, on Tues­day, the “FBI Records Vault” account—which had not tweet­ed at all between Octo­ber 2015 and Sunday—published a link to records relat­ed to the 15-year-old, long-closed inves­ti­ga­tion into for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clinton’s par­don­ing of one­time com­modi­ties trad­er turned fugi­tive Marc Rich. The post, which was quick­ly retweet­ed thou­sands of times, links to a heav­i­ly redact­ed doc­u­ment that repeat­ed­ly ref­er­ences the agency’s “Pub­lic Cor­rup­tion” unit—less-than-ideal optics for Hillary Clin­ton, who has spent her entire cam­paign fight­ing her image as a cor­rupt politi­cian.

    William J. Clin­ton Foun­da­tion: This ini­tial release con­sists of mate­r­i­al from the FBI’s files relat­ed to the Will... https://t.co/Y4nz3aRSmG— FBI Records Vault (@FBIRecordsVault) Novem­ber 1, 2016

    NBC News report­ed Tues­day that the release was “sent by the FOIA office under nor­mal guide­lines,” refer­ring to a Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act request. Still, the tim­ing seems ques­tion­able, giv­en the swirl of accu­sa­tions in recent days that the F.B.I. has effec­tive­ly tak­en sides in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion by pub­li­ciz­ing infor­ma­tion about Clin­ton while with­hold­ing infor­ma­tion about Trump. The only item tweet­ed by the F.B.I. Records account relat­ed to the Republican’s cam­paign is a ref­er­ence to Fred C. Trump, Don­ald Trump’s father, whom the tweet refers to as “a real estate devel­op­er and phil­an­thropist.”

    ...

    “...The only item tweet­ed by the F.B.I. Records account relat­ed to the Republican’s cam­paign is a ref­er­ence to Fred C. Trump, Don­ald Trump’s father, whom the tweet refers to as “a real estate devel­op­er and phil­an­thropist.””

    Yes, right around the same time peo­ple start­ed won­der­ing if the rea­son James Comey threw Hillary’s email serv­er inves­ti­ga­tion right into the mid­dle of the cam­paign, some­one at the FBI decides to throw a whole bunch of oth­er old Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tions into the cam­paign. Plus a tweet that describes Fred Trump as a phil­an­thropist. Just to be extra sub­tle.

    Also note regard­ing the tweet about Marc Rich that James Comey over­saw Rich’s pros­e­cu­tion from 1987–1993 and took over the inves­ti­ga­tion of Bill Clin­ton’s Marc Rich par­don in 2002. So it sounds like a fac­tion of the FBI agents has decid­ed to join the Team Trump Troll Squad a week before the elec­tion. It rais­es the ques­tion of whether or not these agents are dri­ven more by a case of Clin­ton Derange­ment Syn­drome or are just real­ly intense Trump fans. It’s prob­a­bly a bit of both.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 1, 2016, 2:52 pm
  35. We’re learn­ing more about the time­line and appar­ent motives for James Comey’s dis­clo­sure of the new­ly found emails to Con­gress 11 days before the elec­tion. First, it sounds like Comey first learned about the exis­tence of the emails two weeks ear­li­er when he asked the agents to ana­lyze what they could with­out a war­rant (meta­da­ta, etc) in order to see if there was cause for obtain­ing a war­rant. So this issue was­n’t some­thing that sud­den­ly fell in Comey’s lap the day before he informed Con­gress. We also are get­ting fur­ther con­fir­ma­tion that Comey and the oth­er senior FBI offi­cials were con­vinced that it would be impos­si­ble to secret­ly car­ry on with the inves­ti­ga­tion with­out it leak­ing giv­en the polit­i­cal nature of the whole sit­u­a­tion:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Senior FBI offi­cials were told of new emails in ear­ly Octo­ber but want­ed more infor­ma­tion before renew­ing Clin­ton probe

    By Sari Hor­witz and Ellen Nakashima
    Novem­ber 2, 2016 at 8:01 PM

    Senior FBI offi­cials were informed about the dis­cov­ery of new emails poten­tial­ly rel­e­vant to the inves­ti­ga­tion of Hillary Clinton’s pri­vate email serv­er at least two weeks before Direc­tor James B. Comey noti­fied Con­gress, accord­ing to fed­er­al offi­cials famil­iar with the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    The offi­cials said that Comey was told that there were new emails before he received a for­mal brief­ing last Thurs­day, although the pre­cise tim­ing is unclear.

    The infor­ma­tion goes beyond the details pro­vid­ed in the let­ter that Comey sent to law­mak­ers last week declar­ing that he was restart­ing the inquiry into whether Clin­ton mis­han­dled clas­si­fied mate­r­i­al dur­ing her tenure as sec­re­tary of state. He wrote in the Fri­day let­ter that “the inves­tiga­tive team briefed me yes­ter­day” about the addi­tion­al emails.

    The peo­ple famil­iar with the inves­ti­ga­tion said that senior offi­cials had been informed weeks ear­li­er that a com­put­er belong­ing to for­mer con­gress­man Antho­ny Wein­er (D‑N.Y.) con­tained emails poten­tial­ly per­ti­nent to the Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tion. Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abe­din, shared the com­put­er with her hus­band, from whom she is now sep­a­rat­ed.

    Comey did not noti­fy Con­gress as soon as he learned about the emails because offi­cials want­ed addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion before pro­ceed­ing, the offi­cials said.

    Even after Comey received the desired infor­ma­tion, major ques­tions still remain — for instance, how many emails are relat­ed to Clin­ton or con­tain clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion. Since noti­fy­ing Con­gress, Comey has drawn intense crit­i­cism from law­mak­ers in both par­ties as well as promi­nent for­mer law enforce­ment offi­cials for pub­li­ciz­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion so close to the elec­tion when so lit­tle was known.

    It is unclear what FBI agents have learned since dis­cov­er­ing the emails in ear­ly Octo­ber. But offi­cials say they gained enough infor­ma­tion from the email meta­da­ta to take the next step, seek­ing a war­rant to review the actu­al emails. That legal step prompt­ed Comey’s let­ter to Con­gress, which has made him a cen­tral fig­ure dur­ing the stretch run of the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

    “He need­ed to make an informed deci­sion, know­ing that once he made that deci­sion, he was tak­ing it to anoth­er lev­el,” an offi­cial with knowl­edge of the deci­sion-mak­ing process said.

    Law enforce­ment offi­cials on Oct. 3 seized the com­put­er belong­ing to Wein­er, who was under inves­ti­ga­tion for alleged­ly send­ing sug­ges­tive online mes­sages to a teenage girl. As they exam­ined his com­put­er, inves­ti­ga­tors quick­ly stum­bled on emails tied to Abe­din. She and Wein­er sep­a­rat­ed in August. Abe­din, like Clin­ton, used an email address that was rout­ed through Clinton’s pri­vate serv­er.

    Soon after the inves­ti­ga­tors found the new trove of thou­sands of emails, they noti­fied the sep­a­rate team of FBI agents in Wash­ing­ton that worked on the probe into Clinton’s pri­vate email serv­er, offi­cials said. Comey said in July that the inves­ti­ga­tion was com­plete and that he would rec­om­mend to pros­e­cu­tors that no charges be brought.

    After the agents on the Clin­ton case were noti­fied in ear­ly Octo­ber about the new­ly dis­cov­ered emails, they in turn told FBI lead­ers about them.

    At that point, the lead­ers did not believe they had enough infor­ma­tion to make a deci­sion about what to do next, offi­cials said.

    The senior FBI offi­cials instruct­ed the agents to do every­thing they could with­in legal lim­its to deter­mine the rel­e­vance of the new emails, one offi­cial said. That review, includ­ing a clos­er exam­i­na­tion of the email meta­da­ta, was an attempt to fig­ure out the scope and vol­ume of what the agents had found.

    An FBI spokesman declined to com­ment.

    In noti­fy­ing law­mak­ers on Fri­day about the new inves­tiga­tive steps, Comey said he had been “briefed” about the new­ly dis­cov­ered emails a day ear­li­er but did not men­tion that he had first heard about them before that. The news media has wide­ly report­ed that Comey was first told about the emails last week.

    A for­mal brief­ing for Comey with the inves­tiga­tive team was held Oct. 27 at FBI head­quar­ters. At that point, Comey was giv­en a com­plete pre­sen­ta­tion of every­thing the team knew about the trove.

    “It was a com­bi­na­tion of assess­ments by the inves­tiga­tive team as to what it might be,” the offi­cial said.

    Much was unknown about the con­tents and rel­e­vance of the thou­sands of emails. How many were to or from Clin­ton? Did any con­tain clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion? How many were dupli­cates of mate­r­i­al the FBI had already reviewed? Was any of this sig­nif­i­cant to the Clin­ton email inves­ti­ga­tion that had been com­plet­ed?

    “At that point, there was no way for Comey to know if the [Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tors] had already seen the emails before or if they were new, old or dif­fer­ent,” an offi­cial said. “All of that was just unknown.”

    But Comey and oth­ers felt there was enough infor­ma­tion at that point to pur­sue a war­rant, which would per­mit the inves­ti­ga­tors on the Clin­ton case to read the emails, offi­cials said. They could not read them with­out legal per­mis­sion because the emails had been dis­cov­ered in the sep­a­rate crim­i­nal probe involv­ing Wein­er.

    When Comey and the offi­cials decid­ed to seek a war­rant, they knew that would involve more peo­ple, both at the FBI and the Jus­tice Depart­ment. Comey was con­cerned that the explo­sive infor­ma­tion that they had to renew the Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tion would leak out.

    “It could not be done in secret,” an offi­cial with knowl­edge of the inves­ti­ga­tion said. “It’s a volatile sub­ject and a major top­ic in the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.”

    But the over­rid­ing fac­tor in Comey’s deci­sion was that he felt he had to tell Con­gress what he was doing because he had tes­ti­fied under oath this past sum­mer and “told Con­gress and the world” that the Clin­ton email inves­ti­ga­tion was com­plete, and now that was no longer true, an offi­cial said.

    Then, Comey had to fig­ure out what to say to law­mak­ers, when he knew so lit­tle. He want­ed the let­ter to be accu­rate and “cir­cum­spect,” the offi­cial said.

    “He want­ed it to be care­ful­ly, thought­ful­ly done and say no more than his inves­ti­ga­tors knew,” the offi­cial said.

    After the for­mal brief­ing, staffers in Comey’s office con­tact­ed senior offi­cials at the Jus­tice Depart­ment to noti­fy them about the director’s deci­sion. The next day, Comey sent his let­ter.

    Two offi­cials famil­iar with the case said it is unclear whether inves­ti­ga­tors will be able to con­clude their review of the new emails before the elec­tion.

    ...

    ““It could not be done in secret,” an offi­cial with knowl­edge of the inves­ti­ga­tion said. “It’s a volatile sub­ject and a major top­ic in the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.””

    So the senior FBI offi­cials are con­fi­dent that the agency is inca­pable of keep­ing secrets about inves­ti­ga­tions that could swing an elec­tion? Why exact­ly isn’t this wild­ly scan­dalous?

    And note that when you read:

    ...

    “He want­ed it to be care­ful­ly, thought­ful­ly done and say no more than his inves­ti­ga­tors knew,” the offi­cial said.

    ...

    keep in mind that one of biggest crit­i­cisms of Comey’s let­ter to Con­gress was­n’t that it said more than what his inves­ti­ga­tors knew but that it did­n’t make it clear how lit­tle inves­ti­ga­tors knew, like where or not there were any new emails dis­cov­ered at all.

    Also note that when you read:

    ...

    But the over­rid­ing fac­tor in Comey’s deci­sion was that he felt he had to tell Con­gress what he was doing because he had tes­ti­fied under oath this past sum­mer and “told Con­gress and the world” that the Clin­ton email inves­ti­ga­tion was com­plete, and now that was no longer true, an offi­cial said.

    ...

    keep in mind that that con­cern over keep­ing Con­gress informed would­n’t real­ly be con­cern if it was­n’t for the con­cerns over rogue FBI agent leaks about the inves­ti­ga­tion. Because one of the rea­sons legal observers are shocked at what Comey did is because it’s gen­er­al­ly rec­og­nized that the FBI should­n’t have done what it did so close to elec­tion even if the FBI was real­ly was reopen­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion. Being ter­ri­fied of how Con­gress would react after the elec­tion isn’t a valid excuse.

    Iron­i­cal­ly, how­ev­er, if the motive for Comey to make this dis­clo­sure so close to an elec­tion real­ly was because he was sim­ply ter­ri­fied of the GOP’s response once they found out after the elec­tion, that could actu­al­ly save him from hav­ing vio­lat­ed the Hatch Act:

    Law Newz

    Why It Prob­a­bly Won’t Mat­ter Even If James Comey Vio­lat­ed The Hatch Act

    by Elu­ra Nanos | 9:09 pm, Novem­ber 1st, 2016

    Back in July, I called out FBI Direc­tor James Comey for his bizarre and unprece­dent­ed press con­fer­ence in which he pro­nounced Hillary Clin­ton “extreme­ly care­less.” As I said then, FBI direc­tors don’t make pub­lic state­ments about inves­ti­ga­tions, even when those inves­ti­ga­tions result in indict­ments. The last thing the FBI ever does is detail an entire inves­ti­ga­tion that led nowhere, and then fol­low up with a sweep­ing opin­ion about how the sub­ject act­ed.

    Okay, I take that back. Hold­ing a press con­fer­ence to declare an inves­ti­ga­tion a dud is the sec­ond-to-last thing the FBI does. The actu­al last thing it does is to announce that it’s in the mid­dle of reopen­ing that dud. And that’s dur­ing nor­mal times. Dur­ing the two weeks lead­ing up to a cir­cus of a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, such a deci­sion is down­right insan­i­ty.

    Ini­tial­ly, I’d giv­en Direc­tor Comey cred­it for hav­ing made polit­i­cal lemon­ade out of bushels of volatile lemons:

    “FBI Direc­tor James Comey’s pub­lic pro­nounce­ment of Hillary Clin­ton as “extreme­ly care­less” … the state­ment car­ries great weight in the court of pub­lic opin­ion – a real­i­ty that has a very use­ful dual pur­pose. On the one hand, it allows the FBI to take cred­it for a non­par­ti­san inves­ti­ga­tion that was cur­tailed before it became a full-scale witch-tri­al. On the oth­er, it sat­is­fied Hillary-haters with an open and cred­i­ble dec­la­ra­tion of her slop­pi­ness.”

    But Comey’s more recent actions were far from a Great Com­pro­mise; they were more like a Des­per­ate Plea for Repub­li­cans to save him. And sav­ing may well be what Comey (or at least his career) needs from here on in. Accord­ing to Sen­ate Minor­i­ty Leader Har­ry Reid (who wrote a scathing let­ter to Comey) and to Richard Painter (chief White House ethics lawyer under the George W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion who filed an offi­cial com­plaint against Comey with the Office of Spe­cial Coun­sel), Comey may have vio­lat­ed the Hatch Act.

    Let’s just take a quick look at the Hatch Act shall we?

    “an employ­ee may take an active part in polit­i­cal man­age­ment or in polit­i­cal cam­paigns, except an employ­ee may not—

    (1) use his offi­cial author­i­ty or influ­ence for the pur­pose of inter­fer­ing with or affect­ing the result of an elec­tion;”

    Obvi­ous­ly, Comey sent his let­ter to Con­gress in his offi­cial capac­i­ty as the Direc­tor of the FBI. The only remain­ing ques­tion is why he sent it. If he was pur­pose­ly inter­fer­ing with the elec­tion, then he clear­ly vio­lat­ed the act. And as Painter point­ed out in his op-ed in the New York Times,

    “there is no oth­er good rea­son for tak­ing those actions, and the offi­cial is act­ing under pres­sure from per­sons who obvi­ous­ly do want to influ­ence the elec­tion.

    Absent extra­or­di­nary cir­cum­stances that might jus­ti­fy it, a pub­lic com­mu­ni­ca­tion about a pend­ing F.B.I. inves­ti­ga­tion involv­ing a can­di­date that is made on the eve of an elec­tion is thus very like­ly to be a vio­la­tion of the Hatch Act and a mis­use of an offi­cial posi­tion.”

    I can get behind Painter’s log­ic. Intent, as a mat­ter of law, is most often inferred by the sur­round­ing cir­cum­stances. When a par­tic­u­lar action pre­dictably brings about an obvi­ous result, engag­ing in that action will be deemed a “pur­pose­ful” caus­ing of said result. Impact­ing the pres­i­den­tial race is an obvi­ous result of Comey’s actions, and with­out some oth­er good expla­na­tion, it would seem fair to say that Comey must have been act­ing with pre­cise­ly that pur­pose.

    Then again, there is that lit­tle word in Painter’s argu­ment that trou­bles me: “…no oth­er good rea­son.” Comey’s best defense to a Hatch vio­la­tion might be that his under­ly­ing rea­son­ing was any­thing oth­er than tip­ping the elec­tion scales; the rea­son would just have to exist, but it wouldn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly have to be good. Pan­do­ra opened her box not for a good rea­son – but for a real­ly, real­ly lousy one – and she’s the poster child for bring­ing about unin­tend­ed results. Comey’s grasp­ing for self-preser­va­tion could actu­al­ly work to his advan­tage in the long run. He’d just need to mak­ing a con­vinc­ing case for some non-Trump rea­son behind his let­ter to Con­gress.

    Con­sti­tu­tion­al Law Expert Jonathan Tur­ley took the posi­tion that the Hatch Act “is sim­ply a dog that will not hunt,” – in his recent piece denounc­ing the Reid/Painter charges against Comey. Pro­fes­sor Tur­ley point­ed out a major weak­ness with a Hatch alle­ga­tion: that no evi­dence was even sug­gest­ed with regard to Comey’s intent to influ­ence the elec­tion. Tur­ley wrote that Painter “has no evi­dence to sug­gest that Comey wants to influ­ence the elec­tion or favors either can­di­date. Intent is key under the Hatch inves­ti­ga­tions.”

    In the end, a ques­tion of any Hatch vio­la­tion comes down to the same one so many cas­es do: whether the find­er of fact is will­ing to infer the con­tent of the accused’s mind. In the court of pub­lic opin­ion, that will­ing­ness willy sure­ly fall along polit­i­cal lines, with Clin­ton sup­port­ers mak­ing a log­i­cal leap and con­ser­v­a­tives demand­ing con­ve­nient­ly non-exis­tent con­crete proof.

    ...

    Comey’s deci­sion to exceed the bounds of his author­i­ty may have been his own response to a Morton’s Fork dilem­ma of two equal­ly bad choic­es. If he stayed silent, he’d have even­tu­al­ly been skew­ered for help­ing Hillary win the elec­tion; if he spoke up, he’d be just as impaled for affect­ing things oth­er­wise. Know­ing that Jan­u­ary will like­ly bring a Clin­ton inau­gu­ra­tion, Comey may have decid­ed that his future would be best served by his becom­ing a cau­tion-to-the-wind cham­pi­on of trans­paren­cy in pros­e­cu­tion. Then, at least he might have pre­served his rep­u­ta­tion for a no-non­sense law enforcer. Plus, Hillary-hat­ing Repub­li­cans might remem­ber his ser­vice and take care of him after the elec­tion if they man­age to hold on to Con­gress.

    Whether Comey’s dis­clo­sure of the Wein­er-Abe­din-Clin­ton e‑triangle will amount to any­thing on its own remains to be seen. But I think the events of the last week, if noth­ing else, show the pre­science of my Medi­aite col­league, Tom­my Christo­pher, when he said, “James Comey may have his bias­es, but they are insti­tu­tion­al, if any­thing, and are against Hillary Clin­ton, if they exist at all.”

    This is an opin­ion piece. The views expressed here are just those of the author.

    “Then again, there is that lit­tle word in Painter’s argu­ment that trou­bles me: “…no oth­er good rea­son.” Comey’s best defense to a Hatch vio­la­tion might be that his under­ly­ing rea­son­ing was any­thing oth­er than tip­ping the elec­tion scales; the rea­son would just have to exist, but it wouldn’t nec­es­sar­i­ly have to be good. Pan­do­ra opened her box not for a good rea­son – but for a real­ly, real­ly lousy one – and she’s the poster child for bring­ing about unin­tend­ed results. Comey’s grasp­ing for self-preser­va­tion could actu­al­ly work to his advan­tage in the long run. He’d just need to mak­ing a con­vinc­ing case for some non-Trump rea­son behind his let­ter to Con­gress.

    Yes, as long as James Comey can make the case that he was basi­cal­ly scared of the Repub­li­cans and not work­ing for them, he can argue that he tech­ni­cal­ly did­n’t vio­late the Hatch Act. The law is fun like that some­times. So the more the GOP scares Comey between now and the elec­tion, or behaves in a way that could be rea­son­ably per­ceived as like­ly to have scared Comey, the eas­i­er it will be for Comey to make anoth­er hor­ri­bly-timed dis­clo­sure. And look at that, House Speak­er Paul Ryan is urg­ing Comey to release any “smok­ing guns” ASAP while empathiz­ing with Comey’s fear of how the GOP would have respond­ed after the elec­tion if he had­n’t made the ini­tial dis­clo­sure:

    Talk­ing Points Memo Livewire

    Ryan Urges Comey To Dis­close If He Finds A Clin­ton Email ‘Smok­ing Gun’

    By Caitlin Mac­Neal
    Pub­lished Novem­ber 2, 2016, 10:07 AM EDT

    House Speak­er Paul Ryan (R‑WI) urged FBI Direc­tor James Comey to dis­close pub­licly if he finds a “smok­ing gun” in the new­ly dis­cov­ered batch of emails relat­ed to Hillary Clin­ton’s use of a pri­vate email serv­er.

    Ryan’s com­ments came in response to a ques­tion from con­ser­v­a­tive radio host Hugh Hewitt, who asked whether Comey should pub­li­cize a “smok­ing gun” if he finds one.

    Ryan first empathized with Comey’s deci­sion to noti­fy Con­gress that he was review­ing emails relat­ed to the Clin­ton pri­vate serv­er probe.

    “Yeah, look, I under­stand why he did what he did because imag­ine if he didn’t and we found out after the fact that he was sit­ting on this before the elec­tion. So I clear­ly under­stand why he did what he did,” Ryan replied.

    “Hillary Clin­ton has no one to blame but her­self. And she and Repub­li­cans are say­ing, if you’ve got some­thing, you’ve got clear —put it out there,” the Speak­er con­tin­ued. “So yeah, I think if he’s gone through the process that he needs to go through to vet evi­dence and he’s got it, he should do it. I do agree with that. More dis­clo­sure is bet­ter, clear­ly.”

    “Yeah, look, I under­stand why he did what he did because imag­ine if he didn’t and we found out after the fact that he was sit­ting on this before the elec­tion. So I clear­ly under­stand why he did what he did”.

    Yes, imag­ine what would have hap­pened if the GOP found out Comey had­n’t improp­er­ly dis­closed the new­ly dis­cov­ered emails. And if you’re James Comey, keep imag­in­ing what the GOP would have done and then get real­ly scared and filled with a sense of self-preser­va­tion. And then just do what­ev­er your fear tells you to do! It’s total­ly legal-ish at that point.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 2, 2016, 6:44 pm
  36. Oh what a shock­er: It turns out the FBI field agents who have been aggres­sive­ly push­ing the FBI to inves­ti­gate the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion we’re bas­ing their sus­pi­cions on “Clin­ton Cash”, the dis­cred­it­ed book writ­ten by Bre­it­bart’s edi­tor-at-large:

    Salon

    FBI takes a page from Bre­it­bart: Far-right “Clin­ton Cash” book used in Foun­da­tion inves­ti­ga­tion
    The New York Times report on the FBI’s Clin­ton Foun­da­tion inves­ti­ga­tion reveals a pret­ty sketchy infor­ma­tion source

    Gary Legum
    Thurs­day, Nov 3, 2016 03:58 AM CST

    The Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion has gone full Bre­it­bart.

    OK, not real­ly. But this nugget from a New York Times sto­ry on how the bureau kept two inves­ti­ga­tions under wraps this sum­mer so as not to appear to be med­dling in the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign could lead you to won­der.

    In August . . . the F.B.I. grap­pled with whether to issue sub­poe­nas in the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion case, which . . . was in its pre­lim­i­nary stages. The inves­ti­ga­tion, based in New York, had not devel­oped much evi­dence and was based most­ly on infor­ma­tion that had sur­faced in news sto­ries and the book “Clin­ton Cash,” accord­ing to sev­er­al law enforce­ment offi­cials briefed on the case.

    Oh, neat, “Clin­ton Cash,” the par­ti­san hit job pub­lished last year by Breitbart’s edi­tor-at-large, Peter Schweiz­er, and lat­er adapt­ed into a doc­u­men­tary that was exec­u­tive pro­duced by for­mer Bre­it­bart chair­man and cur­rent Trump cam­paign CEO Stephen Ban­non. Next the FBI will tell us that Roger Stone was the spe­cial agent in charge of the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    If you have for­got­ten about “Clin­ton Cash,” Dig­by laid out a nice case against it and Schweiz­er. The short ver­sion is that the book was one in a long, long line of thin­ly sourced tales about the Clin­tons that have made mil­lions of dol­lars for var­i­ous right-wing writ­ers and pub­lish­ing hous­es since the ear­ly 1990s. For that mat­ter, these tales sold a lot of copies of the Times as well, when it went all in chas­ing White­wa­ter sto­ries ear­ly in Bill Clinton’s pres­i­den­cy.

    “Clin­ton Cash,” pub­lished just as Hillary Clin­ton was announc­ing her own cam­paign for the pres­i­den­cy, is an obvi­ous effort to cash in ear­ly to what will like­ly be four to eight years’ worth of sala­cious and worth­less inves­ti­ga­tions of her upcom­ing admin­is­tra­tion. It imme­di­ate­ly ran into the same prob­lem that dozens of anti-Clin­ton books have encoun­tered over the years: It con­tained more bull­shit than a waste pond on a cat­tle ranch. The pub­lish­er had to make revi­sions to the book’s lat­er edi­tions. Schweiz­er was forced to admit in both inter­views and in the con­clu­sion of his book that he had not quite made the case he was try­ing to present.

    Senior FBI and Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials came to the same con­clu­sion, much to the appar­ent dis­sat­is­fac­tion of some agents, as the Times report­ed:

    In meet­ings, the Jus­tice Depart­ment and senior F.B.I. offi­cials agreed that mak­ing the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion inves­ti­ga­tion pub­lic could influ­ence the pres­i­den­tial race and sug­gest they were favor­ing Mr. Trump. . . . They agreed to keep the case open but wait until after the elec­tion to deter­mine their next steps. The move infu­ri­at­ed some agents, who thought that the F.B.I.’s lead­ers were rein­ing them in because of pol­i­tics.

    ...

    And if it can’t get the GOP what it wants? Just this week Rep. Eli­jah Cum­mings, rank­ing Demo­c­rat on the House Over­sight Com­mit­tee, men­tioned the pres­sure that Repub­li­cans on the com­mit­tee have been putting on the FBI to turn up some­thing — any­thing — on Hillary Clin­ton regard­ing her pri­vate email serv­er and sug­gest­ed the GOP is going to start inves­ti­gat­ing the bureau and its direc­tor, James Comey, over the agency’s fail­ure.

    This lat­est blowup is sim­ply the newest chap­ter in bet­ter than two decades of Repub­li­cans co-opt­ing the FBI and oth­er inves­tiga­tive agen­cies in ser­vice of chas­ing what­ev­er dark Clin­ton­ian shad­ows they can con­jure from the fever swamps of right-wing media and web­sites. No charge is too spu­ri­ous or absurd, which is how the nation wound up with the specter in the 1990s of a Repub­li­can con­gress­man shoot­ing can­taloupes in his back­yard to “prove” that Vince Fos­ter could not have com­mit­ted sui­cide.

    It is not new, of course, for right-wing dem­a­gogues to use the FBI to chase down false and inflam­ma­to­ry garbage. But even with its his­to­ry, one of the ways the bureau main­tains legit­i­ma­cy as an insti­tu­tion is by giv­ing the appear­ance of a non­par­ti­san actor. If its agents are so deter­mined to base inves­ti­ga­tions on right-wing con jobs that their boss­es do have to rein them in, then it will lose what­ev­er moral author­i­ty it wants to claim.

    “It is not new, of course, for right-wing dem­a­gogues to use the FBI to chase down false and inflam­ma­to­ry garbage. But even with its his­to­ry, one of the ways the bureau main­tains legit­i­ma­cy as an insti­tu­tion is by giv­ing the appear­ance of a non­par­ti­san actor. If its agents are so deter­mined to base inves­ti­ga­tions on right-wing con jobs that their boss­es do have to rein them in, then it will lose what­ev­er moral author­i­ty it wants to claim.

    LOL! An inves­ti­ga­tion rely­ing pri­ma­ry on “Clin­ton Cash”. That’s just sad. Maybe the FBI real­ly was try­ing to pro­tect Hillary ini­tial­ly by assign­ing implau­si­bly incom­pe­tent agents to inves­ti­gate her. Although, in the agents’ defense, maybe Hillary is so cor­rupt that her cor­rup­tion cor­rupt­ed the minds of the law enforce­ment agents inves­ti­gat­ing her and now they can’t even iden­ti­fy bla­tant inves­tiga­tive trash like “Clin­ton Cash”. That’s how cun­ning­ly cor­rupt she is: If you inves­ti­gate her you go so insane that you lose cred­i­bil­i­ty. Move over C’Thul­hu!

    Either way, it’s very pos­si­ble that the FBI’s med­dling in this cam­paign has already dam­aged its cred­i­bil­i­ty for any future FBI inves­ti­ga­tions that these agents will no doubt be clam­or­ing to do if she wins. And that makes for a rather explo­sive dynam­ic if Hillary wins, because it appears that her inves­ti­ga­tor-mind-cor­rupt­ing pow­ers have clear­ly been infect­ing the FBI for years and now it’s an epi­dem­ic:

    The Guardian

    ‘The FBI is Trum­p­land’: anti-Clin­ton atmos­phere spurred leaks, sources say

    High­ly unfa­vor­able view of Hillary Clin­ton inten­si­fied after James Comey’s deci­sion not to rec­om­mend an indict­ment over her use of a pri­vate email serv­er

    Spencer Ack­er­man in New York

    Thurs­day 3 Novem­ber 2016 14.02 EDT Last mod­i­fied on Thurs­day 3 Novem­ber 2016 16.26 EDT

    Deep antipa­thy to Hillary Clin­ton exists with­in the FBI, mul­ti­ple bureau sources have told the Guardian, spurring a rapid series of leaks dam­ag­ing to her cam­paign just days before the elec­tion.

    Cur­rent and for­mer FBI offi­cials, none of whom were will­ing or cleared to speak on the record, have described a chaot­ic inter­nal cli­mate that result­ed from out­rage over direc­tor James Comey’s July deci­sion not to rec­om­mend an indict­ment over Clinton’s main­te­nance of a pri­vate email serv­er on which clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion tran­sit­ed.

    “The FBI is Trum­p­land,” said one cur­rent agent.

    This atmos­phere rais­es major ques­tions about how Comey and the bureau he is slat­ed to run for the next sev­en years can work with Clin­ton should she win the White House.

    The cur­rent­ly serv­ing FBI agent said Clin­ton is “the antichrist per­son­i­fied to a large swath of FBI per­son­nel,” and that “the rea­son why they’re leak­ing is they’re pro-Trump.”

    The agent called the bureau “Trum­p­lan­dia”, with some col­leagues open­ly dis­cussing vot­ing for a GOP nom­i­nee who has gar­nered unprece­dent­ed con­dem­na­tion from the party’s nation­al secu­ri­ty wing and who has pledged to jail Clin­ton if elect­ed.

    At the same time, oth­er sources dis­pute the depth of sup­port for Trump with­in the bureau, though they uni­form­ly stat­ed that Clin­ton is viewed high­ly unfa­vor­ably.

    “There are lots of peo­ple who don’t think Trump is qual­i­fied, but also believe Clin­ton is cor­rupt. What you hear a lot is that it’s a bad choice, between an incom­pe­tent and a cor­rupt politi­cian,” said a for­mer FBI offi­cial.

    Sources who dis­put­ed the depth of Trump’s inter­nal sup­port agreed that the FBI is now in par­lous polit­i­cal ter­ri­to­ry. Jus­tice depart­ment offi­cials – anoth­er cur­rent tar­get of FBI dis­sat­is­fac­tion – have said the bureau dis­re­gard­ed long­stand­ing rules against per­ceived or actu­al elec­toral inter­fer­ence when Comey wrote to Con­gress to say it was review­ing new­ly dis­cov­ered emails relat­ing to Clinton’s per­son­al serv­er.

    Comey’s vague let­ter to Con­gress, prompt­ly leaked by Repub­li­can con­gress­man Jason Chaf­fetz, said the bureau would eval­u­ate com­mu­ni­ca­tions – sub­se­quent­ly iden­ti­fied as com­ing from a device used by dis­graced ex-con­gress­man Antho­ny Wein­er, whose estranged wife Huma Abe­din is a Clin­ton aide – for con­nec­tions to the Clin­ton serv­er. Comey’s allies say he was placed in an impos­si­ble posi­tion after pre­vi­ous­ly tes­ti­fy­ing to Con­gress it would take an extra­or­di­nary devel­op­ment for him to revis­it the Clin­ton issue. Through­out the sum­mer and fall, Trump has attacked the FBI as cor­rupt for not effec­tive­ly end­ing Clinton’s polit­i­cal career.

    A polit­i­cal firestorm erupt­ed, with Comey and the bureau com­ing under with­er­ing crit­i­cism, includ­ing a rebuke on Wednes­day from Barack Oba­ma. Even some con­gres­sion­al Repub­li­cans, no friends to Clin­ton, have expressed dis­com­fort with Comey’s last-minute inser­tion of the bureau into the elec­tion.

    The rel­e­vance of the com­mu­ni­ca­tions to the Clin­ton inquiry has yet to be estab­lished, as Comey issued his let­ter before obtain­ing a war­rant to eval­u­ate them. Clin­ton sur­ro­gates con­tend that Comey has issued innu­en­do rather than evi­dence, pre­vent­ing them from mount­ing a pub­lic defense.

    Some feel Comey needs to address the crit­i­cism and pro­vide reas­sur­ance that the bureau, with its wide-rang­ing inves­tiga­tive and sur­veil­lance pow­ers, will com­port itself in an apo­lit­i­cal man­ner. Yet since Fri­day, Comey has main­tained his silence, even as both Clin­ton and Trump have called for the bureau to dis­close more of what it knows.

    Leaks, how­ev­er, have con­tin­ued. Fox News report­ed on Wednes­day that the FBI is inten­si­fy­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion into the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion over alle­ga­tions – which both the foun­da­tion and the Clin­ton camp deny – it trad­ed dona­tions for access to Hillary Clin­ton when she was sec­re­tary of state. The Wall Street Jour­nal report­ed that jus­tice depart­ment offi­cials con­sid­ered the alle­ga­tions flim­sy.

    The leaks have not exclu­sive­ly cast asper­sions on Clin­ton. Paul Man­afort, Trump’s for­mer cam­paign man­ag­er, is the sub­ject of what is said to be a pre­lim­i­nary FBI inquiry into his busi­ness deal­ings in Rus­sia. Man­afort has denied any wrong­do­ing.

    The Dai­ly Beast report­ed on Thurs­day on ties between Trump sur­ro­gate Rudy Giu­liani, the for­mer New York may­or, and the FBI’s New York field office, which report­ed­ly pressed the FBI to revis­it the Clin­ton serv­er inves­ti­ga­tion after begin­ning an inquiry into Weiner’s alleged sex­u­al tex­ting with a minor. The web­site report­ed that a for­mer New York field office chief, high­ly crit­i­cal of the non-indict­ment, runs a mil­i­tary char­i­ty that has received sig­nif­i­cant finan­cial dona­tions from Trump.

    Comey’s deci­sion to tell the pub­lic in July that he was effec­tive­ly drop­ping the Clin­ton serv­er issue angered some with­in the bureau, par­tic­u­lar­ly giv­en the back­ground of ten­sions with the jus­tice depart­ment over the Clin­ton issue. A sig­nif­i­cant com­pli­ca­tion is the appear­ance of a con­flict of inter­est regard­ing Loret­ta Lynch, the attor­ney gen­er­al, who met with Bill Clin­ton this sum­mer ahead of Comey’s announce­ment, which she acknowl­edged had “cast a shad­ow” over the inquiry.

    “Many FBI agents were upset at the direc­tor, not because he didn’t [rec­om­mend to] indict, but they believe he threw the FBI under the bus by tak­ing the heat away from DoJ [Depart­ment of Jus­tice],” the for­mer bureau offi­cial said.

    All this has com­pound­ed pres­sure on Comey, with lit­tle end in sight.

    Jim Wedick, who retired from the bureau in 2004 after 35 years, said that if Clin­ton is elect­ed, she and Comey would prob­a­bly find a way to work togeth­er out of a sense of prag­ma­tism. He recalled both his own occa­sion­al clash­es with fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors and Bill Clinton’s uneasy rela­tion­ship with his choice for FBI direc­tor, Louis Freeh.

    “Each one will find a way to pick at the oth­er. It’s not going to be good and it’s not going to be pret­ty. But they’ll both have to work with each oth­er,” he said.

    ...

    “The cur­rent­ly serv­ing FBI agent said Clin­ton is “the antichrist per­son­i­fied to a large swath of FBI per­son­nel,” and that “the rea­son why they’re leak­ing is they’re pro-Trump.””

    While the right-wing lean­ings of the FBI aren’t any­thing new, if it’s real­ly true that a large swath of the FBI per­son­nel views Hillary as “the antichrist per­son­i­fied”, it rais­es a very seri­ous ques­tion: If the nation’s high­est law enforce­ment agency is heav­i­ly staffed with peo­ple gullible enough to fall for the right-wing’s anti-Clin­ton noise machine — a noise machine that’s designed to trick peo­ple who are vul­ner­a­ble to cheap emo­tion­al manip­u­la­tion and junk log­ic — does­n’t that mean the FBI is being dan­ger­ous­ly under­staffed by rea­son­able peo­ple who can’t be eas­i­ly tricked by joke pro­pa­gan­da? It’s one thing to lean con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal­ly and a very dif­fer­ent thing to have fall­en hook, line, and sinker for some­thing like “Clin­ton Cash”. You should­n’t have to be a Hillary vot­er to rec­og­nize that books like that are garbage, espe­cial­ly if you work for the FBI. The FBI has seri­ous work that needs to be done. The kind of seri­ous work that isn’t com­pat­i­ble with pro­found gulli­bil­i­ty. So what are the impli­ca­tions of this?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 3, 2016, 3:05 pm
  37. Here’s a reminder that the GOP isn’t even both­er­ing to pre­tend any­more that it will allow the gov­ern­ment to func­tion if a Demo­c­rat wins the White House:

    Talk­ing Points Memo DC

    The GOP Is Gear­ing Up To Block ANY Clin­ton Nom­i­nee To The Supreme Court

    By Lau­ren Fox
    Pub­lished Octo­ber 31, 2016, 6:00 AM EDT

    In a stun­ning polit­i­cal move, con­ser­v­a­tives are already strate­giz­ing on how to block any future Supreme Court nom­i­nee from mov­ing for­ward dur­ing Hillary Clinton’s pres­i­den­cy before the elec­tion even hap­pens.

    “I don’t think there is prece­dent for it. It real­ly does reveal just how polit­i­cal­ly charged and polar­ized our judi­cial pol­i­tics have become,” said Charles Gard­ner Geyh, a pro­fes­sor of law at Indi­ana Uni­ver­si­ty who advised then-Sen. Joe Biden (D‑DE) dur­ing the 1991 con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing of Jus­tice Clarence Thomas. “We are at risk of los­ing legit­i­ma­cy as a nation in terms of being able to gov­ern effec­tive­ly.”

    A num­ber of Repub­li­can law­mak­ers and schol­ars have already begun open­ly ratio­nal­iz­ing why Clin­ton shouldn’t be allowed to appoint Supreme Court jus­tices. (These are many of the same peo­ple who argued Pres­i­dent Oba­ma shouldn’t get a nom­i­nee in the last year of his term because it should be up to the per­son who wins the Novem­ber elec­tion.)

    Sen. Ted Cruz (R‑TX) told reporters that the Sen­ate would have a “debate” about whether to accept Clinton’s nom­i­nees and that there was noth­ing wrong with hav­ing just eight jus­tices.

    “You know, I think there will be plen­ty of time for debate on that issue,” Cruz told the Wash­ing­ton Post, when he was asked if the Sen­ate would move for­ward with Clinton’s nom­i­nees. “There is cer­tain­ly long his­tor­i­cal prece­dent for a Supreme Court with few­er jus­tices. I would note, just recent­ly, that Jus­tice Brey­er observed that the vacan­cy is not impact­ing the abil­i­ty of the court to do its job. That’s a debate that we are going to have.”

    Cruz’s sug­ges­tion that the Supreme Court may con­tin­ue to oper­ate with­out anoth­er jus­tice under Clin­ton also casts the stakes of U.S. Sen­ate races across the coun­try in a new light. If Repub­li­cans do hold the major­i­ty, will they fol­low Cruz’s lead and refuse to move for­ward with any of Clinton’s nom­i­nees no mat­ter the nominee’s record or qual­i­fi­ca­tions?

    “This is a clear abdi­ca­tion by the sen­a­tor of his respon­si­bil­i­ty to car­ry out in good faith the advice and con­sent func­tion set forth in the Con­sti­tu­tion. Nobody can make him do it — just as nobody can make him show up for a vote — but he is say­ing that he won’t do his job,” said Paul Painter, a pro­fes­sor of law at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta and for­mer White House coun­sel in the George. W. Bush admin­is­tra­tion. “If high-rank­ing lead­ers in the Repub­li­can Par­ty, my own par­ty, con­duct them­selves in this fash­ion, our par­ty will soon be irrel­e­vant in the Sen­ate as every­where else on the polit­i­cal land­scape. The vot­ers sim­ply will not put up with it.”

    Cruz is just one of sev­er­al con­ser­v­a­tives propos­ing the idea, how­ev­er.

    Sen. John McCain (R‑AZ) vowed in a radio inter­view last week that the Repub­li­can Sen­ate would “be unit­ed against any Supreme Court nom­i­nee that Hillary Clin­ton, if she were pres­i­dent, would put up.” He lat­er walked the com­ment back slight­ly via a spokesper­son, who said he would look at a nominee’s qual­i­fi­ca­tions before mak­ing a final deci­sion.

    Cato Insti­tute schol­ar Ilya Shapiro wrote a piece in the Fed­er­al­ist last week argu­ing that the GOP could just flat out refuse to move for­ward with any of Clinton’s Supreme Court nom­i­nees.

    “If Hillary Clin­ton is pres­i­dent it would be com­plete­ly decent, hon­or­able, and in keep­ing with the Senate’s con­sti­tu­tion­al duty to vote against essen­tial­ly every judi­cial nom­i­nee she names,” he wrote...

    Michael Paulsen, a con­ser­v­a­tive lawyer, wrote an op-ed in the Nation­al Review titled “The Case for Shrink­ing the Supreme Court.”

    “It is time to shrink the stakes by shrink­ing the Court itself. Blunt­ly put, the Supreme Court should be small­er so that it can do less harm. There are two routes to this goal. First, Con­gress could pass a sim­ple bill to allow the Supreme Court’s mem­ber­ship to grad­u­al­ly decrease to six jus­tices as jus­tices retire or die — return­ing the Court to its orig­i­nal size when estab­lished by the first Judi­cia­ry Act of 1789. Alter­na­tive­ly, in the event of a veto, the Sen­ate could adopt a stand­ing rule con­cern­ing its own “advice and con­sent” pow­er that achieves the same thing: no more con­fir­ma­tions until the Court dips below six.”

    While legal experts con­cede that there have been times in U.S. his­to­ry where the court has had few­er than nine jus­tices and the Con­sti­tu­tion does not explic­it­ly dic­tate how many jus­tices there should be, what con­ser­v­a­tives are propos­ing is mere­ly thin­ly-veiled par­ti­san­ship.

    Legal schol­ars who spoke with TPM argued that calls to shrink the court appeared to be moti­vat­ed more by par­ti­san pol­i­tics of the moment and recent polls show­ing Clin­ton with a strong lead ahead of the Novem­ber elec­tion rather than the alleged good gov­er­nance argu­ments con­ser­v­a­tives are mak­ing. Repub­li­cans ear­li­er this year refused to move on Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s nom­i­nee for the Supreme Court Mer­rick Gar­land, but their excuse then was that the next pres­i­dent should be allowed to nom­i­nate some­one, not a pres­i­dent at the end of his term. What seems to be hap­pen­ing now is Repub­li­cans seem to have changed their minds once again know­ing that Democ­rats hold the edge in the pres­i­den­tial race.

    Geyh notes that play­ing pol­i­tics with the court isn’t exact­ly new. It was espe­cial­ly ram­pant dur­ing Recon­struc­tion. What is new, is the bla­tant dis­re­gard for anoth­er party’s nom­i­nee with­out even pre­tend­ing to give them a chance.

    “What is inter­est­ing to me is that if you look at the dis­cus­sions in the 1860s, no one was say­ing what we are try­ing to do is snub the oth­er party’s pres­i­dent,” Geyh said. “What is new to me is that they are being pret­ty open .”

    Cruz’s view of the court may not be wide­ly shared at the moment by oth­er Repub­li­cans. Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee Chair Chuck Grass­ley admit­ted that sen­a­tors couldn’t sim­ply “stonewall” Clin­ton if she were elect­ed and the GOP held the major­i­ty. Fel­low Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee mem­ber Sen. Jeff Flake (R‑AZ) has been force­ful­ly lead­ing the charge to get Gar­land con­firmed in the lame duck out of fear that Clin­ton could nom­i­nate some­one more lib­er­al for the court if she were elect­ed.

    “I will be active­ly try­ing to round up votes to have hear­ings for him in a lame-duck ses­sion,” Flake told reporters accord­ing to Roll Call.

    ...

    “What is inter­est­ing to me is that if you look at the dis­cus­sions in the 1860s, no one was say­ing what we are try­ing to do is snub the oth­er party’s pres­i­dent…What is new to me is that they are being pret­ty open.”

    That’s right, a grow­ing num­ber of GOP­ers, includ­ing the sup­posed ‘adults’ still left in the par­ty like John McCain, have already declared that they’re not going to even con­sid­er allow­ing Hillary Clin­ton to appoint a Supreme Court nom­i­nee. And this is before she even appoints a nom­i­nee for the cur­rent­ly open spot. The par­ty is just uni­lat­er­al­ly decid­ing that maybe we can just let the Supreme shrink indefinitely…unless a GOP­er wins, of course. At that point it will only be pru­dent to appoint all of the president’s nom­i­nees because...something. There’s pre­sum­ably going to be some­thing resem­bling an argu­ment for why this is ok that they’ll roll out even­tu­al­ly.

    And if this seems like it’s just elec­tion year blus­ter, if so, it’s blus­ter that John McCain just dou­bled-down on:

    The Huf­in­g­ton Post

    John McCain Isn’t Back­ing Down From Vow To Block Clinton’s Supreme Court Nom­i­nees

    Yes, Repub­li­cans are total­ly seri­ous about this. Don’t act sur­prised.

    Jonathan Cohn Senior Nation­al Cor­re­spon­dent
    11/04/2016 01:20 pm ET

    Sen. John McCain (R‑Ariz.) did it again Thurs­day night. He asked sup­port­ers at a ral­ly in Mesa, Ari­zona, to send him back to Wash­ing­ton so he can shore up a GOP major­i­ty that would “pre­vent that four-to-four split from tilt­ing to the left.”

    McCain was refer­ring to the Supreme Court, and the pos­si­bil­i­ty that a Pres­i­dent Hillary Clin­ton could fill seats there – start­ing with the one that has been vacant since Jus­tice Antonin Scalia died in Feb­ru­ary. At the time, Repub­li­cans refused to con­sid­er Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s nom­i­nee, Judge Mer­rick Gar­land, by say­ing they should wait until the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. This would “let the Amer­i­can peo­ple decide,” Sen­ate Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell (R‑Ky.) said.

    McCain’s state­ment is the clear­est sign yet that Repub­li­cans are chang­ing their minds. At this point, it’s pret­ty clear that a sub­stan­tial and influ­en­tial por­tion of the par­ty is seri­ous about block­ing any Clin­ton nom­i­nees, there­by smash­ing a long-stand­ing tra­di­tion of Amer­i­can gov­ern­ment – name­ly, that pres­i­dents should have lee­way to appoint jus­tices who share their polit­i­cal and philo­soph­i­cal per­spec­tives.

    This shouldn’t sur­prise any­one.

    ...

    If refus­ing to con­firm nom­i­nees of dif­fer­ent ide­o­log­i­cal beliefs became nor­mal, there would be long stretch­es of open seats almost any time one par­ty con­trolled the White House and the oth­er con­trolled the Sen­ate. This would poten­tial­ly allow the court to shrink and cre­ate many more tie votes – which, as The Huff­in­g­ton Post’s Cris­t­ian Farias has not­ed, could leave legal dis­putes between low­er fed­er­al courts unre­solved.

    “We can’t just sim­ply stonewall,” Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Chair­man Chuck Grass­ley (R‑Iowa) said fol­low­ing McCain’s remarks in Octo­ber.

    At first, McCain appeared to walk back his block­ade pledge, when a spokesper­son announced that the sen­a­tor would “thor­ough­ly exam­ine the record of any Supreme Court nom­i­nee put before the Sen­ate and vote for or against that indi­vid­ual based on their qual­i­fi­ca­tions as he has done through­out his career.”

    But that care­ful­ly word­ed state­ment didn’t actu­al­ly dis­avow McCain’s promise to block any lib­er­al nom­i­nees. And on Thurs­day night he returned to his orig­i­nal threat. Here’s the full quote:

    I believe we must keep a major­i­ty in the Unit­ed States Sen­ate and one of the rea­sons is that there could be as many as three Supreme Court jus­tices that there will be in the next four years. We have to have a Sen­ate that will pre­vent that four to four split from tilt­ing to the left and mak­ing deci­sions that will harm this nation for decades to come.

    McCain isn’t the only one talk­ing this way. Sen. Richard Burr (R‑N.C.), who is fac­ing a tough re-elec­tion fight, has vowed, “If Hillary Clin­ton becomes pres­i­dent, I am going to do every­thing I can do to make sure four years from now, we still got an open­ing on the Supreme Court.”

    And then there is Sen. Ted Cruz (R‑Texas), who has said he thinks the court can oper­ate with few­er than nine jus­tices if nec­es­sary.

    I asked Cruz if there should be votes on Clin­ton court nom­i­nees if GOP holds Sen­ate. He said there’s plen­ty of prece­dent for <9 jus­tices.— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) Octo­ber 26, 2016

    ...

    The Sen­ate has flexed that mus­cle only once in recent his­to­ry. It was in 1987, when a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­ate reject­ed Pres­i­dent Ronald Reagan’s appoint­ment of Robert Bork. Bork was an unusu­al­ly polar­iz­ing fig­ure – some­body who, accord­ing to crit­ics, was not just con­ser­v­a­tive but well out­side the bound­aries of main­stream judi­cial thought.

    Ide­o­log­i­cal oppo­si­tion to judi­cial nom­i­na­tions has risen steadi­ly since that time, and it has come from both par­ties. A Demo­c­ra­t­ic attempt to fil­i­buster Samuel Alito’s nom­i­na­tion in 2006 famous­ly includ­ed Oba­ma, who was a sen­a­tor back then. But that effort was most­ly a ges­ture. Alito’s nom­i­na­tion was nev­er real­ly in doubt, any more than the nom­i­na­tions of Obama’s first two appoint­ments, Sonia Sotomay­or and Ele­na Kagan, were. All three sit on the bench today.

    The ulti­mate dis­po­si­tion of Scalia’s for­mer seat would appear to be a very dif­fer­ent mat­ter, with the likes of Burr, Cruz and McCain tak­ing ide­o­log­i­cal oppo­si­tion fur­ther than it has gone before. They are telling sup­port­ers that they will do what­ev­er it takes to pre­vent the Supreme Court’s philo­soph­i­cal major­i­ty from shift­ing – some­thing that has hap­pened through­out U.S. his­to­ry, most recent­ly when Pres­i­dent George H.W. Bush appoint­ed Clarence Thomas, a con­ser­v­a­tive, to replace Thur­good Mar­shall, a lib­er­al, in the ear­ly 1990s.

    Whether their argu­ment will pre­vail is impos­si­ble to say. Last week Sen. Jeff Flake (R‑Ariz.) joined Grass­ley in express­ing skep­ti­cism of the McCain-Cruz posi­tion, telling Politi­co, “There’s a dif­fer­ence between what might be con­sti­tu­tion­al and what you could do polit­i­cal­ly and what you should do.” Sen. Tom Cot­ton (R‑Ark.) has made sim­i­lar, if some­what ambigu­ous, com­ments.

    But if Repub­li­cans have demon­strat­ed any­thing in the last few years, it’s that most of them are will­ing to break polit­i­cal norms – from allow­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to breach its debt ceil­ing, to endors­ing a nom­i­nee who believes in tor­ture and brags about grop­ing women – if only to avoid pun­ish­ment from their most con­ser­v­a­tive sup­port­ers.

    Blockad­ing Supreme Court nom­i­nees seems like an all-too-log­i­cal next step.

    “If refus­ing to con­firm nom­i­nees of dif­fer­ent ide­o­log­i­cal beliefs became nor­mal, there would be long stretch­es of open seats almost any time one par­ty con­trolled the White House and the oth­er con­trolled the Sen­ate. This would poten­tial­ly allow the court to shrink and cre­ate many more tie votes – which, as The Huff­in­g­ton Post’s Cris­t­ian Farias has not­ed, could leave legal dis­putes between low­er fed­er­al courts unre­solved.”

    Well, at least Jus­tice Gins­berg shows no signs of plan­ning on retir­ing any time soon, which is pret­ty much the only pos­i­tive aspect of this whole sit­u­a­tion. And let’s not for­get that Trumps ‘Sec­ond Amend­ment peo­ple’ assas­si­na­tion threat against Hillary Clin­ton was framed as a way of pre­vent­ing her from nom­i­nee Supreme Court jus­tices not behold­en to the NRA. And it’s hard to see how the GOP’s stance isn’t going to trans­fer Trump’s ‘Sec­ond Amend­ment peo­ple’ death threats to the jus­tices them­selves (it’ll just be more seats for Pres­i­dent Alex Jones to fill some time in the next decade). It’s the kind of con­text that rais­es a par­tic­u­lar­ly dark ques­tion: is this sit­u­a­tion more an act of GOP sedi­tion or GOP insur­rec­tion? It’s the kind of ques­tion where the spe­cif­ic answer isn’t near­ly as impor­tant as the fact we have to ask it at all. But here we are!

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 4, 2016, 5:13 pm
  38. As we approach the end of a pres­i­den­tial cam­paign sea­son that’s been fix­at­ed on syn­the­siz­ing decades of right-wing Clin­ton smears into a gen­er­al the­sis that Hillary Clin­ton is the most cor­rupt and crooked politi­cian ever, it is per­haps fit­ting that in the final days of this race the big ques­tions are now about whether or not cor­rupt FBI agents are ille­gal­ly col­lud­ing with the Trump cam­paign to slan­der Hillary at the last minute:

    Slate

    Did Rudy Giu­liani Abet the Vio­la­tion of Pub­lic Integri­ty Rules by FBI Agents?

    By Ben Math­is-Lil­ley
    Nov. 4 2016 3:41 PM

    Top Trump ally and for­mer fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor Rudy Giu­liani has boast­ed more than once about being in touch with FBI agents who are hot after Hillary. One exam­ple, from Oct. 28, via the Dai­ly Beast:

    “The oth­er rumor that I get is that there’s a kind of rev­o­lu­tion going on inside the FBI about the orig­i­nal con­clu­sion [not to charge Clin­ton] being com­plete­ly unjus­ti­fied and almost a slap in the face to the FBI’s integri­ty,” said Giu­liani. “I know that from for­mer agents. I know that even from a few active agents.”

    The FBI’s “Ethics and Integri­ty Pro­gram” guide, mean­while, stip­u­lates to its employ­ees that they may not use “any influ­ence aris­ing from [their] Fed­er­al posi­tion ... in con­cert with any cam­paign.” More broad­ly, it says, “FBI employ­ees must nev­er use their FBI title or posi­tion in any way to advance any par­tic­u­lar par­ti­san activ­i­ty.”

    Does leak­ing unflat­ter­ing infor­ma­tion about Hillary Clin­ton to one of Don­ald Trump’s top advis­ers count as work­ing in con­cert with a cam­paign and/or advanc­ing a par­ti­san activ­i­ty? It would seem that Rudy Giu­liani under­stands that that might be the case, because when he went on Fox on Fri­day he denied that he’s in touch with cur­rent agents. “I’m real care­ful not to talk to any on-duty, active FBI agents,” he claimed, despite hav­ing attest­ed at least twice in recent months to hav­ing done so.

    Two days before Comey’s let­ter was released, by the way, Giu­liani told Fox News that the Trump cam­paign was expect­ing “a sur­prise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next few days. I mean, I’m talk­ing about some pret­ty big sur­pris­es. ... We’ve got a cou­ple of things up our sleeve that should turn this thing around.”..

    ...

    “Does leak­ing unflat­ter­ing infor­ma­tion about Hillary Clin­ton to one of Don­ald Trump’s top advis­ers count as work­ing in con­cert with a cam­paign and/or advanc­ing a par­ti­san activ­i­ty? It would seem that Rudy Giu­liani under­stands that that might be the case, because when he went on Fox on Fri­day he denied that he’s in touch with cur­rent agents. “I’m real care­ful not to talk to any on-duty, active FBI agents,” he claimed, despite hav­ing attest­ed at least twice in recent months to hav­ing done so.

    Oh look at that. After twice attest­ing that he’s been in con­tact with FBI agent now Giu­liani is deny­ing that he’s in touch with any cur­rent FBI agents. Per­haps it dawned on him that that have tne Trump team in direct con­tact with FBI agents involved with Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tions has the appear­ance of this cam­paign sea­son­s’s mag­ic word: cor­rup­tion! Specif­i­cal­ly, cor­rup­tion designed to manip­u­late vot­ers. It’s not a great look.

    And this is after Giu­liani demon­strates some sort of FBI clair­voy­ance, brag­ging two days before James Comey’s shock­ing let­ter to Con­gress that “some pret­ty big sur­pris­es” are com­ing...

    ...
    Two days before Comey’s let­ter was released, by the way, Giu­liani told Fox News that the Trump cam­paign was expect­ing “a sur­prise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next few days. I mean, I’m talk­ing about some pret­ty big sur­pris­es. ... We’ve got a cou­ple of things up our sleeve that should turn this thing around.”
    ...

    What a fun mys­tery. And what a iron­i­cal­ly the­mat­i­cal­ly appro­pri­ate mys­tery. But the mys­tery does­n’t end there. Because not only did Giu­liani claim that he was get­ting his infor­ma­tion from for­mer, not cur­rent, FBI agents dur­ing that Fox News inter­view on Fri­day morn­ing. Lat­er in the day, dur­ing an inter­view on on CNN, Giu­liani simul­ta­ne­ous­ly claimed that these for­mer FBI agents he’s spo­ken to were not the source of his knowl­edge about this inter­nal FBI tur­moil but also that he’s spo­ken with these for­mer FBI agents about the tur­moil in the FBI.

    So either Giu­liani is oper­at­ing in two par­al­lel uni­vers­es at once, or he’s not going a very good job of cov­er­ing the tracks that lead the Trump cam­paign straight back to the FBI:

    Raw Sto­ry

    Wolf Blitzer catch­es Giu­liani telling whop­pers on FBI con­nec­tion: ‘Aren’t they feed­ing you secret infor­ma­tion?’

    Sarah K. Bur­ris
    04 Nov 2016 at 18:11 ET

    Wolf Blitzer just grilled Rudy Giu­liani for the most uncom­fort­able 10 min­utes of tele­vi­sion. While Giu­liani swore that he was giv­ing the same infor­ma­tion to every­one in each inter­view he’s done, Blitzer couldn’t help but notice that the sto­ries didn’t quite match up. The result was that Giu­liani seemed to walk back an entire day’s worth of inter­views in just one appear­ance.

    Giu­liani swore that he doesn’t speak to any cur­rent FBI agents but rather for­mer FBI agents, a sto­ry he’s been telling since this morn­ing. That said, he didn’t clar­i­fy if he was get­ting infor­ma­tion from for­mer FBI agents who were get­ting infor­ma­tion from cur­rent FBI agents. He main­tained that his sources were nor­mal pub­lic sources and cit­i­zens.

    “No, I’ve spo­ken to no cur­rent FBI agents, gosh, in the last eight months, nine months, ten months, cer­tain­ly not about this,” he said. A few sec­onds lat­er, he con­tin­ued, “So, I’ve had lots of con­ver­sa­tions with them and they have told me a lot about the — I guess the dis­agree­ment between the Jus­tice Depart­ment on the one hand and the FBI on the oth­er. But it all comes from for­mer FBI agents and it’s all hearsay.”

    Blitzer cit­ed the let­ter that two rank­ing mem­bers on the Con­gres­sion­al com­mit­tee sent out that ref­er­ences an inter­view Giu­liani gave this morn­ing.

    “This morn­ing Rudy Giu­liani, one of Don­ald Trump’s clos­est and most vocal cam­paign advis­ers, appeared on nation­al tele­vi­sion and con­firmed that he had obtained leaked infor­ma­tion about the FBI’s review of Clin­ton-relat­ed e‑mails sev­er­al days before FBI direc­tor James Comey sent his let­ter to Con­gress last Fri­day about this let­ter,” Blitzer read from the let­ter. “In fact, Mr. Giu­liani went even fur­ther and bragged about the infor­ma­tion that he had obtained stat­ing, ‘Did I hear about it? You’re darn right I heard about it.’”

    Blitzer explained that the two Con­gress­men are alleg­ing that Giu­liani con­firmed that he got the leaked infor­ma­tion from the FBI in the morn­ing inter­view.

    Giu­liani tried to deny it. “That’s not cor­rect. I’ve had no con­ver­sa­tions with any­one inside the FBI. I have heard for the last four months a tremen­dous amount of infor­ma­tion about the con­ster­na­tion with­in the FBI, the fact that FBI agents were very unhap­py about the way they were being treat­ed by the Jus­tice Depart­ment,” Giu­liani said, admit­ting that those for­mer FBI agents were deliv­er­ing infor­ma­tion about cur­rent infor­ma­tion about what is hap­pen­ing cur­rent­ly in the FBI. “But none of it came from any cur­rent — I haven’t talked to a cur­rent FBI agent.”

    Blitzer was con­fused. “In the inter­view, this morn­ing on ‘Fox & Friends’ you seemed to say, ‘Did I hear about it? You’re darn right I heard about it.’ What were you refer­ring to?”

    Giu­liani swore that it was more about the rev­o­lu­tion brew­ing with­in the FBI against the Jus­tice Depart­ment. In fact, he admit­ted it was a total sur­prise to him that Comey’s announce­ment came. Then in the next breath admit­ted it wasn’t a sur­prise.

    “Except to the extent that maybe it wasn’t that much of a sur­prise because I had been hear­ing for quite some time that there was a lot of, I don’t know how you would describe it, maybe rev­o­lu­tion is too strong a word, but a lot of debate and anger with­in the FBI about the way they were being treat­ed by the Jus­tice Depart­ment and a lot of FBI agents feel­ing that the Jus­tice Depart­ment had been cor­rupt­ed,” he claimed.

    Giu­liani went on to say that he gets most of his infor­ma­tion from so-called “pub­lic sources” such as indi­vid­ual cit­i­zens and the news. “There was an arti­cle — there was an arti­cle — sev­er­al arti­cles. I don’t know if it’s true, but there were sev­er­al arti­cles,” Giu­liani claimed about the dis­plea­sure of the FBI.

    “But let me ask you a ques­tion, May­or,” Blitzer pressed. “If you don’t know it’s true, why are you sug­gest­ing it? Why are you going on nation­al tele­vi­sion talk­ing about these issues if you don’t know it’s true?”

    ...

    “No, I’ve spo­ken to no cur­rent FBI agents, gosh, in the last eight months, nine months, ten months, cer­tain­ly not about this,” he said. A few sec­onds lat­er, he con­tin­ued, “So, I’ve had lots of con­ver­sa­tions with them and they have told me a lot about the — I guess the dis­agree­ment between the Jus­tice Depart­ment on the one hand and the FBI on the oth­er. But it all comes from for­mer FBI agents and it’s all hearsay.

    So it sounds like the sto­ry Giu­liani is sham­bling towards is that he is indeed in con­tact with for­mer FBI agents who are hap­py to tell him about all the dis­gruntle­ment among right-wing FBI agents over the lack of an indict­ment of Hillary Clin­ton, but these same for­mer FBI agents who have knowl­edge of this tur­moil were not at all telling him about the spe­cif­ic tur­moil involv­ing these same dis­grun­tled agents who were try­ing to get James Comey to inves­ti­gate the Clin­ton-relat­ed emails found on Antho­ny Wein­er’s lap­top. And as far as how Giu­liani mys­te­ri­ous­ly knew about some­thing “pret­ty big” com­ing just two days before Comey’s announce­ment and why it was that Giu­liani claimed on Fox News ear­li­er Fri­day that ‘Did I hear about it? You’re darn right I heard about it.’, Giu­liani now claims he knew noth­ing about Comey’s announce­ment and instead what he knew about was a “rev­o­lu­tion” brew­ing in the FBI. Also, his main source for learn­ing about this FBI inter­nal tur­moil were “pub­lic sources” and “indi­vid­u­als” and not for­mer FBI agents. That’s appar­ent­ly his cur­rent claim:

    ...
    Blitzer was con­fused. “In the inter­view, this morn­ing on ‘Fox & Friends’ you seemed to say, ‘Did I hear about it? You’re darn right I heard about it.’ What were you refer­ring to?”

    Giu­liani swore that it was more about the rev­o­lu­tion brew­ing with­in the FBI against the Jus­tice Depart­ment. In fact, he admit­ted it was a total sur­prise to him that Comey’s announce­ment came. Then in the next breath admit­ted it wasn’t a sur­prise.

    “Except to the extent that maybe it wasn’t that much of a sur­prise because I had been hear­ing for quite some time that there was a lot of, I don’t know how you would describe it, maybe rev­o­lu­tion is too strong a word, but a lot of debate and anger with­in the FBI about the way they were being treat­ed by the Jus­tice Depart­ment and a lot of FBI agents feel­ing that the Jus­tice Depart­ment had been cor­rupt­ed,” he claimed.

    Giu­liani went on to say that he gets most of his infor­ma­tion from so-called “pub­lic sources” such as indi­vid­ual cit­i­zens and the news. “There was an arti­cle — there was an arti­cle — sev­er­al arti­cles. I don’t know if it’s true, but there were sev­er­al arti­cles,” Giu­liani claimed about the dis­plea­sure of the FBI.
    ...

    Aha, so Giu­liani has an inside track to the FBI, but only regard­ing the gen­er­al “rev­o­lu­tion” that’s been brew­ing by agents intent on tak­ing down Hillary. But he had no spe­cif­ic knowl­edge about the actu­al anti-Hillary plots. Also, when he pre­dict­ed two days before Comey’s announce­ment that some pret­ty big sur­pris­es were com­ing he was appar­ent­ly bas­ing that sole­ly on his gen­er­al knowl­edge of the FBI tur­moil. And was also gen­uine­ly sur­prised when Comey sent his now noto­ri­ous let­ter to Con­gress that put Trump back into the pres­i­den­tial race. That’s his sto­ry and he’s stick­ing to it! For the moment, at least.

    So, giv­en all that, it’s worth not­ing that the Dai­ly Beast has a recent sto­ry up detail­ing the deep, ongo­ing ties between the FBI’s New York office and Rudy Giu­liani via Giu­lian­i’s for­mer law firm, Bracewell Giu­liani, which has long been the gen­er­al coun­sel of the FBI Agents Asso­ci­a­tion (FBIAA), a group start­ed out of the New York office. The arti­cle also cov­ers James Kall­strom, the for­mer head of the FBI’s New York office, the active pro-Trump role he’s play­ing in the cam­paign and the inter­view Kall­strom did on Fox where he talked about his dis­cus­sions with the FBI agents in that office inves­ti­gat­ing Hillary which he also denied after the Comey let­ter came out). Oh, and the arti­cle also notes that Giu­liani claimed that he’s spo­ken to “a few active agents” about the “rev­o­lu­tion” brew­ing in the FBI

    Esquire

    The FBI. Giu­liani. Of Course.

    It’s only down­hill from here.

    By Charles P. Pierce
    Nov 3, 2016

    Since the pass­ing of Mike Royko and with the pos­si­ble excep­tion of Kevin Cullen at The Boston Globe, there is no reporter who knows an indi­vid­ual city as well as Wayne Bar­rett knows New York. Years ago, when he was writ­ing for The Vil­lage Voice and I was start­ing out at The Boston Phoenix, Bar­rett was one of the peo­ple I read to learn the dif­fer­ence between the alter­na­tive press and every­thing else. He is steeped in the polit­i­cal his­to­ry of mod­ern New York, par­tic­u­lar­ly the his­to­ry of the last quar­ter of the 20th Cen­tu­ry and the var­i­ous ambu­la­to­ry relics who are still wan­der­ing through our pol­i­tics here in the first quar­ter of the 21st.

    On Thurs­day, in The Dai­ly Beast, Bar­rett came as close as any­one has in explain­ing the Byzan­tine inter­nal pol­i­tics of the FBI as regards the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. It involves Rudy Giu­liani, his pals in the FBI from his days as a U.S. Attor­ney, and his cur­rent role as secu­ri­ty jefe for El Caudil­lo del Mar-A-Lago.

    Hours after Comey’s let­ter about the renewed probe was leaked on Fri­day, Giu­liani went on a radio show and attrib­uted the direc­tor’s sur­prise action to “the pres­sure of a group of FBI agents who don’t look at it polit­i­cal­ly.” “The oth­er rumor that I get is that there’s a kind of rev­o­lu­tion going on inside the FBI about the orig­i­nal con­clu­sion [not to charge Clin­ton] being com­plete­ly unjus­ti­fied and almost a slap in the face to the FBI’s integri­ty,” said Giu­liani. “I know that from for­mer agents. I know that even from a few active agents. Along with Giu­lian­i’s oth­er con­nec­tions to New York FBI agents, his for­mer law firm, then called Bracewell Giu­liani, has long been gen­er­al coun­sel to the FBI Agents Asso­ci­a­tion (FBIAA), which rep­re­sents 13,000 for­mer and cur­rent agents. The group, born in the New York office in the ear­ly ’80s, was head­ed until Mon­day by Rey Tariche, an agent still work­ing in that office. Tariche’s res­ig­na­tion let­ter from the bureau men­tioned the Clin­ton probe, not­ing that “we find our work—our integri­ty ques­tioned” because of it, adding “we will not be used for polit­i­cal gains.”

    Of course not.

    Bar­rett fur­ther iden­ti­fied James Kall­strom, who ran the FBI New York office under for­mer direc­tor Louis Freeh, a run­ning bud­dy of Giu­liani. As Bar­rett demon­strates, Kall­strom has been more than vocal in his dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the fact that no Clin­ton has yet been clapped in irons.

    Kall­strom has, like Giu­liani, been on an anti-Comey romp for months, most often on Fox, where he’s called the Clin­tons as a “crime fam­i­ly.” He has been invok­ing unnamed FBI agents who con­tact him to com­plain about Comey’s exon­er­a­tion of Clin­ton in one inter­view after anoth­er, posi­tion­ing him­self as an apo­lit­i­cal cham­pi­on of FBI val­ues. Last Octo­ber, after Pres­i­dent Oba­ma told 60 Min­utes that the Clin­ton emails weren’t a nation­al secu­ri­ty issue, Meg­yn Kel­ly inter­viewed Kall­strom on Fox. “You know a lot of the agents involved in this inves­ti­ga­tion,” she said. “How angry must they be tonight?” “I know some of the agents,” said Kall­strom. “I know some of the super­vi­sors and I know the senior staff. And they’re P.O.‘d, I mean no ques­tion. This is like some­one dri­ving anoth­er nail in the cof­fin of the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.” Kall­strom declared that “if it’s pushed under the rug,” the agents “won’t take that sit­ting down.” Kel­ly con­firmed: “That’s going to get leaked.”

    Appar­ent­ly, ever since news of the Comey let­ter broke last Fri­day, Kall­strom has been on a kind of vic­to­ry lap around the var­i­ous plat­forms of the Fox News empire. Mean­while, Bar­rett got him on the phone and prompt­ed an ener­getic tap dance.

    Kall­strom adamant­ly denied he’d ever said he was in con­tact with agents “involved” in the Clin­ton case, insist­ing that he did­n’t even know “the agents’ names.” He asked if this sto­ry was “a hit piece,” and con­tend­ed that it was “offen­sive” to even sug­gest that he’d com­mu­ni­cat­ed with those agents. When I emailed him two quotes where he made that claim, he respond­ed: “I know agents in the build­ing who used to work for me. I don’t know any agents in the Wash­ing­ton field office involved direct­ly in the inves­ti­ga­tion.” Lat­er, though he acknowl­edged that “the bulk” of the agents on the Wein­er case are “in the New York office,” even as he insist­ed that the “locals” he told Pir­ro would’ve leaked the renewed probe had not Comey revealed it were not nec­es­sar­i­ly agents. He declined to explain why Meg­yn Kel­ly stat­ed as a fact that he was in con­tact with agents “involved” in the case. Asked in a fol­low up email if he sug­gest­ed or encour­aged any par­tic­u­lar actions in his exchanges with active agents, Kall­strom replied: “No.”

    Pol­i­tics be damned, it’s time for the White House and/or the Attor­ney Gen­er­al, the nom­i­nal supe­ri­ors of every­one who works for the FBI, to come off the bench and break this scam once and for all. This is now for more than just this elec­tion. This is law enforce­ment try­ing to force its will of the civ­il author­i­ties, no dif­fer­ent from some back­wa­ter sher­iff who has com­pro­mis­ing pho­tos of the may­or.

    ...

    “Hours after Comey’s let­ter about the renewed probe was leaked on Fri­day, Giu­liani went on a radio show and attrib­uted the direc­tor’s sur­prise action to “the pres­sure of a group of FBI agents who don’t look at it polit­i­cal­ly.” “The oth­er rumor that I get is that there’s a kind of rev­o­lu­tion going on inside the FBI about the orig­i­nal con­clu­sion [not to charge Clin­ton] being com­plete­ly unjus­ti­fied and almost a slap in the face to the FBI’s integri­ty,” said Giu­liani. “I know that from for­mer agents. I know that even from a few active agents.” Along with Giu­lian­i’s oth­er con­nec­tions to New York FBI agents, his for­mer law firm, then called Bracewell Giu­liani, has long been gen­er­al coun­sel to the FBI Agents Asso­ci­a­tion (FBIAA), which rep­re­sents 13,000 for­mer and cur­rent agents. The group, born in the New York office in the ear­ly ’80s, was head­ed until Mon­day by Rey Tariche, an agent still work­ing in that office. Tariche’s res­ig­na­tion let­ter from the bureau men­tioned the Clin­ton probe, not­ing that “we find our work—our integri­ty ques­tioned” because of it, adding “we will not be used for polit­i­cal gains.””

    Huh. So Giu­lian­i’s for­mer law firm is the gen­er­al coun­sel for the FBI Agents Asso­ci­a­tion (FBIAA), a group found­ed in the New York office and head­ing by an agent still work­ing in that office (and who resigned days after Comey’s let­ter to Con­gress). Noth­ing fishy about that!

    And, of course, let’s not for­get that the FBI agents in this office who are wag­ing this “rev­o­lu­tion” in an attempt to force an inves­ti­ga­tion of Hillary, or at a polit­i­cal­ly embar­rass­ing pseu­do-scan­dal, we bas­ing their sus­pi­cions on a book writ­ten by Peter Schweiz­er, a Bri­et­bart edi­tor-at-large:

    Media Mat­ters

    Mad­dow Exam­ines How Fox’s Debunked Clin­ton Report Began With FBI Agents Pre­sent­ing Bre­it­bart Hit Pieces As Evi­dence

    Mad­dow: The FBI “Actu­al­ly Used That Breitbart.com, Anti-Hillary Clin­ton Book As Their Source For Launch­ing A Local FBI Inquiry Into Hillary Clin­ton”
    Video ››› Novem­ber 3, 2016 10:50 PM EDT ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    From the Novem­ber 3 edi­tion of MSNBC’s The Rachel Mad­dow Show:
    [see clip from show]

    RACHEL MADDOW (HOST): This week, The New York Times and The Wall Street Jour­nal report­ed that there has been, I guess you’d call it, like, a break­out? There’s been a break­out from this oth­er­wise insu­lar lit­tle Breitbart.com cor­ner of con­ser­v­a­tive media and polit­i­cal activism. Those two papers report­ed that appar­ent­ly there are Breitbart.com fans, there are Breitbart.com true believ­ers, there are peo­ple who buy this stuff who are work­ing inside the New York field office of the FBI. The New York Times and Wall Street Jour­nal were first to report that the New York field office of the FBI used that anti-Hillary Clin­ton book, and the DVD of the same name, from the Breitbart.com guys, from the Breitbart.com edi­tor and his boss who’s now the head of the Don­ald Trump cam­paign, the one fund­ed by Don­ald Trump’s biggest donor, right? They actu­al­ly used that Breitbart.com, anti-Hillary Clin­ton book as their source for launch­ing a local FBI inquiry into Hillary Clin­ton. That was their evi­dence. That was their research. These agents in the New York field office report­ed­ly decid­ed that they need­ed to look into what Breitbart.com was say­ing about Hillary Clin­ton. It all sounds ter­ri­ble. Sounds total­ly legit. We should look into that. We’re the FBI.

    It had pre­vi­ous­ly been report­ed that New York FBI agents brought this anti-Hillary Clin­ton Bre­it­bart stuff to a meet­ing — excuse me, they had brought this anti-Hillary Clin­ton stuff to a meet­ing with career Jus­tice Depart­ment pros­e­cu­tors back in Feb­ru­ary, and one of the par­tic­i­pants in that meet­ing described it as, quote, “one of the weird­est meet­ings I have ever been to.” But, all we knew before now was that they had brought some stuff about Hillary Clin­ton and the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion to that meet­ing. We now know, based on the cur­rent report­ing, that what the New York agents brought pros­e­cu­tors at meet­ing was­n’t just gener­ic anti-Hillary Clin­ton stuff, or Hillary Clin­ton stuff they had cooked up on their own. No, it was this stuff that had been cooked up at Bre­it­bart. It is the stuff that came from the eco-sex­u­als hav­ing sex with trees web­site. That is what they had, that is what they brought to career Depart­ment of Jus­tice pros­e­cu­tors, and report­ed­ly the career pros­e­cu­tors were like, “uhh, where you did you get this? I’m not sure that’s a case.”

    Thanks to lord knows what­ev­er’s going on, appar­ent­ly, inside that New York field office of the FBI, that lit­tle adven­ture, which is now report­ed­ly over, that lit­tle adven­ture of the Breitbart.com read­ers inside this one FBI field office, that’s what’s out now in today’s news five days before the elec­tion. That’s what was breath­less­ly report­ed on Fox News last night based on FBI sources, breath­less­ly report­ed on Fox last night as a whole new Hillary Clin­ton FBI inves­ti­ga­tion. One that was def­i­nite­ly going to lead to an indict­ment.

    “It had pre­vi­ous­ly been report­ed that New York FBI agents brought this anti-Hillary Clin­ton Bre­it­bart stuff to a meet­ing — excuse me, they had brought this anti-Hillary Clin­ton stuff to a meet­ing with career Jus­tice Depart­ment pros­e­cu­tors back in Feb­ru­ary, and one of the par­tic­i­pants in that meet­ing described it as, quote, “one of the weird­est meet­ings I have ever been to.”...”

    Uh, yeah, that was prob­a­bly a pret­ty weird meet­ing. At least the agents did­n’t cite Infowars. Maybe that will be our 2020 FBI Octo­ber Sur­prise.

    So that’s all part of what cre­at­ed a cri­sis of cred­i­bil­i­ty in the FBI and helped tight­en the polls just days away from the elec­tion. And elec­tion that’s been suc­cess­ful­ly framed as a man­date on whether or not Hillary Clin­ton is cor­rupt. Or rather, Hillary Clin­ton’s alleged cor­rup­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 5, 2016, 3:29 pm
  39. Josh Mar­shall has a piece that high­lights a rather notable piece of infor­ma­tion in the recent New York Times report about how the dam­age done by who­ev­er hacked the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee was com­pound­ed by the fact that the DNC’s IT staff did­n’t take seri­ous­ly the FBI’s warn­ings that it might have been hacked: Back in Sep­tem­ber of 2015, when the FBI informed the DNC about the bureau’s sus­pi­cion that the DNC might be the tar­get of a hack, the FBI did­n’t actu­al­ly have some­one come by and talk with them. No, they called the DNC, and the calls were for­ward­ed to the IT “help desk”. That was it. And, not sur­pris­ing­ly, the tech sup­port con­trac­tor who talked with the agent inter­pret­ed it as a prank and ignored it, which is not unrea­son­able because, seri­ous­ly, how absurd is it that the FBI would choose that method of inform­ing an orga­ni­za­tion like the DNC in the mid­dle of the cam­paign sea­son about its detec­tion of a major for­eign cyber-intru­sion. And this sit­u­a­tion was allowed to go on for sev­en months:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Edi­tor’s Blog

    The Unfold­ing Chron­i­cle of WTF

    By Josh Mar­shall
    Pub­lished Decem­ber 15, 2016, 10:30 PM EDT

    This is just a small part of a sprawl­ing sto­ry. But indulge me for a moment while I focus in on it. John Podes­ta has apiece out tonight in the Post which is a broad indict­ment of the FBI, for its obses­sion with Sec­re­tary Clin­ton’s pri­vate email serv­er and its lack­adaisi­cal indif­fer­ence to Russ­ian sab­o­tage efforts against her par­ty and then her cam­paign. In the begin­ning of that piece Podes­ta zeroes in on some­thing that jumped out at me too when I read the big New York Times sto­ry on the his­to­ry of the Clin­ton hacks.

    Here’s the pas­sage.

    As the for­mer chair of the Clin­ton cam­paign and a direct tar­get of Russ­ian hack­ing, I under­stand just how seri­ous this is. So I was sur­prised to read in the New York Times that when the FBI dis­cov­ered the Russ­ian attack in Sep­tem­ber 2015, it failed to send even a sin­gle agent to warn senior Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee offi­cials. Instead, mes­sages were left with the DNC IT “help desk.” As a for­mer head of the FBI cyber divi­sion told the Times, this is a baf­fling deci­sion: “We are not talk­ing about an office that is in the mid­dle of the woods of Mon­tana.”

    Here’s the pas­sage in the Times piece, which I need to quote at some length to cap­ture the fla­vor of the pas­sage (with a few sen­tences high­light­ed) ...

    When Spe­cial Agent Adri­an Hawkins of the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion called the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee in Sep­tem­ber 2015 to pass along some trou­bling news about its com­put­er net­work, he was trans­ferred, nat­u­ral­ly, to the help desk.

    His mes­sage was brief, if alarm­ing. At least one com­put­er sys­tem belong­ing to the D.N.C. had been com­pro­mised by hack­ers fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors had named “the Dukes,” a cyberes­pi­onage team linked to the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment.

    The F.B.I. knew it well: The bureau had spent the last few years try­ing to kick the Dukes out of the unclas­si­fied email sys­tems of the White House, the State Depart­ment and even the Joint Chiefs of Staff, one of the government’s best-pro­tect­ed net­works.

    Yared Tamene, the tech-sup­port con­trac­tor at the D.N.C. who field­ed the call, was no expert in cyber­at­tacks. His first moves were to check Google for “the Dukes” and con­duct a cur­so­ry search of the D.N.C. com­put­er sys­tem logs to look for hints of such a cyber­in­tru­sion. By his own account, he did not look too hard even after Spe­cial Agent Hawkins called back repeat­ed­ly over the next sev­er­al weeks — in part because he wasn’t cer­tain the caller was a real F.B.I. agent and not an impos­tor.

    “I had no way of dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing the call I just received from a prank call,” Mr. Tamene wrote in an inter­nal memo, obtained by The New York Times, that detailed his con­tact with the F.B.I.

    It was the cryp­tic first sign of a cyberes­pi­onage and infor­ma­tion-war­fare cam­paign devised to dis­rupt the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, the first such attempt by a for­eign pow­er in Amer­i­can his­to­ry. What start­ed as an infor­ma­tion-gath­er­ing oper­a­tion, intel­li­gence offi­cials believe, ulti­mate­ly mor­phed into an effort to harm one can­di­date, Hillary Clin­ton, and tip the elec­tion to her oppo­nent, Don­ald J. Trump.

    Like anoth­er famous Amer­i­can elec­tion scan­dal, it start­ed with a break-in at the D.N.C. The first time, 44 years ago at the committee’s old offices in the Water­gate com­plex, the bur­glars plant­ed lis­ten­ing devices and jim­mied a fil­ing cab­i­net. This time, the bur­glary was con­duct­ed from afar, direct­ed by the Krem­lin, with spear-phish­ing emails and zeros and ones.

    An exam­i­na­tion by The Times of the Russ­ian oper­a­tion — based on inter­views with dozens of play­ers tar­get­ed in the attack, intel­li­gence offi­cials who inves­ti­gat­ed it and Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials who delib­er­at­ed over the best response — reveals a series of missed sig­nals, slow respons­es and a con­tin­u­ing under­es­ti­ma­tion of the seri­ous­ness of the cyber­at­tack.

    The D.N.C.’s fum­bling encounter with the F.B.I. meant the best chance to halt the Russ­ian intru­sion was lost. The fail­ure to grasp the scope of the attacks under­cut efforts to min­i­mize their impact. And the White House’s reluc­tance to respond force­ful­ly meant the Rus­sians have not paid a heavy price for their actions, a deci­sion that could prove crit­i­cal in deter­ring future cyber­at­tacks.

    The low-key approach of the F.B.I. meant that Russ­ian hack­ers could roam freely through the committee’s net­work for near­ly sev­en months before top D.N.C. offi­cials were alert­ed to the attack and hired cyber­ex­perts to pro­tect their sys­tems. In the mean­time, the hack­ers moved on to tar­gets out­side the D.N.C., includ­ing Mrs. Clinton’s cam­paign chair­man, John D. Podes­ta, whose pri­vate email account was hacked months lat­er.

    I don’t nor­mal­ly like to block­quote so much of anoth­er arti­cle. But I do so here for a spe­cif­ic rea­son: I want to cap­ture not just the nar­ra­tive of events but the edi­to­r­i­al gloss. The impres­sion is one of a Clin­ton cam­paign or DNC that could­n’t keep its eye on the ball, missed the clues. “The D.N.C.’s fum­bling encounter with the F.B.I. meant the best chance to halt the Russ­ian intru­sion was lost. ”

    Clear­ly, one wish­es that Tamene would have esca­lat­ed the calls to the right per­son in the orga­ni­za­tion. But even run­ning the very small (under 25 peo­ple) orga­ni­za­tion I do, it’s not sur­pris­ing to me that it turned out the way that it did. Even at our small lev­el, the vol­ume of over-the-tran­som infor­ma­tion is immense. Most times that infor­ma­tion is han­dled by peo­ple who don’t have all the infor­ma­tion to judge whether a par­tic­u­lar com­mu­ni­ca­tion is crit­i­cal or insub­stan­tial or whether it’s a hoax or not. Our team does a great job of it, as you can judge by how many leads and scoops we’ve found over the years in the tor­rent of email traf­fic we receive every day. Still, stuff gets missed. And we’re a real­ly small oper­a­tion. The idea that an FBI inves­ti­ga­tion into for­eign gov­ern­ment espi­onage against one of the coun­try’s two major polit­i­cal par­ty’s would have been han­dled with a call to the com­put­er help line is almost beyond belief.

    It goes with­out say­ing that FBI Head­quar­ters in Wash­ing­ton, DC has a very clear under­stand­ing of who runs the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee, start­ing — at the time — with the sit­ting Mem­ber of Con­gress who ran the orga­ni­za­tion. Then there’s the exec­u­tive direc­tor. The finance chair. Myr­i­ad exec­u­tive, nation­al com­mit­teep­er­sons. If this was a seri­ous busi­ness, which obvi­ous­ly it was, and the FBI thought it was impor­tant to get the atten­tion of a deci­sion-mak­er in the orga­ni­za­tion, it would have been very easy to do. But the way it was han­dled was some­thing like the equiv­a­lent of see­ing a prob­lem at a major cor­po­ra­tion and leav­ing mes­sages with the recep­tion­ist.

    As Podes­ta puts it ...

    What takes this from baf­fling to down­right infu­ri­at­ing is that at near­ly the exact same time that no one at the FBI could be both­ered to dri­ve 10 min­utes to raise the alarm at DNC head­quar­ters, two agents accom­pa­nied by attor­neys from the Jus­tice Depart­ment were in Den­ver vis­it­ing a tech firm that had helped main­tain Clinton’s email serv­er.

    Defeat is bit­ter, espe­cial­ly if you have rea­son to believe that you were cheat­ed in some sense. It makes it vast­ly hard­er to let go. But I get why Podes­ta went apoplec­tic about this. I don’t believe the right ‘pri­vate serv­er inves­ti­ga­tion’ hand knew what the left ‘counter-espi­onage’ hand was doing. So much of his­to­ry is writ­ten in the dead weight of bureau­crat­ic iner­tia and con­fu­sion. In any case these are dif­fer­ent beasts. They each need­ed to be han­dled on their own terms. But again, it is aston­ish­ing that the FBI knew this intru­sion was afoot for the bet­ter part of a year before mak­ing any real attempt to con­tact the prin­ci­pals of the orga­ni­za­tion.

    ...

    “It goes with­out say­ing that FBI Head­quar­ters in Wash­ing­ton, DC has a very clear under­stand­ing of who runs the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee, start­ing — at the time — with the sit­ting Mem­ber of Con­gress who ran the orga­ni­za­tion. Then there’s the exec­u­tive direc­tor. The finance chair. Myr­i­ad exec­u­tive, nation­al com­mit­teep­er­sons. If this was a seri­ous busi­ness, which obvi­ous­ly it was, and the FBI thought it was impor­tant to get the atten­tion of a deci­sion-mak­er in the orga­ni­za­tion, it would have been very easy to do. But the way it was han­dled was some­thing like the equiv­a­lent of see­ing a prob­lem at a major cor­po­ra­tion and leav­ing mes­sages with the recep­tion­ist.

    Yeah, it’s hard to see how exact­ly a hack of this nature was­n’t seen as a seri­ous poten­tial threat to the integri­ty of the upcom­ing elec­tion, so it’s rather odd that it did­n’t war­rant a kind of ‘hair on fire’ response by the FBI, espe­cial­ly if the agency was­n’t also detect­ing an imme­di­ate ‘hair on fire’ response by the DNC after the very first warn­ing. And is it real­ly that unusu­al for FBI agents con­duct­ing cold calls to have the per­son on the oth­er line sus­pect it might not be a real call? It seems like ignor­ing FBI cold calls would be a know phe­nom­e­na. Espe­cial­ly giv­en things like, for exam­ple, pri­or warn­ings from 2013 by the FBI about peo­ple pre­tend­ing to be FBI agents to scam peo­ple. Or the warn­ings from 2012. So let’s hope one of the lessons tak­en from this whole mess if that if there’s an urgent issue impact­ing a crit­i­cal orga­ni­za­tion like the DNC that the FBI has deter­mined needs address­ing, they don’t just pick up the phone.

    And in relat­ed news, the FBI has been issu­ing warn­ings since Octo­ber of 2015 about a wave of peo­ple imper­son­at­ing FBI agents and oth­er gov­ern­ment agents in order to scam peo­ple.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 16, 2016, 4:00 pm
  40. A fed­er­al court unsealed the search war­rant for the now noto­ri­ous lap­top belong­ing to Antho­ny Wein­er that was seized by the FBI and used as a pre­text for James Comey’s now infa­mous let­ter to Con­gress about the reopen­ing of the FBI inves­ti­ga­tion into Hillary Clin­ton’s pri­vate email serv­er 11 days before the elec­tion. So now we have a much bet­ter idea of what infor­ma­tion the FBI inves­ti­ga­tors were work­ing with and what argu­ment they made to Comey before he made the call: the inves­ti­ga­tors con­clud­ed that the lap­top was like­ly to con­tain evi­dence of ille­gal pos­ses­sion of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion. And they based this hunch on infor­ma­tion from the email meta­da­ta con­tent that showed emails between Huma Abe­din and Hillary Clin­ton and the fact that inves­ti­ga­tors had seen emails with clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion between Huma and Hillary in the pre­vi­ous inves­ti­ga­tions of Clin­ton’s pri­vate serv­er. Despite the fact that the FBI had already con­clud­ed back in July that the evi­dence they saw from the ear­li­er inves­ti­ga­tion of the mis­han­dling of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion did­n’t actu­al­ly jus­ti­fy an indict­ment.

    So the evi­dence found in Octo­ber hint­ing that Wein­er’s lap­top might con­tain clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion was based sole­ly on the knowl­edge that Human and Hillary had pre­vi­ous­ly exchanged emails with clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion which the FBI had already reviewed cou­pled with the hope that there might be some­thing new on Wein­er’s lap­top that would change that deci­sion not to pros­e­cute. And that hunch/hope was the basis for Comey’s let­ter to Con­gress 11 days before the elec­tion:

    Politi­co

    Clin­ton allies rip into FBI after search war­rant unsealed

    ‘It is salt in the wound to see FBI ratio­nale was this flim­sy,’ Clin­ton’s for­mer spokesman says.

    By Josh Ger­stein

    12/20/16 12:26 PM EST
    Updat­ed 12/20/16 05:56 PM EST

    Hillary Clin­ton’s allies blast­ed the FBI Tues­day after court fil­ings were unsealed show­ing more details about the law enforce­ment agen­cy’s basis for renew­ing its probe into Clin­ton’s pri­vate email set-up and roil­ing the pres­i­den­tial race just over a week before Elec­tion Day.

    Clin­ton’s camp says the FBI had remark­ably lit­tle evi­dence to go on when it sought a search war­rant on Oct. 30 to look for clas­si­fied emails on a Dell lap­top belong­ing to Antho­ny Wein­er, the estranged hus­band of long­time Clin­ton aide Huma Abe­din. The FBI says it dis­cov­ered Clin­ton-relat­ed emails on the com­put­er after ini­tial­ly seiz­ing the device dur­ing a probe over Wein­er’s alleged sex­u­al­ly explic­it online exchanges with a minor.

    The court fil­ings unsealed Tues­day show that the FBI said in an affi­davit that the lap­top was like­ly to con­tain evi­dence of ille­gal pos­ses­sion of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion, appar­ent­ly by Wein­er or Abe­din, although nei­ther has been charged with a crime.

    “There is prob­a­ble cause to believe that the Sub­ject Lap­top con­tains evi­dence, con­tra­band, fruits, and/or oth­er items ille­gal­ly pos­sessed in vio­la­tion of 18 U.S.C. § 793 (e) and (f),” an FBI agent wrote, cit­ing felony Espi­onage Act pro­vi­sions for ille­gal pos­ses­sions of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion.

    How­ev­er, Clin­ton’s attor­ney and many of her allies said Tues­day the paper­work sug­gests all the FBI knew was that they’d stum­bled across more emails like the tens of thou­sands or more mes­sages they weed­ed through before announc­ing in July that they were not close to hav­ing the kind of evi­dence need­ed to bring a pros­e­cu­tion against her or any­one on her staff.

    “Today’s release of the FBI affi­davit high­lights the extra­or­di­nary impro­pri­ety of Direc­tor Comey’s Octo­ber 28 let­ter, pub­li­cized two days before the affi­davit, which pro­duced dev­as­tat­ing but pre­dictable dam­age polit­i­cal­ly and which was both legal­ly unau­tho­rized and fac­tu­al­ly unnec­es­sary,” long­time Clin­ton lawyer David Kendall said in a state­ment. “The affi­davit con­cedes that the FBI had no basis to con­clude whether these e‑mails were even per­ti­nent to that closed inves­ti­ga­tion, were sig­nif­i­cant, or whether they had, in fact, already been reviewed pri­or to the clos­ing of the inves­ti­ga­tion.”

    “What does become unas­sail­ably clear, how­ev­er, is that as the sole basis for this war­rant, the FBI put for­ward the same evi­dence the Bureau con­clud­ed in July was not suf­fi­cient to bring a case—the affi­davit offered no addi­tion­al evi­dence to sup­port any dif­fer­ent con­clu­sion,” Kendall said.

    For­mer Clin­ton cam­paign spokesman Bri­an Fal­lon also expressed out­rage at the lack of infor­ma­tion the FBI had to indi­cate that the files on Wein­er’s lap­top would lead to any change in the agen­cy’s announced find­ings.

    “The unsealed fil­ings regard­ing Huma’s emails reveals Comey’s intru­sion on the elec­tion was as utter­ly unjus­ti­fied as we sus­pect­ed at time,” Fal­lon said on Twit­ter a few hours after the court fil­ings were released. “There was noth­ing in search war­rant fil­ing to con­tro­vert Comey’s state­ments from July and tru­ly estab­lish prob­a­ble cause of a crime. On day when new elec­tion data fresh­ly sug­gests deci­sive impact of Comey let­ter, it is salt in the wound to see FBI ratio­nale was this flim­sy.”

    The records sug­gest Fox may have grant­ed the war­rant based exclu­sive­ly on the FBI’s con­tention that in the ear­li­er phase of the Clin­ton email inves­ti­ga­tion, “many emails” between Clin­ton and Abe­din con­tained clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion, there­fore emails between the pair from that same time peri­od and sud­den­ly dis­cov­ered on Wein­er’s lap­top were like­ly to also con­tain clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion and be evi­dence of a crime.

    “Giv­en the infor­ma­tion that there are thou­sands of [redact­ed] emails locat­ed on the Sub­ject Laptop—including emails, dur­ing and around [redact­ed] from [redact­ed] account as well as a [redact­ed] account appear­ing to belong to [redacted]—and the reg­u­lar emails cor­re­spon­dence between [redact­ed] and Clin­ton, there is prob­a­ble cause to believe the sub­ject con­tains cor­re­spon­dence between [redact­ed] and Clin­ton,” wrote the FBI agent, whose named was delet­ed from the records made pub­lic Tues­day.

    “Because it has been deter­mined by rel­e­vant orig­i­nal clas­si­fi­ca­tion author­i­ties that many emails were exchanged between [redact­ed] using [redact­ed] and/or [redact­ed] accounts, and Clin­ton that con­tained clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion, there is also prob­a­ble cause to believe that the cor­re­spon­dence between them locat­ed on the Sub­ject Lap­top con­tains clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion which was pro­duced by and is owned by the U.S. Gov­ern­ment. The Sub­ject Lap­top was nev­er autho­rized for the stor­age or trans­mis­sion of clas­si­fied or nation­al defense infor­ma­tion,” the FBI agent added.

    A Cal­i­for­nia lawyer who went to court to get the records unsealed, Ran­dol Schoen­berg, said he was sur­prised the FBI did­n’t have some sug­ges­tion that the emails they want­ed to search were more incrim­i­nat­ing than those already in their pos­ses­sion.

    “My ini­tial reac­tion was: there’s noth­ing there. There’s real­ly noth­ing that would estab­lish prob­a­ble cause,” Schoen­berg, who has been crit­i­cal in the past of the FBI’s han­dling of the Clin­ton email probe, said in an inter­view. “This was a whole lot of noth­ing. I was shocked. When they said they got a search war­rant, I expect­ed there to be more than noth­ing. No evi­dence at all they would find any evi­dence of a crime…There’s was no indi­ca­tion they would find any­thing and they did­n’t find any­thing.”

    Oth­er promi­nent lawyers dis­agreed, say­ing that the facts laid out by the FBI jus­ti­fied issu­ing the search war­rant.

    “To my mind, the affi­davit does state suf­fi­cient facts to make it rea­son­able for a fed­er­al mag­is­trate to say there’s prob­a­ble cause,” said Rod­ney Smol­la, dean of the Widen­er Uni­ver­si­ty’s Delaware Law School. “The statute says you’re not allowed to trans­mit clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion to peo­ple who are not authorized....They see mas­sive amounts of infor­ma­tion from the [Clin­ton] serv­er that has head­ings on it that makes it appear that infor­ma­tion is on Wein­er’s lap­top. That is to me log­i­cal enough to say there’s prob­a­ble cause.”

    “Prob­a­ble cause is not a free pass for the gov­ern­ment, but it’s not that high a thresh­old. I think most fed­er­al judges in this con­text would have said this is prob­a­ble cause,” Smol­la added.

    It is unclear from the record whether the FBI informed Fox that months before the new emails were dis­cov­ered, FBI Direc­tor James Comey pub­licly dis­missed the idea of pros­e­cut­ing any­one over the clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion alleged­ly exchanged by Clin­ton, Abe­din and oth­er aides on unse­cured sys­tems. One pas­sage in the affi­davit does note “pub­lic state­ments” from the FBI and Jus­tice Depart­ment about “the con­clu­sion of the inves­ti­ga­tion.” Sev­er­al para­graphs in the affi­davit are entire­ly redact­ed, so it’s hard to say con­clu­sive­ly how much of the sto­ry the FBI put forth.

    U.S. Dis­trict Court Judge P. Kevin Cas­tel issued an order Mon­day that the war­rant linked to the Clin­ton probe and relat­ed records be unsealed at noon Tues­day, with lim­it­ed redac­tions. The judge act­ed after E. Ran­dol Schoen­berg, a Cal­i­for­nia lawyer who main­ly inves­ti­gates art thefts, filed a suit seek­ing to force unseal­ing of the files.

    An FBI spokesper­son did not respond to a request for com­ment on the wave of crit­i­cism unleashed by the unseal­ing of the court file.

    The new­ly-dis­closed court records fueled the exist­ing debate over moves made by the FBI and Comey in the lead-up to the Nov. 8 elec­tion, where GOP nom­i­nee Don­ald Trump nar­row­ly defeat­ed Clin­ton in bat­tle­ground states her cam­paign expect­ed to win.

    On Oct. 28, Comey sent Con­gress a let­ter advis­ing law­mak­ers that new evi­dence had emerged in the Clin­ton probe and steps were being tak­en to review it. On Nov. 6, two days before the elec­tion, Comey sent a fol­low-up let­ter say­ing the evi­dence had not changed the FBI’s con­clu­sion announced in July that no pros­e­cu­tion of Clin­ton was war­rant­ed in the case.

    In the weeks since Clin­ton’s unex­pect­ed loss, she, her cam­paign aides and her hus­band, for­mer Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, have argued that Comey’s pair of let­ters led to a fall-off in sup­port that cost her the elec­tion. Even the elec­tion-eve let­ter effec­tive­ly clear­ing her had the effect of stir­ring up more atten­tion to the email issue and turn­ing off vot­ers on the fence about sup­port­ing her, Clin­ton back­ers claim.

    ...

    “The records sug­gest Fox may have grant­ed the war­rant based exclu­sive­ly on the FBI’s con­tention that in the ear­li­er phase of the Clin­ton email inves­ti­ga­tion, “many emails” between Clin­ton and Abe­din con­tained clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion, there­fore emails between the pair from that same time peri­od and sud­den­ly dis­cov­ered on Wein­er’s lap­top were like­ly to also con­tain clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion and be evi­dence of a crime.”

    Since it’s look­ing like the sole basis for the search war­rant that James Comey’s let­ter to the FBI 11 days before the elec­tion was based on was a hunch that Wein­er’s lap­top con­tained new emails, and not emails they already reviewed months ear­li­er, this is prob­a­bly a good time to recall that the pri­ma­ry con­tro­ver­sy asso­ci­at­ed with this war­rant isn’t the fact that the war­rant was issued. The con­tro­ver­sy is over the the fact that, before the war­rant was even writ­ten, the direc­tor of the FBI informed Con­gress about these new emails and the reopen­ing of the inves­ti­ga­tion just 11 days before the elec­tion despite the fact that, as the war­rant indi­cates, it was all based on a vague hunch that there might be some new clas­si­fied emails. And on top of that, as we now know, review­ing all those emails after get­ting the war­rant to deter­mine whether or not they con­tained any­thing new was a rapid process that was just going to take a few day...which is what hap­pened. The prob­lem is it hap­pened a few days after Comey informed Con­gress about the reopen­ing of the inves­ti­ga­tion, com­plete­ly chang­ing the final stage of the elec­tion. It’s not the rel­a­tive­ly weak case behind war­rant that’s the big prob­lem. It’s the rel­a­tive­ly weak case cou­pled with the incred­i­bly sen­si­tive tim­ing of the war­rant and Jus­tice Depart­ment guide­lines against med­dling with elec­tions that’s the big prob­lem with the FBI’s behav­ior. Or at least a big prob­lem. There was unfor­tu­nate­ly no short­age of big prob­lems with the FBI’s unwar­rant­ed behav­ior.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | December 20, 2016, 4:23 pm
  41. This could get inter­est­ing: The Jus­tice Depart­ment inspec­tor gen­er­al has decid­ed to inves­ti­gate James Comey’s actions dur­ing the elec­tion, although it’s not lim­it­ed to Comey. It also includes the issue of pos­si­ble leaks, like the fact that Rudolph Giu­liani seemed to know what the FBI was going to do while claim­ing he was only speak­ing to ex-FBI agent. But it’s not lim­it­ed to impro­pri­eties that may have helped the Repub­li­cans. It will also look into Repub­li­can charges that FBI Deputy Direc­tor Andrew McCabe should have been recused from the case after it was report­ed that a Clin­ton ally donat­ed to his wife’s polit­i­cal cam­paign. Plus claims that DOJ con­gres­sion­al liai­son Peter Kadzik improp­er­ly pro­vid­ed infor­ma­tion to the Clin­ton cam­paign. So, yeah, this could get inter­est­ing:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Jus­tice Depart­ment inspec­tor gen­er­al to inves­ti­gate pre-elec­tion actions by depart­ment and FBI

    By Matt Zapo­to­sky and Sari Hor­witz
    Jan­u­ary 12, 2017 at 10:54 PM

    The Jus­tice Depart­ment inspec­tor gen­er­al will review broad alle­ga­tions of mis­con­duct involv­ing FBI Direc­tor James B. Comey and how he han­dled the probe of Hillary Clinton’s email prac­tices, the inspec­tor gen­er­al announced Thurs­day.

    The inves­ti­ga­tion will be wide-rang­ing, encom­pass­ing Comey’s var­i­ous let­ters and pub­lic state­ments on the mat­ter and whether FBI or oth­er Jus­tice Depart­ment employ­ees leaked non­pub­lic infor­ma­tion, accord­ing to Inspec­tor Gen­er­al Michael E. Horowitz.

    The inspec­tor general’s announce­ment drew praise from those on both sides of the polit­i­cal aisle and again put a spot­light on Comey, who emerged as a con­tro­ver­sial fig­ure dur­ing the 2016 race. Democ­rats, includ­ing Clin­ton, have blamed the FBI direc­tor for the Demo­c­ra­t­ic candidate’s loss, argu­ing that the renewed email inquiry and Comey’s pub­lic mis­sives on the eve of the elec­tion blunt­ed her momen­tum.

    Comey has also been crit­i­cized for months by for­mer Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials for vio­lat­ing the department’s pol­i­cy of avoid­ing any action that could affect a can­di­date close to an elec­tion. Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump has notably declined to com­mit to keep­ing the FBI direc­tor.

    ...

    Law­mak­ers and oth­ers had called pre­vi­ous­ly for the inspec­tor gen­er­al to inves­ti­gate the FBI’s actions regard­ing the Clin­ton probe ahead of the elec­tion, alleg­ing that Comey vio­lat­ed long-stand­ing poli­cies with his com­mu­ni­ca­tions about the case and that infor­ma­tion seemed to have leaked inap­pro­pri­ate­ly — per­haps to for­mer New York City may­or Rudolph W. Giu­liani, a Trump sup­port­er.

    Horowitz said Thurs­day that he will explore the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the actions of Comey and oth­ers, though he will not relit­i­gate whether any­one should have faced charges.

    “The review will not sub­sti­tute the OIG’s judg­ment for the judg­ments made by the FBI or the Depart­ment regard­ing the sub­stan­tive mer­its of inves­tiga­tive or pros­ec­u­tive deci­sions,” Horowitz said in his state­ment, using an abbre­vi­a­tion for the Office of the Inspec­tor Gen­er­al.

    Comey said in a state­ment: “I am grate­ful to the Depart­ment of Justice’s IG for tak­ing on this review. He is pro­fes­sion­al and inde­pen­dent and the FBI will coop­er­ate ful­ly with him and his office. I hope very much he is able to share his con­clu­sions and obser­va­tions with the pub­lic because every­one will ben­e­fit from thought­ful eval­u­a­tion and trans­paren­cy regard­ing this mat­ter.”

    The FBI’s probe into whether Clin­ton mis­han­dled clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion by using a pri­vate email serv­er when she was sec­re­tary of state has long been ¬con­tro­ver­sial and polit­i­cal­ly charged.

    Per­haps most notably, Comey on Oct. 28 — after pre­vi­ous­ly announc­ing pub­licly that he was rec­om­mend­ing no charges in the case — sent a let­ter to con­gres­sion­al lead­ers telling them that agents had resumed the Clin­ton probe after find­ing poten­tial­ly rel­e­vant infor­ma­tion in an unre­lat­ed case. That inves­ti­ga­tion involved dis­graced for­mer con­gress­man Antho­ny Wein­er, the estranged hus­band of top Clin­ton aide Huma Abe­din.

    The day before, senior Jus­tice Depart­ment lead­ers had warned Comey not to send the let­ter, because it vio­lat­ed two long-stand­ing depart­ment poli­cies — dis­cussing an ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion and tak­ing any overt action affect­ing a can­di­date so close to an elec­tion.

    Comey has notably declined to talk about any pos­si­ble inves­ti­ga­tions of Trump or his cam­paign, as recent­ly as this week rebuff­ing requests from leg­is­la­tors to con­firm that agents were look­ing into any such mat­ters.

    “I don’t — espe­cial­ly in a pub­lic forum, we nev­er con­firm or deny a pend­ing inves­ti­ga­tion,” Comey said this week.

    The inspec­tor gen­er­al did not say he would inves­ti­gate Comey’s com­ments on Trump or any mat­ters relat­ed to Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in the elec­tion.

    Comey sent a sec­ond let­ter to Con­gress on the Clin­ton case, just days before the elec­tion, declar­ing that the inves­ti­ga­tion was com­plete and that he was not chang­ing the deci­sion he had made in July to rec­om­mend no charges. But the dam­age — in the minds of Clin­ton sup­port­ers, at least — had been done.

    Horowitz wrote that he will explore “alle­ga­tions that Depart­ment or FBI poli­cies or pro­ce­dures were not fol­lowed” in con­nec­tion with both let­ters. When he is fin­ished, his office will prob­a­bly issue a lengthy report detail­ing what it has found, as it has done in oth­er high-pro­file mat­ters, though it is also pos­si­ble he could rec­om­mend crim­i­nal charges for any­one found to have bro­ken the law. The probe could take a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time.

    Horowitz wrote that his inquiry will extend back to at least July — when Comey announced he was rec­om­mend­ing the Clin­ton case be closed with­out charges.

    He wrote that he will explore “alle­ga­tions that Depart­ment and FBI employ­ees improp­er­ly dis­closed non-pub­lic infor­ma­tion” — poten­tial­ly a ref­er­ence to Giu­liani, who seemed to claim at one point he had insid­er FBI knowl­edge. Horowitz also said he would explore whether FBI Deputy Direc­tor Andrew McCabe should have been recused from the case. McCabe’s wife, Jill McCabe, ran for a Vir­ginia Sen­ate seat and took mon­ey from the polit­i­cal action com­mit­tee of Vir­ginia Gov. Ter­ry McAu­li­ffe, a fierce Clin­ton ally.

    The FBI assert­ed at the time that Andrew McCabe had checked in with ethics offi­cials and fol­lowed agency pro­to­cols. And, when his wife was first recruit­ed to run, he was not yet deputy direc­tor. He was ele­vat­ed to that post in Feb­ru­ary 2016, after his wife was out of pol­i­tics.

    Through an FBI spokesman, McCabe declined to com­ment. Giu­liani said in an inter­view Thurs­day night that he had talked only to for­mer FBI offi­cials, who relayed some agents’ gen­er­al dis­plea­sure with Comey’s rec­om­men­da­tion that Clin­ton not be charged. He said he did not talk to cur­rent agents with knowl­edge of any probes, and he would coop­er­ate with the inspec­tor gen­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Horowitz wrote that he would delve more deeply into the FBI pub­lish­ing, just days before the elec­tion, 129 pages of inter­nal doc­u­ments from a years-old probe into for­mer pres­i­dent Bill Clinton’s par­don of fugi­tive Demo­c­ra­t­ic donor Marc Rich. And he said he would also probe whether Peter Kadzik, the Jus­tice Department’s assis­tant attor­ney gen­er­al for leg­isla­tive affairs, “improp­er­ly dis­closed non-pub­lic infor­ma­tion to the Clin­ton cam­paign and/or should have been recused from par­tic­i­pat­ing in cer­tain mat­ters.” Kadzik used to be the lawyer for Clin­ton cam­paign chair­man John Podes­ta, and Wik­iLeaks released hacked emails show­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions between the two men about the State Department’s review of Clin­ton emails for Free­dom of Infor­ma­tion Act pur­pos­es.

    In an inter­view, Kadzik, who said he was speak­ing in his per­son­al capac­i­ty, called the inspec­tor general’s inves­ti­ga­tion “dis­heart­en­ing.” He not­ed that the infor­ma­tion he gave Podes­ta about a hear­ing and a court doc­u­ment already was pub­lic and that it came before the FBI opened its crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Of whether he should have recused him­self from any involve­ment in that crim­i­nal probe, Kadzik said, “It’s not as if I had any deci­sion-mak­ing author­i­ty or role in the crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion.”

    Kadzik declined to say whether he would coop­er­ate with the inspec­tor general’s probe.

    “My answer is, I wish the inspec­tor gen­er­al would have talked to me first,” he said.

    Notably absent from the list of mat­ters being con­sid­ered is Attor­ney Gen­er­al Loret­ta E. Lynch’s con­tro­ver­sial meet­ing in June with for­mer pres­i­dent Clin­ton aboard her plane on the tar­mac of the Phoenix air­port. The half-hour con­ver­sa­tion, which Lynch has said she regrets, cre­at­ed the appear­ance to some that the attor­ney gen­er­al was polit­i­cal­ly com­pro­mised. Some offi­cials say it left a lead­er­ship vac­u­um and prob­a­bly prompt­ed Comey to give his con­tro­ver­sial July news con­fer­ence, at which he announced he was rec­om­mend­ing no charges for Clin­ton but crit­i­cized her and her aides as “extreme­ly care­less.”

    The tar­mac meet­ing could be encom­passed in the inves­ti­ga­tion of pos­si­ble leaks of infor­ma­tion, and Horowitz wrote that his inves­ti­ga­tors would con­sid­er “oth­er issues that may arise dur­ing the course of the review.”

    Sen. Charles E. Grass­ley (R- Iowa), chair of the Sen­ate Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee, took note of the omis­sion.

    “It’s good to hear that the Inspec­tor Gen­er­al agreed to my request to look at mul­ti­ple con­cerns that I raised through­out the inves­ti­ga­tion,” Grass­ley said in a state­ment. “Con­spic­u­ous­ly absent, though, is any spe­cif­ic ref­er­ence to the Attor­ney General’s fail­ure to recuse her­self from the probe, par­tic­u­lar­ly after her meet­ing with for­mer Pres­i­dent Clin­ton. It’s in the pub­lic inter­est to pro­vide a full account­ing of all the facts that led to the FBI and Jus­tice Department’s deci­sion-mak­ing regard­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion.”

    The inves­ti­ga­tion will be wide-rang­ing, encom­pass­ing Comey’s var­i­ous let­ters and pub­lic state­ments on the mat­ter and whether FBI or oth­er Jus­tice Depart­ment employ­ees leaked non­pub­lic infor­ma­tion, accord­ing to Inspec­tor Gen­er­al Michael E. Horowitz.”

    Yeah, it def­i­nite­ly sounds pret­ty wide-rang­ing. And that’s part of what going to make it so inter­est­ing: There’s no way this is going to be com­plet­ed before Trump is in office and there’s noth­ing stop­ping him from replac­ing the Inspec­tor Gen­er­al. Well, noth­ing oth­er than a sense of shame and a fear of look­ing cor­rupt. So, since this is Trump we’re talk­ing about, there’s basi­cal­ly noth­ing stop­ping him from replac­ing Inspec­tor Gen­er­al Horowitz.

    Although, as the arti­cle below notes, the career Jus­tice Depart­ment employ­ees can’t be replace, so it’s assumed that even if the Inspec­tor Gen­er­al is replaced with some­one else there’s noth­ing that would stop that inves­ti­ga­tion from con­tin­u­ing. But as the arti­cle also notes, if Trump acts out­ra­geous­ly enough, there’s also noth­ing pre­vent­ing a kind of “Sat­ur­day Night Mas­sacre” sce­nario involv­ing mass res­ig­na­tions from the depart­ment which would look real­ly bad. At least for a nor­mal politi­cian it would look bad. For Mr. “the Pres­i­dent can’t have a con­flict of inter­est” Trump, who knows? Maybe he would love to see mass res­ig­na­tions. We’ll unfor­tu­nate­ly find out!

    The Hill

    Cor­rect­ed — Law­mak­ers: Trump can’t stop inves­ti­ga­tion of Clin­ton email case

    By Katie Bo Williams — 01/12/17 07:21 PM EST

    CORRECTION: A pre­vi­ous ver­sion of this sto­ry mis­stat­ed Horowitz’s his­to­ry of polit­i­cal cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions. His only known polit­i­cal dona­tion is to Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D‑Colo.) cam­paign in 2010. A dif­fer­ent per­son by the same name donat­ed to Sens. Richard Blu­men­thal (D‑Conn.) and Charles Schumer (D‑N.Y.).

    A new inspec­tor gen­er­al (IG) inves­ti­ga­tion into the FBI’s con­duct lead­ing up the 2016 elec­tion is like­ly to con­tin­ue after Inau­gu­ra­tion Day, whether Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump wants it or not.

    Although the inspec­tor gen­er­al him­self, Michael E. Horowitz, is a polit­i­cal appointee, every­one beneath him is a career offi­cial.

    Trump could remove Horowitz, but law­mak­ers from both sides of the aisle say it’s unlike­ly that he would be able to halt the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    The pres­i­dent “can­not shut down a probe, that’s the whole point of the IG,” House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee chair Devin Nunes (R‑Calif.) said. “They’re sup­posed to be inde­pen­dent.”

    Trump has not yet com­ment­ed on the inves­ti­ga­tion, which is being under­tak­en by the Jus­tice Department’s IG, but has often bris­tled at actions aimed at revis­it­ing the elec­tion.

    Democ­rats dis­missed the notion that the pres­i­dent-elect would be able to shut down the inquiry, although they allowed that Trump might replace Horowitz with an IG of his choos­ing.

    “If the IG were let go, [career assis­tant IGs] would con­tin­ue their inves­ti­ga­tion. It would be almost fool­ish — that would not look good, to stop an inves­ti­ga­tion,” House Over­sight Com­mit­tee rank­ing mem­ber Eli­jah Cum­mings (D‑Md.) said.

    Incom­ing pres­i­dents have in the past allowed IGs to stay on to com­plete inves­ti­ga­tions.

    If Trump were to dis­miss Horowitz, for­mer Jus­tice Depart­ment spokesman Matthew Miller said, there would be “a Sat­ur­day night mas­sacre sit­u­a­tion.”

    “Trump could fire the inspec­tor gen­er­al, but I think that would be very unwise — you’d have mass res­ig­na­tions at the Jus­tice Depart­ment. It’s one of those fun­da­men­tal rules that the pres­i­dent does not fire peo­ple who are con­duct­ing an inves­ti­ga­tion,” said Miller, who has been an out­spo­ken crit­ic of FBI Direc­tor James Comey’s con­duct dur­ing the elec­tion.

    The wide-rang­ing inves­ti­ga­tion is being under­tak­en at the behest of both Repub­li­can and Demo­c­ra­t­ic law­mak­ers.

    It will exam­ine alle­ga­tions that Comey broke bureau pol­i­cy with his var­i­ous pub­lic dis­clo­sures regard­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into Hillary Clinton’s pri­vate email serv­er. Her cam­paign has blamed the FBI’s dis­clo­sures, and par­tic­u­lar­ly one that came in late Octo­ber, as hav­ing cost her the elec­tion.

    The inquiry will also look into Repub­li­can alle­ga­tions that FBI Deputy Direc­tor Andrew McCabe should have been recused from the case fol­low­ing reports that a Clin­ton ally donat­ed to his wife’s polit­i­cal cam­paign, and claims that DOJ con­gres­sion­al liai­son Peter Kadzik improp­er­ly pro­vid­ed infor­ma­tion to the Clin­ton cam­paign.

    But the first prong of the inves­ti­ga­tion has gar­nered by far the most atten­tion, spark­ing spec­u­la­tion that Trump may see it as an attack on the legit­i­ma­cy of his vic­to­ry.

    Horowitz is an Oba­ma appointee. He was pre­vi­ous­ly appoint­ed to a posi­tion by Pres­i­dent George W. Bush ®. Horowitz’s only known polit­i­cal dona­tion is to Sen. Michael Bennet’s (D‑Colo.) cam­paign in 2010.

    The inter­nal review will not change the out­come of the FBI’s find­ings in the Clin­ton review, Horowitz told law­mak­ers in his announce­ment.

    And the White House was quick to say on Thurs­day that it had no role in the deci­sion to open the inves­ti­ga­tion. The Trump tran­si­tion team has accused the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion of delib­er­ate­ly under­min­ing the pres­i­dent-elect on the eve of his inau­gu­ra­tion.

    “Deci­sions that are made by inspec­tors gen­er­al across the admin­is­tra­tion are inde­pen­dent,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters. “Hope­ful­ly they will fol­low the evi­dence where it leads.”

    The ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the probe are unclear. While Horowitz does have the author­i­ty to rec­om­mend a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion, he is lim­it­ed to review­ing whether Comey vio­lat­ed bureau pol­i­cy or showed poor judg­ment. There doesn’t appear to be any sug­ges­tion that Comey broke the law.

    Trump vac­il­lat­ed in his opin­ion of the FBI lead­ing up to the elec­tion. When Comey announced that he would not be rec­om­mend­ing charges against Clin­ton for mis­han­dling clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion in July, Trump exco­ri­at­ed the bureau as cor­rupt and polit­i­cal­ly moti­vat­ed.

    After Comey’s 11th-hour dis­clo­sure in late Octo­ber that inves­ti­ga­tors had uncov­ered more emails “poten­tial­ly per­ti­nent” to the inves­ti­ga­tion, Trump said he had “great respect” for the bureau.

    But he has been notably silent on whether he will keep Comey in his job after he takes office on Jan. 20. The direc­tor has sev­en years of a 10-year tenure left to serve.

    ...

    “Trump could remove Horowitz, but law­mak­ers from both sides of the aisle say it’s unlike­ly that he would be able to halt the inves­ti­ga­tion.”

    LOL, it would be “unlike­ly” that he would be able to halt the inves­ti­ga­tion. That sure sounds like it’s tech­ni­cal­ly pos­si­ble for him to do so. Uh oh.

    Although there is one big incen­tive for Trump to keep the inves­ti­ga­tion going: as an excuse to replace Comey who still has sev­er years left on his 10-year tenure assum­ing the find­ings come in neg­a­tive­ly for Comey. And that rais­es the ques­tion of who Trump would replace him with. It’s an inter­est­ing ques­tion.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 13, 2017, 7:04 pm
  42. Here’s some­thing rather notable regard­ing the reports that the FBI, along with five oth­er agen­cies, are inves­ti­gat­ing Trump’s ties to the Krem­lin: First, accord­ing to the BBC,i these agen­cies began inves­ti­gat­ing pos­si­ble Krem­lin ties after a Baltic state passed along taped con­ver­sa­tions indi­cat­ing that mon­ey was going to be flow­ing from the Krem­lin to influ­ence the US cam­paign. And this was before for­mer MI6 agent Christo­pher Steele sent his dossier to the FBI. So it will be inter­est­ing to learn if that con­ver­sa­tion was specif­i­cal­ly about hir­ing hack­ers or sim­ply donat­ing to politi­cians. Keep in mind that in the post-Cit­i­zens Unit­ed world we should­n’t expect all sorts of for­eign gov­ern­ments to plan on influ­enc­ing US elec­tions so the speci­fici­ty of the planned nature of how those funds were to be used in that alleged taped con­ver­sa­tion seems par­tic­u­lar­ly rel­e­vant now that the US opened the door to for­eign finan­cial med­dling in US elec­tions.

    But also accord­ing to a BBC report, which was report­ed­ly con­firmed by one of McClatchy’s sources in the arti­cle below, the FBI had obtained a war­rant from the For­eign Intel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Court on Octo­ber 15 to grant access to bank records and oth­er doc­u­ments so the FBI could inves­ti­gate these alleged pay­ments and mon­ey trans­fers involv­ing Rus­sia. So whether or not there real­ly was a Krem­lin plot to swing the elec­tion for Trump, it’s pret­ty sig­nif­i­cant that a FISA court actu­al­ly grant­ed that war­rant. Espe­cial­ly when you con­sid­er the very pub­lic FBI dis­cus­sion about joke re-open­ing Hillary Clin­ton’s email serv­er case on Octo­ber 27 and the com­plete silence from the FBI dur­ing that same peri­od about that FISA war­rant:

    McClatchy

    FBI, 5 oth­er agen­cies probe pos­si­ble covert Krem­lin aid to Trump

    By Peter Stone and Greg Gor­don

    McClatchy Wash­ing­ton Bureau
    Jan­u­ary 18, 2017 1:52 PM

    WASHINGTON

    The FBI and five oth­er law enforce­ment and intel­li­gence agen­cies have col­lab­o­rat­ed for months in an inves­ti­ga­tion into Russ­ian attempts to influ­ence the Novem­ber elec­tion, includ­ing whether mon­ey from the Krem­lin covert­ly aid­ed Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump, two peo­ple famil­iar with the mat­ter said.

    The agen­cies involved in the inquiry are the FBI, the CIA, the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency, the Jus­tice Depart­ment, the Trea­sury Department’s Finan­cial Crimes Enforce­ment Net­work and rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the direc­tor of nation­al intel­li­gence, the sources said.

    Inves­ti­ga­tors are exam­in­ing how mon­ey may have moved from the Krem­lin to covert­ly help Trump win, the two sources said. One of the alle­ga­tions involves whether a sys­tem for rou­tine­ly pay­ing thou­sands of Russ­ian-Amer­i­can pen­sion­ers may have been used to pay some email hack­ers in the Unit­ed States or to sup­ply mon­ey to inter­me­di­aries who would then pay the hack­ers, the two sources said.

    The infor­mal, inter-agency work­ing group began to explore pos­si­ble Russ­ian inter­fer­ence last spring, long before the FBI received infor­ma­tion from a for­mer British spy hired to devel­op polit­i­cal­ly dam­ag­ing and unver­i­fied research about Trump, accord­ing to the sources, who spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty because of the sen­si­tive nature of the inquiry.

    On Jan. 6, the direc­tor of nation­al intel­li­gence released a declas­si­fied report that con­clud­ed Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin had ordered an influ­ence cam­paign to “under­mine faith in the U.S. demo­c­ra­t­ic process,” dam­age Hillary Clinton’s elec­tion prospects and bol­ster Trump’s. The cam­paign includ­ed the hack­ing of top Democ­rats’ emails and fake news dis­trib­uted by Russ­ian sources.

    ...

    A key mis­sion of the six-agency group has been to exam­ine who financed the email hacks of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee and Clin­ton cam­paign chair­man John Podes­ta. The Lon­don-based trans­paren­cy group Wik­iLeaks released the emails last sum­mer and in Octo­ber.

    The work­ing group is scru­ti­niz­ing the activ­i­ties of a few Amer­i­cans who were affil­i­at­ed with Trump’s cam­paign or his busi­ness empire and of mul­ti­ple indi­vid­u­als from Rus­sia and oth­er for­mer Sovi­et nations who had sim­i­lar con­nec­tions, the sources said.

    U.S. intel­li­gence agen­cies not only have been unan­i­mous in blam­ing Rus­sia for the hack­ing of Democ­rats’ com­put­ers but also have con­clud­ed that the leak­ing and dis­sem­i­na­tion of thou­sands of emails of top Democ­rats, some of which caused headaches for the Clin­ton cam­paign, were done to help Trump win.

    Trump and Repub­li­can mem­bers of Con­gress have said they believe Rus­sia med­dled in the U.S. elec­tion but that those actions didn’t change the out­come. How­ev­er, Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen. Dianne Fein­stein of Cal­i­for­nia, a for­mer chair of the Sen­ate Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, said Sun­day on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that she believes that Russia’s tac­tics did alter the elec­tion result.

    The Sen­ate Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee has opened its own inves­ti­ga­tion into Russia’s involve­ment in the cam­paign. That pan­el will have sub­poe­na pow­er.

    FBI Direc­tor Comey refused at a recent Sen­ate hear­ing to com­ment on whether the bureau was inves­ti­gat­ing Russia’s hack­ing cam­paign for pos­si­ble crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tions. Spokes­peo­ple for the FBI, the Jus­tice Depart­ment and the nation­al intel­li­gence direc­tor declined to com­ment.

    The BBC report­ed last week that the joint inquiry was launched when the CIA learned last spring, through a Baltic ally, of a record­ing indi­cat­ing the Russ­ian gov­ern­ment was plan­ning to fun­nel funds aimed at influ­enc­ing the U.S. elec­tion.

    Anoth­er source of infor­ma­tion was the for­mer long­time British intel­li­gence agent, Christo­pher Steele, who was hired to gath­er oppo­si­tion research about Trump for a Repub­li­can client and lat­er a Demo­c­rat. Ear­ly last sum­mer, Steele became alarmed about infor­ma­tion he was receiv­ing from a net­work of Russ­ian sources describ­ing a web of Trump’s busi­ness rela­tion­ships with wealthy Rus­sians and alleged polit­i­cal ties to the Krem­lin, accord­ing to two peo­ple who know him. These sources also declined to be iden­ti­fied because of the sen­si­tiv­i­ty of the mat­ter.

    Steele’s reports also alleged that Russ­ian con­sulates in New York, Wash­ing­ton and Mia­mi were used to deliv­er “tens of thou­sands of dol­lars” to Krem­lin-hired oper­a­tives using fic­ti­tious names as if they were legit­i­mate Russ­ian-Amer­i­can pen­sion­ers. That “ruse” was designed to give Rus­sia “plau­si­ble deni­a­bil­i­ty,” Steele’s reports sug­gest­ed. How­ev­er, Rus­sia does not oper­ate a con­sulate in Mia­mi.

    Steele, who had worked pre­vi­ous­ly with the FBI and was well regard­ed, fed the bureau infor­ma­tion in July and Sep­tem­ber sug­gest­ing col­lu­sion between Trump asso­ciates and Moscow in the hack­ing of Demo­c­ra­t­ic com­put­ers, they said. Even­tu­al­ly, he met in Italy with an FBI offi­cial to share more infor­ma­tion alleg­ing that a top Trump cam­paign offi­cial had known about the hack­ing as ear­ly as last June, the sources said. About a month after the elec­tion, Repub­li­can Sen. John McCain of Ari­zona gave FBI Direc­tor Comey a copy of a 35-page com­pi­la­tion of Steele’s reports.

    Buz­zFeed post­ed the 35 pages of alle­ga­tions online, acknowl­edg­ing the report had obvi­ous errors and had not been cor­rob­o­rat­ed. Sev­er­al news orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing McClatchy, had the doc­u­ment ear­li­er but had resist­ed pub­lish­ing any of the alle­ga­tions because of the lack of ver­i­fi­ca­tion.

    Trump and Putin have brand­ed Steele’s dossier as “fake news.” On Jan. 11, at his only news con­fer­ence as pres­i­dent-elect, Trump dis­missed it as “non­sense” and “crap.” On Tues­day, Putin accused soon-to-depart Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials of try­ing to under­mine Trump’s “legit­i­ma­cy,” sug­gest­ing that the White House had released Steele’s dossier. The Russ­ian leader said those who had pre­pared the dossier were “worse than pros­ti­tutes.”

    Steele’s infor­ma­tion has been treat­ed as unver­i­fied intel­li­gence by the work­ing group because most of it came from pur­port­ed Krem­lin leaks and vir­tu­al­ly all of it is extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to cor­rob­o­rate, the peo­ple famil­iar with the inves­ti­ga­tion said.

    The BBC report­ed that the FBI had obtained a war­rant on Oct. 15 from the high­ly secre­tive For­eign Intel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Court allow­ing inves­ti­ga­tors access to bank records and oth­er doc­u­ments about poten­tial pay­ments and mon­ey trans­fers relat­ed to Rus­sia. One of McClatchy’s sources con­firmed the report.

    Susan Hen­nessey, a for­mer attor­ney for the Nation­al Secu­ri­ty Agency who is now a fel­low at the Brook­ings Insti­tu­tion, said she had no knowl­edge as to whether a For­eign Intel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Act war­rant had been issued in the inves­ti­ga­tion of Russ­ian influ­ence. How­ev­er, she said such war­rants were issued only if inves­ti­ga­tors could estab­lish “prob­a­ble cause” that the tar­get was a for­eign pow­er or its agent and that the sur­veil­lance was like­ly to pro­duce for­eign intel­li­gence. She said the infor­ma­tion in Steele’s dossier couldn’t have met that test.

    “If, in fact, law enforce­ment has obtained a FISA war­rant, that is an indi­ca­tion that addi­tion­al evi­dence exists out­side of the dossier,” she said.

    ...

    “The BBC report­ed that the FBI had obtained a war­rant on Oct. 15 from the high­ly secre­tive For­eign Intel­li­gence Sur­veil­lance Court allow­ing inves­ti­ga­tors access to bank records and oth­er doc­u­ments about poten­tial pay­ments and mon­ey trans­fers relat­ed to Rus­sia. One of McClatchy’s sources con­firmed the report.”

    So the FBI, which was already involved in these inves­ti­ga­tions of a pos­si­ble Krem­lin oper­a­tion to finance oper­a­tions in the US elec­tion, gets a FISA court war­rant on Octo­ber 15. And then 12 days lat­er we get the infa­mous “we’re re-open­ing Hillary’s email inves­ti­ga­tion” news. Unless the FBI was utter­ly con­vinced by Octo­ber 27 that there was noth­ing to the Trump/Kremlin the­o­ry that seems like a pret­ty out­ra­geous­ly dis­pro­por­tion­ate FBI response to these par­al­lel inves­ti­ga­tions. It’s one more odd­i­ty to add to the inspec­tor gen­er­al’s inves­ti­ga­tion of the FBI. One of many:

    The Huff­in­g­ton Post

    The Domes­tic Con­spir­a­cy That Gave Trump The Elec­tion Is In Plain Sight

    Seth Abram­son
    01/17/2017 11:19 pm ET | Updat­ed

    Infor­ma­tion present­ly pub­lic and avail­able con­firms that Erik Prince, Rudy Giu­liani, and Don­ald Trump con­spired to intim­i­date FBI Direc­tor James Comey into inter­fer­ing in, and thus direct­ly affect­ing, the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. This con­spir­a­cy was made pos­si­ble with the assis­tance of offi­cers in the New York Police Depart­ment and agents with­in the New York field office of the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion. All of the major actors in the con­spir­a­cy have already con­fessed to its par­tic­u­lars either in word or in deed; more­over, all of the major actors have pub­licly exhib­it­ed con­scious­ness of guilt after the fact. This assess­ment has already been the sub­ject of arti­cles in news out­lets on both sides of the polit­i­cal spec­trum, but has not yet received sub­stan­tial inves­ti­ga­tion by major media.

    ...

    In addi­tion to the para­graphs here, this arti­cle incor­po­rates its three pre­de­ces­sors (I, II, III).

    1. As report­ed by the New York Times, FBI Direc­tor James Comey released his now-infa­mous Octo­ber 27th let­ter in sub­stan­tial part because he had deter­mined that “word of the new emails [found on Antho­ny Weiner’s computer]...was sure to leak out.” Comey wor­ried that if the leak occurred at a time when the nature and evi­den­tiary val­ue of the “new” emails was unknown, he “risked being accused of mis­lead­ing Con­gress and the pub­lic ahead of an elec­tion.” By Octo­ber 27th, the FBI had had access to Weiner’s com­put­er—which it orig­i­nal­ly received from NYPD—since Octo­ber 3rd, dur­ing which inter­val the Bureau had both the time and IT know-how to deter­mine that the “new” emails in its pos­ses­sion were in fact dupli­cate emails from accounts already revealed to the Bureau by Clin­ton, her aide Huma Abe­din, and the State Depart­ment. How­ev­er, when Comey was briefed on the case by agents from the New York field office on Octo­ber 26th, he dis­cov­ered that not only had this IT work not been done, but in fact no war­rant to seize the full emails had been sought, no per­mis­sion to read the emails had been request­ed from coop­er­at­ing wit­ness­es Wein­er and Abe­din, and indeed noth­ing but a sum­ma­ry of the emails’ “meta-data” (non-con­tent head­er infor­ma­tion) had been pre­pared by his agents. The result of this inves­tiga­tive non­fea­sance was that Comey feared he would not be able to get a war­rant for the emails and con­firm them as dupli­cates pri­or to Elec­tion Day—a fact that would allow anti-Clin­ton ele­ments with­in NYPD and the FBI, and Trump sur­ro­gates and advis­ers with sources in these orga­ni­za­tions, to mis­char­ac­ter­ize the “new” emails in a way that would swing the elec­tion to Trump. As long as the Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tion remained open, Comey would not be able to respond to such mis­in­for­ma­tion; his only hope of keep­ing pub­lic dis­cus­sion of the “new” emails with­in the sphere of real­i­ty was to use the cov­er of a pri­or promise to Con­gress to speak pub­licly about an ongo­ing investigation—and then close that inves­ti­ga­tion in short order.

    2. The effort to intim­i­date Comey into pub­licly com­ment­ing on the Clin­ton case—a win-win sce­nario for Trump, as either a com­ment from Comey or silence from Comey (the lat­ter cou­pled with inac­cu­rate, Hatch Act-viola­tive leaks by the FBI, NYPD, and/or the Trump cam­paign) would sink Clinton—began con­cur­rent to Comey’s Octo­ber 26th brief­ing on the Clin­ton case. In an Octo­ber 25th Fox & Friends appear­ance and an Octo­ber 26th appear­ance on Fox News with Martha McCal­lum, Rudy Giu­liani, one of Trump’s clos­est advis­ers, began teas­ing an Octo­ber “sur­prise” which, Giu­liani said, would turn the tide against Hillary Clin­ton. He refused to say what the forth­com­ing sur­prise would be, but he indi­cat­ed that it would be com­ing in just a few days. Mean­while, Erik Prince—the founder of Black­wa­ter pri­vate secu­ri­ty, one of Trump’s biggest donors, a con­spir­a­cy the­o­rist who’d pre­vi­ous­ly accused Huma Abe­din of being a ter­ror­ist in the employ of the Mus­lim Broth­er­hood, and a man who blamed Clin­ton fam­i­ly friend and for­mer Clin­ton Chief of Staff Leon Panet­ta for out­ing him as a CIA asset in 2009—was posi­tion­ing him­self to play an impor­tant role. Just as Giu­liani had boast­ed on the Mark Lar­son radio pro­gram on Octo­ber 28th that he had sources with­in the FBI—active agents—who had told him of vir­u­lent anti-Clin­ton sen­ti­ment in the New York field office and an inter­nal rebel­lion against Comey’s July deci­sion not to indict Clin­ton, Prince claimed to have sources with­in the Wein­er inves­ti­ga­tion who were ille­gal­ly leak­ing infor­ma­tion to him. In Prince’s case, the sources were with­in NYPD, and the infor­ma­tion he relayed from them to Bre­it­bart News on Novem­ber 4th—when it was not yet known that Comey, the next day, would reveal the “new” Clin­ton emails to be duplicates—turned out to be almost entire­ly false. The full extent of Prince’s lies on Novem­ber 4th, all of which were Trump cam­paign dis­in­for­ma­tion deliv­ered by an advis­er and major donor to the cam­paign, are too numer­ous and spec­tac­u­lar to list here. Two brief quotes from Breitbart’s inter­view with Prince should suf­fice:

    Prince claimed he had insid­er knowl­edge of the inves­ti­ga­tion that could help explain why FBI Direc­tor James Comey had to announce he was reopen­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into Clinton’s email serv­er last week....”[NYPD] found a lot of oth­er real­ly damn­ing crim­i­nal infor­ma­tion [on Weiner’s com­put­er], includ­ing mon­ey laun­der­ing, includ­ing the fact that Hillary went to this sex island with con­vict­ed pedophile Jef­frey Epstein. Bill Clin­ton went there more than twen­ty times. Hillary Clin­ton went there at least six times,” he said. “The amount of garbage that they found in these emails, of crim­i­nal activ­i­ty by Hillary, by her imme­di­ate cir­cle, and even by oth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic mem­bers of Con­gress, was so dis­gust­ing they gave it to the FBI, and they said, ‘We’re going to go pub­lic with this if you don’t reopen the inves­ti­ga­tion and you don’t do the right thing with time­ly indict­ments,’” Prince explained. “I believe—I know, and this is from a very well-placed source of mine at One Police Plaza in New York—the NYPD want­ed to do a press con­fer­ence announc­ing the war­rants and the addi­tion­al arrests they were mak­ing in this inves­ti­ga­tion, and they’ve got­ten huge push­back, to the point of coer­cion, from the Jus­tice Depart­ment.”

    Vir­tu­al­ly all of this is untrue. Prince con­tin­ued:

    “So NYPD first gets that com­put­er. They see how dis­gust­ing it is. They keep a copy of every­thing, and they pass a copy on to the FBI, which final­ly push­es the FBI off their chairs, mak­ing Comey reopen that inves­ti­ga­tion, which was indi­cat­ed in the let­ter last week. The point being, NYPD has all the infor­ma­tion, and they will pur­sue jus­tice with­in their rights if the FBI doesn’t. There is all kinds of crim­i­nal cul­pa­bil­i­ty through all the emails they’ve seen of that 650,000, includ­ing mon­ey laun­der­ing, under­age sex, pay-for-play, and, of course, plen­ty of proof of inap­pro­pri­ate han­dling, sending/receiving of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion, up to Spe­cial Access Programs....The point being, for­tu­nate­ly, it’s not just the FBI; five dif­fer­ent offices are in the hunt for jus­tice, but the NYPD has it as well....From what I under­stand, up to the com­mis­sion­er or at least the chief lev­el in NYPD, they want­ed to have a press con­fer­ence, and DOJ, Wash­ing­ton peo­ple, polit­i­cal appointees have been exert­ing all kinds of undue pres­sure on them to back down....This kind of evil, this kind of true dirt on Hillary Clinton—look, you don’t have to make any judg­ments. Just release the emails. Just dump them. Let them out there. Let peo­ple see the light of truth.”

    Prince’s state­ments of Novem­ber 4th—whether giv­en with the knowl­edge that they were untrue or with­out any knowl­edge of their accu­ra­cy whatsoever—underscore the sort of dis­in­for­ma­tion Comey feared would be giv­en to vot­ers, and, more impor­tant­ly, believed by vot­ers, if he did not com­plete his inves­ti­ga­tion into the dupli­cate emails and announce his find­ings before Elec­tion Day. This alone explains his devi­a­tion from FBI pro­to­col pro­hibit­ing dis­cus­sion of open cas­es (and announce­ments regard­ing major inves­ti­ga­tions with­in two months of a gen­er­al elec­tion).

    3. It seems clear that Giu­liani, who was the top sur­ro­gate for the Trump cam­paign and in near-dai­ly con­tact with the can­di­date, act­ed under orders from Trump, and that Prince either act­ed under orders from Trump or Steve Bannon—well-known to Prince from their mutu­al asso­ci­a­tion with, and finan­cial invest­ment in, Bre­it­bart and its own­er­ship, includ­ing Robert Mer­cerand, more­over, that all those asso­ci­at­ed with the con­spir­a­cy were sub­se­quent­ly reward­ed. Erik Prince’s sis­ter, Bet­sy DeVos, was named Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary by Trump, despite hav­ing no expe­ri­ence for the job oth­er than advo­cat­ing spo­rad­i­cal­ly for char­ter schools in Michi­gan. Prince him­self was named a shad­ow advis­er to Trump, even though, by Novem­ber 8th, the fact that his state­ments to Bre­it­bart had been part of a domes­tic dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign was clear. Prince is so close to Trump that he appears to have been present at the elec­tion-night returns-watch­ing par­ty to which Trump invit­ed only close friends and asso­ciates; Prince’s wife post­ed pic­tures of the event. Giu­liani, orig­i­nal­ly assured a Cab­i­net posi­tion and then sep­a­rat­ed from the Trump team entirely—perhaps as pun­ish­ment for his care­less­ness on Fox News—was then giv­en a high­ly lucra­tive but sub­stance-free posi­tion with­in the admin­is­tra­tion on the same day, Jan­u­ary 12th, that the DOJ announced that the Inspec­tor Gen­er­al would be inves­ti­gat­ing the sequence of events com­pris­ing the Prince-Giu­liani-Trump con­spir­a­cy. Inspec­tor Gen­er­al Horowitz not­ed that with­in his brief was inves­ti­ga­tion of the series of leaks that occurred between the NYPD, the FBI, and out­side entities—including, we can sur­mise based on con­text, the Trump cam­paign.

    4. Both polling, poll analy­sis, and inter­net meta-data (see below) con­firm that the Comey Let­ter was suf­fi­cient to hand Trump the 77,143 com­bined votes in Wis­con­sin, Michi­gan, and Penn­syl­va­nia that won him the elec­tion. We know from the state­ments made by Giu­liani, and from numer­ous state­ments made by Trump on the cam­paign trail, that both men believed the Clin­ton email serv­er case could be lever­aged to ensure Clinton’s defeat in Novem­ber. It turns out they were cor­rect.

    5. By the time Christo­pher Steele, the for­mer head of MI6’s Rus­sia desk, dis­sem­i­nat­ed his research into Don­ald Trump’s ties with Rus­sia to Amer­i­can jour­nal­ists and the Amer­i­can intel­li­gence community—something he did, telling­ly, when he was no longer being paid for the work—he had come to believe, per The Inde­pen­dent, that “there was a cov­er-up, that a cabal with­in the Bureau blocked a thor­ough inquiry into Mr. Trump, focus­ing instead on the inves­ti­ga­tion into Hillary Clinton’s emails.” Evi­dence sub­stan­ti­at­ing this con­cern is legion: that the FBI had Steele’s mem­os as ear­ly as mid-sum­mer of 2016, after the Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tion was closed, but appeared to do no work on the case (which involved alleged trea­so­nous con­duct by the Repub­li­can nom­i­nee in col­lu­sion with a hos­tile for­eign actor) between that time and Elec­tion Day; that FBI Direc­tor Comey was intim­i­dat­ed into reveal­ing the sta­tus of the Clin­ton case on Octo­ber 27th but would not, even in the face of numer­ous alle­ga­tions of fed­er­al crimes against the pres­i­dent-elect, reveal any­thing about the Bureau’s inves­ti­ga­tion into that mat­ter; or that the Clin­ton and Wein­er inves­ti­ga­tors at NYPD and the FBI appear to have leaked repeat­ed­ly to the Trump cam­paign, yet there have been no leaks what­so­ev­er regard­ing the FBI and CIA’s ongo­ing inves­ti­ga­tion into Trump’s ties with Rus­sia. It is thus clear that bet­ter under­stand­ing the scope, pur­pose, and play­ers of the domes­tic con­spir­a­cy to elect Don­ald Trump will also shed light on how the FBI and CIA man­aged to con­duct lit­tle or no inves­ti­ga­tion of crim­i­nal alle­ga­tions expo­nen­tial­ly more seri­ous than any of those lev­eled against Hillary Clin­ton.

    “Infor­ma­tion present­ly pub­lic and avail­able con­firms that Erik Prince, Rudy Giu­liani, and Don­ald Trump con­spired to intim­i­date FBI Direc­tor James Comey into inter­fer­ing in, and thus direct­ly affect­ing, the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. This con­spir­a­cy was made pos­si­ble with the assis­tance of offi­cers in the New York Police Depart­ment and agents with­in the New York field office of the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion. All of the major actors in the con­spir­a­cy have already con­fessed to its par­tic­u­lars either in word or in deed; more­over, all of the major actors have pub­licly exhib­it­ed con­scious­ness of guilt after the fact. This assess­ment has already been the sub­ject of arti­cles in news out­lets on both sides of the polit­i­cal spec­trum, but has not yet received sub­stan­tial inves­ti­ga­tion by major media.”

    Yes, while the pub­lic isn’t in a posi­tion to ver­i­fy the var­i­ous asser­tions in the pub­lished Christophe Steele dossier or the sig­nals intel­li­gence from Baltic states that pur­port to demon­strate a covert rela­tion­ship between Trump and the Krem­lin, we’re all in a posi­tion to assess the Erik Prince/Rudy Giuliani/Trump con­spir­a­cy to influ­ence the FBI because it’s based on their pub­lic state­ments and behav­ior. It’s some­thing to keep in mind as these inves­ti­ga­tions unfold. Or col­lapse. Or get sub­vert­ed. What­ev­er hap­pens, the fact that we have a Trump/Giuliani/Prince con­spir­a­cy direct­ly relat­ed to the FBI’s inex­plic­a­ble behav­ior that is sup­port­ed by their own pub­lic state­ments and actions prob­a­bly should­n’t just fall down the mem­o­ry hole.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 19, 2017, 9:30 pm
  43. Trump just fired FBI direc­tor James Comey. Yep. For the stat­ed rea­son of how unfair he was to Hillary Clin­ton in the email inves­ti­ga­tion. That actu­al­ly hap­pened and does­n’t appear to an elab­o­rate joke:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post

    Pres­i­dent Trump fires FBI Direc­tor Comey

    By Devlin Bar­rett, Adam Entous and Philip Ruck­er
    May 9, 2017 at 9:34 PM

    Pres­i­dent Trump fired FBI Direc­tor James B. Comey on Tues­day, at the rec­om­men­da­tion of senior Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials who said he had treat­ed Hillary Clin­ton unfair­ly and in doing so dam­aged the cred­i­bil­i­ty of the FBI and the Jus­tice Depart­ment.

    The star­tling devel­op­ment comes as Comey was lead­ing a coun­ter­in­tel­li­gence inves­ti­ga­tion to deter­mine whether asso­ciates of Trump may have coor­di­nat­ed with Rus­sia to inter­fere with the U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion last year. It wasn’t imme­di­ate­ly clear how Comey’s ouster will affect the Rus­sia probe, but Democ­rats said they were con­cerned that his ouster could derail the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Ses­sions announced that Comey’s deputy, Andrew McCabe, would be the act­ing direc­tor of the FBI. As a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Trump explic­it­ly crit­i­cized Comey and McCabe for their roles in the Clin­ton probe while at oth­er points prais­ing Comey for his “guts.”

    “The pres­i­dent has accept­ed the rec­om­men­da­tion of the attor­ney gen­er­al and the deputy attor­ney gen­er­al regard­ing the dis­missal of the direc­tor of the Fed­er­al Bureau of Inves­ti­ga­tion,” press sec­re­tary Sean Spicer told reporters in the White House brief­ing room. The fir­ing is effec­tive “imme­di­ate­ly,” he said.

    Comey was in Los Ange­les on Tues­day on a recruit­ing trip.

    Offi­cials said Comey was fired because senior Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials con­clud­ed that he had vio­lat­ed Jus­tice Depart­ment prin­ci­ples and pro­ce­dures last year by pub­licly dis­cussing the inves­ti­ga­tion of Hillary Clinton’s use of a pri­vate email serv­er. Democ­rats have long argued that Comey’s deci­sions in the months and days before the elec­tion hurt Clinton’s stand­ing with vot­ers and affect­ed the out­come, but the pres­i­dent and his clos­est advis­ers had argued that Comey went too easy on Clin­ton and her aides.

    Just last week, Trump pub­licly accused Comey of giv­ing Clin­ton “a free pass for many bad deeds’’ when he decid­ed not to rec­om­mend crim­i­nal charges in the case.

    Offi­cials released a Tues­day memo from the deputy attor­ney gen­er­al, Rod Rosen­stein, lay­ing out the ratio­nale behind Comey’s dis­missal and attribut­ing it all to his han­dling of the Clin­ton case. Offi­cials said Rosen­stein began exam­in­ing Comey’s con­duct short­ly after being sworn into office two weeks ago.

    “The FBI’s rep­u­ta­tion and cred­i­bil­i­ty have suf­fered sub­stan­tial dam­age, and it has affect­ed the entire Depart­ment of Jus­tice,” Rosen­stein wrote. “I can­not defend the director’s han­dling of the con­clu­sion of the inves­ti­ga­tion of Sec­re­tary Clinton’s emails, and I do not under­stand his refusal to accept the near­ly uni­ver­sal judg­ment that he was mis­tak­en. Almost every­one agrees that the direc­tor made seri­ous mis­takes; it is one of the few issues that unites peo­ple of diverse per­spec­tives.”

    Democ­rats skep­ti­cal

    But Democ­rats imme­di­ate­ly linked the dis­missal to the Rus­sia probe.

    “The deci­sion by a Pres­i­dent whose cam­paign asso­ciates are under inves­ti­ga­tion by the FBI for col­lu­sion with Rus­sia to fire the man over­see­ing that inves­ti­ga­tion, upon the rec­om­men­da­tion of an Attor­ney Gen­er­al who has recused him­self from that inves­ti­ga­tion, rais­es pro­found ques­tions about whether the White House is brazen­ly inter­fer­ing in a crim­i­nal mat­ter,” Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the rank­ing Demo­c­rat on the House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, said in a state­ment. The House com­mit­tee is look­ing into Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in the elec­tion.

    Some Repub­li­cans were also con­cerned. “I am trou­bled by the tim­ing and rea­son­ing of Direc­tor Comey’s ter­mi­na­tion,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R‑N.C.), head of the Sen­ate Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, which is also exam­in­ing Russ­ian med­dling. “I have found Direc­tor Comey to be a pub­lic ser­vant of the high­est order, and his dis­missal fur­ther con­fus­es an already dif­fi­cult inves­ti­ga­tion by the Com­mit­tee.”

    There were mul­ti­ple calls by Democ­rats on Tues­day night for the appoint­ment of a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor to lead the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion and take the mat­ter out of the hands of Jus­tice Depart­ment lead­er­ship.

    Rosen­stein wrote in the memo that when Comey announced on July 5 that he had decid­ed not to rec­om­mend charges in the Clin­ton case, he did so “with­out the autho­riza­tion of duly appoint­ed Jus­tice Depart­ment lead­ers. Com­pound­ing the error, the direc­tor ignored anoth­er long­stand­ing prin­ci­ple: we do not hold press con­fer­ences to release deroga­to­ry infor­ma­tion about the sub­ject of a declined crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion ... we nev­er release it gra­tu­itous­ly ... It is a text­book exam­ple of what fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors and agents are taught not to do.”

    Rosen­stein was also crit­i­cal of Comey’s deci­sion to reveal in late Octo­ber that the Clin­ton email probe had resumed, and he dis­missed the FBI director’s recent defense to Con­gress that not doing so would have effec­tive­ly been to “con­ceal” impor­tant infor­ma­tion.

    “‘Con­ceal’ is a loaded term that mis­states the issue,” Rosen­stein wrote. “When fed­er­al agents and pros­e­cu­tors qui­et­ly open a crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tion, we are not con­ceal­ing any­thing; we are sim­ply fol­low­ing the long­stand­ing pol­i­cy that we refrain from pub­li­ciz­ing non-pub­lic infor­ma­tion. In that con­text, silence is not con­ceal­ment.”

    In a let­ter to Trump, Ses­sions said that he agreed Comey had to go.

    “I have con­clud­ed that a fresh start is need­ed at the lead­er­ship of the FBI,’’ Ses­sions wrote. “I must rec­om­mend that you remove Direc­tor James B. Comey, Jr. and iden­ti­fy an expe­ri­enced and qual­i­fied indi­vid­ual to lead the great men and women of the FBI.’’

    But in Octo­ber — when Ses­sions was a sen­a­tor sup­port­ing Trump, and Comey revealed less than two weeks before the elec­tion that he had reopened the inves­ti­ga­tion into Clinton’s use of a pri­vate email serv­er — Ses­sions applaud­ed the deci­sion in an appear­ance on Fox Busi­ness Net­work.

    “He had an absolute duty, in my opin­ion, 11 days or not, to come for­ward with the new infor­ma­tion that he has and let the Amer­i­can peo­ple know that, too,” Ses­sions said at the time.

    Noth­ing in the Rosen­stein memo sug­gests that the Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tion will be reopened.

    Tues­day after­noon, White House aide Kei­th Schiller, who has long served Trump as a body­guard, vis­it­ed FBI head­quar­ters to hand-deliv­er Trump’s dis­missal let­ter to Comey’s office, although the direc­tor wasn’t there to receive it, offi­cials said.

    Trump wrote to Comey: “You are here­by ter­mi­nat­ed and removed from office, effec­tive imme­di­ate­ly.’’

    The pres­i­dent added: “While I great­ly appre­ci­ate you inform­ing me, on three sep­a­rate occa­sions, that I am not under inves­ti­ga­tion, I nev­er­the­less con­cur with the judg­ment of the Depart­ment of Jus­tice that you are not able to effec­tive­ly lead the Bureau.’’

    ...

    The senior Demo­c­rat on the House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee, Rep. John Cony­ers Jr. (Mich.), how­ev­er, com­pared Tuesday’s devel­op­ments to the Water­gate scan­dal and said the actions “reek of a coverup and appear to be part of an ongo­ing effort by the Trump White House to impede the inves­ti­ga­tion into Russ­ian ties and inter­fer­ence in our elec­tions.’’

    Over the past two years, Comey had assumed an extra­or­di­nary role in Wash­ing­ton — over­see­ing not one, but two inves­ti­ga­tions involv­ing pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates. In some ways, that made him more pow­er­ful than the Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials to whom he report­ed.

    After Clin­ton lost to Trump, many Democ­rats blamed Comey for what they viewed as his unprece­dent­ed inter­fer­ence in the elec­tion process, but most lat­er came to see him as an inde­pen­dent fig­ure in the Trump admin­is­tra­tion who would be crit­i­cal to a fair and thor­ough inves­ti­ga­tion of any pos­si­ble ties between Rus­sia and Trump asso­ciates.

    Strains over leak cas­es

    Sev­er­al cur­rent and for­mer offi­cials said the rela­tion­ship between the White House and the FBI had been strained for months, in part because admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials were pres­sur­ing Comey to more aggres­sive­ly pur­sue leak inves­ti­ga­tions over dis­clo­sures that embar­rassed the White House and raised ques­tions about ties with Rus­sia.

    That pres­sure was described as con­ver­sa­tion­al chal­lenges to FBI lead­er­ship to pur­sue the source of leaks seen as dam­ag­ing to the admin­is­tra­tion, the offi­cials said, speak­ing on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty to dis­cuss inter­nal delib­er­a­tions. Although the FBI is inves­ti­gat­ing dis­clo­sures of clas­si­fied infor­ma­tion, the bureau has resist­ed calls to pri­or­i­tize leak inves­ti­ga­tions over the Rus­sia mat­ter, or probe mat­ters that did not involve leaks of clas­si­fied or oth­er­wise sen­si­tive infor­ma­tion, the offi­cials said.

    “The admin­is­tra­tion has been putting pres­sure on the FBI to focus more on the leaks and weren’t sat­is­fied with the results,’’ said a for­mer senior U.S. offi­cial famil­iar with the mat­ter. A cur­rent offi­cial said admin­is­tra­tion fig­ures have been “very aggres­sive’’ in pres­sur­ing the FBI.

    The Jus­tice Depart­ment inspec­tor gen­er­al has been inves­ti­gat­ing how Comey and his top deputy han­dled the Clin­ton probe, though that inves­ti­ga­tion is expect­ed to con­tin­ue for months.

    Short­ly before the announce­ment, the FBI noti­fied Con­gress by let­ter that Comey had mis­stat­ed key find­ings involv­ing the Clin­ton email inves­ti­ga­tion dur­ing tes­ti­mo­ny last week, but noth­ing about that issue sug­gest­ed it might imper­il Comey’s job.

    Offi­cials said Comey was fired because senior Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials con­clud­ed that he had vio­lat­ed Jus­tice Depart­ment prin­ci­ples and pro­ce­dures last year by pub­licly dis­cussing the inves­ti­ga­tion of Hillary Clinton’s use of a pri­vate email serv­er. Democ­rats have long argued that Comey’s deci­sions in the months and days before the elec­tion hurt Clinton’s stand­ing with vot­ers and affect­ed the out­come, but the pres­i­dent and his clos­est advis­ers had argued that Comey went too easy on Clin­ton and her aides.”

    Comey gets fired for abus­ing Hillary dur­ing her pri­vate email serv­er inves­ti­ga­tions. It’s one hel­lu­va twist in our Trumpian hur­ri­cane of mad­ness. A rather bizarre twist giv­en how com­plete­ly implau­si­ble it is that the Trump admin­is­tra­tion would fire Comey over that. Sure, there’s a com­pelling case that could be made that Comey real­ly did mis­han­dle Hillary’s email inves­ti­ga­tion to such a degree that he should go, but there’s a far more com­pelling case that there is no way in hell the Trump admin­is­tra­tion would use that as its rea­son for the fir­ing which is part of what made the deci­sion to fire Comey over Hillary’s email inves­ti­ga­tion so puz­zling: Even if Rosen­stein fired Comey for the right rea­sons there no rea­son to believe that those were the real rea­sons the Trump admin­is­tra­tion actu­al­ly had to do this. It’s just too implau­si­ble. And yet one day after for­mer act­ing Attor­ney Gen­er­al Sal­ly Yates gives a tes­ti­mo­ny where she states that the jus­ti­fy depart­ment warned Trump that Michael Fly­nn could be a poten­tial black­mail risk, the Trump team goes ahead with an implau­si­bly goofy fir­ing that just makes Trump look incred­i­bly des­per­ate. It’s just blind­ing­ly hor­ri­ble optics.

    Still, it’s worth not­ing that there’s one aspect of this fir­ing that did at least have non-hor­ri­ble optics: the Deputy Attor­ney Gen­er­al who wrote the let­ter giv­ing a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for Comey’s fir­ing and detail­ing his mis­han­dling of Hillary’s email inves­ti­ga­tion is gen­er­al­ly seen a non-par­ti­san straight-arrow and was appoint­ed to his cur­rent post just a cou­ple weeks ago on a 94–6 vote in the Sen­ate:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    DC

    Meet The Long­time Fed­er­al Pros­e­cu­tor At The Cen­ter Of Comey’s Fir­ing

    By Alle­gra Kirk­land
    Pub­lished May 9, 2017 8:45 pm

    Some Demo­c­ra­t­ic law­mak­ers and legal observers sug­gest­ed Tues­day that Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump may have abused his office in abrupt­ly fir­ing FBI Direc­tor James Comey, who was in the midst of inves­ti­gat­ing poten­tial col­lu­sion between mem­bers of Trump’s inner cir­cle and Russ­ian oper­a­tives inter­fer­ing in the U.S. elec­tion.

    Yet Comey’s dis­missal was prompt­ed by a rec­om­men­da­tion from Deputy Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rod Rosen­stein, a career Jus­tice Depart­ment attor­ney with a straight-and-nar­row rep­u­ta­tion.

    Trump wrote to Comey that he con­curred “with the judg­ment of the Depart­ment of Jus­tice that you are not able to effec­tive­ly lead the Bureau,” cit­ing let­ters from both Rosen­stein and Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Ses­sions.

    Ses­sions’ let­ter was just one para­graph long. Rosen­stein, who was only con­firmed on April 25, put forth a three-page, in-depth mem­o­ran­dum detail­ing the “sub­stan­tial dam­age” he said Comey did to the FBI’s “rep­u­ta­tion and cred­i­bil­i­ty” with his han­dling of the inves­ti­ga­tion into Hillary Clinton’s use of a pri­vate email serv­er as sec­re­tary of state.

    This was the bulk of Rosenstein’s case—a sur­pris­ing one for the Trump admin­is­tra­tion to make, giv­en the President’s past praise for Comey air­ing details of the Clin­ton email serv­er probe in pub­lic press con­fer­ences on July 5 and Oct. 28.

    “The way the Direc­tor han­dled the con­clu­sion of the email inves­ti­ga­tion was wrong,” Rosen­stein wrote. “As a result, the FBI is unlike­ly to regain pub­lic and con­gres­sion­al trust until it has a Direc­tor who under­stands the grav­i­ty of the mis­takes and pledges nev­er to repeat them.”

    The New York Times and CNN report­ed that senior offi­cials at the White House and DOJ had been instruct­ed to spend the last week find­ing a rea­son to ter­mi­nate Comey. But Rosenstein’s back­ground as a long­time, deeply respect­ed fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tor offers some cov­er to the Trump admin­is­tra­tion. He has worked in high-lev­el posts in the admin­is­tra­tions of for­mer pres­i­dents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clin­ton, George W. Bush and Barack Oba­ma, most recent­ly serv­ing as the U.S. attor­ney for Mary­land.

    First nom­i­nat­ed in Jan­u­ary, Rosen­stein was con­firmed by the Sen­ate only two weeks ago in a 94–6 vote.

    Because Ses­sions’ close ties to the Trump cam­paign forced him to recuse him­self from the inves­ti­ga­tion into Russia’s elec­tion med­dling, Rosen­stein will han­dle all Rus­sia-relat­ed (or Trump cam­paign-relat­ed) mat­ters in his role.

    He was crit­i­cized by Democ­rats dur­ing his con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings for refus­ing to com­mit to appoint­ing a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor to lead an inde­pen­dent inves­ti­ga­tion on Rus­sia, say­ing he first need­ed to learn “the infor­ma­tion that they know.”

    A num­ber of Demo­c­ra­t­ic and Repub­li­can law­mak­ers, includ­ing Sen­ate Minor­i­ty Leader Chuck Schumer (D‑NY), said Tues­day that Comey’s fir­ing made an inde­pen­dent probe all the more urgent.

    ...

    “Yet Comey’s dis­missal was prompt­ed by a rec­om­men­da­tion from Deputy Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rod Rosen­stein, a career Jus­tice Depart­ment attor­ney with a straight-and-nar­row rep­u­ta­tion.”

    And that’s part of what’s so bizarre about this whole thing: the most cred­i­ble aspect of this fir­ing is the argu­ment laid out by Rosen­stein on how unfair Comey was to Hillary in the email inves­ti­ga­tion. That’s it. Pret­ty much every­thing else just makes Trump look like a guy with some­thing to hide.

    And then note this oth­er angle: there are already reports that Trump instruct­ed senior White House and DOJ offi­cials to come up with a rea­son to ter­mi­nate Comey last week:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Edi­tor’s Blog

    Trump Asked DOJ for a Ratio­nale

    By Josh Mar­shall
    Pub­lished May 9, 2017 7:04 pm

    Just a few moments ago Jeff Zele­ny report­ed on CNN (rush tran­script) that the Pres­i­dent start­ed dis­cussing fir­ing Comey a week ago and then asked DOJ to come up with a “ratio­nale” for the fir­ing. Tran­script after the jump …

    This was a very close­ly kept cred­it at the White House. I’m told only a hand­ful of top advi­sories knew this was com­ing. I am told just moments ago that the Pres­i­dent him­self has been con­sid­er­ing this, been think­ing about this for at least a week. Did not nec­es­sar­i­ly have the ratio­nale when they first start­ed talk­ing about this but then asked the Attor­ney Gen­er­al and the Deputy Attor­ney Gen­er­al to look for that ratio­nale and that expla­na­tion. And that is what we got this after­noon. The tim­ing of this, of course, so inter­est­ing, Erin because the Russ­ian inves­ti­ga­tion front and cen­ter, it is one of the things that aggra­vates this pres­i­dent more than any­thing at all.

    ...

    “This was a very close­ly kept cred­it at the White House. I’m told only a hand­ful of top advi­sories knew this was com­ing. I am told just moments ago that the Pres­i­dent him­self has been con­sid­er­ing this, been think­ing about this for at least a week. Did not nec­es­sar­i­ly have the ratio­nale when they first start­ed talk­ing about this but then asked the Attor­ney Gen­er­al and the Deputy Attor­ney Gen­er­al to look for that ratio­nale and that expla­na­tion. And that is what we got this after­noon. The tim­ing of this, of course, so inter­est­ing, Erin because the Russ­ian inves­ti­ga­tion front and cen­ter, it is one of the things that aggra­vates this pres­i­dent more than any­thing at all.”

    So Trump decides Comey has to go and a week lat­er they come up with the most laugh­able rea­son to fire Comey they pos­si­bly could have. A rea­son that imme­di­ate­ly rais­es the ques­tion, “ok, what’s the real rea­son they’re going this?” Which, in turn, rais­es the ques­tion of why they would do some­thing so polit­i­cal­ly charged in such a trag­i­cal­ly bizarre man­ner that imme­di­ate­ly rais­es the ques­tion of why they did it? Des­per­a­tion isn’t a great look.

    And that’s just the big ques­tion raised by all this. There’s also all the oth­er ques­tions raised by this like who on Earth they’re going to find to replace Comey. It’s not remote­ly obvi­ous. Jared’s plate seem a lit­tle full at the moment. Ivan­ka, per­haps?

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | May 9, 2017, 7:14 pm
  44. Here’s a rather inter­est­ing twist to Don­na Brazile’s bomb­shell rev­e­la­tion from an excerpt in her upcom­ing book about the 2016 elec­tion that was just pub­lished in Politi­co claim­ing that the DNC was basi­cal­ly owned by Hillary Clin­ton’s cam­paign in 2015 after the Clin­ton cam­paign bailed out the DNC for $26 mil­lion in 2015: Brazile — who took over the DNC in July of 2016 after Deb­bie Wasser­man Schultz stepped down — bases her claims on a par­tic­u­lar doc­u­ment she says she found while inves­ti­gat­ing the ques­tion of whether or not the pri­ma­ry was “rigged”. The doc­u­ment is described as fol­lows:

    The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the for­mer CEO of the DNC, and Rob­by Mook with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for rais­ing mon­ey and invest­ing in the DNC, Hillary would con­trol the party’s finances, strat­e­gy, and all the mon­ey raised. Her cam­paign had the right of refusal of who would be the par­ty com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor, and it would make final deci­sions on all the oth­er staff. The DNC also was required to con­sult with the cam­paign about all oth­er staffing, bud­get­ing, data, ana­lyt­ics, and mail­ings.

    It sounds pret­ty damn­ing, but there’s a catch. Josh Mar­shall points us to a doc­u­ment that appears to be that doc­u­ment in the Wik­ileaks cache of John Podesta’s emails and there’s absolute­ly no ref­er­ence to such an agree­ment. It’s quite a twist:

    Talk­ing Points Memo
    Edi­tor’s Blog

    Don­na Brazile Needs to Back Up Her Self-Serv­ing Claims

    By Josh Mar­shall
    Pub­lished Novem­ber 3, 2017 12:15 pm

    I have always had a great deal of respect for Don­na Brazile. And I have tried to keep to a long time prin­ci­ple of not revis­ing my view of a per­son sim­ply because they do some­thing I dis­agree with. I was stunned when I first read Brazile’s piece in Politi­co. But now hav­ing read it over a few times, I have a hard time not con­clud­ing that she’s done a seri­ous dis­ser­vice to the his­tor­i­cal record and to all Democ­rats. Why this is the case, I tru­ly don’t know. And there may be more facts to emerge that I’m not yet aware of. But here’s why I think this.

    Brazile claims that the Clin­ton cam­paign and the DNC entered into a joint fundrais­ing agree­ment in 2015 which gave her cam­paign con­trol of the DNC long before she was the nom­i­nee – abil­i­ty to sign off on mes­sag­ing, hir­ing etc. If that’s true, that is def­i­nite­ly not kosher. The par­ty is sup­posed to be for­mal­ly neu­tral while a pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry is going on.

    Whether this is actu­al­ly true is not real­ly clear to me. The exis­tence of this joint fundrais­ing agree­ment was pub­lic at the time. As NBC’s Mark Mur­ray notes here, Sanders also had such an agree­ment with the DNC. The key dif­fer­ence is that he didn’t end up rais­ing mon­ey through it while Clin­ton did. There are lots of rea­sons why this may have been the case, all rea­son­able, all tied to dif­fer­ent cam­paign strate­gies, dif­fer­ent fundrais­ing bases, etc.

    (David Gra­ham has a gen­er­al look at Brazile’s sto­ry and ques­tions it rais­es. I strong­ly rec­om­mend it.)

    But Brazile makes very spe­cif­ic alle­ga­tions about the Clinton/DNC agree­ment.

    The agreement—signed by Amy Dacey, the for­mer CEO of the DNC, and Rob­by Mook with a copy to Marc Elias—specified that in exchange for rais­ing mon­ey and invest­ing in the DNC, Hillary would con­trol the party’s finances, strat­e­gy, and all the mon­ey raised. Her cam­paign had the right of refusal of who would be the par­ty com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor, and it would make final deci­sions on all the oth­er staff. The DNC also was required to con­sult with the cam­paign about all oth­er staffing, bud­get­ing, data, ana­lyt­ics, and mail­ings.

    There is what at least appears to be a draft of the agree­ment in the Wik­ileaks Podes­ta cache of all places and from what I can tell it doesn’t include any of this. It’s just a bare­bones doc­u­ment going over fund­ing allo­ca­tions, legal mat­ters, report­ing and so forth. Again, that ver­sion is just a draft. The final copy could def­i­nite­ly have includ­ed oth­er cod­i­cils or side agree­ments. It’s pos­si­ble I’m mis­in­ter­pret­ing the doc­u­ment. I’d ask cam­paign types to take a look.

    Now, that’s the legal for­mal­i­ties. In prac­tice, if the DNC was broke and it’s only sig­nif­i­cant source of mon­ey was mon­ey the Clin­ton cam­paign was rais­ing for it that would have undoubt­ed­ly giv­en the cam­paign a huge amount of pull in prac­tice. But that’s very dif­fer­ent from what Brazile says – a for­mal deal. At a min­i­mum, we need to see the offi­cial agree­ment and these pro­vi­sions Brazile is talk­ing about.

    In any case, I think even these details are large­ly beside the point. Read Brazile’s sto­ry, which is excerpt­ed from a forth­com­ing book. She presents her­self as hav­ing promised to Sanders to get to the bot­tom of whether the pri­maries had been “rigged”. With great dra­ma, she describes learn­ing that it, in fact, had been rigged. The agree­ment was a “can­cer” in the par­ty.

    Here’s her descrip­tion of reach­ing out to Sanders …

    I had to keep my promise to Bernie. I was in agony as I dialed him. Keep­ing this secret was against every­thing that I stood for, all that I val­ued as a woman and as a pub­lic ser­vant.

    “Hel­lo, sen­a­tor. I’ve com­plet­ed my review of the DNC and I did find the can­cer,” I said. “But I will not kill the patient.”

    I dis­cussed the fundrais­ing agree­ment that each of the can­di­dates had signed. Bernie was famil­iar with it, but he and his staff ignored it. They had their own way of rais­ing mon­ey through small dona­tions. I described how Hillary’s cam­paign had tak­en it anoth­er step.

    I told Bernie I had found Hillary’s Joint Fundrais­ing Agree­ment. I explained that the can­cer was that she had exert­ed this con­trol of the par­ty long before she became its nom­i­nee. Had I known this, I nev­er would have accept­ed the inter­im chair posi­tion, but here we were with only weeks before the elec­tion.

    Bernie took this sto­ical­ly. He did not yell or express out­rage. Instead he asked me what I thought Hillary’s chances were. The polls were unan­i­mous in her win­ning but what, he want­ed to know, was my own assess­ment?

    As I wrote above, it’s not clear to me that the descrip­tion of the joint fundrais­ing agree­ment is accu­rate. Even if it is, accu­rate, “rigged” is a high­ly, high­ly loaded word. It slices into the heart of the divi­sions cur­rent­ly tear­ing at the Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty. But we watched the 2016 pri­maries unfold in real time. What did the DNC do to rig the pri­maries? We hear a lot about sched­ul­ing pri­ma­ry debates on Sat­ur­days. But c’mon. If pri­ma­ry debate sched­ul­ing – which was even­tu­al­ly tossed aside in any case – was enough to defeat Sanders that’s a pret­ty sad com­men­tary. Clin­ton was the estab­lish­ment can­di­date. It’s no secret that Wasser­man-Schultz favored Clin­ton over Sanders. The party’s estab­lish­ment and appa­ra­tus were more sup­port­ive of her. We know that. That’s what it means to be the ‘estab­lish­ment can­di­date’. But did she or the DNC do things that made it impos­si­ble for Sanders to win or even made it any hard­er for him to win? I see no evi­dence of that.

    If this were a ques­tion of whether Wasser­man-Schultz should stay on as DNC chair that would be anoth­er mat­ter. She was ter­ri­ble at it. She’s no longer run­ning it. If this were a mat­ter of Clin­ton being the nom­i­nee again … she’s not. That’s not going to hap­pen. I know many peo­ple are deeply devot­ed to her and her cam­paign. My feel­ings are more ambiva­lent. But I think she was cheat­ed in many ways. What’s most rel­e­vant though is that it is in the past. “Rig­ging” an elec­tion isn’t a tech­ni­cal term. It is total and inflam­ma­to­ry. It means an elec­tion was com­pro­mised, that peo­ple were cheat­ed. If that hap­pened, we need to know. But I see no evi­dence that hap­pened. Indeed, it’s not entire­ly clear to me that even the descrip­tion of the fund­ing arrange­ment is accu­rate, though it may turn out to be. It is in the nature of insur­gent can­di­da­cies to claim the ‘estab­lish­ment’ is against them. They’re often right. That’s what an insur­gent can­di­da­cy is. Cheat­ing and claims of cheat­ing are poi­so­nous. It is to no Democrat’s true advan­tage to make such claims. But the rea­son not to make them is that they’re not true. At least there’s no evi­dence of it that has been pro­vid­ed.

    Whether or not Clin­ton should have won the Demo­c­ra­t­ic pri­ma­ry, she did. It wasn’t rigged. She had lots of advan­tages from sim­ply being the estab­lish­ment can­di­date, from long rela­tion­ships with Democ­rats around the coun­try, endorse­ments, promis­es and more. But she had all that and more in 2008 and lost to Barack Oba­ma. She won because she got more votes. Indeed, Sanders relied (just as Oba­ma did) dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly on cau­cus­es where vot­ing mat­ters less than it does in pri­maries. The rel­e­vant point is that the Demo­c­ra­t­ic par­ty needs uni­ty to com­bat the dan­gers and dam­age of Trump­ism. False accu­sa­tions are always bad but they are par­tic­u­lar­ly bad when their imme­di­ate effects are so poten­tial­ly dam­ag­ing. That’s the case here.

    ...

    ———-

    “Don­na Brazile Needs to Back Up Her Self-Serv­ing Claims” by Josh Mar­shall; Talk­ing Points Memo; 11/03/2017

    “There is what at least appears to be a draft of the agree­ment in the Wik­ileaks Podes­ta cache of all places and from what I can tell it doesn’t include any of this. It’s just a bare­bones doc­u­ment going over fund­ing allo­ca­tions, legal mat­ters, report­ing and so forth. Again, that ver­sion is just a draft. The final copy could def­i­nite­ly have includ­ed oth­er cod­i­cils or side agree­ments. It’s pos­si­ble I’m mis­in­ter­pret­ing the doc­u­ment. I’d ask cam­paign types to take a look.”

    Note that while this Podes­ta leaks doc­u­ment is described as a draft of the doc­u­ment, the file­name is “Joint Fundrais­ing Agree­ment (HVF) FINAL.docx”. So if it’s a draft with “FINAL” in the name but with­out any of the text Brazile alleged­ly found that would imply a pret­ty sub­stan­tial set of revi­sions to this ‘FINAL’ doc­u­ment, although it’s not at all incon­ceiv­able that there were a num­ber of ‘final’ ver­sions of this doc­u­ment. That hap­pens. Still, it appears the incrim­i­nat­ing doc­u­ment real­ly is in the Podes­ta leaks and it does­n’t con­tain what Brazile claims it con­tained.

    While it would­n’t be total­ly stun­ning if an infor­mal hand­shake agree­ment of this nature was made between the Clin­ton cam­paign and DNC after team Clin­ton hand­ed over $26 mil­lion it was be rather amaz­ing if they were crazy enough to put some­thing like that in writ­ing. But this is what Brazile claimed so it’s going to be pret­ty inter­est­ing to see if the final ‘final’ doc­u­ment is even­tu­al­ly revealed.

    And in oth­er news, Pres­i­dent Trump is demand­ing that the FBI inves­ti­gate Brazile’s alle­ga­tions. Because of course he is.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 3, 2017, 2:19 pm
  45. Well, it looks like the mys­tery memo Don­na Brazile wrote about has been obtained by NBC News. And, sur­prise sur­prise, it does­n’t appear to be remote­ly like what Brazile described.

    Yes, the agree­ment stip­u­lat­ed that the DNC would select a com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor from “one of two can­di­dates pre­vi­ous­ly iden­ti­fied as accept­able to HFA,” by Sep­tem­ber 11, 2015 (months before the pri­maries began), for the pur­pose of prepar­ing for the gen­er­al elec­tion. The memo also said the DNC main­tained “the author­i­ty to make the final deci­sion” on senior staff in the com­mu­ni­ca­tions, tech­nol­o­gy and research depart­ments, although the par­ty orga­ni­za­tion said it would choose “between can­di­dates accept­able to HFA.” But it also explic­it­ly stat­ed that the DNC was free to engage in sim­i­lar con­tracts with oth­er can­di­dates. In oth­er words, it was an agree­ment that to give the Clin­ton cam­paign and oth­er cam­paigns a kind of veto pow­er over some of the staffing deci­sions. Which is not remote­ly ‘rig­ging’ the pri­maries:

    NBC News

    Memo Reveals Details of Hillary Clin­ton-DNC Deal

    by Alex Seitz-Wald
    Nov 3 2017, 7:14 pm ET

    WASHINGTON — The Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee struck a deal with Hillary Clin­ton in 2015 that gave her cam­paign input on some par­ty hir­ing and spend­ing deci­sions, but required they be relat­ed only to prepa­ra­tions for the gen­er­al elec­tion, accord­ing to a memo obtained by NBC News. It also left the door open for oth­er can­di­dates to make sim­i­lar arrange­ments..

    The doc­u­ment pro­vides more con­text to the explo­sive claims made by for­mer DNC Inter­im Chair Don­na Brazile in a forth­com­ing book, an excerpt of which was pub­lished this week.

    The August 26, 2015, mem­o­ran­dum of under­stand­ing from Clin­ton cam­paign man­ag­er Rob­by Mook to DNC CEO Amy Dacey details the rela­tion­ship between Clin­ton’s cam­paign and the DNC long before she won her par­ty’s nom­i­na­tion.

    In exchange for Hillary for Amer­i­ca’s (HFA) help­ing the cash-strapped DNC raise mon­ey, the par­ty com­mit­tee agreed “that HFA per­son­nel will be con­sult­ed and have joint author­i­ty over strate­gic deci­sions over the staffing, bud­get, expen­di­tures, and gen­er­al elec­tion relat­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions, data, tech­nol­o­gy, ana­lyt­ics, and research.”

    Read: The full Clin­ton-DNC memo here

    Specif­i­cal­ly, the DNC agreed to hire a com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor from “one of two can­di­dates pre­vi­ous­ly iden­ti­fied as accept­able to HFA.” And while the DNC main­tained “the author­i­ty to make the final deci­sion” on senior staff in the com­mu­ni­ca­tions, tech­nol­o­gy and research depart­ments, the par­ty orga­ni­za­tion said it would choose “between can­di­dates accept­able to HFA.”

    The memo stip­u­lates the DNC had to hire a com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor by Sep­tem­ber 11, 2015, months before the first nom­i­nat­ing con­tests in ear­ly 2016.

    How­ev­er, the memo also made clear that the arrange­ment per­tained to only the gen­er­al elec­tion, not the pri­ma­ry sea­son, and it left open the pos­si­bil­i­ty that it would sign sim­i­lar agree­ments with oth­er can­di­dates.

    Still, it clear­ly allowed the Clin­ton cam­paign to influ­ence DNC deci­sions made dur­ing an active pri­ma­ry, even if intend­ed for prepa­ra­tions lat­er.

    “Noth­ing in this agree­ment shall be con­strued to vio­late the DNC’s oblig­a­tion of impar­tial­i­ty and neu­tral­i­ty through the Nom­i­nat­ing process. All activ­i­ties per­formed under this agree­ment will be focused exclu­sive­ly on prepa­ra­tions for the Gen­er­al Elec­tion and not the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Pri­ma­ry,” the memo states.

    “Fur­ther we under­stand you may enter into sim­i­lar agree­ments with oth­er can­di­dates,” it con­tin­ues.

    The Clin­ton cam­paign agreed to make an ini­tial pay­ment of $1.2 mil­lion to DNC, which was crip­pled by debt at the time, as well as pro­vid­ing a month­ly allowance and oth­er funds. The agree­ment appears intend­ed to give the cam­paign over­sight over how its mon­ey was spent.

    The agree­ment sup­ple­ment­ed a sep­a­rate Clin­ton-DNC stan­dard joint fundrais­ing agree­ment, which was first report­ed over a year and a half ago, but gained new atten­tion this week with Brazile’s book.

    ...

    The Sanders’ cam­paign lat­er signed its own joint fundrais­ing agree­ment with the DNC, but did not uti­lize it.

    ———-

    “Memo Reveals Details of Hillary Clin­ton-DNC Deal” by Alex Seitz-Wald; NBC News; 11/03/2017

    “In exchange for Hillary for Amer­i­ca’s (HFA) help­ing the cash-strapped DNC raise mon­ey, the par­ty com­mit­tee agreed “that HFA per­son­nel will be con­sult­ed and have joint author­i­ty over strate­gic deci­sions over the staffing, bud­get, expen­di­tures, and gen­er­al elec­tion relat­ed com­mu­ni­ca­tions, data, tech­nol­o­gy, ana­lyt­ics, and research.””

    Joint author­i­ty. That’s what the memo lays out. And who gets to share this joint author­i­ty? Oth­er cam­paigns:

    ...
    How­ev­er, the memo also made clear that the arrange­ment per­tained to only the gen­er­al elec­tion, not the pri­ma­ry sea­son, and it left open the pos­si­bil­i­ty that it would sign sim­i­lar agree­ments with oth­er can­di­dates.

    ...

    Noth­ing in this agree­ment shall be con­strued to vio­late the DNC’s oblig­a­tion of impar­tial­i­ty and neu­tral­i­ty through the Nom­i­nat­ing process. All activ­i­ties per­formed under this agree­ment will be focused exclu­sive­ly on prepa­ra­tions for the Gen­er­al Elec­tion and not the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Pri­ma­ry,” the memo states.

    “Fur­ther we under­stand you may enter into sim­i­lar agree­ments with oth­er can­di­dates,” it con­tin­ues.
    ...

    So this was the ‘estab­lish­ment’ can­di­date ask­ing for some degree of influ­ence over the DNC staff that would be like­ly be sup­port­ing Hillary’s cam­paign in the gen­er­al elec­tion. But not exclu­sive influ­ence. It’s basi­cal­ly say­ing the DNC should fac­tor in the wish­es of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­dates in mak­ing its staffing deci­sions which, again, ain’t exact­ly ‘rig­ging’ the pri­maries.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | November 3, 2017, 6:18 pm
  46. The Jus­tice Depart­men­t’s inspec­tor gen­er­al report on the actions of the FBI lead­er­ship regard­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion of Hillary Clin­ton’s email serv­er dur­ing the 2016 elec­tion was just released last week. And, of course, Don­ald Trump is claim­ing that the report total­ly vin­di­cates him. And, of course, his asser­tions are the oppo­site of real­i­ty. The report found that the FBI did unjust­ly dam­age a can­di­date in its han­dling of the email serv­er inves­ti­ga­tion, and that can­di­date was Hillary Clin­ton. Sur­prise!

    It turns out the report did indeed find an FBI bias against Trump. Specif­i­cal­ly, in the +500 page report there was one instance of an FBI agent, Peter Str­zok, who was involved with both the Clin­ton email inves­ti­ga­tion and the Trump/Russia inves­ti­ga­tion, express­ing anti-Trump sen­ti­ments in a series of texts. Str­zok received a text from fel­low FBI agent (and Str­zok’s lover) Lisa Page ask­ing if Trump is “not ever going to be pres­i­dent, right?” Str­zok replied, “[n]o. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.” And that “We’ll stop it” line is being latched onto as an exam­ple of the FBI actu­al­ly being out to hurt Trump and give Hillary a pass. Note that there was no iden­ti­fi­able instance of Str­zok some­how tak­ing action to harm Trump and, in fact, it turns out that Str­zok sup­port­ed reopen­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into Hillary’s email serv­er and helped helped draft the now infa­mous memo James Comey wrote to con­gress just days before the elec­tion about reopen­ing the Clin­ton email inves­ti­ga­tion, the one move that prob­a­bly did more dam­age to Hillary’s chances than any­thing else.

    And that’s pret­ty much it in terms of anti-Trump sen­ti­ments uncov­ered in this inspec­tor gen­er­al report. The FBI agent who helped draft the let­ter that doomed Hillary once sent an anti-Trump text. The rest of the report cov­ers how the FBI total­ly screwed over Hillary:

    The Week

    Trump’s back­wards inter­pre­ta­tion of the IG report

    Scott Lemieux
    June 18, 2018

    Late last week, the Jus­tice Depart­men­t’s inspec­tor gen­er­al released a report exam­in­ing the FBI’s inves­ti­ga­tion of Hillary Clin­ton’s email serv­er dur­ing the 2016 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. Pres­i­dent Trump claims the report vin­di­cates the the­o­ry, fre­quent­ly tout­ed both by him and his sup­port­ers, that he was the vic­tim of a Deep State con­spir­a­cy con­coct­ed by FBI agents who gave Clin­ton a pass for her crim­i­nal activ­i­ty while inves­ti­gat­ing non-exis­tent col­lu­sion between the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sia.

    “The IG Report is a total dis­as­ter for Comey, his min­ions and sad­ly, the FBI,” Pres­i­dent Trump tweet­ed on Fri­day. Trump’s reac­tion is not so much wrong as mis­lead­ing. The report is incred­i­bly damn­ing of the inves­ti­ga­tion into Clin­ton’s email serv­er, but not because it was wrong not to charge her, but because for­mer FBI Direc­tor James Comey kept vio­lat­ing depart­ment norms to inter­vene in a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

    ...

    Trump’s asser­tion that the IG report con­tains evi­dence of bias against Trump and his cam­paign hinges most­ly on a text exchange between two FBI offi­cials, Lisa Page and Peter Str­zok. In response to Page tex­ting that Trump is “not ever going to be pres­i­dent, right?” Str­zok replied, “[n]o. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.” This is an inap­pro­pri­ate thing for an FBI offi­cial to text, as the IG report not­ed, par­tic­u­lar­ly since Str­zok was involved in both the Clin­ton email serv­er inves­ti­ga­tion and the Trump/Russia inves­ti­ga­tion.

    But the text is impor­tant only if Str­zok actu­al­ly took any actions that would dam­age Trump or help Clin­ton, and there is no evi­dence that he did. The IG report found “no con­nec­tion” between Str­zok’s view of Trump and deci­sions made in the inves­ti­ga­tions, in either “doc­u­men­tary or tes­ti­mo­ni­al evi­dence.” It’s hard­ly sur­pris­ing that, in a large orga­ni­za­tion, some indi­vid­ual agents would have anti-Trump sen­ti­ments. But the IG report found noth­ing sug­gest­ing any­thing remote­ly resem­bling an anti-Trump con­spir­a­cy at the FBI.

    The report is, how­ev­er, harsh­ly crit­i­cal of two deci­sions Comey made dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign: his edi­to­ri­al­iz­ing in call­ing Clin­ton’s behav­ior “extreme­ly care­less” when he announced his rec­om­men­da­tion that no charges be filed against her, and his poten­tial­ly his­to­ry-alter­ing deci­sion to send a let­ter announc­ing the re-open­ing of the Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tion in late Octo­ber 2016 based on emails found on a lap­top belong­ing to dis­graced for­mer con­gress­man Antho­ny Wein­er. (The emails were quick­ly deter­mined to redun­dant and/or imma­te­r­i­al, and Comey announced before Elec­tion Day that his rec­om­men­da­tion not to charge Clin­ton had­n’t changed.)

    The report strong­ly and per­sua­sive­ly con­demns Comey’s choic­es in both cas­es. Comey’s first announce­ment was found to be “incon­sis­tent with depart­ment pol­i­cy and vio­lat­ed long-stand­ing depart­ment prac­tice and pro­to­col” and to have “usurped the author­i­ty of the attor­ney gen­er­al.” Sim­i­lar­ly, Comey’s deci­sion to send the let­ter on Oct. 28 was deter­mined by the report to be “a seri­ous error of judg­ment.” And while the report did find that the inves­ti­ga­tion into the emails on Wein­er’s lap­top — which were found in Sep­tem­ber — was slow, not only was there no evi­dence that this was a prod­uct of polit­i­cal bias, the time it took to exam­ine the mate­r­i­al clear­ly hurt Clin­ton; it would have been much bet­ter for her, polit­i­cal­ly, for the mate­r­i­al to have been dis­re­gard­ed as insignif­i­cant in ear­ly Sep­tem­ber rather than ear­ly Novem­ber.

    What makes Comey’s actions par­tic­u­lar­ly hard to defend are the very dif­fer­ent ways in which the Trump and Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tions were han­dled. The report uncov­ers an email Comey sent on Oct. 5 that for­mer DOJ spokesman Matthew Miller apt­ly calls “infu­ri­at­ing.” In the email to then-CIA Direc­tor John Bren­nan and then-Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence James Clap­per, Comey argues that “the win­dow has closed” for inform­ing the pub­lic about the inves­ti­ga­tion into Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in the elec­tion, because a state­ment would dam­age the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty’s “rep­u­ta­tion for inde­pen­dence” and would expose the FBI and CIA to “seri­ous accu­sa­tions of launch­ing our own ‘Octo­ber Sur­prise.’ ” In itself, this argu­ment is entire­ly rea­son­able. But it is also utter­ly impos­si­ble to square with Comey’s high­ly prej­u­di­cial state­ments about Clin­ton, the last of them made less than two weeks before Elec­tion Day.

    The IG report con­cludes there is no evi­dence Comey’s dou­ble stan­dard was the prod­uct of par­ti­san bias, and at least in the sense of a con­scious deci­sion to help Trump win, this is prob­a­bly true. Comey pre­sum­ably expect­ed Clin­ton to win and want­ed to insu­late him­self from Repub­li­can crit­i­cism in the after­math. But what­ev­er his inten­tions, his actions helped Trump, and may have even been deci­sive in the elec­tion.. What­ev­er moti­vat­ed Comey’s mis­judg­ments, the idea that the IG report shows a con­spir­a­cy against Trump is sim­ply absurd.

    ———-

    “Trump’s back­wards inter­pre­ta­tion of the IG report” by Scott Lemieux; The Week; 06/18/2018

    ““The IG Report is a total dis­as­ter for Comey, his min­ions and sad­ly, the FBI,” Pres­i­dent Trump tweet­ed on Fri­day. Trump’s reac­tion is not so much wrong as mis­lead­ing. The report is incred­i­bly damn­ing of the inves­ti­ga­tion into Clin­ton’s email serv­er, but not because it was wrong not to charge her, but because for­mer FBI Direc­tor James Comey kept vio­lat­ing depart­ment norms to inter­vene in a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.”

    Yep, Trump is brag­ging about a report that lays out exten­sive bias against Hillary Clin­ton with­out a hint of irony. Because that’s where we are.

    But there was at least one instance of an FBI agent express­ing anti-Trump sen­ti­ments: Peter Str­zok, who worked on both the Hillary email serv­er and Trump/Russia inves­ti­ga­tions before being removed from the lat­ter inves­ti­ga­tion last year. This is large­ly the find­ing Trump has focused on from the report. And the fact that Str­zok sup­port­ed reopen­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into Hillary’s email serv­er and helped helped draft and helped draft the Comey memo the doomed Hillary in late Octo­ber 2016 is large­ly ignored by almost every­one:

    ...
    Trump’s asser­tion that the IG report con­tains evi­dence of bias against Trump and his cam­paign hinges most­ly on a text exchange between two FBI offi­cials, Lisa Page and Peter Str­zok. In response to Page tex­ting that Trump is “not ever going to be pres­i­dent, right?” Str­zok replied, “[n]o. No he’s not. We’ll stop it.” This is an inap­pro­pri­ate thing for an FBI offi­cial to text, as the IG report not­ed, par­tic­u­lar­ly since Str­zok was involved in both the Clin­ton email serv­er inves­ti­ga­tion and the Trump/Russia inves­ti­ga­tion.

    But the text is impor­tant only if Str­zok actu­al­ly took any actions that would dam­age Trump or help Clin­ton, and there is no evi­dence that he did. The IG report found “no con­nec­tion” between Str­zok’s view of Trump and deci­sions made in the inves­ti­ga­tions, in either “doc­u­men­tary or tes­ti­mo­ni­al evi­dence.” It’s hard­ly sur­pris­ing that, in a large orga­ni­za­tion, some indi­vid­ual agents would have anti-Trump sen­ti­ments. But the IG report found noth­ing sug­gest­ing any­thing remote­ly resem­bling an anti-Trump con­spir­a­cy at the FBI.
    ...

    And what Trump and the GOP are com­plete­ly ignor­ing is the core find­ing of the report: that Hillary Clin­ton’s cam­paign was unjus­ti­fi­ably harmed at two crit­i­cal points in the elec­tion: first, when James Comey edi­to­ri­al­ized on Clin­ton’s “extreme­ly care­less” behav­ior in July of 2016 when he for­mal­ly announced he would­n’t rec­om­mend crim­i­nal charges against Hillary over the serv­er. And sec­ond, when the email inves­ti­ga­tion was reopened just days before the elec­tion (which, again, Peter Str­zok sup­port­ed reopen­ing):

    ...
    The report is, how­ev­er, harsh­ly crit­i­cal of two deci­sions Comey made dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign: his edi­to­ri­al­iz­ing in call­ing Clin­ton’s behav­ior “extreme­ly care­less” when he announced his rec­om­men­da­tion that no charges be filed against her, and his poten­tial­ly his­to­ry-alter­ing deci­sion to send a let­ter announc­ing the re-open­ing of the Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tion in late Octo­ber 2016 based on emails found on a lap­top belong­ing to dis­graced for­mer con­gress­man Antho­ny Wein­er. (The emails were quick­ly deter­mined to redun­dant and/or imma­te­r­i­al, and Comey announced before Elec­tion Day that his rec­om­men­da­tion not to charge Clin­ton had­n’t changed.)

    The report strong­ly and per­sua­sive­ly con­demns Comey’s choic­es in both cas­es. Comey’s first announce­ment was found to be “incon­sis­tent with depart­ment pol­i­cy and vio­lat­ed long-stand­ing depart­ment prac­tice and pro­to­col” and to have “usurped the author­i­ty of the attor­ney gen­er­al.” Sim­i­lar­ly, Comey’s deci­sion to send the let­ter on Oct. 28 was deter­mined by the report to be “a seri­ous error of judg­ment.” And while the report did find that the inves­ti­ga­tion into the emails on Wein­er’s lap­top — which were found in Sep­tem­ber — was slow, not only was there no evi­dence that this was a prod­uct of polit­i­cal bias, the time it took to exam­ine the mate­r­i­al clear­ly hurt Clin­ton; it would have been much bet­ter for her, polit­i­cal­ly, for the mate­r­i­al to have been dis­re­gard­ed as insignif­i­cant in ear­ly Sep­tem­ber rather than ear­ly Novem­ber.
    ...

    And per­haps the biggest embar­rass­ment for Trump in the report is how it high­light how dif­fer­ent­ly the inves­ti­ga­tions were han­dled between Clin­ton and Trump: Comey him­self argued that “the win­dow has closed” for inform­ing the pub­lic about the inves­ti­ga­tion into Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in the elec­tion, because a state­ment would dam­age the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty’s “rep­u­ta­tion for inde­pen­dence” and would expose the FBI and CIA to “seri­ous accu­sa­tions of launch­ing our own ‘Octo­ber Sur­prise.’ ” And then he went ahead and reopened Hillary’s email inves­ti­ga­tion:

    ...
    What makes Comey’s actions par­tic­u­lar­ly hard to defend are the very dif­fer­ent ways in which the Trump and Clin­ton inves­ti­ga­tions were han­dled. The report uncov­ers an email Comey sent on Oct. 5 that for­mer DOJ spokesman Matthew Miller apt­ly calls “infu­ri­at­ing.” In the email to then-CIA Direc­tor John Bren­nan and then-Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence James Clap­per, Comey argues that “the win­dow has closed” for inform­ing the pub­lic about the inves­ti­ga­tion into Russ­ian inter­fer­ence in the elec­tion, because a state­ment would dam­age the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty’s “rep­u­ta­tion for inde­pen­dence” and would expose the FBI and CIA to “seri­ous accu­sa­tions of launch­ing our own ‘Octo­ber Sur­prise.’ ” In itself, this argu­ment is entire­ly rea­son­able. But it is also utter­ly impos­si­ble to square with Comey’s high­ly prej­u­di­cial state­ments about Clin­ton, the last of them made less than two weeks before Elec­tion Day.

    The IG report con­cludes there is no evi­dence Comey’s dou­ble stan­dard was the prod­uct of par­ti­san bias, and at least in the sense of a con­scious deci­sion to help Trump win, this is prob­a­bly true. Comey pre­sum­ably expect­ed Clin­ton to win and want­ed to insu­late him­self from Repub­li­can crit­i­cism in the after­math. But what­ev­er his inten­tions, his actions helped Trump, and may have even been deci­sive in the elec­tion.. What­ev­er moti­vat­ed Comey’s mis­judg­ments, the idea that the IG report shows a con­spir­a­cy against Trump is sim­ply absurd.
    ...

    So when Trump and the GOP brag about how the FBI inspec­tor gen­er­al report vin­di­cates them they’re pret­ty much brag­ging about a fan­ta­sy inter­pre­ta­tion of what’s con­tained in it.

    But as the fol­low­ing piece by Kevin Drum notes, per­haps the most damn­ing part of the new inspec­tor gen­er­al’s report is that it appears to con­firm one of the rea­sons for Comey’s reopen­ing of the Hillary email inves­ti­ga­tion that’s been sus­pect­ed all along: that Comey reopened the inves­ti­ga­tion and informed con­gress about it over fears that the New York FBI office, which was noto­ri­ous­ly pro-Trump and anti-Hillary, was going to leak about it if Comey did­n’t go to con­gress first. And that’s just one piece of evi­dence point­ing towards a major pro-Trump/an­ti-Hillary oper­a­tion going on in the New York FBI:

    Moth­er Jones

    The FBI’s New York Office Real­ly Hat­ed Hillary Clin­ton

    Kevin Drum
    Jun. 18, 2018 2:29 PM

    There’s very lit­tle evi­dence that the FBI was biased in any way against Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump dur­ing the 2016 cam­paign. The sole piece of evi­dence that Trump relies on for this alle­ga­tion is a series of pri­vate texts between Peter Str­zok and Lisa Page, but there’s no evi­dence at all that their pri­vate views ever affect­ed any of their actions.

    Just the oppo­site is true for the FBI’s New York office, which obvi­ous­ly har­bored con­sid­er­able ani­mus toward Hillary Clin­ton and just as obvi­ous­ly took con­crete steps to help Trump. Here’s a short ver­sion of the evi­dence:

    1. The Nunes Rev­e­la­tion

    A few days ago, Rep. Devin Nunes admit­ted some­thing he had nev­er acknowl­edged before: In late Sep­tem­ber of 2016, New York FBI agents told him about the exis­tence of Antho­ny Weiner’s lap­top, which even­tu­al­ly led to the Comey let­ter of Octo­ber 28.

    2. The Giu­liani Whis­per Cam­paign

    On Octo­ber 26, Rudy Giu­liani boast­ed to Fox News’ Martha Mac­Cal­lum that Trump had “a sur­prise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next two days. I’m talk­ing about some pret­ty big sur­prise.” He lat­er back­tracked, but it’s pret­ty clear that agents in the New York office had told Giu­liani what was going on.

    3. The Inspec­tor General’s Report

    The recent inspec­tor general’s report con­firms what we’ve long known: One of the rea­sons Comey wrote his Octo­ber 28 let­ter was his fear that the New York office would leak about the Wein­er lap­top if he didn’t.

    As we describe in Chap­ter Ten of our report, the fac­tors con­sid­ered dur­ing those dis­cus­sions included…Fear that the infor­ma­tion would leak if the FBI failed to dis­close it.

    Jim Bak­er, the FBI’s gen­er­al coun­sel, con­firmed that the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a leak was wide­ly dis­cussed with­in the bureau:

    Bak­er told us that a con­cern about leaks played a role in the deci­sion to send the let­ter to Con­gress. Bak­er stat­ed: “We were quite con­fi­dent that…somebody is going to leak this fact. That we have all these emails. That, if we don’t put out a let­ter, some­body is going to leak it. That def­i­nite­ly was discussed.”…Baker told us that “the dis­cus­sion was some­body in New York will leak this.”

    4. The Dick­ey Con­ver­sa­tion

    On the day of the Comey let­ter, a fel­low named Jere­my Dick­ey over­heard an FBI agent mak­ing a tele­phone call on a plane.

    Update he now is talk­ing about how the NY FBI office pressed to have the A. Wein­er info leaked— Jere­my Dick­ey (@JeremyDDickey) Octo­ber 28, 2016

    Now say­ing “You know how the run things out of NY office, they would have leaked the email con­nec­tion with Wein­er”— Jere­my Dick­ey (@JeremyDDickey) Octo­ber 28, 2016

    5. The Loret­ta Lynch Con­fir­ma­tion

    The inspec­tor general’s report also tells us about a con­ver­sa­tion Comey had with Attor­ney Gen­er­al Loret­ta Lynch three days lat­er. Here is Comey’s rec­ol­lec­tion of that con­ver­sa­tion:

    I said, “Look this is real­ly bad, but the alter­na­tive is worse.” And then she said, “Yeah would they feel bet­ter if it had leaked on Novem­ber 6th?” And I just said, “Exact­ly Loret­ta.”

    And Lynch’s:

    He said it’s clear to me that there is a cadre of senior peo­ple in New York who have a deep and vis­cer­al hatred of Sec­re­tary Clin­ton. And he said it is, it is deep. It’s, and he said, he said it was sur­pris­ing to him or stun­ning to him.

    ...

    ———-

    “The FBI’s New York Office Real­ly Hat­ed Hillary Clin­ton” by Kevin Drum; Moth­er Jones; 06/18/2018

    A few days ago, Rep. Devin Nunes admit­ted some­thing he had nev­er acknowl­edged before: In late Sep­tem­ber of 2016, New York FBI agents told him about the exis­tence of Antho­ny Weiner’s lap­top, which even­tu­al­ly led to the Comey let­ter of Octo­ber 28.

    That’s right, GOP Rep. Devin Nunes admit­ted just a few days ago on Fox News that New York FBI agents told him about the exis­tence of Antho­ny Wein­er’s lap­top in late Sep­tem­ber 2016. And if they were leak­ing to Nunes they were prob­a­bly leak­ing to all sorts of oth­er peo­ple. So by the time Comey wrote the memo to con­gress in late Octo­ber there was pre­sum­ably at least a month of those agents leak­ing infor­ma­tion about that lap­top a vari­ety of sources. And one of those oth­er sources was prob­a­bly Rudolf Giu­liani since he was lit­er­al­ly boast­ing about a “pret­ty big sur­prise” com­ing in late Octo­ber

    ...
    2. The Giu­liani Whis­per Cam­paign

    On Octo­ber 26, Rudy Giu­liani boast­ed to Fox News’ Martha Mac­Cal­lum that Trump had “a sur­prise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next two days. I’m talk­ing about some pret­ty big sur­prise.” He lat­er back­tracked, but it’s pret­ty clear that agents in the New York office had told Giu­liani what was going on.
    ...

    Note that Giu­liani is today assert­ing that he did not get this insight about “a big sur­prise” from any active FBI agents and that he and the for­mer FBI agents he was talk­ing with at the time “knew just by instinct” that some­thing big was com­ing. It was just Rudy’s keen legal instincts. LOL.

    And then there’s the con­tent in the inspec­tor gen­er­al’s report, where they explic­it­ly say that fear that infor­ma­tion about the reopen­ing of the Hillary email inves­ti­ga­tion would be leaked by some­body in the New York office if Comey did­n’t dis­close the reopen­ing to con­gress (which was guar­an­teed to leak to the pub­lic almost imme­di­ate­ly). Even Attor­ney Gen­er­al Loret­ta Lynch appeared to be resigned to the fact that the reopen­ing of the inves­ti­ga­tion was going to leak if it was­n’t dis­closed:

    ...
    3. The Inspec­tor General’s Report

    The recent inspec­tor general’s report con­firms what we’ve long known: One of the rea­sons Comey wrote his Octo­ber 28 let­ter was his fear that the New York office would leak about the Wein­er lap­top if he didn’t.

    As we describe in Chap­ter Ten of our report, the fac­tors con­sid­ered dur­ing those dis­cus­sions included…Fear that the infor­ma­tion would leak if the FBI failed to dis­close it.

    Jim Bak­er, the FBI’s gen­er­al coun­sel, con­firmed that the pos­si­bil­i­ty of a leak was wide­ly dis­cussed with­in the bureau:

    Bak­er told us that a con­cern about leaks played a role in the deci­sion to send the let­ter to Con­gress. Bak­er stat­ed: “We were quite con­fi­dent that…somebody is going to leak this fact. That we have all these emails. That, if we don’t put out a let­ter, some­body is going to leak it. That def­i­nite­ly was discussed.”…Baker told us that “the dis­cus­sion was some­body in New York will leak this.”

    ...

    5. The Loret­ta Lynch Con­fir­ma­tion

    The inspec­tor general’s report also tells us about a con­ver­sa­tion Comey had with Attor­ney Gen­er­al Loret­ta Lynch three days lat­er. Here is Comey’s rec­ol­lec­tion of that con­ver­sa­tion:

    I said, “Look this is real­ly bad, but the alter­na­tive is worse.” And then she said, “Yeah would they feel bet­ter if it had leaked on Novem­ber 6th?” And I just said, “Exact­ly Loret­ta.”

    And Lynch’s:

    He said it’s clear to me that there is a cadre of senior peo­ple in New York who have a deep and vis­cer­al hatred of Sec­re­tary Clin­ton. And he said it is, it is deep. It’s, and he said, he said it was sur­pris­ing to him or stun­ning to him.

    ...

    Heck, even a ran­dom guy on a plane was appar­ent­ly made aware of this deep and vis­cer­al hatred of Hillary Clin­ton at the New York FBI by a chat­ty FBI agent who was famil­iar with how the New York office oper­ates:

    ...
    4. The Dick­ey Con­ver­sa­tion

    On the day of the Comey let­ter, a fel­low named Jere­my Dick­ey over­heard an FBI agent mak­ing a tele­phone call on a plane.

    Update he now is talk­ing about how the NY FBI office pressed to have the A. Wein­er info leaked— Jere­my Dick­ey (@JeremyDDickey) Octo­ber 28, 2016

    Now say­ing “You know how the run things out of NY office, they would have leaked the email con­nec­tion with Wein­er”— Jere­my Dick­ey (@JeremyDDickey) Octo­ber 28, 2016


    ...

    So that’s just a sam­pling of the evi­dence that makes it pret­ty obvi­ous that the threat of leaks out of the New York FBI office was, at least in part, dri­ving the bla­tant anti-Hillary sys­tem­at­ic bias at the FBI through­out the 2016. And much of that evi­dence has been star­ing us in the face for years. But at least it’s some­what encap­su­lat­ed by the new inspec­tor gen­er­al report. Too bad Trump clear­ly did­n’t read it.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | June 19, 2018, 3:00 pm
  47. The New York Times had a poten­tial bomb­shell report yes­ter­day regard­ing deputy attor­ney gen­er­al Rod Rosen­stein and alle­ga­tions that Rosen­stein pro­posed the secret record­ing of pres­i­dent Trump and the pos­si­ble invo­ca­tion of the 25th Amend­ment against Trump. But per­haps the loud­est part of this bomb­shell is the fact that indi­vid­u­als and motive behind behind the leak­ing of this infor­ma­tion remains a mys­tery. In fact, as we’re going to see, some of those on the right who have been call­ing most loud­ly for Rosen­stein’s fir­ing for months are com­ing out and explic­it­ly advis­ing that Trump not fire him. Sean Han­ni­ty called it an out­right trap intend­ed to lure Trump into pre­ma­ture­ly fir­ing Rosen­stein.

    So do we know at this point? Well, the fol­low­ing arti­cle asserts the fol­low­ing key facts:

    1. The sug­ges­tions of wear­ing a wire and/or invok­ing the 25th Amend­ment against Trump came dur­ing meet­ings that took place between senior FBI offi­cials in the days fol­low­ing the fir­ing of for­mer FBI direc­tor James Comey in the spring of 2017.

    2. The report is based on sev­er­al anony­mous sources who have been talk­ing with the New York Times over the past sev­er­al months and who are insist­ing on anonymi­ty. The sources are said to be either briefed on the events them­selves or on mem­os writ­ten by FBI offi­cials. The mem­os include those writ­ten by for­mer act­ing direc­tor of the FBI Andrew McCabe.

    3. Before alleged­ly float­ing these ideas Rosen­stein had been sit­ting in on Trump’s inter­views of poten­tial replace­ments for Comey. Rosen­stein was appar­ent­ly very dis­turbed by how Trump was not tak­ing these inter­views seri­ous­ly and the chaos in gen­er­al envelop­ing the White House at the time.

    4. Rosen­stein alleged­ly told McCabe that he thought he might be able to con­vince Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Ses­sions and John Kel­ly, then the direc­tor of Home­land Secu­ri­ty, to go along with a 25th Amend­ment move.

    5. When Trump ini­tial­ly brought up the idea of fir­ing James Comey to Jeff Ses­sions and Rosen­stein, White House aides were sur­prised to learn that Rosen­stein appar­ent­ly embraced the idea and even offered to write the memo about the Comey’s han­dling of the Hillary Clin­ton email inves­ti­ga­tion as a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion. But when Trump pub­licly used Rosen­stein’s let­ter as the pri­ma­ry jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for Comey’s fir­ing Rosen­stein grew angry at Trump and alleged­ly told col­leagues that he would be vin­di­cat­ed.

    6. When Rosen­stein raised the idea of wear­ing a record­ing device, one of the meet­ing par­tic­i­pants asked if he was seri­ous and Rosen­stein ani­mat­ed­ly said he was. Rosen­stein also sug­gest­ed that maybe McCabe or oth­er FBI offi­cials inter­view­ing with Trump for Comey’s job could wear the wire instead. So it appears that it was specif­i­cal­ly these inter­views to become the new FBI direc­tor that Rosen­stein want­ed record­ed.

    7. Rosen­stein report­ed­ly sug­gest­ed that because White House offi­cials nev­er checked his phone when he arrived for meet­ings there it would be easy to secret­ly record Mr. Trump. It’s worth recall­ing that Omarosa Mani­gault-New­man thor­ough­ly estab­lished that, yes, secret record­ings with your phone were very easy to pull off in the White House.

    8. Rosen­stein men­tioned the pos­si­bil­i­ty of wear­ing a wire on at least one oth­er occa­sion.

    9. The sources for this sto­ry note that, while Rosen­stein’s sug­ges­tion went nowhere, the com­ments were an exam­ple of how errat­i­cal­ly Rosen­stein was behav­ing dur­ing this peri­od. That char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of errat­ic behav­ior is a poten­tial hint about the intent of these anony­mous sources for leak­ing this sto­ry.

    10. Rosen­stein sug­gest­ed invok­ing the 25th Amend­ment dur­ing a meet­ing that took play on May 16th, 2017. There were two meet­ings that day involv­ing Rosen­stein, McCabe, and oth­er Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials. Rosen­stein brought up the idea dur­ing the first meet­ing, but mem­os about the sec­ond meet­ing writ­ten by Lisa Page make no men­tion of the top­ic.

    11. McCabe told oth­er FBI offi­cials of his con­ver­sa­tions with Rosen­stein.

    12. Rosen­stein denies any such sug­ges­tions of a wire or invok­ing the 25th Amend­ment ever hap­pened.

    13. The Jus­tice Depart­ment pro­vid­ed a state­ment from some­one who was present when Rosen­stein made the sug­ges­tion of wear­ing a wire and they said the remark was made sar­cas­ti­cal­ly, con­tra­dict­ing the oth­er source who claim Rosen­stein ani­mat­ed­ly said he was seri­ous.

    Anoth­er thing to keep in mind with all this is that, as the arti­cle reminds us, the ini­tial inter­views Trump con­duct­ed with James Comey appar­ent­ly involved requests for loy­al­ty pledges and an end to the inves­ti­ga­tion into Michael Fly­nn. And that seems like an entire­ly believ­able, high­ly Trumpian thing to do. So what are the odds that Trump was talk­ing about loy­al­ty pledges and end­ing inves­ti­ga­tions dur­ing his inter­views with Comey’s poten­tial replace­ments. And might he have brought up loy­al­ty pledges and end­ing inves­ti­ga­tions when Rosen­stein was in the room dur­ing these inter­views? Where there parts of these inter­views where Rosen­stein was­n’t in the room, when Trump could raise the loy­al­ty pledge top­ic with­out wit­ness­es? Those seem like pret­ty impor­tant ques­tions that aren’t real­ly addressed at all in the recount­ing of events by these anony­mous sources.

    So sev­er­al anony­mous sources have appar­ent­ly been talk­ing to the New York Times for months about this. And the sto­ry is now out there. Is this some­one try­ing to get Rosen­stein fired? Or they goad­ing Trump into fir­ing him as part of a larg­er plan? Who knows, but who­ev­er was behind this sure knows how to troll Trump:

    The New York Times

    Rod Rosen­stein Sug­gest­ed Secret­ly Record­ing Trump and Dis­cussed 25th Amend­ment

    By Adam Gold­man and Michael S. Schmidt
    Sept. 21, 2018

    WASHINGTON — The deputy attor­ney gen­er­al, Rod J. Rosen­stein, sug­gest­ed last year that he secret­ly record Pres­i­dent Trump in the White House to expose the chaos con­sum­ing the admin­is­tra­tion, and he dis­cussed recruit­ing cab­i­net mem­bers to invoke the 25th Amend­ment to remove Mr. Trump from office for being unfit.

    Mr. Rosen­stein made these sug­ges­tions in the spring of 2017 when Mr. Trump’s fir­ing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. direc­tor plunged the White House into tur­moil. Over the ensu­ing days, the pres­i­dent divulged clas­si­fied intel­li­gence to Rus­sians in the Oval Office, and rev­e­la­tions emerged that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to pledge loy­al­ty and end an inves­ti­ga­tion into a senior aide.

    Mr. Rosen­stein was just two weeks into his job. He had begun over­see­ing the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion and played a key role in the president’s dis­missal of Mr. Comey by writ­ing a memo crit­i­cal of his han­dling of the Hillary Clin­ton email inves­ti­ga­tion. But Mr. Rosen­stein was caught off guard when Mr. Trump cit­ed the memo in the fir­ing, and he began telling peo­ple that he feared he had been used.

    Mr. Rosen­stein made the remarks about secret­ly record­ing Mr. Trump and about the 25th Amend­ment in meet­ings and con­ver­sa­tions with oth­er Jus­tice Depart­ment and F.B.I. offi­cials. Sev­er­al peo­ple described the episodes in inter­views over the past sev­er­al months, insist­ing on anonymi­ty to dis­cuss inter­nal delib­er­a­tions. The peo­ple were briefed either on the events them­selves or on mem­os writ­ten by F.B.I. offi­cials, includ­ing Andrew G. McCabe, then the act­ing bureau direc­tor, that doc­u­ment­ed Mr. Rosenstein’s actions and com­ments.

    None of Mr. Rosenstein’s pro­pos­als appar­ent­ly came to fruition. It is not clear how deter­mined he was about see­ing them through, though he did tell Mr. McCabe that he might be able to per­suade Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Ses­sions and John F. Kel­ly, then the sec­re­tary of home­land secu­ri­ty and now the White House chief of staff, to mount an effort to invoke the 25th Amend­ment.

    The extreme sug­ges­tions show Mr. Rosenstein’s state of mind in the dis­ori­ent­ing days that fol­lowed Mr. Comey’s dis­missal. Sit­ting in on Mr. Trump’s inter­views with prospec­tive F.B.I. direc­tors and fac­ing attacks for his own role in Mr. Comey’s fir­ing, Mr. Rosen­stein had an up-close view of the tumult. Mr. Rosen­stein appeared con­flict­ed, regret­ful and emo­tion­al, accord­ing to peo­ple who spoke with him at the time.

    Mr. Rosen­stein dis­put­ed this account.

    “The New York Times’s sto­ry is inac­cu­rate and fac­tu­al­ly incor­rect,” he said in a state­ment. “I will not fur­ther com­ment on a sto­ry based on anony­mous sources who are obvi­ous­ly biased against the depart­ment and are advanc­ing their own per­son­al agen­da. But let me be clear about this: Based on my per­son­al deal­ings with the pres­i­dent, there is no basis to invoke the 25th Amend­ment.”

    A Jus­tice Depart­ment spokes­woman also pro­vid­ed a state­ment from a per­son who was present when Mr. Rosen­stein pro­posed wear­ing a wire. The per­son, who would not be named, acknowl­edged the remark but said Mr. Rosen­stein made it sar­cas­ti­cal­ly.

    But accord­ing to the oth­ers who described his com­ments, Mr. Rosen­stein not only con­firmed that he was seri­ous about the idea but also fol­lowed up by sug­gest­ing that oth­er F.B.I. offi­cials who were inter­view­ing to be the bureau’s direc­tor could also secret­ly record Mr. Trump.

    Mr. McCabe, who was lat­er fired from the F.B.I., declined to com­ment. His mem­os have been turned over to the spe­cial coun­sel, Robert S. Mueller III, in the inves­ti­ga­tion into whether Trump asso­ciates con­spired with Russia’s elec­tion inter­fer­ence, accord­ing to a lawyer for Mr. McCabe. “A set of those mem­os remained at the F.B.I. at the time of his depar­ture in late Jan­u­ary 2018,” the lawyer, Michael R. Bromwich, said of his client. “He has no knowl­edge of how any mem­ber of the media obtained those mem­os.”

    The rev­e­la­tions about Mr. Rosen­stein come as Mr. Trump has unleashed anoth­er round of attacks in recent days on fed­er­al law enforce­ment, say­ing in an inter­view with the news­pa­per The Hill that he hopes his assaults on the F.B.I. turn out to be “one of my crown­ing achieve­ments,” and that he only wished he had ter­mi­nat­ed Mr. Comey soon­er.

    “If I did one mis­take with Comey, I should have fired him before I got here. I should have fired him the day I won the pri­maries,” Mr. Trump said. “I should have fired him right after the con­ven­tion. Say, ‘I don’t want that guy.’ Or at least fired him the first day on the job.”

    Days after ascend­ing to the role of the nation’s No. 2 law enforce­ment offi­cer, Mr. Rosen­stein was thrust into a cri­sis.

    On a brisk May day, Mr. Rosen­stein and his boss, Mr. Ses­sions, who had recused him­self from the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion because of his role as a promi­nent Trump cam­paign sup­port­er, joined Mr. Trump in the Oval Office. The pres­i­dent informed them of his plan to oust Mr. Comey. To the sur­prise of White House aides who were try­ing to talk the pres­i­dent out of it, Mr. Rosen­stein embraced the idea, even offer­ing to write the memo about the Clin­ton email inquiry. He turned it in short­ly after.

    A day lat­er, Mr. Trump announced the fir­ing, and White House aides released Mr. Rosenstein’s memo, label­ing it the basis for Mr. Comey’s dis­missal. Democ­rats sharply crit­i­cized Mr. Rosen­stein, accus­ing him of help­ing to cre­ate a cov­er sto­ry for the pres­i­dent to ratio­nal­ize the ter­mi­na­tion.

    “You wrote a memo you knew would be used to per­pet­u­ate a lie,” Sen­a­tor Christo­pher Mur­phy, Demo­c­rat of Con­necti­cut, wrote on Twit­ter. “You own this deba­cle.”

    The president’s reliance on his memo caught Mr. Rosen­stein by sur­prise, and he became angry at Mr. Trump, accord­ing to peo­ple who spoke to Mr. Rosen­stein at the time. He grew con­cerned that his rep­u­ta­tion had suf­fered harm.

    A deter­mined Mr. Rosen­stein began telling asso­ciates that he would ulti­mate­ly be “vin­di­cat­ed” for his role in the mat­ter. One week after the fir­ing, Mr. Rosen­stein met with Mr. McCabe and at least four oth­er senior Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials, in part to explain his role in the sit­u­a­tion.

    Dur­ing their dis­cus­sion, Mr. Rosen­stein expressed frus­tra­tion at how Mr. Trump had con­duct­ed the search for a new F.B.I. direc­tor, say­ing the pres­i­dent was fail­ing to take the can­di­date inter­views seri­ous­ly. A hand­ful of politi­cians and law enforce­ment offi­cials, includ­ing Mr. McCabe, were under con­sid­er­a­tion.

    To Mr. Rosen­stein, the hir­ing process was emblem­at­ic of broad­er dys­func­tion stem­ming from the White House. He said both the process and the admin­is­tra­tion itself were in dis­ar­ray, accord­ing to two peo­ple famil­iar with the dis­cus­sion.

    Mr. Rosen­stein then raised the idea of wear­ing a record­ing device, or “wire,” as he put it, to secret­ly tape the pres­i­dent when he vis­it­ed the White House. One par­tic­i­pant asked whether Mr. Rosen­stein was seri­ous, and he replied ani­mat­ed­ly that he was.

    If not him, then Mr. McCabe or oth­er F.B.I. offi­cials inter­view­ing with Mr. Trump for the job could per­haps wear a wire or oth­er­wise record the pres­i­dent, Mr. Rosen­stein offered. White House offi­cials nev­er checked his phone when he arrived for meet­ings there, Mr. Rosen­stein added, imply­ing it would be easy to secret­ly record Mr. Trump.

    Mr. Rosen­stein men­tioned the pos­si­bil­i­ty of wear­ing a wire on at least one oth­er occa­sion, the peo­ple said, though they did not pro­vide details.

    The sug­ges­tion itself was remark­able. While infor­mants or under­cov­er agents reg­u­lar­ly use con­cealed lis­ten­ing devices to sur­rep­ti­tious­ly gath­er evi­dence for fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors, they are typ­i­cal­ly tar­get­ing drug king­pins and Mafia boss­es in crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tions, not a pres­i­dent viewed as inef­fec­tive­ly con­duct­ing his duties.

    In the end, the idea went nowhere, the offi­cials said. But they called Mr. Rosenstein’s com­ments an exam­ple of how errat­i­cal­ly he was behav­ing while he was tak­ing part in the inter­views for a replace­ment F.B.I. direc­tor, con­sid­er­ing the appoint­ment of a spe­cial coun­sel and oth­er­wise run­ning the day-to-day oper­a­tions of the more than 100,000 peo­ple at the Jus­tice Depart­ment.

    At least two meet­ings took place on May 16 involv­ing both Mr. McCabe and Mr. Rosen­stein, the peo­ple famil­iar with the events of the day said. Mr. Rosen­stein brought up the 25th Amend­ment dur­ing the first meet­ing of Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials, they said. A memo about the sec­ond meet­ing writ­ten by one par­tic­i­pant, Lisa Page, a lawyer who worked for Mr. McCabe at the time, did not men­tion the top­ic.

    Mr. Rosenstein’s sug­ges­tion about the 25th Amend­ment was sim­i­lar­ly a sen­si­tive top­ic. The amend­ment allows for the vice pres­i­dent and a major­i­ty of cab­i­net offi­cials to declare the pres­i­dent is “unable to dis­charge the pow­ers and duties of his office.”

    Mere­ly con­duct­ing a straw poll, even if Mr. Kel­ly and Mr. Ses­sions were on board, would be risky if anoth­er admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial were to tell the pres­i­dent, who could fire every­one involved to end the effort.

    Mr. McCabe told oth­er F.B.I. offi­cials of his con­ver­sa­tion with Mr. Rosen­stein. None of the peo­ple inter­viewed said that they knew of him ever con­sult­ing Mr. Kel­ly or Mr. Ses­sions.

    The episode is the first known instance of a named senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial weigh­ing the 25th Amend­ment. Uniden­ti­fied oth­ers have been said to dis­cuss it, includ­ing an unnamed senior admin­is­tra­tion offi­cial who wrote an Op-Ed for The New York Times. That person’s iden­ti­ty is unknown to jour­nal­ists in the Times news depart­ment.

    Some of the details in Mr. McCabe’s mem­os sug­gest­ed that Mr. Rosen­stein had regrets about the fir­ing of Mr. Comey. Dur­ing a May 12 meet­ing with Mr. McCabe, Mr. Rosen­stein was upset and emo­tion­al, Mr. McCabe wrote, and said that he wished Mr. Comey were still at the F.B.I. so he could bounce ideas off him.

    Mr. Rosen­stein also asked F.B.I. offi­cials on May 14, five days after Mr. Comey’s fir­ing, about call­ing him for advice about a spe­cial coun­sel. The offi­cials respond­ed that such a call was a bad idea because Mr. Comey was no longer in the gov­ern­ment. And they were sur­prised, believ­ing that the idea con­tra­dict­ed Mr. Rosenstein’s stat­ed rea­son for back­ing Mr. Comey’s dis­missal — that he had shown bad judg­ment in the Clin­ton email inquiry.

    ...

    Mr. Rosen­stein also con­sid­ered appoint­ing as spe­cial coun­sel James M. Cole, him­self a for­mer deputy attor­ney gen­er­al, three of the peo­ple said. Mr. Cole would have made an even rich­er tar­get for Mr. Trump’s ire than has Mr. Mueller, a life­long Repub­li­can: Mr. Cole served four years as the No. 2 in the Jus­tice Depart­ment dur­ing the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion and worked as a pri­vate lawyer rep­re­sent­ing one of Mrs. Clinton’s long­time con­fi­dants, Sid­ney Blu­men­thal.

    Mr. Cole and Mr. Rosen­stein have known each oth­er for years. Mr. Cole, who declined to com­ment, was Mr. Rosenstein’s super­vi­sor ear­ly in his Jus­tice Depart­ment career when he was pros­e­cut­ing pub­lic cor­rup­tion cas­es.

    Mr. Trump and his allies have repeat­ed­ly attacked Mr. Rosen­stein and have also tar­get­ed Mr. McCabe, who was fired in March for fail­ing to be forth­com­ing when he was inter­viewed in an inspec­tor gen­er­al inves­ti­ga­tion around the time of Mr. Comey’s dis­missal. The inspec­tor gen­er­al lat­er referred the mat­ter to fed­er­al pros­e­cu­tors in Wash­ing­ton.

    The president’s allies have seized on Mr. McCabe’s lack of can­dor to paint a damn­ing pic­ture of the F.B.I. under Mr. Comey and assert that the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion is taint­ed.

    The Jus­tice Depart­ment denied a request in late July from Mr. Trump’s con­gres­sion­al allies to release Mr. McCabe’s mem­os, cit­ing a con­tin­u­ing inves­ti­ga­tion that the law­mak­ers believed to be Mr. Mueller’s. Mr. Rosen­stein not only super­vis­es that inves­ti­ga­tion but is also con­sid­ered by the president’s lawyers as a wit­ness for their defense because he sought the dis­missal of Mr. Comey, which is being inves­ti­gat­ed as pos­si­ble obstruc­tion of jus­tice.

    ———-

    “Rod Rosen­stein Sug­gest­ed Secret­ly Record­ing Trump and Dis­cussed 25th Amend­ment” by Adam Gold­man and Michael S. Schmidt; The New York Times; 09/21/2018

    “Mr. Rosen­stein made these sug­ges­tions in the spring of 2017 when Mr. Trump’s fir­ing of James B. Comey as F.B.I. direc­tor plunged the White House into tur­moil. Over the ensu­ing days, the pres­i­dent divulged clas­si­fied intel­li­gence to Rus­sians in the Oval Office, and rev­e­la­tions emerged that Mr. Trump had asked Mr. Comey to pledge loy­al­ty and end an inves­ti­ga­tion into a senior aide.

    That’s one of the key ele­ments of all this that isn’t men­tioned in the recount­ing of events by the anony­mous sources: did Trump ever bring up loy­al­ty pledges and end­ing inves­ti­ga­tions dur­ing these inter­views to replace James Comey? Because Rosen­stein, who sur­prised White House staff by endors­ing the fir­ing of Comey and agree­ing to write a let­ter in sup­port of it, was appar­ent­ly high­ly dis­turbed by how unse­ri­ous­ly Trump was treat­ing these inter­views. He was also angered at the fact that his let­ter became the pri­ma­ry jus­tifca­tion for the fir­ing:

    ...
    Days after ascend­ing to the role of the nation’s No. 2 law enforce­ment offi­cer, Mr. Rosen­stein was thrust into a cri­sis.

    On a brisk May day, Mr. Rosen­stein and his boss, Mr. Ses­sions, who had recused him­self from the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion because of his role as a promi­nent Trump cam­paign sup­port­er, joined Mr. Trump in the Oval Office. The pres­i­dent informed them of his plan to oust Mr. Comey. To the sur­prise of White House aides who were try­ing to talk the pres­i­dent out of it, Mr. Rosen­stein embraced the idea, even offer­ing to write the memo about the Clin­ton email inquiry. He turned it in short­ly after.

    A day lat­er, Mr. Trump announced the fir­ing, and White House aides released Mr. Rosenstein’s memo, label­ing it the basis for Mr. Comey’s dis­missal. Democ­rats sharply crit­i­cized Mr. Rosen­stein, accus­ing him of help­ing to cre­ate a cov­er sto­ry for the pres­i­dent to ratio­nal­ize the ter­mi­na­tion.

    “You wrote a memo you knew would be used to per­pet­u­ate a lie,” Sen­a­tor Christo­pher Mur­phy, Demo­c­rat of Con­necti­cut, wrote on Twit­ter. “You own this deba­cle.”

    The president’s reliance on his memo caught Mr. Rosen­stein by sur­prise, and he became angry at Mr. Trump, accord­ing to peo­ple who spoke to Mr. Rosen­stein at the time. He grew con­cerned that his rep­u­ta­tion had suf­fered harm.

    A deter­mined Mr. Rosen­stein began telling asso­ciates that he would ulti­mate­ly be “vin­di­cat­ed” for his role in the mat­ter. One week after the fir­ing, Mr. Rosen­stein met with Mr. McCabe and at least four oth­er senior Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials, in part to explain his role in the sit­u­a­tion.

    Dur­ing their dis­cus­sion, Mr. Rosen­stein expressed frus­tra­tion at how Mr. Trump had con­duct­ed the search for a new F.B.I. direc­tor, say­ing the pres­i­dent was fail­ing to take the can­di­date inter­views seri­ous­ly. A hand­ful of politi­cians and law enforce­ment offi­cials, includ­ing Mr. McCabe, were under con­sid­er­a­tion.

    To Mr. Rosen­stein, the hir­ing process was emblem­at­ic of broad­er dys­func­tion stem­ming from the White House. He said both the process and the admin­is­tra­tion itself were in dis­ar­ray, accord­ing to two peo­ple famil­iar with the dis­cus­sion.
    ...

    And if any­one would be famil­iar with how Trump was con­duct­ing these inter­views to replace Comey, it would be Rosen­stein since he was sit­ting on the inter­views:

    ...
    The extreme sug­ges­tions show Mr. Rosenstein’s state of mind in the dis­ori­ent­ing days that fol­lowed Mr. Comey’s dis­missal. Sit­ting in on Mr. Trump’s inter­views with prospec­tive F.B.I. direc­tors and fac­ing attacks for his own role in Mr. Comey’s fir­ing, Mr. Rosen­stein had an up-close view of the tumult. Mr. Rosen­stein appeared con­flict­ed, regret­ful and emo­tion­al, accord­ing to peo­ple who spoke with him at the time.

    Mr. Rosen­stein dis­put­ed this account.
    ...

    When Rosen­stein raised the idea of wear­ing a wire, he appar­ent­ly ani­mat­ed­ly said he was seri­ous when asked by one of the meet­ing par­tic­i­pants. And he appar­ent­ly brought up the wire idea on at least one oth­er occa­sion:

    ...
    Mr. Rosen­stein then raised the idea of wear­ing a record­ing device, or “wire,” as he put it, to secret­ly tape the pres­i­dent when he vis­it­ed the White House. One par­tic­i­pant asked whether Mr. Rosen­stein was seri­ous, and he replied ani­mat­ed­ly that he was.

    If not him, then Mr. McCabe or oth­er F.B.I. offi­cials inter­view­ing with Mr. Trump for the job could per­haps wear a wire or oth­er­wise record the pres­i­dent, Mr. Rosen­stein offered. White House offi­cials nev­er checked his phone when he arrived for meet­ings there, Mr. Rosen­stein added, imply­ing it would be easy to secret­ly record Mr. Trump.

    Mr. Rosen­stein men­tioned the pos­si­bil­i­ty of wear­ing a wire on at least one oth­er occa­sion, the peo­ple said, though they did not pro­vide details.
    ...

    A Jus­tice Depart­ment spokesper­son does acknowl­edge that Rosen­stein did raise the idea of some­one wear­ing a wire, but say it was made sar­cas­ti­cal­ly. Oth­ers, how­ev­er, insist that Rosen­stein was so seri­ous that he fol­lowed up with a sug­ges­tion that the inter­vie­wees also secret­ly record Trump:

    ...
    A Jus­tice Depart­ment spokes­woman also pro­vid­ed a state­ment from a per­son who was present when Mr. Rosen­stein pro­posed wear­ing a wire. The per­son, who would not be named, acknowl­edged the remark but said Mr. Rosen­stein made it sar­cas­ti­cal­ly.

    But accord­ing to the oth­ers who described his com­ments, Mr. Rosen­stein not only con­firmed that he was seri­ous about the idea but also fol­lowed up by sug­gest­ing that oth­er F.B.I. offi­cials who were inter­view­ing to be the bureau’s direc­tor could also secret­ly record Mr. Trump.
    ...

    And that rec­om­men­da­tion that both Rosen­stein and the inter­vie­wees record Trump again rais­es the ques­tion: where these inter­vie­wees ever alone with Trump and was he mak­ing loy­al­ty pledge requests or requests to end inves­ti­ga­tions? Why would both Rosen­stein and the inter­vie­wees need to secret­ly record Trump oth­er­wise?

    At the same times, it’s impor­tant to keep in mind that the anony­mous sources for this sto­ry weren’t actu­al­ly at the meet­ing. They were peo­ple either briefed on the events or briefed on the con­tents of these mem­os:

    ...
    Mr. Rosen­stein made the remarks about secret­ly record­ing Mr. Trump and about the 25th Amend­ment in meet­ings and con­ver­sa­tions with oth­er Jus­tice Depart­ment and F.B.I. offi­cials. Sev­er­al peo­ple described the episodes in inter­views over the past sev­er­al months, insist­ing on anonymi­ty to dis­cuss inter­nal delib­er­a­tions. The peo­ple were briefed either on the events them­selves or on mem­os writ­ten by F.B.I. offi­cials, includ­ing Andrew G. McCabe, then the act­ing bureau direc­tor, that doc­u­ment­ed Mr. Rosenstein’s actions and com­ments.
    ...

    It’s also impor­tant to keep in mind that these sources appear to be char­ac­ter­iz­ing Rosen­stein’s com­ments as a sign of how errat­i­cal­ly he was behav­ing dur­ing this peri­od. That sure sounds like these peo­ple want to see Rosen­stein gone:

    ...
    The sug­ges­tion itself was remark­able. While infor­mants or under­cov­er agents reg­u­lar­ly use con­cealed lis­ten­ing devices to sur­rep­ti­tious­ly gath­er evi­dence for fed­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors, they are typ­i­cal­ly tar­get­ing drug king­pins and Mafia boss­es in crim­i­nal inves­ti­ga­tions, not a pres­i­dent viewed as inef­fec­tive­ly con­duct­ing his duties.

    In the end, the idea went nowhere, the offi­cials said. But they called Mr. Rosenstein’s com­ments an exam­ple of how errat­i­cal­ly he was behav­ing while he was tak­ing part in the inter­views for a replace­ment F.B.I. direc­tor, con­sid­er­ing the appoint­ment of a spe­cial coun­sel and oth­er­wise run­ning the day-to-day oper­a­tions of the more than 100,000 peo­ple at the Jus­tice Depart­ment.
    ...

    Final­ly, it was dur­ing a May 16th meet­ing involv­ing Rosen­stein and McCabe where the 25th Amend­ment idea was brought up:

    ...
    At least two meet­ings took place on May 16 involv­ing both Mr. McCabe and Mr. Rosen­stein, the peo­ple famil­iar with the events of the day said. Mr. Rosen­stein brought up the 25th Amend­ment dur­ing the first meet­ing of Jus­tice Depart­ment offi­cials, they said. A memo about the sec­ond meet­ing writ­ten by one par­tic­i­pant, Lisa Page, a lawyer who worked for Mr. McCabe at the time, did not men­tion the top­ic.
    ...

    And Rosen­stein appar­ent­ly told McCabe that he thought he might be able to per­suade Jeff Ses­sions and John Kel­ly to go ahead with the 25th Amend­ment idea:

    ...
    None of Mr. Rosenstein’s pro­pos­als appar­ent­ly came to fruition. It is not clear how deter­mined he was about see­ing them through, though he did tell Mr. McCabe that he might be able to per­suade Attor­ney Gen­er­al Jeff Ses­sions and John F. Kel­ly, then the sec­re­tary of home­land secu­ri­ty and now the White House chief of staff, to mount an effort to invoke the 25th Amend­ment.
    ...

    So it’s worth not­ing that this report does­n’t just make the fir­ing of Rosen­stein poten­tial­ly eas­i­er for Trump. It also is like­ly to increase Trump’s ten­sions with Jeff Ses­sions and John Kel­ly. Again, this was some remark­able Trump trolling if he real­ly was the tar­get audi­ence for this. It’s seem­ing­ly designed to push his but­tons and prompt a response, which is why the right-wing effort to con­vince Trump not to fire Rosen­stein is so fas­ci­nat­ing:

    Politi­co

    Rosen­stein’s Hill tor­men­tors sur­pris­ing­ly cau­tious after bomb­shell report

    Some Repub­li­cans fear it would only help Democ­rats in the midterms if he’s fired now.

    By RACHAEL BADE, KYLE CHENEY and JOHN BRESNAHAN
    09/22/2018 01:47 PM EDT

    Deputy Attor­ney Gen­er­al Rod Rosenstein’s crit­ics on Capi­tol Hill aren’t call­ing for his head — at least for now.

    Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s top con­gres­sion­al allies have spent months build­ing a case for Rosenstein’s ouster, even threat­en­ing to impeach him in July. But after an explo­sive New York Times report Fri­day that Rosen­stein dis­cussed invok­ing the 25th amend­ment to remove Trump from office — and pro­posed wear­ing a wire to spy on the pres­i­dent — Trump’s allies have been mut­ed.

    House Free­dom Cau­cus lead­ers Mark Mead­ows and Jim Jor­dan, who led a charge to impeach Rosen­stein this sum­mer, have said they want to hear from Rosen­stein and see doc­u­ments alleged­ly describ­ing the com­ments before they decide what to do. That’s award­ed Rosen­stein a cour­tesy they’ve nev­er giv­en him in the past.

    “I think Rod needs to come before Con­gress this week and explain under oath what exact­ly he said and did­n’t say,” Mead­ows said at the Val­ues Vot­ers Sum­mit Sat­ur­day.

    The new­found hes­i­ta­tion to oust Rosen­stein high­lights a cau­tious approach Trump allies have adopt­ed as the Repub­li­can par­ty bar­rels toward a poten­tial blood­bath in the midterms. Some Repub­li­cans fear Trump fir­ing Rosen­stein now would only fur­ther ener­gize Democ­rats mak­ing the case to vot­ers that the pres­i­dent is cor­rupt and needs to be reined in by a Demo­c­ra­t­ic House.

    House Repub­li­cans are also fac­ing a time crunch. GOP lead­ers plan to can­cel all Octo­ber votes to allow mem­bers to cam­paign, leav­ing lit­tle time to go after Rosen­stein.

    In fact, Trump allies have just four days to come up with a plan — which could be why they appear like­ly to delay any action until after the elec­tion.

    In a Fri­day inter­view, Jor­dan, one of Rosen­stein’s fiercest crit­ics in Con­gress, side­stepped ques­tions about whether the House should revis­it Rosenstein’s impeach­ment or try to hold him in con­tempt of Con­gress. Rather, he said, a more focused push to obtain sen­si­tive doc­u­ments from the Jus­tice Depart­ment — which Trump’s allies say would expose anti-Trump bias and cor­rup­tion the FBI — is the most urgent pri­or­i­ty.

    “I want to see those mem­os and eval­u­ate them,” said Jor­dan, who has clashed pub­licly with Rosen­stein over access to doc­u­ments and accused him of threat­en­ing House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee staffers, an alle­ga­tion Rosen­stein denied.

    Jor­dan was­n’t alone in his hes­i­ta­tion. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R‑Fla.), anoth­er vocal Trump ally who has reg­u­lar­ly blast­ed Rosen­stein’s stew­ard­ship of the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion, not­ed that “these [NYT] asser­tions, how­ev­er, are based entire­ly on anony­mous sources, which are far from a guar­an­tee of verac­i­ty.”

    “Fur­ther­more, the reports dif­fer in their assess­ment of Mr. Rosenstein’s intent in say­ing these words,” Gaetz con­tin­ued. “Some sources claim he was speak­ing in jest; oth­ers say that he was seri­ous.”

    The skep­ti­cism reflect­ed the views of some of Trump’s allies in the media, who spent much of Fri­day night warn­ing that the appar­ent smok­ing gun to fire Rosen­stein could actu­al­ly be a trap meant to ensnare the pres­i­dent polit­i­cal­ly and legal­ly. Fox News host Sean Han­ni­ty, whose show has reg­u­lar­ly been a plat­form for guests demand­ing Rosen­stein’s fir­ing or res­ig­na­tion, sug­gest­ed Trump should reject calls to fire Rosen­stein because it could be the “deep-state” goad­ing him into a con­tro­ver­sy.

    “I have a mes­sage for the pres­i­dent tonight,” Han­ni­ty said Fri­day night. “Under zero cir­cum­stances should the pres­i­dent fire any­body. ... The pres­i­dent needs to know it is all a set­up.”

    Trump’s House allies have been inves­ti­gat­ing alle­ga­tions of anti-Trump bias at the FBI for months — and tak­en their anger out on Rosen­stein. They say the deputy attor­ney gen­er­al has slow-walked com­ply­ing with their demands for doc­u­ments. That was their stat­ed jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for threat­en­ing to impeach him over the sum­mer.

    Democ­rats and Rosen­stein defend­ers have long argued that Jor­dan and Mead­ows are mere­ly try­ing to pro­vide Trump a pre­text to fire Rosen­stein because he over­sees spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s ongo­ing Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion. That probe has edged deep inside Trump’s inner cir­cle, and Trump him­self is believed to be the sub­ject of an obstruc­tion of jus­tice probe.

    ...

    Now Repub­li­cans have an even more egre­gious accu­sa­tion they can latch onto, but they’re not. The cau­tion toward Rosen­stein is a marked turn­around from pre­vi­ous dust-ups, when Trump’s allies in the House have giv­en Rosen­stein’s ver­sion of events lit­tle cre­dence and have seized on anony­mous­ly sourced news reports to impugn Rosen­stein’s char­ac­ter.

    A Fox News report in July sug­gest­ing Rosen­stein had threat­ened to access the phone records and emails of House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee staffers — which Rosen­stein sim­i­lar­ly denied — trig­gered a point­ed con­fronta­tion between Jor­dan and Rosen­stein at a House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee hear­ing in June.

    This time, though, con­ser­v­a­tives in the House are rais­ing skep­ti­cism about the sources behind the Times sto­ry, not­ing that it was drawn in part from mem­os draft­ed by for­mer FBI deputy direc­tor Andrew McCabe. McCabe was fired ear­li­er this year and is fac­ing pos­si­ble pros­e­cu­tion for alleged­ly mak­ing false state­ments to inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tors.

    “Andy McCabe is under inves­ti­ga­tion for lying to the FBI,” Mead­ows wrote on Twit­ter Fri­day night. “His words and mem­os should be viewed with extreme skep­ti­cism.”

    Jor­dan in the inter­view said he wants to see the FBI doc­u­ments that allege Rosen­stein dis­cussed the 25th amend­ment and secret­ly tap­ing the pres­i­dent.

    Two senior lead­er­ship sources told POLITICO they didn’t expect Trump back­ers in the House to force the impeach­ment issue this week. They argued that Rosen­stein has been turn­ing over doc­u­ments that Jor­dan and Mead­ows want.

    The ear­li­er effort to impeach Rosen­stein appeared to have stalled. It had 15 cospon­sors in the House before law­mak­ers left for the August recess, and no one has signed the doc­u­ment since then.

    Not every­one appears to have got­ten the memo, how­ev­er. Con­ser­v­a­tive news per­son­al­i­ties Jea­nine Pir­ro, Matt Schlapp and Lau­ra Ingra­ham all called on Trump to fire Rosen­stein over the Times report.

    Ingra­ham, how­ev­er, lat­er delet­ed a tweet that read, “Rod Rosen­stein must be fired today.”

    ———-

    “Rosen­stein’s Hill tor­men­tors sur­pris­ing­ly cau­tious after bomb­shell report” by RACHAEL BADE, KYLE CHENEY and JOHN BRESNAHAN; Politi­co; 09/22/2018

    “I have a mes­sage for the pres­i­dent tonight...Under zero cir­cum­stances should the pres­i­dent fire any­body. ... The pres­i­dent needs to know it is all a set­up.”

    That was the mes­sage to Trump from Sean Han­ni­ty! And for any­one remote­ly famil­iar with Han­ni­ty this was high­ly out of char­ac­ter. And he’s just one of the main ‘usu­al sus­pects’ act­ing very unusu­al­ly:

    ...
    House Free­dom Cau­cus lead­ers Mark Mead­ows and Jim Jor­dan, who led a charge to impeach Rosen­stein this sum­mer, have said they want to hear from Rosen­stein and see doc­u­ments alleged­ly describ­ing the com­ments before they decide what to do. That’s award­ed Rosen­stein a cour­tesy they’ve nev­er giv­en him in the past.

    “I think Rod needs to come before Con­gress this week and explain under oath what exact­ly he said and did­n’t say,” Mead­ows said at the Val­ues Vot­ers Sum­mit Sat­ur­day.

    ...

    In a Fri­day inter­view, Jor­dan, one of Rosen­stein’s fiercest crit­ics in Con­gress, side­stepped ques­tions about whether the House should revis­it Rosenstein’s impeach­ment or try to hold him in con­tempt of Con­gress. Rather, he said, a more focused push to obtain sen­si­tive doc­u­ments from the Jus­tice Depart­ment — which Trump’s allies say would expose anti-Trump bias and cor­rup­tion the FBI — is the most urgent pri­or­i­ty.

    ...

    Jor­dan was­n’t alone in his hes­i­ta­tion. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R‑Fla.), anoth­er vocal Trump ally who has reg­u­lar­ly blast­ed Rosen­stein’s stew­ard­ship of the Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion, not­ed that “these [NYT] asser­tions, how­ev­er, are based entire­ly on anony­mous sources, which are far from a guar­an­tee of verac­i­ty.”

    “Fur­ther­more, the reports dif­fer in their assess­ment of Mr. Rosenstein’s intent in say­ing these words,” Gaetz con­tin­ued. “Some sources claim he was speak­ing in jest; oth­ers say that he was seri­ous.”
    ...

    When Rep. Matt Gaetz is act­ing as a voice of cau­tion some­thing is awry. But what? Why the sud­den right-wing con­cern about the verac­i­ty of sources? It’s so atyp­i­cal it’s sus­pi­cious:

    ...
    Democ­rats and Rosen­stein defend­ers have long argued that Jor­dan and Mead­ows are mere­ly try­ing to pro­vide Trump a pre­text to fire Rosen­stein because he over­sees spe­cial coun­sel Robert Mueller’s ongo­ing Rus­sia inves­ti­ga­tion. That probe has edged deep inside Trump’s inner cir­cle, and Trump him­self is believed to be the sub­ject of an obstruc­tion of jus­tice probe.

    ...

    Now Repub­li­cans have an even more egre­gious accu­sa­tion they can latch onto, but they’re not. The cau­tion toward Rosen­stein is a marked turn­around from pre­vi­ous dust-ups, when Trump’s allies in the House have giv­en Rosen­stein’s ver­sion of events lit­tle cre­dence and have seized on anony­mous­ly sourced news reports to impugn Rosen­stein’s char­ac­ter.

    A Fox News report in July sug­gest­ing Rosen­stein had threat­ened to access the phone records and emails of House Intel­li­gence Com­mit­tee staffers — which Rosen­stein sim­i­lar­ly denied — trig­gered a point­ed con­fronta­tion between Jor­dan and Rosen­stein at a House Judi­cia­ry Com­mit­tee hear­ing in June.

    This time, though, con­ser­v­a­tives in the House are rais­ing skep­ti­cism about the sources behind the Times sto­ry,. not­ing that it was drawn in part from mem­os draft­ed by for­mer FBI deputy direc­tor Andrew McCabe. McCabe was fired ear­li­er this year and is fac­ing pos­si­ble pros­e­cu­tion for alleged­ly mak­ing false state­ments to inter­nal inves­ti­ga­tors.
    ...

    Even Lau­ra Ingra­ham appears to be back­ing away from using this as a call to fire Rosen­stein. It’s just bizarre:

    ...
    Not every­one appears to have got­ten the memo, how­ev­er. Con­ser­v­a­tive news per­son­al­i­ties Jea­nine Pir­ro, Matt Schlapp and Lau­ra Ingra­ham all called on Trump to fire Rosen­stein over the Times report.

    Ingra­ham, how­ev­er, lat­er delet­ed a tweet that read, “Rod Rosen­stein must be fired today.”
    ...

    So is this real­ly an elab­o­rate trap designed to infu­ri­ate Trump and prompt a rapid fir­ing of Rosen­stein? And is that why so many right-wing voic­es are going out of their way to con­vince Trump to not do some­thing they’ve been advo­cat­ing he do for months?

    We’ll see, but it’s worth keep­ing in mind that the under­lin­ing sto­ry here is that Rosen­stein appar­ent­ly wit­nessed behav­ior from Trump so egre­gious that he felt it might be worth of invok­ing the 25th Amend­ment. So whether or not one thinks that this sto­ry ends up reflect­ing poor­ly on Rosen­stein, it’s pret­ty unam­bigu­ous that it ends up mak­ing Trump look either incred­i­bly cor­rupt, or men­tal­ly incom­pe­tent, or both, if the sto­ry is tak­en seri­ous­ly which makes it a poten­tial­ly mas­ter­ful piece of cal­cu­lat­ed trolling if that real­ly is what this is. So per­haps that might all have some­thing to do with the right-wing’s sud­den fret­ting about the verac­i­ty of anony­mous sources. Still, that mas­ter­ful trolling aside, you have to won­der what’s up with this.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | September 22, 2018, 4:25 pm

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