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

43 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 (R). 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

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