Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Unforced Errors of a Political Witch-Hunt

As far as "October Surprises" go, this was one that kind of exploded in the face of the ones throwing it onto the political landscape. To wit via the New Yorker:

On Friday morning, James Comey, the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, sent a letter to the heads of several committees on Capitol Hill, in which he said he wished to “supplement” the testimony he gave in July about the Bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server. During that testimony, Comey had defended his decision not to bring any charges in the case, even though his agents had found evidence that Clinton and her aides were, in his words, “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

Back in July, the Republicans in Congress berated Comey for his lack of communication with their committees that were witch-hunting, uh investigating Hillary. As such, Comey promised to keep them better in the loop. Hence this letter:

In his letter on Friday, Comey wrote, “In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation. I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and 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.” Comey added that the agency couldn’t yet determine “whether or not this material may be significant or not,” or “how long it will take us to complete this additional work.”
Comey’s letter was brief and, evidently, carefully stated. Remarkably, though, its release wasn’t accompanied by any contextual information or background briefing to either lawmakers or the press...

That meant Comey's letter could be twisted into a hundred different ways. For the Hillary-Haters in Congress, that meant they could use it as a weapon:

...It made its way to much of the media in the form of a tweet posted shortly before 1 p.m. by Jason Chaffetz, the Republican Congressman from Utah who chairs the House Committee on Oversight, and who is a longtime Clinton tormentor. “FBI Dir just informed me, ‘The FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation,’ ” Chaffetz’s tweet said. “Case reopened.”

So for about three hours this past Friday afternoon, the entire political world was caught up in another maelstorm of WTF ZOMG HILLARY DOOMED NOW ranting. Republicans both high and low crowed. Trump started talking like the election wasn't rigged anymore.

And then people started asking just WHAT was in these new emails to begin with, and how they could tie into the questionably overblown scandal of Hillary's Secret Sec of State Server. Reporters like Pete Williams at NBC started digging - and started hearing from sources in the FBI and Department of Justice - and found out the "new and shocking" emails were in fact tied into the ongoing investigation into disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner's habit of sexting (including the recent allegations he went after a 14-year-old girl online), and that it had more to do with Hillary's personal advisor Huma Abedin - Weiner's rightly angry ex - than with Hillary herself. There's no evidence Hillary has anything to do with these new emails.

In other words, this is just another goddamn Nothing-burger the Far Right are twisting into another anti-Hillary conspiracy.

The story quickly turned on the fact that Comey overstated the value of the new revelations as they related to Hillary, and that he misrepresented which investigation was actually being pursued. He also - according to former FBI personnel - violated various departmental protocols with the FBI and DOJ. The one who's really in trouble now is Comey.

The one who OUGHT TO BE IN TROUBLE is Chaffetz. He's the one who took Comey's vague letter and turned into a source of fake outrage for the Republicans on the Far Right to tout as the final blow to Hillary's Presidential hopes. But elected officials apparently never answer for their sins, and Chaffetz is likely going to get re-elected in his safe Deep Red district back in Utah.

So we can look forward to at least two more years of Chaffetz tossing these types of bombs onto America with fake investigation after fake probe after fake outrage towards Hillary. He's already promised to do this.

It shouldn't be the Republicans getting angry here: It should be the Democrats. And you Dems BETTER USE THAT ANGER TO GET THE DAMN VOTE OUT AND KICK THESE REPUBLICAN BASTARDS OUT OF OFFICE.



dinthebeast said...

I find this slightly amusing that Comey's the one in trouble here over some obviously CYA behavior...
Which won't work, by the way, by spring 2017 (at the latest) he is toast. Perhaps he's thinking about his future employment opportunities.

-Doug in Oakland

Infidel753 said...


Comey's action is sufficiently blatant and clumsy that that just might happen. There's precedent, in a way. Some Southern states had even higher black turnout in 2012 than in 2008 because people got angry at the state governments' various schemes to make voting more difficult in black areas. A lot of Republicans are pretty dumb and their efforts at manipulation backfire.