On Friday, FBI Director James Comey notified Congress of newly discovered e-mails in a separate case which may be “pertinent” to the Clinton e-mail investigation.
Many outlets reported this as a re-opening (a term the FBI has not used) of the Clinton case while Donald Trump himself responded Clinton’s corruption “is on a scale that we’ve never seen before.”
The reality is: this latest “revelation” is likely absolutely nothing.
The e-mails were located on a device (reportedly a laptop) connected to the Anthony Weiner underage sexting investigation. Weiner is married to Hillary Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin; the two are currently separated.
So, where did the latest e-mails come from?
Clinton’s preferred method to read documents was on paper and not digital. Previously, Abedin had told investigators she had issues printing documents on the government network and would move emails from her (unclassified) State Department account to her Yahoo account. An unnamed government official told Newsweek, investigators believe this how the e-mails under review ended up on a laptop owned by Weiner and Abedin.
The fact that the recently discovered e-mails were not from Clinton’s private server was not mentioned in Comey’s letter to Congress.
There is also nothing indicating any evidence was intentionally withheld during the e-mail investigation of Clinton.
“The FBI would never have reopened this case, at this time, unless it were a most egregious criminal offense,” Trump told supporters at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
As of this writing, the FBI has yet to acquire a warrant to actually review the e-mails. This contradicts the certainty of wrong doing currently being touted by Trump and the GOP.
Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway tweeted on Friday: “A great day in our campaign just got even better.”
Of course if you know Trump, the “great” days can’t last long. That evening Trump ordered a black supporter removed from a rally after calling him a “thug”, believing he was a protestor.
“What have you got to lose?” Black citizens can now add “my spot for which I waited hours in line” to the list.
House Speaker Paul Ryan also pulled out his soapbox as the news of the FBI review broke:
“This decision, long overdue, is the result of her [Clinton’s] reckless use of a private email server, and her refusal to be forthcoming with federal investigators.”
Easy, buddy. Multiple news outlets are reporting that the e-mails under review are not to or from Clinton… important information that should also have been included in Comey’s Congressional letter or a press release.
Without a warrant, there is no confirmation anything classified is even on the laptop. These e-mails also could simply be duplicates that had been previously reviewed.
Comey clearly felt he had to elaborate in a follow-up letter sent to FBI employees:
“…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, there is a significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.”
It has since come out that the Department of Justice opposed Comey’s timing of sending the letter to Congress, citing the department policy of not commenting on investigations so close to election day.
Although I disagree with the wording, I understand Comey’s insistence with the letter. The director came under fire from conservatives after his July announcement recommending no criminal charges against Clinton. I can only imagine the reaction to Comey and the agency itself if he had waited until after the election to announce this development (I imagine it would have flattened Trey Gowdy’s faux-hawk). However, there was more explanation in the reports that followed than that which went to Congress, and that matters.
Thanks to Comey’s lack of context, we now have Donald Trump and Paul Ryan writing Choose Your Own Adventure stories before the media.
The most shocking aspect of this latest development for critics of the Democratic nominee may be that it doesn’t involve Hillary Clinton at all.
Update 10/30/2016: On Sunday, officials confirmed the FBI had discovered the Abedin e-mails weeks ago. Comey was made aware of the discovery in mid-October and received a full briefing last Thursday. Considering how vague Comey’s Congressional letter was, he likely could have sent a similar notification long before the final days of the election.
At this point, James Comey has to be just staring at himself in the bathroom mirror doing Carter Burke impressions: “It was a bad call, Ripley.”
Although there is no explanation for why the Justice Department did not get a warrant to review the e-mails sooner, they now have one as of Sunday night.
Update 11/06/2016: Comey’s letter to Congress sent today reads that the bureau stands by its July decision to not recommend criminal charges against Clinton.