Many political insiders, especially Republicans, say Comey’s letter changed the trajectory of the 2016 presidential race.
Politico asks “a panel of activists, strategists and operatives in 11 swing states” their opinions on the evolving 2016 presidential election campaign. In their latest query, nearly two-thirds of Republicans say that FBI Director James Comey’s October 28, 2016 letter announcing the reopening of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation “fundamentally altered the trajectory of the race.”
One unnamed Republican insider states, “There are a handful of words that can fundamentally alter the trajectory of a race. These include words and phrases like ‘indictment,’ ‘FBI investigation’ and ‘grand jury.’ These are popping with just barely enough time to make a difference in the race, even enough time for ad-makers to change out closing commercials.”
Another unnamed Republican insider says, “That is not how to end a campaign. [Clinton] wins when Trump is the issue. She loses when she is the issue.”
However, only 20 percent of Democratic insiders say the Comey letter changed the trajectory of the race.
One unnamed Democratic insider says, “It changed the race by bringing the map back to normal [meaning a non-landslide win for Clinton]. Pre-FBI, she was going to reach for 400 [electoral votes].” (Politico, 11/4/2016)
A majority of voters think Clinton acted illegally.
Four days before the 2016 US presidential election, a majority of voters believe Clinton has done something illegal with her email controversy and/or Clinton Foundation, according to a McClatchy-Marist Poll. Eighty-three percent of likely voters believe she did something wrong, with 51 percent saying she did something illegal and 32 percent saying she something unethical but not illegal. Only 14 percent say she’s done nothing wrong.
Her main opponent, Republican nominee Donald Trump, has also been beset by scandals and controversies. Seventy-nine percent think Trump did something wrong. Just 26 percent think he’s done something illegal, while 53 percent think he’s done something unethical but not illegal. Only 17 percent think he’s done nothing wrong.
McClatchy Newpapers comments, “The deep suspicion of Clinton is likely a top reason she’s lost much of her lead and the race for the White House has tightened in the race’s closing days.” According to the poll, Clinton is only ahead by one point, 44 percent to 43 percent.
Both candidates are widely disliked. Clinton has an unfavorable rating of 57 percent and Trump has an unfavorable-favorable rating of 61 percent. Both numbers are unprecedented in the history of presidential polling this close to Election Day. (McClatchy Newspapers, 11/4/2016)
It is alleged Comey told Congress about reopening the FBI’s Clinton investigation at least partially due to fears of leaks from the FBI’s New York office.
Reuters reports that FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to Congress on October 28, 2016, revealing that the Clinton email investigation was being reopened, at least partially due to fear of leaks from within the FBI.
The investigation is being reopened due to new evidence discovered in an unrelated FBI investigation into sexual texts Anthony Weiner allegedly sent to a minor. Weiner is a former New York Congressperson and the estranged husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
It is believed that the Weiner investigation is being conducted with the help of the FBI’s New York field office, which initially discovered the emails. Two unnamed law enforcement officials say that a faction of FBI agents in the New York office are believed to be hostile to Hillary Clinton, and have been known to leak information to the press.
These sources also say that the examination of new evidence – believed to be thousands of Abedin’s emails found on Weiner’s computer – is being conducted under very tight security at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC. (Reuters, 11/3/2016)
It is alleged leakers inside the FBI are upset at Clinton, James Comey, and/or the Justice Department.
The Guardian reports that “Deep antipathy to Hillary Clinton exists within the FBI,” according to multiple FBI sources, “spurring a rapid series of leaks damaging to her campaign just days before the election.” Both current and former anonymous FBI officials “have described a chaotic internal climate that resulted from outrage over [FBI Director] James Comey’s July  decision” not to recommend indictment.
One current agent says, “The FBI is Trumpland,” referring to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. Clinton is “the antichrist personified to a large swath of FBI personnel,” and “the reason why they’re leaking is they’re pro-Trump.”
However, “other sources dispute the depth of support for Trump within the [FBI], though they uniformly stated that Clinton is viewed highly unfavorably.”
A former FBI official says, “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. … 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 [the Justice Department].”
While FBI agents are upset at Comey and his handling of the investigation, agents are also upset with what is seen as obstructionism from the Justice Department. The Guardian comments, “Some feel Comey needs to address the criticism and provide reassurance that the [FBI], with its wide-ranging investigative and surveillance powers, will comport itself in an apolitical manner.” But since October 28, 2016, when Comey announced the reopening of the investigation, he has stayed silent. (The Guardian, 11/3/2016)
Previously unknown Huma Abedin emails relevant to the FBI’s Clinton email investigation have been found on her husband’s computer.
CBS News reporter Paula Reid posts a Tweet regarding the FBI’s recently started analysis of Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s emails found on her husband Anthony Weiner’s computer: “@CBSNews confirms FBI found emails on #AnthonyWeiner computer, related to Hillary Clinton server, that are ‘new’ & not previously reviewed.” (Twitter, 11/3/2016)
In a follow-up Tweet, she explains what she means by “related to Hillary Clinton server:” “An email sent to or from an email address connected to the private Clinton sever. Doesn’t mean it’s HRC’s [Clinton’s] email.” (Twitter, 11/3/2016)
Later in the day, CBS News reports, “The FBI has found emails related to Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state on the laptop belonging to the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, Anthony Weiner, according to a US official. These emails… are not duplicates of emails found on Secretary Clinton’s private server. At this point, however, it remains to be seen whether these emails are significant to the FBI’s investigation into Clinton. It is also not known how many relevant emails there are.” (CBS News, 11/3/2016)
Obama indirectly criticizes Comey, saying “we don’t operate on innuendo.”
President Obama publicly comments for the first time about FBI Director James Comey’s letter on October 28, 2016 that effectively announced the reopening of the Clinton email investigation just 11 days prior to the 2016 US presidential election.
Obama doesn’t directly mention Comey. But he says, “I do think that there is a norm that when there are investigations, we don’t operate on innuendo and we don’t operate on incomplete information and we don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.”
Obama says, “I’ve made a very deliberate effort to make sure that I don’t look like I am meddling in what are supposed to be independent processes for making these assessments.”
But then he makes comments that clearly are supportive of Clinton, by downplaying the implications of reopening the investigation. “Obviously, it’s become a political controversy. The fact of the matter is that Hillary Clinton, having been in the arena for 30 years, oftentimes gets knocked around and people say crazy stuff about her and when she makes a mistake, an honest mistake, it ends up getting blown up as if it’s some crazy thing. I trust her. I know her.”
Obama also notes, “When this was investigated thoroughly last time, the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was she had made some mistakes but that there wasn’t anything there that was prosecutable.” (CNN, 11/2/2016) (CNN, 11/2/2016)
Contrary to Obama’s claims that he has made an effort not to meddle, in October 2015 he made comments supporting Clinton in her email controversy that were criticized. Then he did so again in April 2016.
October 31, 2016 – Clinton and Podesta tweets suggest foreknowledge of a Slate article, stating Trump is covertly communicating with Russia, just days before the election
Within days of the 2016 election, Clinton campaign manager, John Podesta, posts a tweet on October 31st, 2016 at 4:44 PM, and includes a link to an article by Slate:
However, the article wasn’t published at the time of Podesta’s tweet. The Slate article is published at 5:36 PM on October 31, 2016, an hour after Podesta’s tweet.
At the exact same time Slate’s article is published, Clinton tweets with an attached statement about the Slate article by Jake Sullivan who writes, “in response to a new report from Slate showing that the Trump organization has a secret server registered to Trump Tower that has been covertly communicating with Russia.”
How is it possible that Podesta and Clinton’s tweets and an attached written statement by Jake Sullivan, could quote the Slate article that was not yet public?
Ironically, on the same day, the New York Times publishes a story that debunks the Alfa Bank/Trump/covert Russia communications conspiracy.
(…) “F.B.I. officials spent weeks examining computer data showing an odd stream of activity to a Trump Organization server and Alfa Bank. Computer logs obtained by The New York Times show that two servers at Alfa Bank sent more than 2,700 “look-up” messages — a first step for one system’s computers to talk to another — to a Trump-connected server beginning in the spring. But the F.B.I. ultimately concluded that there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam, for the computer contacts.” (The New York Times, 10/31/2016)
A senator wants to know if the FBI ever asked for subpoena power in the Clinton email investigation, and if not, why not.
Following the October 28, 2016 revelation that FBI Director James Comey has at least partially reopened the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, Senator Charles Grassley (R), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sends him a letter with a series of questions.
He points that in May 2016, “I wrote to you expressing concern about the appearance that political appointees at the Justice Department might be withholding approval for the FBI to seek search warrants and grand jury subpoenas. These standard investigative tools are usually approved in criminal investigations of this scope and importance. However, it remains unclear to this day whether the FBI requested the use of a grand jury in the Clinton email investigation to compel documents and testimony, and if so, whether the [Justice Department] denied that request. These concerns are only magnified by these latest developments [regarding the reopening of the investigation].”
He adds, “If the FBI is denied the ability to gather evidence through compulsory means, Secretary Clinton and her aides have enormous leverage to negotiate extraordinary concessions in exchange for voluntary cooperation. It is critical for the public to know whether the FBI has requested from the Justice Department vital investigative tools such as grand jury subpoenas and search warrants and whether it has been denied access to them.” (Politico, 11/1/2016) (US Congress, 10/31/2016)
Two days later, it will be reported that the FBI never asked the Justice Department for the grand jury legal backing needed for subpoena power, but this has not been officially confirmed.
On September 28, 2016, Comey hinted that he preferred making immunity deals with key witnesses over using subpoena power in order to bring the investigation to a faster conclusion.
The FBI begins analyzing Huma Abedin’s newly discovered emails.
On October 30, 2016, the FBI obtained a search warrant, allowing its agents who had taken part in the FBI’s Clinton email investigation to have access to hundreds of thousands of emails belonging to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. According to the New York Times, by the next day, the FBI begins using a special computer program that can help FBI analysts determine whether the emails contain classified information.
Clinton turned over about 30,000 of her emails to the State Department in December 2014, and deleted about another 31,000. The FBI recovered about 17,000 of those deleted emails during its investigation, which concluded in July 2016. The program should allow analysts to learn relatively quickly how many emails are previously known copies. Abedin also had an email account on Clinton’s server, and there are thousands of her emails not sent to or from Clinton, but their exact number is unknown.
One unnamed “senior law enforcement official” says, “This is not a manpower issue. It’s an issue of getting the emails into a program that can allow agents to look at them.”
The FBI is under intense pressure to complete its review before the US presidential election on November 8, 2016, just over one week away. However, if previously unknown emails are discovered, it could take weeks or months for various government departments to confer and agree upon their classification status.
If more classified emails are found, that likely will not cause new legal difficulties for Clinton or Abedin, because many such emails already were found, but FBI Director James Comey said that he wouldn’t recommend any indictments without evidence of criminal intent.
The Times comments that “What could cause problems for Ms. Abedin — and by extension Mrs. Clinton — is if the FBI finds evidence that anyone tried to conceal these new emails from investigators. Ms. Abedin has said she turned over all her emails to the FBI months ago and does not know how emails ended up” on the computer owned by her estranged husband Anthony Weiner.
(The New York Times, 10/31/2016)
- 30068 released emails
- 31830 deleted emails
- Abedin emails on Weiner's computer
- Anthony Weiner
- classified information
- Clinton's missing emails
- FBI's Anthony Weiner investigation
- FBI's Clinton email investigation
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- Hillary Clinton
- Huma Abedin
- New York Times
- reopened FBI Clinton email investigation
Former Attorney General Mukasey claims Comey is in a no-win situation due to his earlier failure to pursue a vigorous Clinton email investigation.
Michael Mukasey, the US attorney general from 2007 to 2009, writes an editorial in the Wall Street Journal with the title: “The FBI Director’s Dishonorable Choice.”
He suggests that FBI Director James Comey’s recent highly controversial reopening of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation shortly before the 2016 US presidential election is due to earlier mistakes Comey made in the investigation.
“Recall that Mr. Comey’s authority extends only to supervising the gathering of facts to be presented to Justice Department lawyers for their confidential determination of whether those facts justify a federal prosecution. Nonetheless, in July  he announced that ‘no reasonable prosecutor’ would seek to charge her with a crime, although Mrs. Clinton had classified information on a private non-secure server—at least a misdemeanor under one statute; and although she was ‘extremely careless’ in her handling of classified information such that it was exposed to hacking by hostile foreign nations—a felony under another statute; and apparently had caused the destruction of emails—a felony under two other statutes.”
He continues, “Those decisions were not his to make, nor were the reasons he offered for making them at all tenable: that prosecutions for anything but mishandling large amounts of classified information, accompanied by false statements to investigators, were unprecedented; and that criminal prosecutions for gross negligence were constitutionally suspect.”
He also points to immunity deals made with key suspects that even included destroying their computers after limited searches, and a failure to get to the bottom of computer technician Paul Combetta’s destruction of Clinton’s emails in March 2015, supposedly done entirely on his own for no clear motive. “Why would an FBI director, who at one time was an able and aggressive prosecutor, agree to such terms or accept such a fantastic story?”
He also claims that emails between President Obama and Clinton on her private server suggested that “if Mrs. Clinton was at criminal risk for communicating on her non-secure system, so was [Obama].” The FBI needs the cooperation of a grand jury, and only the legal authority of a grand jury would give the FBI subpoena power to conduct a real investigation. If Attorney General Loretta Lynch refused to allow a grand jury, Comey “could have gone public with his request, and threatened to resign if it was not followed. … Instead, Mr. Comey acceded to the apparent wish of President Obama that no charges be brought.”
That lack of courage put Comey in his no-win situation when more evidence happened to come to light shortly before Election Day. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)