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FBI Blowback!

The biggest loser because of the letter announcing that the FBI is looking into Clinton’s emails seems to be the man who sent the letter, FBI Director James Comey. And the criticism is non-partisan.

Richard Painter, the chief White House ethics lawyer under Dubya (and needless to say a Republican), has filed a complaint against the FBI for violating the Hatch Act, which prohibits government workers from unnecessarily influencing an election. Painter says that Comey abused his power.

Indeed, according to Fox News, Comey admitted publicly that he felt he had to send the letter because Clinton was running for president. It sure looks like he was deliberately trying to influence the election (and note that you are in violation of the Hatch Act even if you weren’t deliberately trying to influence the election).

Three former attorney generals, including two who served George W Bush, have condemned Comey. Comey was the deputy attorney general under Alberto Gonzales in the Bush adminstration. Gonzales said Comey’s actions were an “error in judgement” and that he is “somewhat perplexed about what the director was trying to accomplish here.” Comey’s actions were also criticized by Michael Mukasey, who served Dubya after Gonzales.

Obama’s former attorney general Eric Holder said Comey’s actions were a “stunning breach” of law enforcement protocol:

I served with Jim Comey, and I know him well. This is a very difficult piece for me to write. He is a man of integrity and honor. I respect him. But good men make mistakes. In this instance, he has committed a serious error with potentially severe implications. It is incumbent upon him — or the leadership of the department — to dispel the uncertainty he has created before Election Day. It is up to the director to correct his mistake — not for the sake of a political candidate or campaign but in order to protect our system of justice and best serve the American people.

Comey was also condemned by former prosecutors and Justice Department officials. One former US attorney said “Director Comey acted totally inappropriately. He had no business writing to Congress about supposed new emails that neither he nor anyone in the FBI has ever reviewed.” At least 100 former Justice Department officials signed a letter condemning Comey’s actions, and more than 30 former state attorneys general (from both parties) signed a similar letter, saying that Comey had made a “serious mistake”.

Probably the most surprising condemnation of Comey came from Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, who is a former prosecutor, judge, and Republican elected official from the state of New York. Pirro said on her show that Comey “disgraces and politicizes the FBI and is symptomatic of all that is wrong in Washington.”

Comey’s actions violate not only long-standing Justice Department policy, the directive of the person that he works under, the attorney general. But even more important, the most fundamental rules of fairness and impartiality.

Pirro’s anger comes from personal experience. When she was running for NY attorney general in 2006, the FBI and the Justice Department announced that they were opening an investigation of her. Pirro says it was “mean-spirited and, of course, nothing came of it, except the adverse publicity cost me at the polls. What was done to me in 2006 was wrong, and what happened to Hillary Clinton [Friday], was equally wrong.”

But it could even be worse than that. The FBI may have violated the constitution by conducting an illegal search:

If the laptop was “seized” by the FBI, it’s unlikely that either Weiner or Abedin voluntarily turned over the emails. That means the agency needed to get a search warrant, by swearing to a judge there was probable cause to believe that data on the laptop contained evidence of the suspected “sexting” crime. Under the Constitution, the warrant should have specified exactly the information to be seized and searched, and thereby limited the FBI from looking through the entire contents of the laptop.

Indeed, why were federal agents looking at any emails belonging to the suspect’s estranged spouse? Surely the FBI didn’t think Abedin was involved in the alleged sexting crime.

There are other curious things about the letter that make it look deliberately partisan. For example, Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) tweeted about the letter even before Democratic congresspersons received it. Why would Comey favor Republicans by giving them a heads-up?

Not only that, but while the FBI director has made public announcement about their investigation into Clinton, they are also conducting an investigation into Trump’s relationship to Russia, but they have not made any public announcements about that. According to Senator Harry Reid (D-NV):

In my communications with you and other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and co-ordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers, and the Russian government – a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity.

Indeed, Comey himself argued against disclosing the Russian investigation because it was too close to the presidential election, and removed the FBI’s name from the report. So why did the FBI feel it had to publicly talk about the Clinton investigation, but not about a far more serious investigation into Trump? Why is the FBI being partisan?

And in the end, there is evidence that the release of the letter isn’t actually changing many votes. So the only loser may be Comey. I suspect that he may soon resign.



  1. Hassan wrote:

    From electoral-vote:

    “…..He and his colleagues contacted Paul Vixie, who wrote much of the DNS code that makes the Internet work. Their conclusion: There was a secret digital hotline between Trump’s servers and those in Russia…”

    Although FBI says:

    I will take Computer Scientists over FBI.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 7:28 am | Permalink
  2. Il-08 wrote:

    Sure, everybody condemns Comey, except President Trump.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 8:36 am | Permalink
  3. Hassan wrote:

    Well, President Obama also made remarks in favor of Comey.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 8:41 am | Permalink
  4. il-08 wrote:

    Hassan, it is hard to describe the remark that he doesn’t think someone is being a criminal as being in favor of them.

    All Obama said is that he did not believe comey was trying to intentionally influence the election. That does not come anywhere near saying they are in favor of them. I would consider that type if lie-spin trumpworthy.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink
  5. Wildwood wrote:

    Resign my ass! The man should be investigated, found guilty and put in jail. If you don’t make an example of a person who did what he did, then others will see no reason to not do the same thing. The more I read and think about this, the madder I get. I would be just as appalled if this were a Democrat. What is wrong is wrong. And this is wrong on several levels.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 10:11 am | Permalink
  6. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Anybody remember 1992 when Bill was running against Bush I and 4 days before the election a special prosecutor announced an indictment against Casper Weinberger who was the SecDef under Reagan. The charges were related to the Iran Contra issue and the charges seemed to contradict Bush’s earlier statement. This prompted Bill to claim that he was running against a corrupt system and ultimately won him the election. Back then both he and Hillary were cheering the news.
    Sounds like karma to me

    Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 10:27 am | Permalink
  7. ThatGuy wrote:

    PatriotSGT: Remember in 1992 when Clinton had been up in the polls since that July? Claiming the Weinberger case won him that election is plainly at odds with reality. Clinton even finished below his late October early November polling numbers.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 12:33 pm | Permalink
  8. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Thatguy- being almost 25 years ago I’d have to rely on historical accounts and most say that Bush was closing the gap in the final weeks and that the the incident stopped his momentum.
    As to the FBI director, I can’t say but have this informed opinion. I’ve been doing criminal analysis for a while now and I am one of the guys (at Homeland Security) who analyzes the evidence and makes recommendations to bosses whether to move forward. If I went to my boss and said “hey I found some emails from Hillary” he’d fire me for wasting his time. Instead I’d need to provide something significant and specific for my boss to take it to his boss and ask him to stick his neck out as far as Comey did. They would not want to hear I think or I guess.
    Now if the FBI analyst or agent just said hey there’s a lot of emails on this computer and some relate to Hillary, and Comey said that’s good enough for me then they have lost all credibility. I’ll leave it up to you and the facts that will eventually come out to
    theorize which scenario is the reality.

    Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 2:48 pm | Permalink
  9. ThatGuy wrote:

    They didn’t even have a warrant to search the emails until two days after Comey wrote Congress. Comey himself said he had no way of knowing if there was anything significant therein. So either they illegally searched the emails without a warrant to find the specific something you mention or Comey decided on your latter theory.

    Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at 7:16 am | Permalink
  10. PatriotSGT wrote:

    In reality, because the evidence was discovered on a device where there was already a warrant in place or permission to search, there is wiggle room built in. For example if a suspect in one of our cases voluntarily allows access and even provides the password we will search it to discover if pertinent evidence exists. If there is then we obtain a court order to complete the full examination and to cover our backsides. The court will not issue an order unless you can make the case that the device is likely to contain evidence and that you can, by affidavit, articulate what crime is the evidence associated to.
    So it is likely that the director had some specific examples to base his assumptions on, and then blessed off on going the full Monty.
    My guess is there could have been some obstruction of justice issue, in that Huma, Hillary or the State Dept had testified or stated that all evidence had been turned over minus the deleted emails. That may not have been true after the discovery of Carlos Dangers laptop.
    So this may begin as unrelated to Hillary, but related to Huma. And it has the real ability to come full circle back to Hillary. If Huma stated she turned all email over, but “forgot” about this stash, initially it’s about her. But if evidence comes to light that Hillary crossed some lines then it will come back to bite her.

    Like I said, we’ll have to wait. The Podesta Wikileaks stuff isn’t helping matters either.

    Wednesday, November 2, 2016 at 11:09 am | Permalink

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