Sunday, October 30, 2016

Justice Dept. advised against Comey's letter

The NY Times reports on how FBI Director Comey broke with tradition in writing his letter to Congress this close to an election, Justice Dept. Strongly Discouraged Comey on Move in Clinton Email Case.

The day before the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, sent a letter to Congress announcing that new evidence had been discovered that may be related to the completed Hillary Clinton email investigation, the Justice Department strongly discouraged the step and told him that he would be breaking with longstanding policy, three law enforcement officials said.

Senior Justice Department officials did not move to stop him from sending the letter, officials said, but they did everything short of it, pointing to policies against talking about current criminal investigations or being seen as meddling in elections.

That Mr. Comey moved ahead despite those protestations underscores the highly unusual nature of Friday’s revelations, which added a dramatic twist to the final days of a presidential campaign and reignited a firestorm that Mrs. Clinton believed she had put behind her when the F.B.I. decided in July not to charge anyone in the investigation.

The letter is also the latest example of an at-times strained relationship between the Justice Department and Mr. Comey, who technically answers to the attorney general but who — on issues of race, encryption, policing and most notably the Clinton investigation — has branded himself as someone who operates outside Washington’s typical chain of command.

Mr. Comey’s letter opened him up to criticism not only from Democrats but also from current and former officials at the F.B.I. and the Justice Department, including Republicans.

“There’s a longstanding policy of not doing anything that could influence an election,” said George J. Terwilliger III, a deputy attorney general under the President George Bush. “Those guidelines exist for a reason. Sometimes, that makes for hard decisions. But bypassing them has consequences.”

Right. And in a review of the facts and fallacies Mother Jones exposes what those consequences are: namely that We Have 10 Days of Madhouse Politics Ahead of Us.

With 10 days to go before Election Day, we are FUBARed. Have you heard? There are some emails. They are pertinent to something or other. But nobody has actually read them, so, actually, maybe they aren’t.

They are from Hillary Clinton to Huma Abedin. No, wait, they aren’t. Or maybe they are. No they’re not.

They are duplicates of emails we’ve already seen. No they aren’t. But maybe some of them are. Or most of them.

The FBI was legally required to inform Congress about these emails. No, just the opposite: it was an egregious breach of a longstanding Department of Justice policy of not announcing things that might affect a presidential campaign within 60 days of Election Day.

The emails are “bigger than Watergate.” They’re a nothingburger.

Jim Comey was in a no-win situation. No, he should have waited until he knew more.

Comey had no idea what effect his cryptic letter would have. Don’t be an idiot: he’s been in Washington for decades and knew exactly what effect it would have.

Sure, but he’s a standup guy. No, he’s a Republican hack and he’s trying to affect Republicans chance[s] in downballot races.

What an unbelievable cock-up. Are we really going to spend the last ten days of the election eagerly awaiting each new leak from “officials” at the FBI who might know things and might not? Seriously? After this election is over, Jim Comey should resign and then spend the rest of his life in a monastery reflecting on his failings.

If Clinton loses this election, we get a con man for president, Trump. If she wins only by a narrow margin, we still get Trump with trumped up lawsuits. If Comey’s actions hurt the Democratic chances down ballot, we get more paralysis in DC. If any of these possible outcomes are realized, we will have experienced a government law enforcement agency intervening to sway the results of the election. That may not be illegal, but it sure is unAmerican.

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