James Comey Decided to do July Press Conference Based on Info Stolen by Russian Hackers
That NY Times piece on Comey’s handling of the email vs. Russia investigations is just wow.
Comey Tried to
Shield the F.B.I. From
Politics. Then He
Shaped an Election.
As the F.B.I. investigated Hillary Clinton and the Trump
campaign, James B. Comey tried to keep the bureau out
of politics but plunged it into the center of a bitter election.
There are many things in this huge NY Times piece that just make you shake your head. How Comey say the Emailgate scandal as representing ‘exceptional circumstances’ but not the fact that Russia was subverting an American Presidential election possibly with the cooperation and collusion of the Trump campaign.
He handled the Russia probe very differently:
“Mr. Reid’s letter sparked frenzied speculation about what the F.B.I. was doing. At a congressional hearing in September, Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, pressed Mr. Comey for an explanation, citing his willingness to give details about his investigation of Mrs. Clinton.”
“After you investigated Secretary Clinton, you made a decision to explain publicly who you interviewed and why,” Mr. Nadler said. “You also disclosed documents, including those from those interviews. Why shouldn’t the American people have the same level of information about your investigation with those associated with Mr. Trump?”
“But Mr. Comey never considered disclosing the case. Doing so, he believed, would have undermined an active investigation and cast public suspicion on people the F.B.I. could not be sure were implicated.”
“I’m not confirming that we’re investigating people associated with Mr. Trump,” Mr. Comey said to Mr. Nadler. “In the matter of the email investigation, it was our judgment — my judgment and the rest of the F.B.I.’s judgment — that those were exceptional circumstances.”
“So for some reason he treated the email probe as exceptional but not Russian subversion and possible collusion.”
“Even in classified briefings with House and Senate intelligence committee members, Mr. Comey repeatedly declined to answer questions about whether there was an investigation of the Trump campaign.”
“To Mr. Comey’s allies, the two investigations were totally different. One was closed when he spoke about it. The other was continuing, highly classified and in its earliest stages. Much of the debate over Mr. Comey’s actions over the last seven months can be distilled into whether people make that same distinction.”
This has been the attempt by Comey to justify such a different standard-the email probe was done. Of course, part of that was the FBI really wanted to get it done before the election-which is already a political choice not a law enforcement choice.
But Comey treated Emailgate very differently even in the early stages.
“On July 10, 2015, the F.B.I. opened a criminal investigation, code-named “Midyear,” into Mrs. Clinton’s handling of classified information. The Midyear team included two dozen investigators led by a senior analyst and by an experienced F.B.I. supervisor, Peter Strzok, a former Army officer who had worked on some of the most secretive investigations in recent years involving Russian and Chinese espionage.”
“There was controversy almost immediately.”
“Responding to questions from The Times, the Justice Department confirmed that it had received a criminal referral — the first step toward a criminal investigation — over Mrs. Clinton’s handling of classified information.”
“But the next morning, the department revised its statement.”
“The department has received a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information,” the new statement read. “It is not a criminal referral.”
“At the F.B.I., this was a distinction without a difference: Despite what officials said in public, agents had been alerted to mishandled classified information and in response, records show, had opened a full criminal investigation.”
“The Justice Department knew a criminal investigation was underway, but officials said they were being technically accurate about the nature of the referral. Some at the F.B.I. suspected that Democratic appointees were playing semantic games to help Mrs. Clinton, who immediately seized on the statement to play down the issue. “It is not a criminal investigation,” she said, incorrectly. “It is a security review.”
“At the meeting, everyone agreed that Mr. Comey should not reveal details about the Clinton investigation. But Ms. Lynch told him to be even more circumspect: Do not even call it an investigation, she said, according to three people who attended the meeting. Call it a “matter.”
“Ms. Lynch reasoned that the word “investigation” would raise other questions: What charges were being investigated? Who was the target? But most important, she believed that the department should stick by its policy of not confirming investigations.”
“It was a by-the-book decision. But Mr. Comey and other F.B.I. officials regarded it as disingenuous in an investigation that was so widely known. And Mr. Comey was concerned that a Democratic attorney general was asking him to be misleading and line up his talking points with Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, according to people who spoke with him afterward.”
As the meeting broke up, George Z. Toscas, a national security prosecutor, ribbed Mr. Comey. “I guess you’re the Federal Bureau of Matters now,” Mr. Toscas said, according to two people who were there.
This shows that way before the Emailgate probe was done it was being discussed publicly and confirmed. Indeed, Comey and his FBI agents were indignant for it not to be called a ‘criminal investigation’ even though Lynch’s take was by the book.
The question then begs: why was the public made aware of the Emailgate probe so early-while we didn’t learn about the Russia probe till 4 months after the election?
While the Comey Letter is rightly criticized, Comey’s first breach was the Comey Press Conference. A lot of Comey apologists has said that this was on Loretta Lynch for speaking with Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac.
In fact, we see that long before that innocuous meeting, Comey had every intention of giving that presser in breach of long precedent.
“Nine months into the investigation, it became clear to Mr. Comey that Mrs. Clinton was almost certainly not going to face charges. He quietly began work on talking points, toying with the notion that in the midst of a bitter presidential campaign, a Justice Department led by Democrats may not have the credibility to close the case, and that he alone should explain that decision to the public.”
So Comey already has made his choice but was looking for an excuse to breach protocol.
But here is the most surreal part.
“A document obtained by the F.B.I. reinforced that idea.”
“During Russia’s hacking campaign against the United States, intelligence agencies could peer, at times, into Russian networks and see what had been taken. Early last year, F.B.I. agents received a batch of hacked documents, and one caught their attention”.
“The document, which has been described as both a memo and an email, was written by a Democratic operative who expressed confidence that Ms. Lynch would keep the Clinton investigation from going too far, according to several former officials familiar with the document.”
“Read one way, it was standard Washington political chatter. Read another way, it suggested that a political operative might have insight into Ms. Lynch’s thinking.”
“Normally, when the F.B.I. recommends closing a case, the Justice Department agrees and nobody says anything. The consensus in both places was that the typical procedure would not suffice in this instance, but who would be the spokesman?”
“The document complicated that calculation, according to officials. If Ms. Lynch announced that the case was closed, and Russia leaked the document, Mr. Comey believed it would raise doubts about the independence of the investigation.”
Ok. So I don’t want to put too fine a point on this but let’s be very clear. Comey had already resolved to break long standing protocol for no very compelling reason other than his feeling that there is something ‘exceptional’ here.
This was already a fait accompli. But Comey needed an excuse or two to justify what he already had decided to do. And he leaned on the product of Russian active measures.
Russia leaked a document to harm Hilary Clinton and Comey latched onto it and gave Russia what it wanted. So while Comey is now investigating Russian active measures and hacks, he himself used internal documents hacked by Russia to justify breaking all precedent and protocol so as to make sure even as he made no charges against Hillary it could put the maximum hurting on her.
And Comey was happy to have the help in this regard of Russian hackers.
Later on Lynch met Bill at an airport. But this was maybe just adding a rationale for a decision already made based on Comey giving the Russians just what they wanted.
So while Comey is investigating Roger Stone for coordinating with Guccifer 2.0 and Wikileaks, he himself coordinated with Russian hackers.
Again, there needs to be a Comey investigation. This will only happen with a Democratic Congress.
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Thanks as always for reading.
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