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Absence of Malice? The Comey Coup

#1 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2016-October-28, 12:59

1981 brought a movie, Absence of Malice, starring Sally Fields and Paul Newman, where an assistant U.S. attorney leaked a story to the press (Fields) in order to use the unsuspecting newspaper to pressure an intended target (Newman) to cooperated with an investigation.

James Comey, head of the FBI, leaked (via Congress) that the FBI was re-opening the investigation of Hillary Clinton's e-mail server due to new information that had not been determined to have been classified or not. I have some questions:

Is this announcement to Congress a requirement?
If not a requirement, is there precedent for this type of leak?
If not a requirement, is there any valid reason to leak this information prior to the election?
If not a requirement, what do you think was Comey's motive?
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#2 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2016-October-28, 13:24

I just found answers to my own questions:

Quote

Newsweek reports some helpful details about why Comey wrote this letter so close to an election:
Why did FBI Director James Comey shock Washington on Friday with an announcement that the FBI “has learned of the existence of emails” related to Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and what does it mean?
The truth is Comey didn’t have a choice. Because the new information followed his sworn testimony about the case, Comey was obligated by Department of Justice rules to keep the relevant committees apprised.
Under oath Comey had stated that the bureau had completed its review. Once he learned that there were new emails that required examination, Comey had to notify Congress that he had to amend his testimony because it was no longer true.
So what we now know is that Comey delivered this letter, not because the FBI uncovered some new bombshell, but because he was under a legal obligation to do so. We also know that the emails were not from Clinton. Additionally, the AP reports that the emails “did not come from her private server.”


OK, powers that be, we can take down this thread now. Thanks.
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#3 User is offline   mike777 

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Posted 2016-October-28, 13:28

Winston I dont know anything about a leak so I cant comment on that.

"Comey said in a letter to eight congressional committee chairmen that investigators are examining newly discovered emails that "appear to be pertinent" to the email probe."

Congress has oversight of the FBI. Comey is required to keep Congress informed at some level of the FBI.

Was this letter required, I dont know, is it common practice in a case such as this to inform Congress, I dont know.

I think his motive was he felt a sense of duty, right or wrong to send this letter.

Has the FBI leaked stuff in the past to influence the investigation, sure....see Watergate.


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edit ahh ok so he did do it out of a duty, my guess was correct
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#4 User is offline   Al_U_Card 

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Posted 2016-October-28, 16:13

Anthony Weiner, the gift (to Republicans) that just keeps on giving...

apparently there were e-mails about sexting on Hil's server (her aide Huma Abedin is the estranged wife of AW).

Guilt by association? (Maybe his hero is Bill, you never know...lol)
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#5 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2016-October-29, 12:55

In July, when Comey announced the end of the investigation, he was heavily criticized by Rs. In response many people pointed to his record of independence as evidence that he was doing what he thought was right. I am willing to stick with that explanation for his actions. This could be wrong, but also it could be right.

But where are we? I see two main dangers.

1. Bill Clinton's presidency was greatly weakened by his stupid dalliance with Monica Lewinsky. Marital failing is one thing, stupidity is another. If he felt the need, could he not have found someone mature enough not to brag to her girlfriend? It's not as if he fell head over heals in love with his soulmate. Monica was an act of stupidity, the emails were an act of stupidity, and both cause problems for the rest of us. Bernie Sanders announced that people are tired of hearing of her damned emails. That's right, but people also hold her at least partly responsible for this problem. As with Monica, until this happened nobody knew who Abedin was. We would have been happy to continue in this ignorant state.

2. Of course it depends on what is there. Very possibly, only stuff that the FBI has already seen. I expect that most emails between Clinton and Abedin are work related. If it should turn out that many highly significant work emails were saved by Abedin but erased by Clinton, there goes the argument that she deleted only personal or unimportant emails. I never believed that anyway so I won't be shocked, but it won't be good.

Probably not that many votes will be changed. Fortunately for Hillary, she has a truly dreadful opponent.

I am sure I mentioned before that back in Minnesota in 1962, October or so, there was a "great scandal" about the Republican governor. After the election (the incumbent was defeated) the scandal vanished. Four years later the Rs, with great fanfare, announced the formation of a "Last minute Phony Charges Committee".

As to fiction, I remember long ago seeing this great play with Zoe Caldwell. I can't recall the name of the play. Anyway, there is this judge who, before the start of a case. holds out a hand to each litigant and says "I accept". And then he renders a wise and just decision. Maybe Comey saw this play.

So I have made up my mind, and if not for my indecision about the school board I would have already voted (Thursday was the start of early voting). It would take a very great deal to get me to change. And change to what? The columnist Richard Cohen once mused that he would vote for Kim Khardashian before he would vote for Trump. That seems about right.
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#6 User is offline   cherdano 

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Posted 2016-October-29, 14:17

View Postkenberg, on 2016-October-29, 12:55, said:

As with Monica, until this happened nobody knew who Abedin was. We would have been happy to continue in this ignorant state.

Ken, equating a senior foreign policy aide of the likely next president of the United States with a White house intern because the former had a husband who was involved in a fairly ugly sex scandal, while the other had an affair with a US president is a bit weird. Some would call it sexist.
Not knowing Abedin is not a shame, but also not the form of ignorance you can be proud of.
Obviously we have a recall bias in favour of the assholes. -helene_t
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#7 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2016-October-29, 14:24

I think Comey screwed up by saying he would inform Congress of any changes - he should have said he would follow normal protocol if the situation changed. I want to believe Comey is sincere but it gets more difficult when well-though-of characters attack him for his actions.

This is not a good time for American justice, American politics, or the American people.
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#8 User is offline   cherdano 

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Posted 2016-October-29, 14:32

View PostWinstonm, on 2016-October-29, 14:24, said:

I think Comey screwed up by saying he would inform Congress of any changes - he should have said he would follow normal protocol if the situation changed. I want to believe Comey is sincere but it gets more difficult when well-though-of characters attack him for his actions.

This is not a good time for American justice, American politics, or the American people.

As I wrote back then, I already found his statement back in July highly tendentious. She may have been "extremely careless" with classified information. Well, what does that make all the FBI employees currently leaking classified information about an investigation involving a current presidential candidate? Will there be any investigation on them?

I can understand that Comey felt he had to update the record of his congressional testimony. But he didn't have to do it in a way that would be so open to spin - he both should have known this would happen, and was warned ahead of time that it would.

There were reports that the FBI hadn't even checked whether any of these emails are new. Would it really have hurt the credibility of the FBI to wait another day until they had checked whether there is even anything new there? (Really it should be a matter of a few hours checking that.)

I guess Obama may have 2nd thoughts about his bi-partisan instincts, appointing a Republican as FBI director.
Obviously we have a recall bias in favour of the assholes. -helene_t
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#9 User is offline   Phil 

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Posted 2016-October-29, 14:53

When the Weiner emails became known, Comey was put into a no-win situation.

Don't investigate :: You're shielding a democrat.
Investigate :: You're trying to swing the election.

HRC campaign is saying "reveal what the emails said". I have a hunch one of two things is occurring:

a) What is in there is totally innocent
b) What is in there is classified and cannot be revealed

b) sounds benign, but it really isn't.
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#10 User is offline   Al_U_Card 

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Posted 2016-October-29, 15:23

Or perhaps Comey didn't "like" exonnerating Hil and with this batch of e-mails, he decided to even the playing field...

Whatever they show, the impact of the announcement will make a difference to the election. DT is a "finger" that voters can give to the political establishment. Hil reps that establishment.

Vaguely reminiscent of Adams vs. Jefferson. The political insider vs. the "Congo-harem" reprobate, semi-atheist. Just there was no FBI back in that day...lol
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#11 User is offline   cherdano 

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Posted 2016-October-29, 15:40

View PostPhil, on 2016-October-29, 14:53, said:

When the Weiner emails became known, Comey was put into a no-win situation.

Don't investigate :: You're shielding a democrat.
Investigate :: You're trying to swing the election.

Nobody is saying the FBI shouldn't investigate. Arguably, he should have kept quiet - but apparently the FBI isn't competent enough to keep such classified information secret. But if he said something, he shouldn't have said something that would obviously have been misconstrued, and made it sound like a big deal when possibly there is nothing at all new.
Obviously we have a recall bias in favour of the assholes. -helene_t
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#12 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2016-October-29, 16:14

View Postcherdano, on 2016-October-29, 14:17, said:

Ken, equating a senior foreign policy aide of the likely next president of the United States with a White house intern because the former had a husband who was involved in a fairly ugly sex scandal, while the other had an affair with a US president is a bit weird. Some would call it sexist.
Not knowing Abedin is not a shame, but also not the form of ignorance you can be proud of.


I was slightly (but only slightly) exaggerating my ignorance. I knew of her, I know without looking it up (maybe I am wrong) she is Muslim, I knew she has some high role in the Clinton campaign but I did not know exactly what. But "knew" means in the sense that once the general setting was clear I recalled all the players. If you had stopped me on the street and said who is Huma Abedin I maybe could have said and maybe not. Probably not. I am not sure.

But I was addressing what I think are two big dangers. Many, I believe, will simply feel some resentment about more stuff on what they thought they could forget. People would like to forget Weiner. And if they don't know Abedin they were content not knowing.

But maybe more to your point: I am comfortable having very little knowledge of her. There are many people I don't know. So what? I live fairly near Baltimore but I can't tell you the name of either the coach or the quarterback for the Ravens. Ditto with the Redskins. I have forgotten who won the Superbowl. I can't name the conductor of either the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra or the National Symphony. True, I am not proud of it. But neither do I feel the need to repair these deficiencies.
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#13 User is offline   blackshoe 

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Posted 2016-October-29, 17:20

View Postcherdano, on 2016-October-29, 14:32, said:

She may have been "extremely careless" with classified information. Well, what does that make all the FBI employees currently leaking classified information about an investigation involving a current presidential candidate?

There's "classified" and then there's "classified". Some things are classified because of their potential impact on national security. Some things are 'classified' because somebody doesn't want the general public to know about them. The questions about Hillary's emails revolve, afaik, around classification of the former sort. FBI "leaks" (if that's what they are) are of 'classified' information of the latter sort. IANAL, but I would be very surprised if the laws that apply to the former sort of classification and the laws (or perhaps it's just agency regulations) that apply to the latter are not very different things.
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#14 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2016-October-29, 19:26

View Postcherdano, on 2016-October-29, 14:32, said:

As I wrote back then, I already found his statement back in July highly tendentious. She may have been "extremely careless" with classified information. Well, what does that make all the FBI employees currently leaking classified information about an investigation involving a current presidential candidate? Will there be any investigation on them?

I can understand that Comey felt he had to update the record of his congressional testimony. But he didn't have to do it in a way that would be so open to spin - he both should have known this would happen, and was warned ahead of time that it would.

There were reports that the FBI hadn't even checked whether any of these emails are new. Would it really have hurt the credibility of the FBI to wait another day until they had checked whether there is even anything new there? (Really it should be a matter of a few hours checking that.)

I guess Obama may have 2nd thoughts about his bi-partisan instincts, appointing a Republican as FBI director.


It is worse than that, even. Turns out the FBI did not even have warrants to obtain the e-mails when Comey wrote his letter.
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#15 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2016-October-29, 19:29

View PostPhil, on 2016-October-29, 14:53, said:

When the Weiner emails became known, Comey was put into a no-win situation.

Don't investigate :: You're shielding a democrat.
Investigate :: You're trying to swing the election.

HRC campaign is saying "reveal what the emails said". I have a hunch one of two things is occurring:

a) What is in there is totally innocent
b) What is in there is classified and cannot be revealed

b) sounds benign, but it really isn't.


There is also, according to a Yahoo.News report, option c)The FBI does not have possession of the emails nor do they yet have a warrant to obtain them:

Quote

As of Saturday night, the FBI had still not gotten approval from the Justice Department for a warrant that would allow agency officials to read any of the newly discovered Abedin emails, and therefore are still in the dark about whether they include any classified material that the bureau has not already seen.

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#16 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2016-October-29, 21:03

View PostWinstonm, on 2016-October-29, 19:29, said:

There is also, according to a Yahoo.News report, option c)The FBI does not have possession of the emails nor do they yet have a warrant to obtain them:





That would explain something I was wondering about. Early news reports were saying that it was unknown whether the emails might simply be the same as what they already had, simply with the role of sender and receiver interchanged. So I wondered why they didn't check. Even though there are thousands, in this age of computers cross-checking would be simple. If nothing was new, then no announcement, no further investigation of Clinton. If there was new stuff beyond "Did you have a good time at the movies last night", then this could have been part of the announcement. But this only works if you actually have the server and access to the emails. .

This is going to get very ugly. A very bad election season is about to get worse.
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#17 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2016-October-29, 21:29

View Postkenberg, on 2016-October-29, 21:03, said:

That would explain something I was wondering about. Early news reports were saying that it was unknown whether the emails might simply be the same as what they already had, simply with the role of sender and receiver interchanged. So I wondered why they didn't check. Even though there are thousands, in this age of computers cross-checking would be simple. If nothing was new, then no announcement, no further investigation of Clinton. If there was new stuff beyond "Did you have a good time at the movies last night", then this could have been part of the announcement. But this only works if you actually have the server and access to the emails. .

This is going to get very ugly. A very bad election season is about to get worse.


Ken,

Got a confirmation from CBS News here.

Quote

It’s quite possible there is a group of duplicate emails that have previously been reviewed by investigators, the source said.

Law enforcement sources told CBS News that as of Saturday afternoon investigators still had not secured a warrant to begin examining the emails found on the laptop, which was seized in connection with the Weiner investigation, CBS News homeland security correspondent Jeff Pegues reports.


I doubt Comey was "required" to say, Gee, maybe...
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#18 User is offline   kenberg 

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Posted 2016-October-30, 06:25

We can speculate, Last night I was wondering of there werers involved.They seemed to be speaking of only one, but I could not figure how they were both reading emails and waiting for permission to read emails. Now the Post has a story:

https://www.washingt..._business_pop_b

This speaks of "her husband's computer". This adds to my confusion.

Quote

Top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin has told people she is unsure how her emails could have ended up on a device she viewed as her husband’s computer, the seizure of which has reignited the Clinton email investigation, according to a person familiar with the investigation and civil litigation over the matter.


Here is the path my brain took. If there are two computers, and they found stuff on Weiner's. I can imagine Comey could think this justifies a warrant for Abedin's, and this is the warrant that they are waiting for but they are already reading Weiner's, for which they have a warrant. That leads to further thoughts, but since I don't even know if these first thoughts are right I guess I will hold off.


This might all fall flat, a big zero.Could be. I would not bet a large sum on that.
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#19 User is offline   PassedOut 

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Posted 2016-October-30, 07:57

View Postkenberg, on 2016-October-30, 06:25, said:

If there are two computers, and they found stuff on Weiner's. I can imagine Comey could think this justifies a warrant for Abedin's, and this is the warrant that they are waiting for but they are already reading Weiner's, for which they have a warrant

My understanding is that Abedin's computer and phone had already been searched:

Quote

When Abedin left the State Department, she signed a statement saying she had “surrendered to responsible officials all controlled or administratively controlled documents and materials with which I was charged or which I had in my possession.” The State Department — in the process of collecting Clinton’s and others for records and Freedom of Information Act purposes — later asked Abedin to turn over relevant messages, and she gave her laptop and BlackBerry for review.

But if her emails got onto her husband's computer, where else might they have gone?
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#20 User is offline   Winstonm 

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Posted 2016-October-30, 08:24

This thread itself dramatically shows how ridiculous it was for Comey to send his letter without the information to back it up - nothing but rampant speculation and guesswork about complete unknowns.
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