The Damn Emails

While everyone is hyperventilating about emails that, apparently, no one has read yet, Kurt Eichenwald reports at Newsweek,

Over the course of decades, Donald Trump’s companies have systematically destroyed or hidden thousands of emails, digital records and paper documents demanded in official proceedings, often in defiance of court orders. These tactics—exposed by a Newsweek review of thousands of pages of court filings, judicial orders and affidavits from an array of court cases—have enraged judges, prosecutors, opposing lawyers and the many ordinary citizens entangled in litigation with Trump. In each instance, Trump and entities he controlled also erected numerous hurdles that made lawsuits drag on for years, forcing courtroom opponents to spend huge sums of money in legal fees as they struggled—sometimes in vain—to obtain records.

Nothing so far has been revealed in Clinton’s emails that warranted indictments. But it sounds as if Trump has been breaking laws for years and getting away with it. Note that the worst of the actions Eichenwald uncovered relate to Trump’s violations of fair housing laws

But let us review what the new Clinton email “revelations” amount to. Executive Summary: Nothing so far.

My understanding is that at the time FBI Director James Comey sent his letter to Congress about the emails on Anthony Weiner’s “device,” he didn’t yet have a warrant that allowed the FBI to read them. All they knew was that State Department emails ended up on Weiner’s “device,” supposedly forwarded by Huma Abedin, although she says she doesn’t know how that happened. We don’t know if any of those emails were sent or received by Hillary Clinton, or if Clinton even knew about the emails on the “device.”

Some news outlets are reporting that the emails were in Abedin’s Yahoo account, which makes me wonder if somehow an account was set up to automatically forward emails and Abedin didn’t realize it. The Clinton campaign is not exactly a tech-savvy crew. But if that’s the case, it’s likely most of these emails are duplicates of ones already known to the FBI.

But there’s more. CNN is reporting that the FBI knew about the emails on the “device” weeks ago. Why did James Comey sit on this information and then release it days before the election? At first it was assumed that Comey sent the letter as soon as he knew about the emails; maybe he wanted to avoid an appearance of being partisan. But if that was the case, it backfired big time.

Josh Marshall writes:

It is quite telling that even at this late stage of the election, when partisan tempers are naturally running at their fiercest, former career DOJ lawyers, former high level DOJ appointees and legal experts on both sides of the aisle are lining up to say this was not only an extremely poor decision but may even have violated the law. (Note here: President George W. Bush’s top ethics lawyer suggests Comey may even have broken the law. Another example is here.) As far as I can see, no one who actually knows what Comey’s legal, professional and ethical responsibilities were in this case can find a basis to defend his actions. Even Republicans who might be inclined to interpret ambiguous facts through a partisan prism don’t seem able to come up with one.

I’ve said a number of times that I do not believe Comey acted out of a desire to interfere with the outcome of the election. I still believe that. But I’m not sure it matters. What seems inescapable is that Comey has made avoiding criticism from Republicans (and leaks by FBI agents that would generate such criticism) his top, almost his sole priority. That being the case, his intent seems all but irrelevant. It amounts to some professional equivalent of reckless disregard, perhaps with a smattering of largely irrelevant naïveté thrown in.

See also FBI Director James Comey screwed up big time.

The presidential race has tightened up since Friday, although Clinton is still heavily favored to win.

Meanwhile Sen. Harry Reid has not only accused Comey of violating the Hatch Act; he says the FBI is sitting on damning information about Trump’s ties to the Russian government:

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 coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisors, and the Russian government — a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity. The public has a right to know this information. I wrote to you months ago calling for this information to be released to the public. There is no danger to American interests from releasing it. And yet, you continue to resist calls to inform the public of this critical information.

It should be noted that Brian Ross at ABC News reported last September that Trump does millions of dollars of business with Russians, which wouldn’t have been possible without Putin’s approval.

But I’ll give John Oliver the last word today.

Update: Oops! Here’s another last word. CNBC reports:

FBI Director James Comey argued privately that it was too close to Election Day for the United States government to name Russia as meddling in the U.S. election and ultimately ensured that the FBI’s name was not on the document that the U.S. government put out, a former bureau official tells CNBC.

The official said some government insiders are perplexed as to why Comey would have election timing concerns with the Russian disclosure but not with the Huma Abedin email discovery disclosure he made Friday.

Somebody’s partisanship is showing.

8 thoughts on “The Damn Emails

  1. So we have NO reason to assume there’s anything shady in the “new” Clinton emails (they may not be new, and the tens of thousands of previous emails showed no malfeasance) and, at the same time–nothing in the news about that Trump/Putin love fest, which really IS frightening.

    And, for that matter, there’s the near certainty that Trump’s tax returns– which we still haven’t seen– contain a live grenade.

    And there’s the documented character issues– you can’t “un-grope” a crotch.

    I just want to scream.

  2. “Comey-da-ASSCLOWN” done good by his conservative cohorts!

    I don’t know the extent to how much the GOP members of Congress forces his hand, or how much rogue agents in his FBI did, but he not only embarrassed himself, he embarrassed the entire FBI>

    I hope that Comey’s legacy if Hillary wins, is that never ever – NEVAH EVAH – in the future, should Democrats put Republiacans into thier administrations.
    If they’re not completey partisan, then they’re incompetent, or corrupt.

    Conservatives don’t have any interest in governance.

    Here’s the conservative mantra:
    Party over people!
    Paty over country!!
    PARTY UBER ALLES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    And now, not only did “Comey-da-ASSCLOWN” embarrass himself and the FBI, he now gave grist to the GOP Congressional mill to start impeaching Hillary on November 9th.

    Jayzoos, I really hate this country more and more every year!
    Since NIxon and Reagan, we’ve been morphing into a 3rd World nuclear-armed Banana Republic, thanks to banana’s Republicans.
    This election exposed that they don’t care at all about social issues, the fucking deficit, national security, and ANY and EVER thing they’ve claimed to be for.
    All the care about – is not governing – IT’S ALL ABOUT RULING!

  3. It’s just a death rattle coming from the GOP’s hopes of obtaining the White House. They put their money on the wrong horse, and Hillary will win the day. I guess this new email scandal will replenish the GOP’s scandal machine, but it isn’t going to prevent Hillary from assuming the presidency on January 20th.

    I wonder if Trey Gowdy is going to get this latest investigative plum assigned to him because he did such a fine job on the Benghazi investigation.
    I’ve already voted for Hillary… and my primary reason for doing so is that I found Trump to be “manifestly unfit” for the office. The goal is to preserve the dignity of the office of the President of the United States. He’s a fucking slob who possesses absolutely no reverence for our nation’s history, traditions, or values.

  4. Frankly, Comey’s partisanship was showing in July. When a law enforcement agency announces it sees nothing worth giving to a prosecutor, it’s appropriate to speak well of the innocent victim of the investigation.

    At the time, it made a sort of sense that he would throw the Republicans a bone to show that he wasn’t ignoring their concerns. Now?

    I mean, not only did he not have a warrant, until he made this announcement, I’d have pondered if he could get one. Huma Abedin’s wife was not under investigation; they had no right to look at her e-mails, and if they did, they may have had no right to use the “fruit of the poisoned tree” to request a warrant.

    Now, as to what happened, the FBI probably uses strong methods of searching for browser caches, including deleted caches, to try to find traces of illegal activity. Huma probably borrowed her husbands laptop, checked e-mail, erased the cache, and gave it back to him. (Or, maybe she failed to erase the cache – in which case she deserves to be chewed out and reminded that someone could find those e-mails. Not much point to that now!)

    I have no idea if this would normally forbid a warrant – I’m not a lawyer. But I can say that once Comey pulled this crap, a judge *may* – again, I’m not a lawyer – have to consider the cause of justice and the public good.

    Would the warrant have been refused if it was requested Thursday? I don’t know. Could the Clinton team have quashed it if given a chance? Maybe.

    But once the announcement was made, Clinton’s only defense is to have the warrant granted (quashing it is too dangerous). She might well have been in a position in which she had to ask the judge to grant it.

    And remember why Comey wants this: just in case he can find e-mails that he hasn’t reviewed already, for a case in which there’s no evidence of any criminal activity. This is the very definition of a fishing expedition.

    I see no way to spin this in which Comey isn’t trying to influence the political process, plus using publicity to extend a baseless investigation. It’s way out of bounds.

  5. Sigh. You can see where I tried to change from Anthony Weiner’s wife to put the real human being front and center – and flubbed the editing. I hate the lack of comment editing. (Not arguing against it, mind you… that way lies madness. But argh.)

  6. It’s a nothingburger with only conditioned-reflex content. It won’t change the presidential election. Maybe it’ll affect Senate and House elections. Mostly it’s the GOP’s way of preparing for obstructionism against Clinton starting on Inauguration Day.

  7. Well, I’m turning in early tonight! So…

    Now I lay me down to sleep
    I pray the Lord my soul to keep
    and if I die before I wake…
    Trump will still be a big bag of shit!

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