Maybe There Was an FBI Conspiracy …

If just about anyone but Paul Waldman had written this, I wouldn’t give it a second look. He argues that the real conspiraccy within the FBI was to stop Clinton from getting elected.

… a group of FBI agents in the bureau’s New York office seems to have been doing everything it could in the fall of 2016 to make sure Clinton wouldn’t become president. We don’t know their names. We haven’t read their texts. We may eventually learn the full extent of the actions they took, since the inspector general is conducting a separate investigation that involves them. But to this point, it has been something only the most dedicated aficionados of the story of how James B. Comey all but handed Trump the election knew anything about.

Let’s begin with the fact that during 2016, the FBI’s New York office was by numerous accounts the epicenter of an effort to undermine Clinton through leaks to the media and prominent Republicans. As one report put it just before the election, “Deep antipathy to Hillary Clinton exists within the FBI, multiple bureau sources have told the Guardian, spurring a rapid series of leaks damaging to her campaign just days before the election.” As one agent put it, “The FBI is Trumpland.” A former Justice Department official told Vanity Fair in 2017, “It was widely understood that there was a faction in [the New York] office that couldn’t stand her and was out to get her.”

Their efforts became critical when the office, in the course of its investigation of Anthony Weiner, husband of Clinton aide Huma Abedin, acquired Weiner’s laptop on Sept. 26, 2016, and found on it thousands of emails to and from Clinton. Rep. Devin Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and Trump’s most slavish water carrier, said last week: “We had whistleblowers that came to us in late September of 2016 who talked to us about this laptop sitting up in New York that had additional emails on it. So good F.B.I. agents brought this to our attention.” It’s a bit curious to characterize FBI agents who rushed to tell a Republican congressman about Weiner’s laptop within just a few days of its discovery, and before they had gone through the emails to see whether there was anything problematic about them (which, it turned out, there wasn’t), as “whistleblowers.” Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, said yesterday that Nunes never told him at the time.

At the same time, there were agents leaking information about investigations into the Clinton Foundation to none other than Rudy Giuliani, who would then go and air the charges on Fox News. Two days before Comey would tell Congress that the bureau had reopened the investigation into Clinton’s emails — a blockbuster announcement that may well have thrown the election to Trump — Giuliani said on Fox News, “I do think that all of these revelations about Hillary Clinton finally are beginning to have an impact. He’s got a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next two days.”

Going just by what was plainly visible in public, it certainly seemed that the FBI was giving Trump protections not being extended to Clinton.

Josh Marshall wrote something about this last week. He provides a timeline with details about the Anthony Weiner laptop episode that I did not know. Among othere things, agents in the New York office discovered the emails on the laptop in late September, and soon after contacted Devin Nunes and “other members of Congress” — but, apparently no Democrats — about them. Rudy Giuliani also got a heads up about the emails from FBI agents before the discovery was public.  Here’s a portion of the timeline:

Giuliani tells Fox News on October 25th: “I do think that all of these revelations about Hillary Clinton finally are beginning to have an impact. He’s got a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next two days.” The following day: “I mean, I’m talking about some pretty big surprises.”

October 28th: James Comey sends letter to Capitol Hill disclosing discovery of Clinton emails “that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.”

October 31st: Loretta Lynch and Comey discuss letter to Congress and issue of anti-Clinton bias in New York Field Office, a pattern of bias she says “has put us where we are today.” According to Lynch, Comey said it had become clear to him “that there is a cadre of senior people in New York who have a deep and visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton. And he said it is, it is deep. It’s, and he said, he said it was surprising to him or stunning to him … and it was hard to manage because these were agents that were very, very senior, or had even had timed out and were staying on, and therefore did not really feel under pressure from headquarters or anything to that effect.” (IG Report, p. 387)

November 2nd: Rudy Giuliani tells Megyn Kelly: “You have outraged FBI agents that talk to me. They are outraged at the injustice. They are outraged at being turned down by the Justice Department to open a grand jury. They are convinced that Loretta Lynch has corrupted the Justice Department. You’ve got people in the Justice Department in charge of this investigation who are defense lawyers for Clinton people.”

And Nate Silver tweeted a couple of days ago:

Almost looks like a conspiracy.