This one isn’t necessarily easy to figure out. See what you think.
After FBI Director James Comey came out last week with the letter to Congress, announcing that the FBI would be continuing the Hillary email investigation with a new trove of 650,000 records found on Anthony Weiner’s and Huma Abedin’s devices, Hillary and her allies began excoriating Comey.
Democrats, we were told, had “declared open season” on Comey.
The mainstream media jumped smartly on board to discredit him.
Eric Holder weighed in gravely against Comey:
Holder accused Comey of violating long-standing policies and traditions when the FBI director wrote to members of Congress on Friday and informed them his agency was reviewing a fresh batch of emails related to the Clinton investigation.
Even Judge Andrew Napolitano, a conservative, regular Fox News contributor, and no Hillary supporter, criticized Comey for violating policies and traditions with the notification to Congress.
So the never-credible Harry Reid was actually in pretty good company with his allegation that Comey “may have broken the law” by going to Congress.
Howard Portnoy wonders if the seemingly strange Comey move is a ploy to divert attention from the WikiLeaks dumps anticipated between now and the 8th.
Sean Hannity speculates that the FBI knows it’s about to be exposed by WikiLeaks. The implication is that whatever “deal” was made in the summer to avert an indictment of Hillary Clinton will reflect badly on Comey when it comes to light – i.e., through WikiLeaks – and Comey is getting a jump on that problem.
These hypotheses at least seem somewhat sane, if far from demonstrably valid. On the Democratic side, some folks are running with the idea that Donald Trump – who would have no political chips to cash in for a toweringly costly pressure move like this one – put the squeeze on Comey. (Career Republican politicians, of course, would also be unable to pull it off. They’ll never have anything to hold over Comey that they didn’t have in July.)
So, the universe is agreed. Comey’s timing is suspect, it looks political, it requires explanation because it doesn’t make sense to either side, and Comey probably violated something, somehow, by doing what he did.
But…not so fast. The whole universe isn’t agreed. The Obama White House came out on Monday and endorsed Comey. Endorsed him for his “integrity,” and positively affirmed the president’s belief that what Comey has just done isn’t political, and isn’t meant to influence the election.
The White House could easily have avoided these very specific affirmations. It spins and weasel-words topics all the time. It could have done so today. But instead, Josh Earnest warbled a full-throated paean to James Comey.
“I will neither defend nor criticize what Director Comey has decided to communicate to the public about this investigation,” Earnest said. “The President believes Director Comey is a man of integrity, he’s a man of principle and he’s a man of good character. …
“The President doesn’t believe Director Comey is trying to influence the outcome of an election,” he continued. “The President does not believe that he is secretly strategizing to benefit one candidate or one political party.”
For the Obama administration, that is remarkably categorical and affirmative. Why would Obama register such disagreement with the Hillary campaign, the Democratic Party, the MSM, and a consensus of top minds from the justice system?
I don’t propose a particular answer. I’m not sure I see one. There are some possibilities, one of which is suggested – if in faint outline – by this passage from Michael Mukasey’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (link above; emphasis added):
The search for clues brings us to an email to then-Secretary Clinton from President Obama, writing under a pseudonym, that the FBI showed to Ms. Abedin. That email, along with 21 others that passed between the president and Secretary Clinton, has been withheld by the administration from release on confidentiality grounds not specified but that could only be executive privilege.
After disclosure of those emails, the president said during an interview that he thought Mrs. Clinton should not be criminally charged because there was no evidence that she had intended to harm the nation’s security—a showing required under none of the relevant statutes. As indefensible as his legal reasoning may have been, his practical reasoning is apparent: If Mrs. Clinton was at criminal risk for communicating on her nonsecure system, so was he.
Yes, continued pursuit of Hillary’s email trail would tend to bring more of this problem to light, not less. But what if Comey’s questionable move at this time undermined the whole investigation, and drowned out whatever may come from those 650,000 additional records?
Alternatively, what if Comey was allowed to make this move by Obama, on the understanding that the focus will be off Obama going forward? That actually wouldn’t be a hard quid pro quo to sign up to, given that Obama has never been a focus of the investigation.
I note, without drawing a conclusion, that Comey does give the appearance of a man who thinks he’s got top-cover for what he’s doing. That’s just one data point, and a subjective one to boot. But it’s interesting.
The implication of this alternative theory is pretty big. Basically, it would mean Obama is throwing Hillary under the bus.
We know nothing, out here in the cheap seats. So I’m not pressing for this interpretation. Maybe James Comey just woke up last week, after knowing about the data from Weiner and Abedin for nearly a month, and decided it was time to notify Congress that he planned to look into it – before he had a warrant to look for Hillary-related evidence, and before he officially knew there would be any. Maybe so.
But the thought does intrude that there might be a competition on, to see who can throw whom under the bus first. Time may tell – or not. We may never know.