FBI Director James Comey thought he had no choice but to tell Congress he had more e-mail to review potentially related to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server as secretary of state.
He’s been damned for doing it — a clear departure from Justice Department policy to avoid being seen as influencing politics at election time. But he also would have been damned for not doing it, had news of the review leaked. It would have.
I think there’s room to support Comey either way. On balance, I think Comey should have faded whatever heat would have arisen had he chose the historic path of avoiding the appearance of influencing an election.
Now that it’s happened, I think Hillary Clinton and her campaign have had no choice but to go on the offensive about a cryptic announcement that can’t possibly produce a full explanation until after the election is over. Reporting today says repeatedly that this is about Huma Abedin e-mails. There’s no evidence yet there are any from Hillary Clinton. There’s a seemingly high likelihood that they are copies of email of the top Clinton aide that has already been reviewed by the FBI. But into the vacuum of uncertainty comes a Republican campaign ready to bring out the handcuffs. With so much unknown, you can speculate about just about anything.
John Podesta, who leads the Clinton campaign, is framing it this way.
It’s since been reported that these emails may not have even been sent by or to or Hillary; that they weren’t withheld by Hillary or the campaign in the earlier investigation; and most or even all of them may be duplicates of emails already in the FBI’s possession.
It’s being reported that Comey sent this letter over the objections of Department of Justice officials who told him that it was inconsistent with longstanding policy of both Democratic and Republican administrations not to take action that might impact an election. It’s an unprecedented intrusion into a close presidential election with less than 11 days until Election Day.
But by being vague and obfuscating, Comey opened the door to conspiracy theories, Republican attacks against Hillary, and a surge of fundraising for Trump and his team. So this bears repeating: There is no evidence of wrongdoing, no charge of wrongdoing, and no indication that any of this even involves Hillary.
Voters deserve answers.
Trump backers already have all the answers they need. “Lock her up!”
The big question is how this sways that small slice of voters — undecided or lukewarm— who will decide this election.