Democrats have reacted to Donald Trump’s victory in a number of ways: they’ve demanded the Constitution be retroactively changed; they’ve pinned the blame on “fake news;” they’ve allowed paranoia about Russia to corrupt their thinking; and they’ve blamed the loss on the FBI, specifically the “Comey letter,” which is most perplexing excuse of all.
In response to pressure from congressional Democrats, the Justice Department inspector general will now review how the FBI and Justice Department handled certain aspects of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. (Perhaps the inspector general could also look into why Attorney General Loretta Lynch reportedly asked Comey not to send the letter even though she had promised not to get involved in the investigation. While they’re at it, maybe the inspector general can find out why Lynch attended an off-the-record meeting on a tarmac with the husband of the person under investigation?)
Former Justice official:
If Trump admin closes down Comey probe, “it will be a Saturday Night Massacre…huge breakdown in rule of law”: https://t.co/ILx8Kw1kKT
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) January 12, 2017
It’s all very dramatic. The importance of all of this is to create the impression that something corrupt has happened. Paul Krugman has claimed the FBI “rigged the election.” Nate Silver (in a nonpartisan argument) says late-deciding voters broke strongly against Clinton in swing states, enough to cost Hillary the states of Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. Others have come to the same conclusion.
The idea that the Comey letter, which merely confirmed something most voters already believed about Hillary, would push hundreds of thousands of people into the Trump camp seems, to be kind, implausible. Voters have often broken late in national elections for unknown reasons. It’s also worth mentioning that many of the same experts making these argument got much of 2016 very wrong, so it’s a bit difficult to trust them to know voter motivations now.
Still, I only read polls. I’m in no position to argue the science behind them. So for the sake of this post, let’s concede that the Comey letter, in some part, helped secure the election for Trump.
Good. Or, as “good” as any other reason.
I’ll put it like this: Clinton would almost certainly be President-elect if the election had been held on Oct. 27 (day before Comey letter).
— Nate Silver (@NateSilver538) December 11, 2016
Democrats seem to be functioning under the belief that 2016 was Hillary’s to lose, and anything that spoiled the plan is a perversion of democracy. Yet Comey’s letter to Congress is legitimate. And voters had every right to plug it into their electoral calculus.
That’s mostly because the letter informing Congress that the bureau had found a cache of new evidence relating to a criminal investigation of Clinton was entirely Clinton’s fault. She’s the one who initially set up a secret server to circumvent transparency, likely to hide favor-trading related to her foundation. She’s the one who sent unsecured classified documents through that server, although she almost surely knew it was wrong. (Many experts, as this New York Times piece points out, believe chances are high her documents were intercepted by foreign powers.) She’s the one responsible for attempts to destroy all evidence related to that server. Her people, as Comey noted in his congressional testimony, had “cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery.” Her aide failed to inform the FBI about emails on her computer.
Lastly, Hillary is the one who lied to the American people about the incident. If she was innocent, and there was no there there, she could have cooperated and none of this would have mattered — certainly not the Comey letter.
Simply because the FBI didn’t think the case met a prosecutable standard — and after giving her staff immunity, there would be little chance they could indict — doesn’t mean she was innocent in the eyes of the electorate. The FBI simply couldn’t prove intent. Donald Trump was not prosecuted for saying despicable things about women, yet many voters weighed the NBC tapes before determining their vote.
Let’s also remember that Comey had little choice but to send his letter to Congress after being notified that pertinent evidence had been uncovered on a computer used by both Anthony Weiner (through an investigation into his texting with an under-aged girl) and his estranged wife Huma Abedin.
If Comey had been in possession of this information and sat on it until after the election, even after informing Congress that he would keep them apprised of new evidence, then the FBI would have been acting in a political manner rather than simply reacting to events. Comey had an ethical duty to inform Congress. There was no way he could do this without it becoming political. Hillary put him in that position.
Then there is the preposterous notion (see tweet below) that the news media should treat leaks reporting a dossier that might be nothing more than disinformation, compiled by oppo research firm on Trump, as a legitimate FBI investigation. Moreover, the idea that The New York Times — authors of the Rubio yacht story and numerous other hit jobs — was running interference for Trump is going to be a tough one to prove.
Come on. The difference in how this Trump revelation is being handled vs. how the Comey letter was handled is too hyperbolic to ignore. pic.twitter.com/NHY2qy7x4L
— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) January 11, 2017
Now, perhaps the inspector general will uncover new evidence we haven’t heard. We shouldn’t discount that possibility. But the fact is, to many voters, the Comey letter represented a culmination of decades of lying and corruption that have marred Hillary’s career. If you want to blame someone, blame Democrats. Blame her.