As you probably know, the Weiner investigation has re-opened the FBI probe into the Hillary email pseudoscandal
FBI Director James B. Comey informed congressional leaders Friday that the agency would take “appropriate investigative steps” to determine whether the newly discovered emails contain classified information and to assess their importance to the Clinton server probe.
The emails were found on a computer used jointly by both Weiner and his wife, top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, according to a person with knowledge of the inquiry. Federal officials have been examining Weiner’s alleged sexually suggestive online messages with a teenage girl. The link to the Weiner probe was first reported by the New York Times.
Comey’s announcement appears to restart the FBI’s probe of Clinton’s server, which previously ended in July with no charges. The explosive announcement, coming less than two weeks before the presidential election, could reshape a campaign that Clinton, the Democratic nominee, has been leading in public polls.
In a brief letter to congressional leaders, Comey said that the FBI, in connection with an “unrelated case,” had recently “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the Clinton investigation.”
What does it all mean? So far, little or nothing, from the standpoint of law. From a political
standpoint, we may have a game-changer.
When I first heard this story, my mind flashed to the brouhaha that occurred at the tail end of August and the beginning of September, when we read the breathless announcement that a new cache of emails may have some relevance to that eternal right-wing fixation, Benghazi. Naturally, Trump used that story to whip his crowds into a savage frenzy.
As it turns out, only one of the emails was a previously unknown message mentioning Benghazi, and that text was innocuous
. Naturally, Trump never admitted that he had jumped to conclusions based on insufficient evidence. Saying "I was wrong" is not the Trumpian way.
If we compare the Big Damn Email Flap of September 1 to the Big Damn Email Flap of today, what do we have? Comey's letter gives us even less
to go on, in terms of details. As far as we know, Huma and Hillary were exchanging cookie recipes.
And yet, even on MSNBC's MPT Daily (a show which ought to be friendly territory for the Clinton campaign), the commentators operated under the impression that Huma's communications contained incredibly important classified information. No: They used the term "MORE classified information."
They spoke as though he FBI's investigation proved that a terrible
breach had occurred. Apparently, Hillary was handing out nuclear launch codes to trick-or-treaters.
Must we reiterate what has been said so many times, but apparently not enough
times? Very well: If we must, we must. Let's go to Politifact
(even though the right-wing media considers that site to be part of the Great Clinton Conspiracy)...
Of the tens of thousands of emails the FBI reviewed, 81 email chains found on Clinton’s private servers included classified information, as determined by various U.S. intelligence agencies, according to a FBI report released Sept. 2. Just three email chains included some sort of classification marking: At least one paragraph preceded by the marking "(C)," indicating that those paragraphs were "confidential," the lowest level of classification. But none of the three had a header, footer or cover page further signaling that the emails contained confidential information.
Even though there was a "(C)" preceding the paragraphs, this information was not properly marked confidential because it did not include the header, FBI Director James Comey said in a July 7 hearing before Congress. It’s "reasonable," he said, that Clinton may not have realized these were classified.
And what was the
single most important email marked with a (C) in the body of the text, not in the header? From FactCheck.Org
(which the right-wing media considers yet another tentacle of the Clinton octopus):
New York Times, July 5: One email, dated Aug. 2, 2012, noted that Kofi Annan, the former secretary general of the United Nations, was stepping down as special envoy trying to mediate the war in Syria. A second one, sent in April 2012, discussed Mrs. Clinton’s call to the newly inaugurated president of Malawi.
Each was marked with a small notation, “(C),” indicating it contained information classified as “confidential.”
A congratulatory call to the new leader of Malawi.
Seriously. That is it
We're talking about piffle that never should have received any kind of classification stamp in the first place. (By the way, people forget that Hillary was in a position to declassify anything in those emails at her whim -- she was, after all, Secretary of State.) And we are also talking about an email sent by someone else, not by Hillary.
folks. The entire right-wing case, all of those cries of "Lock her up!" -- they all rest on that one trifling, mislabeled email about Malawi, which contained no information not already available to anyone with access to Google. That's
what the Republicans have attempted to transform into the new Dreyfuss case.
The FBI found nothing worse than the Malawi message in its entire investigation of all the computers and mobile devices used by any of the people on Hillary's mailing list.
Do you really think that anything worse will be found on Huma's old computer?
I seriously doubt it. So why the hell are the talking heads on teevee presuming that this computer will contain classified information?
Clearly, if Huma felt that anything classified had gone through that laptop, she never would have tossed it over to her husband. Except perhaps in her choice of mates, she is not a stupid woman.
Should Huma have wiped the drive before letting Anthony use the machine? Interesting thought, that: If she had done so, the right-wingers would now be screaming that she was trying to destroy evidence (and Trump would be spouting technologically illiterate nonsense about "bleach"). Not
wiping the drive opens her up to accusations of carelessness. Rightwingers are good at engineering these "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situations.
Whenever you hear a Trumper shout that Huma should not have used that computer at all for classified information, here's how to respond: THERE IS NOT ONE SHRED OF EVIDENCE OF CLASSIFIED INFORMATION!
C'mon, have you seen
those emails? A silo of trifles. People in the State Department used that system to pass along links to stories on the internet.
Nevertheless, everyone in Trump's corner is doing a happy dance right now. For their purposes, this is a perfect scandal. For two reasons:
1. It brings in the name of the detested Anthony Weiner. (Trump is already sending out some crazy tweets
about the dreaded Weiner connection.) As I write, the right is trying to convey the utterly false impression that Hillary entrusted Weiner with classified information.
2. Comey's message allows imagination to run rampant in the absence of facts.
As the Washington Monthly's Martin Longman
notes: "As for Clinton and her supporters, they have no real way to fight back against a letter that doesn’t even quite amount to an allegation."
Bottom line: There are some emails. They aren't from Hillary Clinton. They weren't withheld from the investigation. The case isn't being "reopened." That is all.
Speaking for myself, I'm willing to back any bet that anyone wants to make that this whole thing is a complete nothing. Republicans will be lathering away for the next 11 days, but there's no there there.
What Drum forgets is that when it comes to the Clintons, the media needs no "there." It's all about optics
. That's the magic word. For a quarter century, concern for optics
has given the media an excuse to conduct witch hunts and to repeat right-wing fabrications.