Saturday, October 29, 2016

James Comey's October Surprise


So much for drip, drip. FBI Director James Comey, with eleven days to go before the election, delivered a giant kick in the teeth to Hillary Clinton that might not cost her the presidency, but could severely undermine her administration before it even begins.

To be clear, what Comey did was stunning and beneath contempt. It's also clear from the statement he released and the additional information that has been learned, the emails in question are not from Clinton's server; indeed they're from Anthony Weiner's computer. And for all we know these emails may be duplicates of emails that have already been vetted.

Democrats are well within their rights to cry foul here. Comey can say this is about transparency all he wants, the political damage has been done. And the ironic thing about all this is that three months ago he made it a point to tell the world that "no reasonable prosecutor" would bring charges against Clinton. Now with a week and a half left in the campaign, this supposedly reasonable prosecutor has decided to prosecute Clinton in the court of public opinion, and for a crime she may not have committed.

Former prosecutors were justifiably quick to pounce on Comey. Nick Ackerman, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the southern district of New York, was particularly critical of Comey's motives, calling them "totally inappropriate."
"It is not the function of the FBI director to be making public pronouncements about an investigation, never mind about an investigation based on evidence that he acknowledges may not be significant. The job of the FBI is simply to investigate and to provide the results of its investigation to the prosecutorial arm of the U.S. Department of Justice. His job is not to give a running commentary about any investigation or his opinion about any investigation. This is particularly egregious since Secretary Clinton has no way to respond to what amounts to nebulous and speculative innuendo.”
There's no way to tell how much damage this new revelation may cause. Hillary was already having a pretty bad week, what with the latest batch of Wikileaks emails concerning the Foundation and the spike in premiums for those enrolled in the Obamacare exchanges. But this much is certain: the timing could not have been worse for her.

At a time when most presidential candidates look to make their closing arguments for why the country should vote for them, Clinton will have to once again deal with the scandal that has dogged her from the moment she entered the race. And, to be fair here, it's a scandal she created all by herself with no help from the Republicans, the Russians or Julian Assange.

Look, it's possible that none of this will matter in the long run. Many pundits have concluded that her trust issues, like Trump's misogyny, are already baked into the electorate's opinion of both. And we know this because even with the Access Hollywood tape and the litany of women who have come forward to say Trump sexually accosted them, he still remains within striking distance of Clinton.

Likewise, with all the scandals that have rocked her campaign, Hillary continues to lead in both the head to head and four-way polling. This indicates that there may be a saturation effect at play here. Ironically, the very thing people hate most about her - her untrustworthiness - could end up being her saving grace.

But it's also possible that this latest revelation could be the straw that breaks the camel's back for some voters. Clinton has struggled with millennials throughout this campaign, and there are still quite a lot of Bernie supporters who haven't forgiven her, don't like her and are want to vote for her. If enough of them stay home November 8, this could be a very close election, perhaps a little too close for comfort.

Let's face it: Hillary Clinton is the frontrunner because she is up against the worst candidate in U.S. history. Had Ohio Governor John Kasich won the GOP nomination, it'd be a much different story, I can assure you.

And if you're looking for a glimmer of hope to hang your hat on, that might be as good as it gets.

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