Patterico's Pontifications


Read Comey’s OTHER Letter: The One Explaining His Decision to FBI Employees

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 11:00 am

FBI Director James Comey wrote two letters yesterday about the Hillary Clinton email investigation. You’ve heard about the first one, which he sent to Republican and Democrat lawmakers on Capitol Hill (and which Hillary Clinton falsely claimed he had sent only to Republicans). Now, read his other letter, where he explains his decision to re-open (yes, lefty pundits: “re-open” . . . see rant below) the email investigation:

To all:

This morning I sent a letter to Congress in connection with the Secretary Clinton email investigation. Yesterday, the investigative team briefed me on their recommendation with respect to seeking access to emails that have recently been found in an unrelated case. Because those emails appear to be pertinent to our investigation, I agreed that we should take appropriate steps to obtain and review them.

Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression. In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood, but I wanted you to hear directly from me about it.

Jim Comey

Comey here acknowledges that he is aware of the influence his decision could have on the election, and expresses concern that his letter to Congress will be misunderstood. Those who criticize him for the timing should imagine the contrary situation where he says nothing — and then it comes out after the election that he knew something and stayed mum. Especially if the new (if they are new) emails turned out to something significant, the firestorm would be never-ending. Comey is in a tough spot, and obviously felt that he had no choice but to speak up.

Contrast his actions with those of the vile John Koskinen, who repeatedly testified that the IRS would be producing all Lois Lerner’s emails — while taking four months to inform Congress that the IRS had “lost” many of them. Unlike Koskinen, Comey is doing his best here to be forthright with Congress, as he should.

BONUS MINI-RANT ON THE “IT’S NOT RE-OPENED!” CONTROVERSY: And by the way, lefty pundits, what he’s being honest about is that the FBI is re-opening the investigation. Comey’s letter to lawmakers yesterday said that the FBI — and I quote — “had completed its investigation.” Now, they are going to investigate further. If that’s not “re-opening” the investigation, then what the hell is it?

[Cross-posted at RedState.]

43 Responses to “Read Comey’s OTHER Letter: The One Explaining His Decision to FBI Employees”

  1. The LAT is cherry picking today:

    House Speaker Paul Ryan renewed his call to suspend classified briefings to the Democratic presidential nominee. Like Trump, Ryan took liberties in interpreting Comey’s carefully worded letter. Ryan declared the FBI is reopening its investigation into Clinton’s private email server, which is not what Comey wrote.

    And Lanny Davis is spinning it so that he now suggests that Comey’s actions are possibly illegal.

    These people will do anything to protect their preferred candidate while refusing to acknowledge that Hillary Clinton alone owns this debacle. Not Weiner, not Abedin, not Mills, not even the DNC, but Hillary Clinton. Without Her Decision to set up the personal server, we wouldn’t be here now. So how about we let a grown woman who has set her sites on becoming the president through a platform of empowering and championing women, fully own her decisions and actions, and then let her assume responsibility for any investigations and legal proceedings that may ensue. Shouldn’t we let her be a truly independent woman and own her own decisions?

    Dana (d17a61)

  2. Without Her Decision to set up the personal server, we wouldn’t be here now.

    And that’s really the heart of it: poor judgement.

    DCSCA (797bc0)

  3. comey the coward and his sleazy fbi minions are learning that even their own pig-sniffing compatriots no longer trust nor respect them

    they made bad choices

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  4. The pressure on Comey from the left is intense but he had to know this would happen, which suggests there was also pressure that compelled him to do this. I doubt it was presure from the right so either it was pressure from within the FBI or Comey has some ethics and a conscience.

    DRJ (15874d)

  5. Comey is happy to take this opportunity to save the FBI having been ostracized by the bulk of his department. So what if he doesn’t receive JEF’s blanket pardon.

    #allwaysHillary has no comparable fig leaf.

    DNF (755a85)

  6. pigs in mud they wallow wallow

    it’s jimmy’s choice to spit or swallow

    but NPR eschews that whirl

    cause suddenly they see a squirrel

    Supporters Hope Minimum-Wage Votes Will Push Democratic Turnout


    happyfeet (28a91b)

  7. “there is significant risk of being misunderstood,”

    I.e., in order that the emails be available to its investigators the server email case had to be reopened.

    DNF (755a85)

  8. As a wise man recently wrote, it is a fool’s errant to speculate on reasons without knowing the details. That the Abedin/Weiner servers weren’t in the hands of the FBI long ago belies any current implication of professional behavior by Comey. The re-opening stinks of CYA, especially with all we have been hearing about a brewing mutiny at the FBI. Fish rot from the head.

    Perhaps James Comey decided he didn’t want to go down as the John Mitchell of the new Millennium.

    ThOR (c9324e)

  9. Re: #4 and 5… Yes!

    An undeniable mutiny was afoot…

    Colonel Haiku (97d6f1)

  10. If the investigation was not re-opened, then they started a new one.

    So at this point, what difference does it make?

    Kishnevi (f2c02a)

  11. It seems like Comey had to do this. He knew it would eventually be leaked, and that would look worse. He needed to stay ahead of it. Whether his motive was to redeem his tarnished reputation or to do what was right, who knows.

    kishnevi, it all depends on what the definition of “is” is…

    Dana (d17a61)

  12. Comey is, obviously and for good reason reason, distraught — and beset by conflicting and inconsistent urges and pressures.

    But that’s the direct result of his own decision to become the FBI’s public spokesman on topics on which the FBI doesn’t ordinarily have a public spokesman. Whether on his own or on instructions from DoJ/Lynch/Obama(/Clintons), he took this investigation completely out of the “ordinary course” and instead turned it into a semi-public (but only semi-) political circus. Having rung down the curtain and begun the emptying of spectators from the circus tent, he’s now begun an unexpected encore.

    I cannot imagine any scenario in which this ends well for the FBI, but that still leaves an interesting question about whether this is a step toward its redemption or just another misstep in a bungled mess. Comey has beclowned himself, though — the classic example of trying to please everyone and ending up pleasing no one. I know he has many friends and admirers, but regardless of his historical merits, he’s still busily screwing this pooch.

    It’s hard to imagine, though, short of an indictment that DoJ was never going to seek, this is almost the best October Surprise that Trump could have imagined — mostly because it grabs the spotlight away from Trump’s own pooch-screwing.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  13. Clearer version of a botched sentence from #13: Whether on his own or on instructions from DoJ/Lynch/Obama(/Clintons), Comey took this investigation completely out of the “ordinary course,” and instead turned it into a semi-public (but partly obscured) circus of an entirely political nature.

    Beldar (fa637a)

  14. mostly because it grabs the spotlight away from Trump’s own pooch-screwing

    egads indeed Mr. Beldar

    NPR’s suddenly decided this election’s about the issues

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  15. Simply put, Hillary Clinton is not fit to be president.

    Anyone who votes for her is either so stupid/ignorant of her record as to be unworthy of the franchise, or else so morally decayed as to be unworthy of American citizenship.

    Demosthenes (09f714)

  16. The most interesting circumlocution is in Comey’s letter to Congress, when he describes — again, and impossibly — as the FBI’s “investigation of former Secretary Clinton’s private email server.” Email servers don’t commit crimes; they are inanimate objects, albeit useful tools for the people who commit crimes.

    That doesn’t even necessarily mean that the FBI is investigating potential criminal behavior of Hillary Clinton herself. The sole target of the further investigation could be Huma — for instance, if the newly found emails demonstrate that she made material & false statements in her FBI interview (like Martha Stewart or Scooter Libby) during the emails investigation. (Huma was interviewed, but she’s not among the people whom the DoJ has acknowledged granting even “use immunity,” much less “transactional immunity.”)

    Beldar (fa637a)

  17. 13. “the best October Surprise that Trump could have imagined”

    Not the last surprise, but Hillary is once again the focus and must stand and deliver, podium or no.

    Wiki is just 70% done with Podesta, has Kaine and Brazile in batter’s box with Hill and Bill heading a deep bench.

    DNF (755a85)

  18. Not the last surprise,

    That is correct. Look for the Dems to pull something the weekend before the election. Remember, remember, the 4th of November.

    Chuck Bartowski (211c17)

  19. 17. However, the forwarded emails to Weiner’s view of classified material, of pay-for-play intrigues, of Huma’s work concurrently for CGI, State and the MB, are all of interest to the FBI.

    Moreover, no charges have been brought, and therefore all charges are open to indictment.

    DNF (755a85)

  20. Voters who wish to reject the Clintonization of America’s governing institutions have a choice on Nov. 8. They can feel good about themselves by writing in the name of a third-party candidate. Or they can do right by the country by selecting the only person who can stop the Clintons: a very flawed candidate named Donald Trump.”

    Choices like ‘I preferred to have a V-8′ are rendered infantile.

    DNF (755a85)

  21. James Comey is repulsive and dangerous.

    Sadly, he is an archetype. Public servants have transformed themselves into public masters.

    ThOR (c9324e)

  22. Wait one. What if I did want the v8 sez the guy who bought the Mustang LX convertible as soon as he made Ensign.

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  23. And the five speed manual transmission.

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  24. Aaron Blake @ The Fix has an actually good take on this, describing Comey’s options.

    The alternative for Comey here was to say nothing about the newly discovered emails. That would certainly have been the easier course in the near-term, because it wouldn’t have inserted the FBI into the final days of the campaign.

    But what if there did turn out to be something of real substance that altered his evaluation of this case, and what if it didn’t come out until after the election and after Clinton was elected president? Imagine the scandal that would arise if and when it was discovered that the Justice Department had these emails before the election and chose to sit on them.

    If that had happened, the Justice Department could certainly defend itself by citing that long-standing policy of not commenting on ongoing investigations. Just following protocol, it would say. But that defense almost definitely wouldn’t pass muster with half the country. And let’s not forget how many people think Clinton’s private email server is a very legitimate issue; a poll after Comey’s July announcement showed 56 percent of the country thought Clinton should have been charged with a crime.

    It’s hard to overstate what a massive scandal this would be.

    Trump’s claim that the system was fixed to push Clinton over the finish line would be proved true, among other things. And Comey has SEEN what’s in these emails, so he knows which way it breaks. He also figures the facts won’t emerge until after the election, so if it was mundane he would have sat on it.

    Kevin M (ba98c9)

  25. these sleazy clinton comey lynch antics

    they go a long way towards clarifying i think

    that people what are content to sit around counting their pickles while letting the propaganda sluts do that pig all up in it are a lot content with dispensing with even a notional respect for the rule of law in failmerica

    it’s not even tantamount to abiding corruption

    it is to embrace it

    and that saddens me

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  26. :(

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  27. Newsweek — which in these circumstances may accurately be trusted to reflect the full degree of pro-Clinton/anti-GOP bias synonymous with its brand — is signaling hard that this is all about Huma, only Huma:

    The truth is much less explosive. There is no indication the emails in question were withheld by Clinton during the investigation, the law enforcement official told Newsweek, nor does the discovery suggest she did anything illegal. Also, none of the emails were to or from Clinton, the official said. Moreover, despite the widespread claims in the media that this development had prompted the FBI to “reopen” of the case, it did not; such investigations are never actually closed, and it is common for law enforcement to discover new information that needs to be examined.

    As of Friday night Comey had only said the bureau is seeking to determine whether these newly discovered emails involved classified material.

    Okay, thus far the story consists of carefully crafted “limits” questions, with yes/no answers, on which Newsweek was presumably able to get a nod or a headshake from “an official with knowledge of the investigation, who spoke to Newsweek on condition of anonymity.” (Could be a campaign official, a DoJ official, an FBI official, or maybe an NFL official, who knows?)

    But here’s where the leaker(s) go out on a limb, with stuff I haven’t seen elsewhere yet:

    The FBI found the new evidence during an unrelated inquiry into former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner regarding an allegation that he sent illicit, sexual text messages to an underage girl in North Carolina. In the course of that investigation, agents seized a laptop computer Weiner shared with his wife, Huma Abedin, a longtime Clinton aide who has already been questioned by the FBI during its investigation. The bureau found the emails now being examined on this shared device, which agents obtained some time ago.

    This new evidence relates to how Abedin managed her emails. She maintained four email accounts—an unclassified State Department account, another on the domain and a third on Yahoo. The fourth was linked to her husband’s account; she used it to support his activities when he was running for Congress, investigative records show. Abedin, who did not know Clinton used a private server for her emails, told the bureau in an April interview that she used the account on the domain only for issues related to the Secretary’s personal affairs, such as communicating with her friends. For work-related records, Abedin primarily used the email account provided to her by the State Department.

    Because Clinton preferred to read documents on paper rather than on a screen, emails and other files were often printed out and provided to her either at her office or home, where they were delivered in a diplomatic pouch by a security agent. Abedin, like many State Department officials, found the government network technology to be cumbersome, and she had great trouble printing documents there, investigative records show. As a result, she sometimes transferred emails from her unclassified State Department account to either her Yahoo account or her account on Clinton’s server, and printed the emails from there. It is not clear whether she ever transferred official emails to the account she used for her husband’s campaign.

    Abedin would use this procedure for printing documents when she received emails she believed Clinton needed to see and when the Secretary forwarded emails to her for printing. Abedin told the FBI she would often print these emails without reading them. Abedin printed a large number of emails this way, in part because, investigative records show, other staff members considered her Clinton’s “gatekeeper” and often sent Abedin electronic communications they wanted the Secretary to see.

    This procedure for printing documents, the government official says, appears to be how the newly discovered emails ended up on the laptop shared by Abedin and her husband. It is unclear whether any of those documents were downloaded onto the laptop off of her personal email accounts or were saved on an external storage device, such as a flash drive, and then transferred to the shared computer. There is also evidence that the laptop was used to send emails from Abedin to Clinton; however, none of those emails are the ones being examined by the FBI. Moreover, unless she was told by Abedin in every instance, Clinton could not have known what device her aide was using to transmit electronic information to her.

    If the FBI determines that any of the documents that ended up on the shared device were classified, Abedin could be deemed to have mishandled them. In order to prove that was a criminal offense, however, investigators would have to establish that Abedin had intended to disclose the contents of those classified documents, or that she knew she was mishandling that information.

    If the documents were not classified, no crime was committed. But either way, this discovery has embarrassed Clinton, even though there is no evidence at this point suggesting she has been implicated in any potential wrongdoing.

    There, ladies & gentlemen, is the Clintonista Defense Team’s very detailed, carefully considered, and best-spun version of what they, at least, are now expecting to hear in dribs and drabs between now and Election Day.

    This is a combination of “pull the absessed tooth before it kills you” and “throw Huma in the general direction of the bus’ rear wheels, let’s see if she can wiggle out, but yeah, it’s gonna be her.”

    Beldar (fa637a)

  28. Also, none of the emails were to or from Clinton, the official said.

    oh my goodness

    at this point I think we’ve established beyond all doubt that using a sleazy corrupt piece of fbi trash as a legitimate source is at best to be willfully naive I think

    or even to be purposely deceitful on purpose

    naughty propaganda sluts

    fool me once…

    happyfeet (28a91b)

  29. Why I’ll never score with a Miami Dolphin’s cheerleader.

    Miami Dolphins Cheerleaders “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae

    I’ll just drone on about Chuck Yeager breaking the sound barrier.

    Steve57 (0b1dac)

  30. For several years now, the only part of the Dolphins franchise worth cheering about was the cheerleaders.

    By several years I mean since about the time I was a teenager.

    Kishnevi (f358ee)

  31. “HILLARY TO THE PRESS: Message: I am not a crook!

    Plus, from the comments: “Remember all the shock, horror, dis-endorsements and refusals to appear with the candidate among establishment Republicans when the tape was released of Trump saying ‘pussy’? Prima facie evidence of sexual assault!!! Have there been, are there or will there be any such repugnance among Democrats not just over these most recent revelations but also for the whole ghastly modus operandi of the Clintons? Or is this just now accepted as part of the way political business is done? If so, the rot in the Republic runs much deeper than anyone imagined.”

    Colonel Haiku (2601c0)

  32. #30 Steve57, Marco Rubio scores with a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader.

    Cruz Supporter (102c9a)

  33. “Have there been, are there or will there be any such repugnance among Democrats …”
    No, of course not. They play to win. They back their candidate regardless of any and all flaws.

    The R’s don’t play to win. They play to impress the refs, or for the Good-Sportsmanship trophy, or something of even less worth.

    gp (0c542c)

  34. Perhaps James Comey decided he didn’t want to go down as the John Mitchell of the new Millennium.

    There is no way he would go down as Mitchell. Lynch will go down as Mitchell. Comey could go down as L Patrick Grey, or as William Ruckleshaus.

    Kevin M (ba98c9)

  35. so morally decayed as to be unworthy of American citizenship.

    Oh, my, but that’s a low bar to fail at.

    Kevin M (ba98c9)

  36. So this is about making Huma the fall guy for everything, and doing it early enough so she can get immunity from the Obama DOJ instead of the Clinton DOJ?

    DRJ (15874d)

  37. I just saw a headline that I think explains everything: “As Halloween Nears, Clowns On Edge”.

    nk (dbc370)

  38. @ Kevin M, #37:

    And yet…

    Demosthenes (09f714)

  39. Yesterday, the investigative team briefed me on their recommendation with respect to seeking access to emails that have recently been found in an unrelated case.

    What investigative team? The old Secretary Clinton email investigation team or the Weiner investigation team?

    If the e-mail invesigation has been closed, how does the team still exist? Was it reconstituted?

    Because those emails appear
    Some investigators saw something, but couldn’t look further without a search warrant, if it was to be admissible in court. So they merely appear,

    to be pertinent to our investigation,

    What investigation? The old one, now?

    I agreed that we should take appropriate steps to obtain and review them

    A search warrant.

    His approval, or assistance, may have been needed to obtain a search warrant. Or maybe it’s just that that way the Clinton email investigative team would also get to see those emails. Otherwide only various investigations in New York would be the only ones to get to see them.

    Maybe assistance only. The decision to ask for a search warrant is probably up to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara from the Southern District of New York. Not only might it be very unusual to decline to assist, if not unethical, but he would have no control over the investigation at all if he had not agreed.

    Comey was consulted at the last minute.

    Sammy Finkelman (b4888e)

  40. Abedin, who did not know Clinton used a private server for her emails

    That’s her story, but it was contradicted by other witnesses and possibly by some e-mails.

    In her April interview with the FBI, Abedin incredulously maintained that she “did not know that Clinton had a private server until about a year and a half ago, when it became public knowledge.” The server was set up in the basement of the Clinton family residence in Chappaqua.

    However, another witness told agents that he and another Clinton aide with computer skills built the new server system “at the recommendation of Huma Abedin,” who first broached the idea of an off-the-grid email server as early as the “fall (of) 2008.”

    Skeptical agents showed Abedin three separate email exchanges she had with an IT staffer regarding the operation of the private Clinton server during Clinton’s tenure at State. Abedin claimed she “did not recall” the email exchanges.

    This column was printed on page 17 of the Saturday, October 25, 2016 New York Post.

    Now, note, that all that Huma Abedin claims is that she did not know thet the domain was maintained on a server owned by Bill and Hillary Clinton, whose expenses they deducted on their personal income tax returns *, but she thought this was being managed by some third party. It wasn’t maintained by anyone else until 2013.

    * That part, that the expenses were deducted on the Clintons’ joint tax return, she probably did not know. The grounds for deducting it wasthat it was used for the Clinton speechmaking business.

    Sammy Finkelman (b4888e)

  41. There’s another issue, and I read about this before, possibly in something else written by Paul Sperry:

    On page 3 of their 11-page report, the agents detail how they showed Abedin a classified paper on Pakistan sent from a State Department source which she, in turn, inexplicably forwarded to her personal Yahoo email account — an obviously unclassified, unencrypted, unsecured and unauthorized system. The breach of security was not an isolated event but a common practice with Abedin.

    Now, it is not been supposed to have been even theoretially possible to e-mail something marked clasified, which should reside only on the classified system, to a address.

    Where I read this before, Huma is supposed to have expressed surprised how this got there.

    The chief of the FBI’s counterespionage section also attended Huma Abedin’s April 5 interview.

    Humas defense is that she printed out what Hillary told her to print.

    Sammy Finkelman (b4888e)

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