Comey’s Coup

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If Hillary Clinton loses the close election with Donald Trump, the primary reason will be the October 29th announcement by FBI Director James Comey that the agency was, in effect, reopening their investigation into Hillary’s email server. It was evidence of an orchestrated coup planned by the Trump campaign.  Whatever his motives, career-public-servant Comey served as a Trump foot soldier.

James Comey became FBI director on September 4, 2013, and is scheduled to serve another 7 years.  (Given adequate cause, the Director can be removed by the President.)

On October 29th, Comey sent a letter to Congress that — according to the New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/29/us/politics/fbi-hillary-clinton-email.html ) — reported that although the FBI had closed investigation on Hillary Clinton’s email server, “Emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, which law enforcement officials said was an F.B.I. investigation into illicit text messages from Mr. Weiner to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. (Mr. Weiner, a former Democratic congressman from New York, is married to Huma Abedin, [Clinton’s] top aide.)  The F.B.I. would review the [newly discovered] emails to determine if they improperly contained classified information, which is tightly controlled by the government. Senior law enforcement officials said that it was unclear if any of the emails were from Mrs. Clinton’s private server.”  Subsequently, we learned that the suspect 650,000 emails were on a laptop belonging to Huma Abedin’s ex-husband, Anthony Weiner.

During the previous Clinton email investigation, Huma Abedin gave the FBI all of her digital devices so they could examine them for incriminating emails.  She did not give them Anthony Weiner’s laptop because she did not think that any of her emails were on it.  Now the FBI has reason to believe that some of Huma Abedin emails are on Anthony’s laptop.  

How would Huma Abedin’s emails get on Anthony’s laptop without her knowledge?  Most likely, someone set up Anthony’s laptop to be the backup device for their in-home wireless network.  If this turns out to be the case, then most times Huma Abedin accessed her email a “backup copy” was sent to Anthony’s laptop.

Before getting a search warrant (on October 31) the FBI presumably examined metadata — that is, email routing information (as distinct from email content) — for the emails and determined that some of them had an address that corresponded to Clinton’s email server.  For example, this could mean that among the 650,000 emails are personal messages sent by Huma Abedin (who had an email address on Clinton’s server) to Anthony Weiner.

What the FBI are looking for are emails between Clinton and Abedin that occurred during the period when Hillary was Secretary of State (2009-2013).  Within this subset, the FBI will be searching for previously-undisclosed emails that contain classified information.

How long will the FBI investigation take?  Theoretically, it could be done in a week or two but it will undoubtedly take longer.

News outlets report that Director Comey knew about Anthony Weiner’s email trove at the beginning of October.  Why did Comey wait four weeks to make his announcement?  There are three possible explanations:

1. A technical explanation is that it took FBI programmers several weeks to sift through the email metadata and discover that some emails belonged to Huma Abedin (or had the address for Clinton’s email server).  If this is true, then the slow process suggests the FBI are not going to discover anything else before November 8th.  The technical explanation casts Comey in the best light.  But it still does not answer the question of why he chose to reveal this information before the election.

2. A sociological explanation of the October 29th announcement is that Comey responded to threat of mutiny within the FBI.  A November 3rd Washington Post article (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/hes-got-to-get-control-of-the-ship-again-how-tensions-at-the-fbi-will-persist-after-the-election/2016/11/03/d28fc6c6-a050-11e6-8832-23a007c77bb4_story.html?) indicated that Comey’s action was the result of a long-standing feud between New York FBI agents and their bosses in Washington.  The article indicated that some rogue agents were about to leak information about the Weiner email trove and, therefore, Comey’s announcement was forced.  (News reports indicated that Comey acted against the advice of the top leaders of the Justice Department and, perhaps, a violation of the “Hatch Act.”

In a November 5th interview (http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/05/politics/tim-kaine-fbi-hillary-clinton-email/), Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Tim Kaine suggested that, “there were people within the FBI actively working… to try to help the Trump campaign.”  Kaine tied these FBI agents to Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York and a Trump-lieutenant.

3. A political explanation is that Comey deliberately tried to affect the presidential election.  There is a connection between Comey and the Trump campaign and the conduit is Rudy Giuliani.  In 1983, Giuliani was appointed U.S. Attorney for the southern district of New York.  In 1987, Giuliani hired Comey as his assistant.  Comey worked directly with Giuliani for three years.  (From 2002-2003, Comey served in Giuliani’s former position as U.S. Attorney for the southern district of New York.)

On October 25th, when discussing the state of the Trump campaign on”Fox & Friends,” Giuliani said, “We got a couple of surprises left.”  On November 4th, once again speaking on Fox News (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/rudy-giuliani-fbi-clinton-emails_us_581c9e3fe4b0e80b02c93d6b), Giuliani confirmed that he knew about the FBI investigation into Anthony Weiner’s email trove — “Did I hear about it?  You’re darn right I heard about it.”

Whatever the reason for FBI Director Comey’s October 29th announcement there is no doubt that it impacted the election.  According to the 538 website, on October 29th Hillary Clinton had a 80 percent chance of winning the election; on November 6th she had a 66 percent chance.  (During the same period her margin in the polls diminished by roughly two percentage points.)  Comey’s announcement not only impacted the Clinton-Trump race but also down-ballot races for control of the Senate and House.

Whatever James Comey’s motivation, his announcement was ill-advised.  Clearly one of the early tasks for President Hillary Clinton will be ask Director Comey to resign and to initiate a shakeup of the FBI.