The new fuss over the Clinton emails

Although the media is in a lather over the latest news about the FBI director James Comey’s letter that there have been new emails regarding Hillary Clinton, to be quite honest, I cannot see that there is anything there. After all, the emails are not to or from her. I do not expect this news to create a major shift in people’s decisions on how they will vote because the news is vague and the whole email story so old. It does seem that Comey seems to be too anxious to hold press conferences and put out statements on issues, contradictory to the usual protocols. I commented on this tendency back in July.

Some suggest that Comey is ruining the reputation for the impartiality of the FBI but that is laughable. Yes, the FBI is supposed to be nonpartisan but the FBI’s reputation for political skullduggery is awful. Remember its infiltration and subversion of civil rights and peace groups? COINTELPRO?

The one person who has my sympathy at this moment is Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s key aide. She seems to be a perfectly competent and loyal assistant who seeks to maintain a low profile but whose main misfortune is that she married Anthony Weiner, a total disaster of a human being and a magnet for bad publicity. It is to Clinton’s credit that she has stuck with Abedin when it would have been easy to cut her loose a long time ago, even though there is no hint that Abedin has done anything wrong.

John Oliver comments on the latest story.


  1. says

    new emails regarding Hillary Clinton, to be quite honest, I cannot see that there is anything there

    There are potentially interesting things. The most obvious possibility is that Abedin’s email shows messages that are clearly not “personal” but are work-related, which Clinton’s amateurish cleaner deleted. I referenced this possibility in one of my postings about Clinton Emails -- only a complete amateur* wouldn’t realize that there is always a sender and a recipient, and the sender/recipient count needs to match or it points to a deleted message.

    If I give the FBI an email dump that shows I sent Mano Singham 3 messages, but the FBI gets an email dump of Mano Singham’s in-box and it contains 75 messages from me, then that means the first dump had 72 messages deleted. Does it matter? Not much, depends on the message. But it’s a good demonstration of how incompetent Hillary’s people appear to be at covering up for her, and (of course) it shows what they were covering up -- you just join the message-IDs and look at all the messages that aren’t in both archives.

    The other potentially interesting thing is that it shows the police state is running its own operations against a candidate president. That’s interesting indeed.

    Another interesting thing is that it points toward “parallel construction” being done by the FBI. If I were to make a guess, that’d be my bet for most interesting aspect of this. That scenario would look like: FBI asks NSA for Clinton’s emails. Of course, they have them. FBI then has a meeting thinking “how can we plausibly obtain these without it being clear that we got them from NSA? OH! I’ve GOT IT! Abedin and Weiner!”

    Comey’s actions amount to a declaration of war. If Clinton wins, he’ll be broken for this. Of course, he’d probably be broken, anyway, which is why he decided to do it. He could have taken the “former FBI director put out to pasture becomes a consultant” path, but now he’s probably going to be working for Rudi Giuliani instead of Booz Allen Hamilton.

    (* including the FBI, since they apparently didn’t immediately think of this)

  2. says

    I hope this triggers another war between the executive branch and the DOJ/FBI. Scorch that earth, baby!!! The only downside is that last time there was such a war it was Nixon, who turned to the CIA to get dirt on his opponents, because he had pissed off the FBI. The rest is history.

    A plague on all their houses. Burn it all down and plow it with salt.

  3. Henry Gale says

    “After all, the emails are not to or from [Clinton].”

    We know this for sure at this point?

    I suspect the emails are Humas’s which would include some from Hillary. Since the device was shared by Huma and Anthony Weiner this means Weiner may have had access to those emails.

    I think Hillary has bad political instincts. If Huma is her top aide then I’m not sure how high she ranks.

  4. Pierce R. Butler says

    Marcus Ranum @ # 1: FBI asks NSA for Clinton’s emails. Of course, they have them.

    Much less “of course” is NSA freely sharing with FBI. Especially Comey’s FBI, especially Clinton’s emails, especially now.

    Having 17 spy agencies in arcane competition with each other looks like the very last defense of domestic US freedom…

  5. KG says

    I do not expect this news to create a major shift in people’s decisions on how they will vote because the news is vague and the whole email story so old. -- Mano

    This ignores the importance of salience in electoral politics. Few voters will change their minds on an issue in the course of a campaign. What does change is which of those issues are uppermost in their minds. All Comey needed to do to sway at least some votes among the undecided was to get headlines with “Hillary” and “emails” in them. My guess is that it won’t be enough to hand Trump the election -- because people who are undecided at this stage are less likely to vote -- but that is a guess.

  6. says

    Henry Gale @3: Everything I’ve read says that the computer was NOT shared between Weiner and Abedin. See, e.g.,

    So how were these identified as “Hillary” emails? My strong suspicion is that Abedin and Weiner did what my wife and I do: when I email my wife at work sometime I use her home email address (which she reads on her phone when she gets a chance) or, if I want her to see it immediately, I use her work email address. If Weiner and Abedin did the same thing, then those emails would have gone through Hillary’s server, and they would show up on Weiner’s computer as having done so. Also, any emails between Weiner and anybody else who worked for Hillary (or Hillary herself) would show up there, but since he didn’t work for her campaign, they probably are just regular personal emails. (“Huma, what time are you getting home from work today? Could you pick up some schnitzel?”)

    BTW, I could easily write shell script filters that would check all that in a very short period of time. So I see no excuse for the FBI not being able to say quite a bit more about it today.

  7. lorn says

    My impression about the Clinton e-mail situation, and most of the other controversies (scandals in the vernacular of those seeking to sling mud) are that they are vastly overblown. Even the accusations are self-undermining because there is a profound lack of sophistication on the part of Hillary. It is like that line from LOTR when asked how they knew he was a good guy and they answered that he would ‘look better but feel worse’. A practiced liar and sneak would look less guilty simply because they know what actions to take and words to say to look innocent.

    My impression is that, like most people would, if they were systematically lied about and smeared for forty years they are nervous and cagey about handing out information that they might be distorted and used against them. (Anyone remember the stories about cocaine flights into remote Arkansas airfields and how the Clintons spread CIA engineered crack, or was it AIDS (both), in the inner cities?) But underneath that is the abiding feeling that they are genuinely innocent and have nothing to hide. The friction between the nothing to hide attitude, there is no need to flatter the accusations with a response, and the reflexive withdrawal from stinging accusations, makes them look guilty. Skilled liars and sociopaths instinctively know how to seem innocent. Which tells me that Hillary is neither.

    These latest e-mails are just 600,000 units for the mill and mean nothing. Of course, before the ultimate conclusion comes that they are a while lot of nothing the talkers will make up stories and they amount to 600,000 units of doubt.

    For me the central theme of this election comes down to the proposition that normal and imperfect people can/cannot be brought down and disgraced by a concerted program of slander, smear and whispering. When I’m feeling secure I tell myself that people will see through the lies and admit that the Clintons are decent people who, while not perfect, are capable of governing well and are certainly the better choice, by far.

    When I’m feeling down I see the last fifty years as a playground for farce and socio-pathology. A lurid dysfunctional madhouse where we hand our riches to thieves, trust our health to quacks, and hire pyromaniacs as firemen because the previous crews were less than perfect.

    I get he same feeling I get when I was reading “Billy Budd” by Herman Melville. Good people dropped into a grinder where every normal and wholesome instinct is used against them while the hateful hearts laugh and are sure they are doing the right thing.

    Do we really need to got through four, or eight (I have no doubts that Trump can fake prosperity for four and the shine comes off), years of Trump to free ourselves of the blinders that keep us from seeing each other?

    Fucking hell. Sometimes I think quitting alcohol wasn’t the way to go. The view from inside a bottle was always simpler, if not always prettier.

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