Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Oh, But Mr. Trump, Obama WAS Working For the American People Last Thursday. (!)

Looking at Air Force One @ MIA. Why is he campaigning instead of creating jobs & fixing Obamacare? Get back to work for the American people! 11:19 AM – 3 Nov 2016

Obama taunts Trump after aides reportedly take his Twitter account, Colin Campbell, Yahoo News, yesterday, quoting a Trump tweet from last Thursday

Is there really any work of more importance for the American people (!) than campaigning to defeat his man?  Of course not.

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So, how’d that transparency thing work out for ya, Director Comey?

Oh.  But … wait.  Wait.  You must mean that neither Adedin nor Weiner had any idea that 30,000 of Abedin’s personal emails found their way onto Weiner’s laptop, notwithstanding that Abedin did not use the laptop and for the four years when she and Clinton were at the State Dept. spent most of the time out of the country with Clinton or in her State Dept. office.  Using her own laptop for emails.

So the question remains: How did those emails get onto Weiner’s laptop?  Do tell.

Transparency, you know.

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I RETRACT MY RETRACTION: A cabal of NYC FBI agents (including, or solely, Bret Baier’s false “indictment” leaker), may well have PLANTED those emails on Weiner’s laptop–

possibly at the behest of Rudy Giuliani or James Kallstrom, or both, who ARE part of the cabal’s conspiracy to violate the Hatch Act (to name just one of a slew of federal criminal statutes these folks have violated).*

Did NYC FBI Agents Plant Those Emails on Weiner’s Computer Once They Gained Custody of It?  The Evidence Appears to Suggest … Possibly.

— Me, in a post bearing that as its title, Oct. 30

I retracted that the next day, writing, “As for me, I want to forcefully retract my suggestion in this post yesterday that NYC FBI agents working on the Weiner case may have planted the emails of Weiner’s computer.”

And now I am retracting the retraction.

At 1:03 a.m. on Thursday, the Daily Beast published a detailed investigative report by Wayne Garrett  titled “Meet Donald Trump’s Top FBI Fanboy” and subtitled “Trump supporters with strong ties to the agency kept talking about surprises and leaks to come—and come they did.”

The words “‘Integrity Questioned’” appear above the title in small red lettering.  It is a quote from this paragraph in the article:

Along with Giuliani’s other connections to New York FBI agents, his former law firm, then called Bracewell Giuliani, has long been general counsel to the FBI Agents Association (FBIAA), which represents 13,000 former and current agents. The group, born in the New York FBI office in the early ’80s, was headed until Monday by Rey Tariche, an agent who just retired from the New York FBI office. In Tariche’s letter to the Association stepping down as president because he’s retiring from the Bureau to take a job “within the Banking Industry,” he wrote that “we find our work—our integrity questioned” because of it, adding “we will not be used for political gains.”

The paragraphs preceding that one read:

Hours after Comey’s letter about the renewed probe was leaked on Friday, Giuliani went on a radio show and attributed the director’s surprise action to “the pressure of a group of FBI agents who don’t look at it politically.”

“The other rumor that I get is that there’s a kind of revolution going on inside the FBI about the original conclusion [not to charge Clinton] being completely unjustified and almost a slap in the face to the FBI’s integrity,” said Giuliani. “I know that from former agents. I know that even from a few active agents.”

I follow political news quite closely, yet it wasn’t until late last night that I knew of the Daily Beast article, when I read a comment in the Comments thread to this post of mine, linking to it.

What did get a lot of publicity is Bret Baier’s Wednesday announcements fabricated by what turned out to be the concoction of a single NYC FBI agent.  Roger Stone may have played a role in it, but Kallstrom and Giuliani almost certainly did.  Giuliani knew a couple of days before Baier’s false reports that these would occur.

In addition to conspiracy to violate the Hatch Act, these people have violated a slew of federal criminal statutes including wire fraud, misuse of government property and personnel, and conspiracy to commit those crimes.

So here’s what I would like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to ask millennials when they campaign today, tomorrow and Monday for Clinton AND Senate and House candidates: Why on earth do they think that the sudden discovery of Huma Abedin’s email correspondence with Clinton on Anthony Weiner’s laptop—however it got there—should entitle Donald Trump to control the FBI, the entire Justice Department, the Supreme Court, and the lower federal courts?

As well as painting with a Republican-controlled Senate and a Republican-controlled House?

Weirdly, apparently this isn’t a rhetorical question.  Read the comments of millennials in this article.

They’re just too disgusted with politics, you know, to care who is president and who controls congress, who controls the federal agencies, who controls the Supreme Court, and who controls the entire federal bench, and their own state’s legislatures, see.

Bernie and Elizabeth, please inform them on this.  Loudly.

The transformation of the FBI into a government investigative arm and innuendo and false or partial information arm of the Republican Party during elections is a profound matter. And the decision by the FBI director to announce that federal and state law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies should be “transparent” by announcing raw, unformed, and uncertain information about candidates for public office on the eve of elections so that voters will know about it when they vote is serious banana republic stuff.

Comey almost certainly will resign shortly after the election.  Succumbing to extortionate threats of leaks by some of the agency’s agents and making a series of ridiculous claims that the devil, er, the law, made him do it, while also outright stating to the agency’s entire employment roster and therefore to all the world that he acted as he did in part to provide voters with in formation he thought they should have before they voted, would, I assume, sort of make it hard for him to remain in that post.

And maybe these faint-of heart millennials should care whether or not it is Trump or Clinton who names the next FBI director.  And whether its a Democratic-controlled, or instead a Republican-controlled, Senate that holds (or doesn’t) confirmation hearings on this nominee.  And Supreme Court an lower-federal court judicial nominees. 

But if that involves just tooooo complex an analysis for them to engage in, there is that email thing that is a handy excuse.

Apparently.

*Post title edited for clarity. 11/5 at 3:23 p.m.

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The New Transparency in Government Will Make America Great Again. Believe Me. [Links repaired, 11/5 at 11:29 a.m.]

The people familiar with the investigation said that senior officials had been informed weeks earlier that a computer belonging to former congressman Anthony Weiner, D-New York, contained emails potentially pertinent to the Clinton investigation. Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, shared the computer with her husband, from whom she is now separated.

….

It is unclear what FBI agents have learned since discovering the emails in early October. But officials say they gained enough information from the email metadata to take the next step, seeking a warrant to review the actual emails. That legal step prompted Comey’s letter to Congress, which has made him a central figure during the stretch run of the presidential campaign.

“He needed to make an informed decision, knowing that once he made that decision, he was taking it to another level,” an official with knowledge of the decision-making process said.

FBI leaders knew about new emails for weeks before Comey letter, Sari Horwitz, Ellen Nakashima, Washington Post, Nov. 2 at 7:37 p.m.

 

 

When it was revealed last Friday that there had been a Comey recount and Clinton lost, Solomon turned into Torquemada. But, of course, Comey had no choice. How could he have sat on a trove of 650,000 newly discovered emails and kept that knowledge suppressed until after the election?

Final days, awful choice, Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, today

The Horwitz and Yakashima article was published online not just by the Washington Post and in its print edition yesterday, but also (apparently) by other newspapers.  The link for it that I’m using is to the Chicago Tribune website.  Presumably, it appeared also in yesterday’s print edition, along with all the good stuff about the Cubs’ 10th inning Series victory.

I pause here to say to the Cubs on behalf of my late, lifelong-Cubs-fan relatives: Thanks.

But along with that big sports story, there was this: The three paragraphs I quote above contain two profound misstatements—the error in the first of those paragraphs the apparent result of a quick, (I believe) verbatim, copy-and-paste by these journalists from the original, breaking story on Comey’s letter to Congress and quickly afterward, his email to FBI employees.

The letter in which Comey actually said he had sent the letter partly because he wanted to influence voters’ vote choices by providing them with the information in the letter—a fact that has received little press attention and none, to my knowledge, from Clinton and down-ballot Democrats.

Information, during early voting in more than 20 states and absentee voting in every state, and 11 days from the election itself, that Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, shared the computer with her husband, from whom she is now separated.

Information that Comey sent the letter to Congress after a search warrant was obtained and agents had had time to learn information about the metadata—inferentially including the approximate number of emails involved.

The first of those representations is almost certainly wrong, the second unequivocally wrong.

And Krauthammer, a nationally syndicated columnist, is unequivocally wrong, about two things: That, of course, Comey had no choice. And that all, or even remotely close to all, of the 650,000 emails on Weiner’s personal computer were emails between Abedin and Clinton.  The claim is logically absurd, and the leaks from the FBI since Friday estimate that about 30,000 of them are to or from Abedin.

The Washington Post’s story on the emails issue today does not repeat those errors.  But neither does it expressly correct its report from the day before, and say that it is a correction.  It should do this, online today and in print in Sunday’s paper.

Also widely reported over a period of several days, by many, many news organizations, was that Abedin had received a subpoena for all electronic devices she had used to send or receive emails about State Dept. matters, or to or from Clinton.  Yesterday, it was reported that that, too, is false.

The news outlets that reported the misinformation should prominently correct it.

But my immediate point is this: Every one of these errors by the journalists who made them—with the exception of Krauthammer’s—was absolutely understandable as inference from Comey’s two public messages on Friday.

But the larger point is that Comey told all the world that law enforcement prosecutorial powers of raw information- and evidence-gathering via the various means available only to law enforcement—including search warrants, grand jury testimony, informants, and plea bargaining deals—are now available to the public if a law enforcement officials or rank-and-file employees opt for transparencyAt least if a partisan legislative body has subpoenaed a law enforcement investigative-agency official about an ongoing or closed investigation, and in answering a query during his or her testimony, promises real-time release of any further information or evidence, even before it is known what, if anything at all, the information means that is relevant.

Presumably, this applies in investigations of pretty much anyone or anything. Irrespective of its political potential.  But a rule of thumb is that, the closer to an election, and the less known about what the information actually is and whether it is relevant to anything other than political smear, and the higher the office of the candidate at issue, the freer law enforcement officials and rank-and-file employees are to make it known to the public.

As Krauthammer and Comey both say: Of course.

Hope y’all  agree.  Cuz this is a genie that may be impossible to put back in the bottle.

But I do wonder about this: Isn’t it conservatives—Republicans—who are always raising shouting, “Separation of Powers!  Separation of Powers!”

Guess that, too, is no longer true.  Right?

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Yup. Comey’s a Goner.

President Obama briefly addressed the FBI’s reopened investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices for the first time, saying in an interview posted Wednesday that the agency does not “operate on innuendo” and emphasizing that there is no evidence that the Democratic presidential nominee had violated the law.

“I do think that there is a norm that when there are investigations we don’t operate on innuendo, and we don’t operate on incomplete information, and we don’t operate on leaks,” Obama said in the interview with NowThis News, which was filmed Tuesday. “We operate based on concrete decisions that are made. When this was investigated thoroughly last time, the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations, was she had made some mistakes but that there wasn’t anything there that was prosecutable.”

Obama on FBI: ‘We don’t operate on innuendo’, David Nakamura, Washington Post, today at 11:46 a.m.

I’m sooo glad that President Obama reads Angry Bear.

Now, Mr. Obama, please read this post of mine.  And this one of mine.  Because you may be the only one who make these points and make them heard, before any more days of early voting go by.

And btw, although I certainly have some issues with Hillary Clinton but unequivocally supported her all along once she won the nomination, the intensity of my support is greater right now than at any earlier point.

I cannot–cannot–overstate the depth of my anger toward Comey.

Cannot.

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The Mad Hatter Columbia U. Law Prof. Who Advised Comey That He Needed to Destroy the Village In Order to Save It* – UPDATED (His name is Daniel C. Richman.)

Daniel C. Richman, an adviser to Mr. Comey and a Columbia University law professor, argued that despite the backlash, Mr. Comey’s decision to inform Congress preserved the F.B.I.’s independence, which will ultimately benefit the next president. “Those arguing that the director should have remained silent until the new emails could be reviewed — even if that process lasted, or was delayed, until after the election — give too little thought to the governing that needs to happen after November,” Mr. Richman said. “If the F.B.I. director doesn’t have the credibility to keep Congress from interfering in the bureau’s work and to assure Congress that a matter has been or is being looked into, the new administration will pay a high price.”

Former senior law enforcement officials in both parties, though, say Mr. Comey’s decision to break with Justice Department guidelines caused these problems. Had he handled the case the way the F.B.I. handled its investigations into the Clinton Foundation and Mr. Manafort over the summer, the argument goes, he would have endured criticism from Republicans in the future but would have preserved a larger principle that has guided cases involving both parties. …

F.B.I.’s Email Disclosure Broke a Pattern Followed Even This Summer, Matt Apuzzo, Michael S. Schmidt, Adam Goldman and William K. Rashbaum, New York Times, today

Gotta say, Comey comes off in this Washington Post article today as dumber than a rock.

— Me, here, yesterday

The particular part of that Washington Post article yesterday, by Ellen Nakashima, that I had most in mind was this:

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How Do You Use a Laptop Long-Distance?

On Tuesday, FBI investigators were continuing to examine the newly discovered emails and trying to discern how they ended up on a computer owned by Weiner. As of Tuesday morning, an official said, investigators had found no sign that the computer contained “new and bigger” evidence about Clinton. But the official said the FBI was deploying “all computers, all hands on deck” to sort through the high volume of emails and that “no one knows” what the emails contain.

After another release of documents, FBI finds itself caught in a partisan fray, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Sari Horwitz, Washington Post, tonight

Yesterday in this post, in (again) pointing out the unlikelihood that Huma Abedin would have put tens of thousands of her personal emails onto her husband’s laptops hard drive, I mentioned that Weiner used that laptop for his own (very) personal things, of the sort that he probably wasn’t hoping his wife would see.

But tonight, after recovering from the shock (literally) of reading in that article that the FBI, too, recognizes the improbability that Abedin would have put tens of thousands of her personal emails onto her husband’s laptop, or that she would have used his laptop regularly for anything, much less for corresponding with Clinton–and that he would have let her use it regularly (all things considered)–something else occurred to me: Abedin was rarely at home during her years as Clinton’s aide at the State Dept. or, for that matter, afterward.

Clinton traveled very extensively as secretary of state, and Abedin was virtually always with her.  When not traveling, she was at work at the State Dept. most of the time.  Weiner himself was in New York most of the time after (I think) early 2011, when he resigned as a House member.

Which raises the question: How do you use a laptop long-distance?

There are, of course, other questions, too, like: Why would you want to use a laptop long-distance, even if you could?  But I think the first question suffices to make the point.

So I’m guessing here that the FBI will start matching up the dates of those emails with Abedin’s schedule.  For starters.

Doesn’t sound to me like the Russian cyberhacking corps is likely to have thought about this beforehand.  Big mistake.

Probably.

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Eric Lichtblau vs. Eric Lichtblau: Why is the NYT hiding key information that the FBI knows but claims not to know (and that Lichtblau knows because he played a role in it) about the connection between a Trump organization server and Alpha Server, a huge Russian bank with connections to Putin?

Okay, folks.  Read this entire article, or if you’re short on time, do a word find for “Lichtblau.”  Then read this article in today’s NYT by Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers.

Then ask, rhetorically, why Lichtblau did not mention in the Times article what happened with the Trump server that the FBI claims is receiving only random marketing spam (but only from Alpha Bank), after Lichtblau called Alpha Bank and inquired about why the Trump server was receiving data from Alpha Bank.

Also ask—rhetorically—why the Times article today simply reports the FBI’s stated reason for concluding that this marketing-spam thing is plausible (and that that’s why they haven’t sought a search warrant for the server?), but doesn’t mention what Lichtblau knows: that the scientists Foer and, as I understand it, Lichtblau have received their information concluded a month or two ago that that explanation is virtually impossible.

Nor does it explain what happened with the Trump server after Lichtblau called Alpha Bank and inquired about why the Trump server was receiving data from Alpha Bank.  

Who in the FBI decided to accept that explanation, despite the fact that at least one of the scientists who told Foer that that explanation is highly implausible also works under contract for … the FBI or one of the other agencies working on the matter?

Lotsa rhetorical questions to ask, actually.  Start asking them, folks.  And not just ones for the New York Times.

____

UPDATE: Gotta say, Comey comes off in this Washington Post article today as dumber than a rock.

Added 11/1 at 1:32 p.m.

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SECOND UPDATE: Reader JackD and I just had the following exchange in the Comments thread:

JackD / November 1, 2016 2:26 pm

Dailykos is currently reporting that the FBI is releasing its closed investigative files regarding the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton’s pardon of Mark Rich. Come supervised the latter as it concluded. I suppose it could just be a coincidence. I didn’t know the FBI released its closed files that do not result in criminal action. The timing certainly stinks and could be relevant to a finding of Comey’s intent for Hatch Act purposed.

 

Me / November 1, 2016 3:16 pm

Hmmm. Who knew that the REAL purpose of the FBI is to use its investigative authority to help the Republican Party regain the WH and hold the Senate and House? Guess Comey did, but I sure didn’t. Until now.

Jack, the Foer revelations ARE now getting some real news media attention, as is the CNBC report from yesterday that Comey argued against release of the report in early Oct. that the Russians clearly are behind the Dem hackings and that the purpose is to influence the election.

I think what Comey’s up to is a preemptive distraction from probable imminent leaks that the FBI buried their own scientists’ conclusions that that Trump server in fact was communicating with Alpha Bank–and that the FBI declined to request a search warrant to confiscate the server. There’s no longer any danger of a breach-of-national-security charge against the leaker for release of classified info. The info about the server is now out there.

But just think about this: Comey knows that a Trump server at a minimum may be, and very likely is, communicating with Alpha Bank very, very secretly, using very elaborate techniques, and has been doing so since last spring. Yet he’s releasing raw investigative info shortly before the election, and during early voting in more than 20 states, in order to help Trump and down-ballot Republicans win election.

This is the FBI Director we’re talking about here.

And he’s not even named Hoover.  Or so he claims.

Added 11/1 at 3:29 p.m.

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Tea Leaves and Alpha Bank – UPDATED 11/1

Read this.  JUST. READ. IT.

The article, by Franklin Foer, published on Slate at 5:36 p.m., is titled “Was a Trump Server Communicating With Russia?”

This is big.  So big you’ll get sick of big.

Believe me.

____

UPDATE: This is a very long article, and I hadn’t finished it when I posted this.  Now that I’ve finished it, I seems extremely likely to me that this is the information that Harry Reid was referencing in his letter to Comey yesterday.  If so, this is just stunning–that the FBI has withheld this information from the public, yet Comey waited a nanosecond after learning of the emails on Weiner’s computer to announce it to the public even without knowing what they actually were.

Did Comey know last Friday that this news was about to break?  Did that play into his decision to make that information public?

The plot sickens.  In any event, it does seem that the info Reid wanted so badly to become public, now has, as of tonight.  This is the “explosive information” that he was referencing in that letter.  Near the end of the Foer article, he discusses the role that two NYT reporters, Eric Lichtblau an Steven Lee Myers, who also were chasing the story, played in the actual substantive events in September when they made their investigation known to Alpha Bank.  And the Times reporters were in contact with Foer today, right after the Slate article was published. There should be a major story on this in tomorrow’s Times; I would think so, anyway.

But I hope one of these journalists, or another one, asks the computer scientists they’ve been working with if they think there’s a way to determine whether the same crowd that is communicating via the setup described in the article also played  role in the appearance of tens of thousands of Huma Amedin’s personal emails on the hard drive of Weiner’s computer.  And whether that is why Trump suddenly late last summer started claiming that Weiner had access to Abedin’s State Dept. emails.

Tomorrow should be an interesting day.

Added 10/31 at 10:14 p.m.

 

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SECOND UPDATE: Reader Noni Mausa and I just exchanged these comments in the Comments thread this morning:

Noni Mausa / November 1, 2016 10:06 am

I have wondered for some years how long it will be till computer files, images, and emails lose their evidential status, given the expanding abilities of hackers — the digital equivalent of planting drugs or stolen goods in someone’s home is becoming rapidly more plausible.

As for the NYT article, I of course have no firsthand knowledge, (how many of us do? that’s why we have reporters). but the bona fides of the hacker-hunters sound bona fide to me. If messages of some sort were passing between a large Russian bank and Trump’s headquarters, with their frequency responsive to electoral events stateside, at the very least this seems an indication of common interests, whether financial or political. Even if they were “innocently” tied to ordinary financial dealings, this is still of deep concern when the presidency comes into it.

I dare say, since the dedicated mutual traffic on the server on Trump’s end has now gone dark, we will probably not be able to ever know the details of the Trump-Alfa conversation. Stay tuned for another half-dozen conspiracy theories, of which one, the least plausible, will be true, plus at least two major motion pictures.

 

Me / November 1, 2016 10:26 am

Wow. Noni, you raise a really interesting point about the Trump server. Based on all that stuff reported about retrieving stuff from Clinton’s server, I think the FBI COULD retrieve info from that server.

Soooo … if this is the stuff Reid WAS referring to by “explosive information” that the FBI is sitting on, has the FBI sought a search warrant to confiscate the server? If nor, why not? And if the FBI did NOT know of the server–something that seems unlikely, given that at least one of the scientists who provided the info to Foer, the Slate journalist, apparently works as a contractor for the FBI, and given that these scientists have been trying since last June to attract some media attention to their Reddit posts–will the FBI NOW IMMEDIATELY REQUEST A SEARCH WARRANT TO CONFISCATE THE SERVER? AND WILL THE FBI, UM, ANNOUNCE THAT, BEFORE THE ELECTION?

Harry Reid should hold a press conference on this. TODAY.

Updated 11/1 at 11:05 a.m.

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