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The Democratic Establishment Thinks the Lesson of This Election Is That the Way For Democrats to Win Over White Voters In the Industrial Midwest Is to Switch Sides in the Culture Wars. I Guess. [Updated.]

The race to be the next head of the Democratic National Committee has quickly turned into a proxy fight between liberals and establishment types about where the party needs to go in the wake of Hillary Clinton’s stunning loss at the hands of Donald Trump on Tuesday.

Liberals are insistent that Clinton’s defeat was the result of nominating a candidate who failed to excite the party’s base of progressives, African Americans and Hispanics. Establishment voices fret that nominating a liberal to run the party misses the point of an election in which Clinton’s loss can be directly traced to her inability to win over white voters in the industrial Midwest.

“The next DNC chair needs to understand what became painfully obvious in the election — that there are two different Americas and that Democrats are really struggling to bridge the gap between the two,” said Mo Elleithee, a longtime Democratic operative who runs the Georgetown University Institute of Politics and Public Service. “The fundamental problem is that the party stopped really communicating what it means to be a Democrat.” …

“This is suddenly a really important gig as one of the centers of opposition,” said one longtime Democratic strategist who spoke on the condition of anonymity to candidly assess the DNC race. “You can’t do it part time, and you shouldn’t do it while sitting inside one of the most despised institutions in the country.”

What the DNC chair race tells us about the fight for the Democratic Party’s future, Chris Cillizza, Washington Post, yesterday

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Excuse me. But … seriously?

Anyone who reads this post should also read this.  I feel like spiking a football.  (And then kicking it in a few people’s faces.)

 

*******

 

Anyone who played a role in “clearing the field” for Hillary Clinton—anyone who did—should be categorically removed from consideration as DNC chair.  And the idea that Clinton herself should weigh in during the selection process is disgusting.   She couldn’t forgo her and her husband’s speaking engagement to Morgan Stanley scheduled for after her announcement of her candidacy until she was intensely pressured by members of her campaign, and the $225,000 speaking fee, because of her close ties to some top Morgan Stanley executive, who’d worked for her State.

And she was limited to a campaign based mostly on Trump’s insults and temperament and sexual assault admission, because she couldn’t credibly campaign on much of anything else—least of all on the Democratic Party platform—because she was paid huge speaking fees by a Goldman Sachs and some foreign banks in the two years after she left State.

She wanted so badly to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling.  She just wanted those speaking fees more.

She barely campaigned, except privately with moderate Republican donors, beginning the very morning after she secured the delegates for nomination by winning the California primary in early June, and except to troll for endorsements from high-profile Republicans.

That absence campaigning extended to never submitting to, say, a Sunday-talk-show interview or interview with any other journalist, in which she could have, maybe, mentioned some of those Platform proposals, explained them, and then used them at, like, rallies—for fear of being asked about, say, those speaking fees.  Her own or her husband’s.  Or the $18 million her husband received over a period of four or five years from a for-profit university I exchange for the university using his name as a board member.

I’ll grant that she herself apparently has given no indication that she wants to weigh in on the issue of the choosing the next DNC chair.  That’s someone else’s comment, not based on anything other than, I guess—well, gee, it’s just too hard for all of us political types and political journalists to ween ourselves from the Clintons.

But don’t.  Just. Plain. Don’t.  Clinton won the popular vote, by about two million votes, apparently; not a tiny margin.  But she didn’t win the Upper Midwest, nor Pennsylvania, because she just couldn’t run as a populist change agent, because she so, so wanted those speaking fees.  So she didn’t win the White House.

____

UPDATE: I just signed this petition, and wrote in the comment field that many, many of those Midwesterners who put Trump over the top in the Electoral College  will in the next day or two that they were conned, and will want a Mulligan in the form of an Electoral College vote that reflects the popular vote, which Clinton won by about two million votes, apparently.  I supplied the link to this article.

I invite you sign it, for the same reason I did.  Or for any of the other reasons connected to impropriety, Comey and the FBI/Giuliani fabricated FBI leak being just one possible one.  Another is the treatment of Black voters and those who attempted to vote, in North Carolina and Wisconsin.

Go for it, folks.

Update added 11/11 at 5:19 p.m.

____

SECOND UPDATE: I just read this Politico article posted last night, titled “Clinton aides blame loss on everything but themselves,” and subtitled “‘They are saying they did nothing wrong, which is ridiculous,’ one Democrat says.”  It’s chock full of dumbfounding information, but one thing that repeats what I’d read elsewhere is this:

And some began pointing fingers at the young campaign manager, Robby Mook, who spearheaded a strategy supported by the senior campaign team that included only limited outreach to those voters — a theory of the case that Bill Clinton had railed against for months, wondering aloud at meetings why the campaign was not making more of an attempt to even ask that population for its votes. It’s not that there was none: Clinton’s post-convention bus tour took her through Youngstown, Ohio, as well as Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, where she tried to eat into Trump’s margins with his base. In Scranton and Harrisburg, the campaign aired a commercial that featured a David Letterman clip of Trump admitting to outsourcing manufacturing of the products and clothes that bore his logo. And at campaign stops in Ohio, Clinton talked about Trump’s reliance on Chinese steel.

But in general, Bill Clinton’s viewpoint of fighting for the working class white voters was often dismissed with a hand wave by senior members of the team as a personal vendetta to win back the voters who elected him, from a talented but aging politician who simply refused to accept the new Democratic map. At a meeting ahead of the convention at which aides presented to both Clintons the “Stronger Together” framework for the general election, senior strategist Joel Benenson told the former president bluntly that the voters from West Virginia were never coming back to his party.

I don’t get it.  Why did these people think that blacks and Latinos and millennials and college-educated whites weren’t interested in the economic and power-structure changes that white working class Midwesterners are interested in?  Don’t all those groups like Elizabeth Warren’s primary message?  And, point by point, don’t most people who comprise those groups like most of Sanders’ points and agenda?

West Virginians did’t vote for Obama.  Either time.  Blue collar whites in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa and Pennsylvania did.  Both times.  Was it Bill Clinton who was confused, and wanted Clinton to campaign in West Virginia?  Or was it Clinton herself, and her campaign folks, who were confused and thought that blue collar whites weren’t key parts of the Obama coalition in the Rust Belt and elsewhere in the Midwest?

Here’s a new one to me, and it really did stun me, although it shouldn’t have because it’s really standard Hillary Clinton:

“They spent their time protecting her, explaining her, defending her, with all these issues, the speeches, the Foundation, the emails — that became the energy of the campaign,” sighed one longtime Clinton confidante.

The paid speeches and the glitzy fundraisers, they said, did not paint a picture of a woman connected to the real suffering in the country. But that, they said, was just who Clinton was after so many years in the spotlight. “Her outlook is, ‘I get whacked no matter what, so screw it,’” explained one longtime confidant. “I’ve been out here killing myself for years and years and if I want to give the same speech everyone else does, I will.”

That first sentence, of course, is what we all knew and heard and saw.  But it did bring back that feeling of mystified anger that this stuff, rather than policy issues (including structural ones), was what her campaign really was about, month after month, including during the primaries, but thoroughly during the general election campaign.  That stuff and her attacks on Trump that rarely actually touched on economic and fiscal policy or anything much of substance, but instead just reiterated, again and again, what everyone knew as well as she did.

But that quote inside the quote in the second paragraph is crazy.  She didn’t want to run for president again, at this stage of her life.  And she had no particular overarching message to run on, other than “It’s time to break the glass ceiling,” as if this was what was of uppermost concern to most women, or something.

So why the hell did she?  Why the hell did she?

This article is a fascinating account of absurdity.  Still … I’m glad I signed that petition.

Update added 11/11 at 6:49 p.m.

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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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Several thoughts about Paul Krugman’s NYT column today – UPDATED regarding the Fourth Amendment issue, and (separately) the suddenly real possibility that Putin had the emails planted on Weiner’s laptop

Paul Krugman’s column today titled “Working the Refs,” which I linked to this morning in this post, is absolutely wonderful for its account of the breadth of what amounts to largely successful attempts at movement-rightwing takeover of so very much of American public life—journalism reportage and editing methodology, political punditry, decisonmaking by college and university academic hiring committees, self-styled-centrist fiscal policy organizations. (There is also the courts, but that’s really a separate matter.)

But there are two points I want to make about statements in his column.  One concerns the nature of Comey’s misconduct, which Krugman describes as violating “longstanding rules about commenting on politically sensitive investigations close to an election; and [doing] so despite being warned by other officials that he was doing something terribly wrong.”

That is only part of it, albeit the most immediately harmful part.  But pundits, and the public, should understand that it is a profound misuse of government investigatory and prosecutorial powers to release to the public raw information obtained through compulsory, and secret, investigatory information gathering—information gained through search warrants, grand jury testimony, etc.—and that this is so not only for politically sensitive investigations.

Comey’s deliberate decision, his acknowledged motive, to affect voters’ decisonmaking in an imminent election strikes me as criminal misconduct, as does the release of raw investigatory information irrespective of its political intent.  But these are two distinct issues, of equal importance.

Then again, as I said here yesterday, by Comey’s definition of cover-up, he is engaging in it, as Harry Reid noted in the letter he released yesterday.

I also want to point readers to Orin Kerr’s Washington Post blog post from yesterday titled “Was it legal for the FBI to expand the Weiner email search to target Hillary Clinton’s emails?”  Kerr blogs at the Washington Post’s The Volokh Conspiracy blog, whose contributors all are former law clerks to Republican-appointed justices, and current law professors.  All are center-right libertarians. Kerr, perhaps the least right of them is a law professor at George Washington University and a former law clerk for Anthony Kennedy. 

Kerr’s post begins:

FBI Director James B. Comey recently announced that the FBI had discovered new emails that might be relevant to the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server. The emails were discovered in an unrelated case, and the FBI now plans to search through the emails as part of the Clinton server investigation.

Comey’s announcement raises an important legal question: Does expanding the FBI’s investigation from the unrelated case to the Clinton case violate the Fourth Amendment?

We don’t know all the facts yet, so it’s somewhat hard to say. But here’s why the expansion of the investigation might be constitutionally problematic. Consider this a tentative analysis unless and until more facts emerge.

He goes on to raise two Fourth Amendment concerns, one which he says, and I agree, seems sort of weak, the other which he says is a significant concern, his take on which is the same as mine in the comments thread to this post.

The FBI obtained a search warrant late yesterday, so the judge who granted it thought the Fourth Amendment wasn’t a bar to it.  But it should be noted that Comey issued his announcement before a search warrant was obtained and in the face of a potential Fourth Amendment issue that might have prevented the FBI from obtaining one.

The other point concerns Krugman’s awesome recitation, yet again, of how deficit mania grabbed a stranglehold on elite policymakers and so-called public intellectuals for so very, very long—and how devastating it has been throughout the last decade.  What he doesn’t mention—appropriately, I think, in that column, whose point is much larger, but inappropriately in any discussion by him (there have been many) of Hillary Clinton and her candidacy in the two or three weeks since a stolen WikiLinks document—this one, a transcript of a paid speech by her to (I think) Morgan Stanley in 2013—in which she says she supports the really awful Bowles-Simpson proposal that Krugman has deconstructed so often since it was announced years ago.

I do get his reluctance during this campaign to address that.  And Clinton clearly has reversed her views on virtually everything in that proposal, a change on her part that I believe is genuine.  But what angers me about Krugman’s consistent refusal to acknowledge this and other significant changes in Clinton’s policy positions, prompted to a significant extent initially by Bernie Sanders’ campaign—not least the healthcare insurance “public option” proposal”, which Clinton should campaign on at rallies—is Krugman’s borderline-vile attacks on Sanders during the primary season.

Clinton’s win in this election will be based on the sheer awfulness of Donald Trump and on the policy proposals Clinton adopted last summer because of the strength of Bernie’s campaign.  All that matters now is a Clinton victory and Democratic control of the Senate and large gains in the House.  And I plead with Bernie, with Elizabeth Warren, with Michelle and Barack Obama, to campaign maniacally for these candidates in the now-waning days of this campaign.

___

UPDATE:  About an hour ago, Politico posted a lengthy discussion of the Fourth Amendment issue, by Josh Gerstein, Politico’s legal-issues correspondent.

Gerstein’s article also discusses the fact that Abedin says she does not know how what appears now to be a huge trove of emails of Abedins came to be on Weiner’s personal computer–an issue I discussed here yesterday in a post suggesting the possibility that NYC FBI agents planted it on Weiner’s computer after they gained custody of it.

But Gerstein’s article notes this: that Abedin had an email account on Clinton’s server.  Is it a reach to now suspect that Putin planted those emails on Weiner’s computer and planned somehow to make public just before the election that State Dept. emails are on Weiner’s computer hard drive?  As I mentioned in the Comments thread yesterday on my earlier post, in response to a joke by a reader’s comment, I’d considered that possibility by rejected it as implausible.

It’s now not at all implausible.  And it makes it imperative that, as Harry Reid demanded in his public letter to Comey yesterday, the Justice Department release the information it and other national security agencies have indicating direct coordination between Trump, or people on behalf of Trump, and Putin.

Adedin and Clinton and the Democratic National Committee should file an emergency court petition requesting a court order requiring release of that information.  I absolutely mean that.

And as I suggested in my earlier post, they should petition a court to allow private computer forensics experts, along with FBI forensics experts from an office far from NYC and Washington, DC. to examine the computer in order to determine when and how those emails came to be on it.

I absolutely mean that, too.

And please remember: Trump kept saying that Abedin was a State Dept. security risk because Weiner would have access to her emails.  He’s now saying he called it correctly.  The court petition should note this.

____

PS: Since I’m more or less the legal-issues guru on this blog, I want to point readers to Jennifer Rubin’s blog post on this, with which I agree in every respect.

And since I’m also one of the political-issues gurus here, I want to recommend two perfect political cartoons, one by Tom Toles, the other by Ann Telnaes.

Added 10/31 at 4:08 p.m.

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

Top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin has told people she is unsure how her emails could have ended up on a device she viewed as her husband’s computer, the seizure of which has reignited the Clinton email investigation, according to a person familiar with the investigation and civil litigation over the matter.

The person, who would not discuss the case unless granted anonymity, said Abedin was not a regular user of the computer, and even when she agreed to turn over emails to the State Department for federal records purposes, her lawyers did not search it for materials, not believing any of her messages to be there.

That could be a significant oversight if Abedin’s work messages were indeed on the computer of her estranged husband, former congressman Anthony Weiner, who is under investigation for allegedly exchanging lewd messages with a 15-year-old girl. So far, it is unclear what — if any — new, work-related messages were found by authorities. The person said the FBI had not contacted Abedin about its latest discovery, and she was unsure what the bureau had discovered.

According to federal law enforcement officials, investigators found thousands of messages on Weiner’s computer that they believe to be potentially relevant to the separate, Clinton email investigation. How they are relevant — or if they are significant in any respect — remains unknown.

Clinton aide Huma Abedin has told people she doesn’t know how her emails wound up on her husband’s computer, Matt Zapotosky, Tom Hamburger and Karen Tumulty, Washington Post, Oct. 29 at 7:29 p.m.

On Friday afternoon Yahoo News reported that Abedin stated when she was interviewed by an FBI agent last April that she had used four different devices and accounts to email Clinton, and that one of the devices was the one now at issue.  That report appears to be incorrect.

Here’s what the transcript says:

Q Okay. And what devices did you return for your attorneys to look through with respect to federal records you may have had in your possession to be returned to the State Department?

MS. WOLVERTON: Objection. Beyond the scope.

A My — if my memory serves me correctly, it was two laptops, a BlackBerry, and some files that I found in my apartment.

Apparently neither of those laptops was Weiner’s and therefore the device now at issue.

Also in the transcript of that FBI interview, Abedin told the FBI agent, in answer to a question about whether she deleted her emails from Clinton, that she never deletes emails from anyone, and that she presumed that all her emails dating back many years were still in existence.

Two news reports make it clear that as of late yesterday, the FBI did not yet have the prerequisite court order to read those emails, which appear on a computer taken under a search warrant in an unrelated case concerning an unrelated subject—thus the need for a separate search warrant authorizing access to and review of those emails.

One, on Yahoo News, by Michael Isikoff, titled “Exclusive: FBI still does not have warrant to review new Abedin emails linked to Clinton probe,” says:

As of Saturday night, the FBI was still in talks with the Justice Department about obtaining a warrant that would allow agency officials to read any of the newly discovered Abedin emails, and therefore was still in the dark about whether they include any classified material that the bureau has not already seen.

“We do not have a warrant,” a senior law enforcement official said. “Discussions are under way [between the FBI and the Justice Department] as to the best way to move forward.”

That Comey and other senior FBI officials were not aware of what was in the emails — and whether they contained any material the FBI had not already obtained — is important because Donald Trump’s campaign and Republicans in Congress have suggested that the FBI director would not have written his letter unless he had been made aware of significant new emails that might justify reopening the investigation into the Clinton server.

The other, by four New York Times reporters, titled “Justice Dept. Strongly Discouraged Comey on Move in Clinton Email Case,” reports:

Justice Department officials were particularly puzzled about why Mr. Comey had alerted Congress — and by extension, the public — before agents even began reading the newly discovered emails to determine whether they contained classified information or added new facts to the case.

Law enforcement officials have begun the process to get court authority to read the emails, officials said. How soon they will get that is unclear, but there is no chance that the review will be completed before Election Day, several law enforcement officials said. Many of the emails are most likely copies of messages that the F.B.I. has already read, said the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

But Comey himself answered that when he admitted that his motives were political—he wanted the public to know, before election day and as soon before that as possible in states where voting already was underway, that Huma Abedin had provided her husband access to thousands of her email correspondence with Clinton by providing access to them on a computer that Weiner used.  In other words, he wanted the public to know, before they voted, that Donald Trump’s allegation that Anthony Weiner had access to State Department-related emails turns out to be true.

Or, apparently more accurately, the FBI agents who told him they had found those emails on Weiner’s computer wanted the public to know this, badly enough to threaten to leak the information before the election if Comey himself did not make it public.

Comey, in other words, appears to have acceded to an extortionate threat to misuse information gained through the FBI’s prosecutorial powers by himself misusing information gained through the FBI’s prosecutorial powers.  And this spade is actually being called the spade that it is.

So there are three steps that Huma Abedin should take, immediately. First, she should have her lawyers file an emergency court petition tomorrow requesting the immediate sealing and impoundment of Weiner’s laptop and of all other electronic devices taken through the search warrant concerning Weiner’s online sexual activities.

The petition also should request that she be allowed to have Weiner’s computer examined by an independent, non-government computer forensics experts, in the company of FBI computer forensics experts who are from an office far, far away from NYC and Washington, DC, and who have never worked at either of those offices.

And the petition should request disclosure to her of the identities of the FBI agents who, by Comey’s apparent acknowledgement, threatened him with leaks of what they claim are on Weiner’s computer.

Second, she or her lawyers should file a formal complaint with the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General, requesting investigation into who was threatening Comey with leaks and damage to Comey’s reputation if Comey himself did not make public the existence of State Department-related emails on Weiner’s computer.

The complaint also should request inquiry into Comey’s decision to make public raw information gained by dint of the FBI’s police powers and the Justice Department’s prosecutorial powers, for what he himself has stated was for the purpose of affecting votes for national elective office.

Third, she should ask that her lawyers, immediately after those are filed, hold a press conference detailing what is in the emergency petition and the complaint to the Inspector General’s Office.

Also immensely important: that the fact that that information did end up on Weiner’s personal computer—one that given what he did use it for, was not one that he likely would have invited Abedin to use—has not an iota to do with the facts that Clinton used a private email account and a private server.  Presumably, all sorts of other high-level government employees, some in sensitive positions, probably access their government email accounts from home and also probably do work from home.

And then, of course, there is this: the fact that the FBI has, since late Friday or early yesterday, pushed the claim that Abedin herself had provided that computer to the FBI last spring—after Comey said that Abedin had NOT produced it during the investigation of the email matter, and that that is why he felt compelled to “update” the public–er, the Congress–does speak quite loudly, doesn’t it?

In any event, I will say this: Trump may well prove right after all in his claim that this is bigger than Watergate.

Okay, well, as big, anyway.

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Was Comey effectively extorted by NYC-based FBI agents? And did those agents illegally look at some of those emails without the prerequisite court order?

Most Democrats were outraged. “Mr. Comey said he was duty bound to inform Congress,” Bob Kerrey, the former senator and governor, told me. “Quite the opposite is the case. He was duty bound to make an announcement after he completes his examination of the emails.“

Indeed, he broke with the longstanding F.B.I. policy of not commenting on ongoing investigations.

Comey, Clinton and This Steaming Mess, Frank Bruni, New York Times, today

Bob Kerrey is exactly right, and I’ve posted two posts making that point, the second of them urging Newsweek to retract its representation yesterday that the law required Comey to do what he did, because Comey had told Congress under oath last summer that the FBI investigation was closed—a claim that is utter nonsense.

In response to the first of my posts, reader BillB, in replying to a comment by reader BKrasting, described what I believe amounts to a bizarre decision by some FBI agents involved in the Weiner investigation to effectively extort Comey into disclosing the discovery of the emails (which may be duplicates of ones already investigated).

Here’s what BillB wrote to me in the comments thread to the second of my posts:

BillB / October 29, 2016 4:25 pm

You are absolutely right. I’ll just resubmit what I put in your previous posting in response to bkrasting:

“Would you have preferred that the head of the FBI deliberately break the law?”

Broken what law? Name the law or you are just blowing smoke. There is no law requiring the FBI director to release preliminary information on an investigation it hasn’t even done yet.

Are the emails from or to Clinton? He doesn’t know because he hasn’t seem them yet. Are they related to any other investigation that the FBI has done? He doesn’t know because he hasn’t seen them yet.

The responsible thing to do was to wait until he had a determination of their relevance before making a public announcement. He is not withholding anything because at this point he doesn’t even know what he is holding. It may be absolutely nothing.

But Clinton is correct. At this point Comey has muddied the waters and the only way he can fix it is to immediately tell the public everything he knows and everything he does not know.

The back story to this is management incompetence. The New York FBI office is upset at the DC office because they pulled off and replaced the local FBI agents in the investigation of the Eric Garner case because they were refusing to aggressively pursue the case.

In retaliation, the New York agents were threatening to prematurely leak the email information in defiance of FBI protocol. Comey fell prey to the blackmail and felt that he had to get ahead of the leakers to preserve his credibility with Republicans in Congress. Comey was just covering his own ass. The fact that he can’t control his own office indicates gross incompetence.

I replied:

Beverly Mann / October 29, 2016 4:34 pm

That in itself is a BIG story. But since when does the FBI director make a premature or otherwise inappropriate announcement about a pending investigation because FBI agents are threatening to do so themselves?

This was an appallingly inappropriate use of the FBI itself–of the agency itself and its investigatory powers–in the service of a political goal.

If Comey was effectively extorted, that strikes me as itself a criminal act.

BillB responded:

BillB / October 29, 2016 4:58 pm

I don’t think there is any criminality involved. In any large government or private corporation the saying is that “Information is power.” And people will trade that information as a lever to further their own political interests within the organization. It happens all the time and it isn’t criminal.

But it is despicable. It is evidence that Comey is an incompetent leader. It is evidence that, contrary to Comey’s claims of acting out of ethical imperative, he was simply acting in his own self-interest to preserve his Republican credibility and cover up his own lack of leadership to control his staff.

I dunno.  This wasn’t trading information within an organization.  This was threatening to reveal to the public information that Comey himself already knew—raw, preliminary information obtained through a nascent FBI investigation—unless Comey himself made it public, in order to impact an election for president and for control of Congress.

Sure sounds to me like misuse of information obtained in an incomplete FBI investigation.

It also appears that these agents may have looked at some of the emails without the prerequisite court order  as required by the Fourth Amendment.  Descriptions of the nature of the emails have now been leaked, according to Greg Sargent this morning, who also questioned how this information was known to FBI agents when apparently no search warrant had yet been issued as of early this morning.

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Newsweek Really, Really, REALLY Needs to Retract THIS Statement

Updated  | Why did FBI Director James Comey shock Washington on Friday with an announcement that the FBI “has learned of the existence of emails” related to Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and what does it mean?

The truth is Comey didn’t have a choice. Because the new information followed his sworn testimony about the case, Comey was obligated by Department of Justice rules to keep the relevant committees apprised.

Under oath Comey had stated that the bureau had completed its review. Once he learned that there were new emails that required examination, Comey had to notify Congress that he had to amend his testimony because it was no longer true.

Why FBI Director Made Clinton Email Announcement Now, Michele Gorman and Matthew Cooper, Newsweek, Oct. 28 at 2:40 p.m.

Under oath Comey had stated that the bureau had completed its review. Once he learned that there were new emails that required examination, Comey had to notify Congress that he had to amend his testimony because it was no longer true?

WOW.  That is utter nonsense–although I know that that is something that Comey is claiming. That Newsweek just repeats it as gospel is seriously outrageous.

What Comey testified to under oath is what was true when he testified to it under oath.  There is no obligation to apprise investigators, a grand jury, the FBI, Congress, or any other investigative body or agency, that something that was true when you said it has now changed. This is NOT an instance of misstating a fact and learning later that the fact you stated was not true when you stated it; that may or may not require correction, depending on the circumstances, but it is NOT what happened in THIS circumstance.

If Comey truly doesn’t recognize the difference, he’s wayyyyy over his head in that job he has. But he does, apparently.  He sure didn’t make that claim in his email message late yesterday to FBI employees, stating his reasons.

This is bullsh_t of the first magnitude.  That Newsweek reporters and editors that clueless, that credulous, is … oh, I don’t know … par for the course these days?  They reported this as “the truth,” folks.

Lordy.

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James Comey’s Appalling Abuse of Office

“I got a lot of respect for Jim Comey, but I don’t understand this idea of dropping this bombshell which could be a big dud,” said former federal prosector Peter Zeidenberg, a veteran of politically sensitive investigations. “Doing it in the last week or ten days of a presidential election without more information, I don’t that he should because how does it inform a voter? It just invites speculation … I would question the timing of it. It’s not going to get done in a week.”

Nick Akerman, a former assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, was more critical: “Director Comey acted totally inappropriately. He had no business writing to Congress about supposed new emails that neither he nor anyone in the FBI has ever reviewed.”

“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,” Akerman added. “The job of the FBI is simply to investigate and to provide the results of its investigation to the prosecutorial arm of the US 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.”

Comey’s disclosure shocks former prosecutors, Josh Gerstein, Darren Samuelsohn and Isaac Arnsdorf, Politico, 6:59 p.m. today

Former prosecutors aren’t the only ones shocked by Comey’s disclosure.  I have firsthand knowledge of this and can attest to that fact.

This strikes me as an outright abuse of office by Comey.  As FBI director he learned that the FBI had found new information potentially relevant to a closed investigation but had not reviewed it yet and so its significance is uncertain.  What legal authority does he have to disclose this?  Any? At all?

I have no expertise whatsoever on the breadth of latitude that law enforcement investigative agencies have to disclose raw investigative information, but it sure as hell seems to me unlikely that it extends to willy-nilly disclosure of that information.

This guy apparently thinks that his first obligation is to protect his own reputation from certain types of criticism.*  But actually it is not.

He chose to serve his own interest when faced with what amounted to a conflict of interest.  He doesn’t belong in that job.

 

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*I added that link at 11:22 p.m. after reading the Washington Post article that the link is to, in which dismayed former prosecutors and former Department of Justice officials make statements similar to mine.  What also is clear from that article, which reports on a letter Comey emailed to FBI employees this afternoon explaining his decision to notify Congress, is that Comey seems not to understand the role of the FBI in a matter of this sort, and misunderstands the meaning of the term “cover-up” as including ongoing investigations that have not been publicly disclosed, rather than just killing investigations.

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Here’s what’s missing from reports that “[t]he FCC just passed sweeping new rules to protect your online privacy” by a 3-2 vote: That the three who voted for the Rule are Democrats and that the two who voted against it are Republicans. And that the president’s party gets the majority of board members, from which the chairman is selected.

Federal regulators have approved unprecedented new rules to ensure broadband providers do not abuse their customers’ app usage and browsing history, mobile location data and other sensitive personal information generated while using the Internet.

The rules, passed Thursday in a 3-2 vote by the Federal Communications Commission, require Internet providers, such as Comcast and Verizon, to obtain their customers’ explicit consent before using or sharing that behavioral data with third parties, such as marketing firms.

Also covered by that requirement are health data, financial information, Social Security numbers and the content of emails and other digital messages. The measure allows the FCC to impose the opt-in rule on other types of information in the future, but certain types of data, such as a customer’s IP address and device identifier, are not subject to the opt-in requirement. The rules also force service providers to tell consumers clearly what data they collect and why, as well as to take steps to notify customers of data breaches.

“It’s the consumers’ information,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “How it is used should be the consumers’ choice. Not the choice of some corporate algorithm.”

The fresh regulations come as Internet providers race to turn their customers’ behavioral data into opportunities to sell targeted advertising. No longer content to be the conduits to websites, social media and online video, broadband companies increasingly view the information they collect on users as they traverse the Web as a source of revenue in itself.

With its move, the FCC is seeking to bring Internet providers’ conduct in line with that of traditional telephone companies that have historically obeyed strict prohibitions on the unauthorized use or sale of call data.

But the Internet era has brought new challenges, in some cases creating different categories of personal information — and ways to use it — that did not exist in the telephone era. And as the line increasingly blurs between traditional network operators and online content companies, regulators have struggled to keep pace.

For example, Verizon’s acquisitions of AOL and Yahoo are both aimed at monetizing Internet usage beyond the straightforward sale of broadband access. With greater insights into customer behavior, the company could market additional services or content to its wireless subscribers as part of a bundle, policy analysts say. That arrangement could allow Verizon to effectively earn money twice from the same subscriber — once for the data plan, and then again when the customer consumes Verizon-affiliated content.

Although Thursday’s vote by the FCC requires companies, such as Verizon, to obtain explicit permission from consumers when it shares sensitive personal data with outside firms, it does not require broadband providers to ask permission before using the data themselves.

For instance, Verizon would be able to use a wireless subscriber’s usage history to recommend purchasing a larger mobile data plan. It could also use the customer’s information to market its home Internet service, Verizon FiOS, even though FiOS is a separate product operated by a different part of the company. In neither case would Verizon have to ask for the subscriber’s affirmative consent.

But Verizon would have to allow consumers the chance to opt out of having their usage history shared with other Verizon businesses that do not sell communications services, such as AOL or Yahoo, according to the rules.

Consumer advocates say it’s a step in the right direction, even if they would have preferred stricter requirements.

“It’s not so far off the mark that it guts the provision,” said Harold Feld, a senior vice president at the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge. “It still provides sufficient protections for consumers to regard this as a positive step.”

A trade association for the cable industry criticized the regulations Thursday as “profoundly disappointing.”

“Today’s result speaks more to regulatory opportunism than reasoned policy,” said the National Cable and Telecommunications Association.

The FCC just passed sweeping new rules to protect your online privacy, Brian Fung, Washington Post, 10:41 a.m. today

Here’s what Wikipedia’s summary of how commissioners are selected under the Federal Communications Act, which established the FCC:

The FCC is directed by five commissioners appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the United States Senate for five-year terms, except when filling an unexpired term. The U.S. President designates one of the commissioners to serve as chairman. Only three commissioners may be members of the same political party. None of them may have a financial interest in any FCC-related business.

Okay, look, folks.  The big news story today is Washington Post reporter Rosalind Helderman’s report on a 13-page memo from 2011 by Clinton Foundation and “Bill Clinton Inc.” impresario Douglas Band (the term “Bill Clinton Inc.” is Band’s, in the memo).

A lot of what’s detailed in there has been out there for a while, but has not penetrated virally during the general election—and did not during the primary season possibly because Sanders limited his attacks on Clinton mainly to her record as senator and to her post-Secretary of State speaking-circuit career.

But it will penetrate now, almost certainly.

Which is why it is even more important now than it has been for voters to distinguish between Clinton the person and the Democratic platform and Democratic agency and judicial appointees, which Clinton is now, finally, campaigning on.

Among last weekend’s (I think; I’ve lost track specifically) WikiLeak’s hacked Podesta-emails dump, there were two that just took my breath away.  Both were from early 2015, shortly before Clinton deigned to finally formally announce her candidacy.

One involved intense efforts by her newly hired campaign manager and Podesta and longtime Clinton surrogate and Podesta protégé Neera Tanden to convince Hillary Clinton that Bill Clinton badly needed to not give a scheduled paid speech to Morgan Stanley days after Clinton’s long-anticipated announcement of her candidacy.  Clinton was adamant that this paid speech not be cancel, and agreed finally to its cancellation only when told that Bill Clinton agreed it should be cancelled.

The other concerned equally fraught attempts by the same players plus Human Abedin to persuade Hillary Clinton that she should not fly off to Morocco shortly after that scheduled announcement, to attend gaudy festivities paid by the Moroccan government and accept a large donation to the Foundation from the Moroccan king.  The particular difficulty in her cancelling this was that she herself had solicited it.  Ultimately Clinton agreed to have Bill substitute for her.

I held my fire here on these, because it was a matter of first things first.  All that matters to me now in this election is seeing her win and seeing the Democrats recapture the Senate and do as well as conceivably possible in House races.

But what angered me intensely about these two revelations—the Morgan Stanley speaking fee even more that the Morocco trip—was the unmitigated lack of concern by this couple for the immense harm to so many people if the Republican nominee won the White House and Republicans retained control of the Senate.  It appeared at the time that the nomination was Clinton’s simply for the asking; she would have no real competition for it.  And the fact of the exorbitant speaking fee from Morgan Stanley would become known with the release of the Clintons’ tax returns in mid or late April 2016—too late for a primary challenge, but nicely available to the Republicans in the general election.

Granted, the Republican contest back then appeared likely to be between Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, both of whom were profoundly compromised candidates. Rubio is a wholly owned subsidiary of one of the two major national private-prison companies and some Miami financial industry billionaire who effectively supported Rubio and his wife for several years.  Bush was making millions as a member of a yuge number of corporate boards and also as a hedge fund executive whose value came from his last name.

But the bottom line (so to speak) is that Hillary Clinton is the Democratic presidential nominee only because so much that would have mattered, pre-nomination, was not publicly known until now. Had they been known by late 2014 the primary field would have included a progressive Democrat who unlike Sanders would have been taken seriously by the news media. Had these things come out during the primaries, Sanders would be the nominee, despite Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s and the Clinton apparatus’s best efforts.

Instead, we have a Democratic presidential nominee so hamstrung by her own and her husband’s profound disregard for norms of conduct by pre-presidential and presidential contenders, and by their spouses, that she is unable to mention even the identities and backgrounds of the four billionaires who are funding her opponent’s campaign and who are determining his proposed policy agenda and his planned agency heads and court appointees who would carry out this agenda.

What matters now—all that matters now—is getting this candidate over the line, and getting down-ballot Democrats elected.  And the way to do that is to focus on the Democratic platform, and on Democratic agency and judicial appointments.  And on the Republican platform and Republican agency and judicial appointments.  Because Clinton’s belief notwithstanding, the majority—probably the large majority of voters—supports the Democratic agenda and opposes the Republican one.

To wit: The composition of the FCC, and today’s 3-2 vote by the board.  It should be noted that FCC Chairman Wheeler originally leaned toward the internet providers on the hot-topic net-neutrality issue last year, but he changed his position after the outcry that ensued.  But a Republican chair would have pressed right ahead with the providers’ agenda.

One of the current oddities of political punditry is an effort by a couple of high-profile baby boomer progressive pundits to sell the idea that the fact that Democrats are finally solidifying behind Clinton because, contrary to conventional wisdom, she’s actually been an excellent general election candidate and so voters now like her.

Polls are now showing that largely millennials, including black millennials, and Latinos are now plan o vote for her rather than for a third-party candidate and rather than now vote.  And that these polls showing that Democrats in large numbers are now finally saying that they are voting for her not just because her opponent is Trump but because they support her.

Notably missing from these pundits’ analysis, though, is mention of, say, policy positions.  Instead, it’s that Clinton hasn’t made any serious gaffs during the general election campaign, and that voters—presumably millennials and Latinos—who harbored hostility toward the idea of a woman president, are now losing that sexist hostility sufficiently to vote for Clinton and like it.  Or to vote for her at all.  The millennial generation really hated the idea of Elizabeth Warren as president, too.  But see?  They would have come around two weeks before election day.

What these pundits haven’t noticed, apparently because neither of them can read graphs, or neither of them recalls the Democratic Convention, is that Clinton led by double digits in the polls only during two periods.  She led in the aftermath of the Convention—which famously adopted a whole lot of Bernie Sanders’s policy agenda, and at which Clinton touted that platform in her acceptance speech.  And she led in the last week, after Sanders and Warren began aggressively campaigning for her, and in which she, finally, is campaigning on the most progressive parts of the platform.

And there actually are pundits—no, not just me; real, professional punditswho are making that point.

If Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren campaign, say, at college campuses throughout Florida, for Rubio’s opponent Patrick Murphy, who apparently many voters have never heard of but who, according to polls, is running only two to three points behind Rubio, Murphy probably will win.  If Bernie and Warren remind voters that they’re choosing or opposing a slew of policies, agency heads and judicial appointments, when they vote for president, Clinton and Murphy and Dem congressional candidates probably will win.

Nothing else—nothing else—should matter to Democratic-leaning voters.   But no one should mistake support for the Democratic Party platform and for the agenda of the ascendant progressive wing of the Democratic Party as support for Hillary Clinton in the abstract.

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Jeeps Made w/American Steel by Union Workers in Toledo

CLEVELAND — Hillary Clinton entered the final phase of her campaign on Friday, working to ensure a victory that is decisive enough to earn a mandate for her presidency and a surge of voters to help Democrats win congressional races.

Emerging from a nine­-day absence from the trail, Mrs. Clinton seized on the momentum of her performance in the final presidential debate, choosing Ohio — a battleground state where she has struggled the most against Donald J. Trump — as her first stop on a four­-day swing. With new polls showing Mrs. Clinton closing in on Mr. Trump in the state, her campaign is glimpsing the opportunity for a clean sweep of traditional swing states.

Reminding voters of Mr. Trump’s refusal in Wednesday’s debate to say definitively he would accept the outcome on Election Day, Mrs. Clinton said that as secretary of state she had visited countries whose leaders jailed political opponents and invalidated elections they did not win. “We know in our country the difference between leadership and dictatorship,” she said.

She also portrayed herself as a the candidate who could attract independent, undecided and even Republican voters unhappy with Mr. Trump’s campaign. “I want to say something to people who may be reconsidering their support of my opponent,” she said. “I know you still may have questions for me, I respect that. I want to answer them. I want to earn your vote.”

Her stop here marked the start of a rare multiday tour of swing states as the Clinton campaign revved up its efforts to decisively defeat Mr. Trump on Nov. 8, including releasing a powerful minute­-long ad featuring Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq. The ad featuring Mr. Khan, who was attacked by Mr. Trump after he spoke at the Democratic convention, will run in Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, as well as other crucial states.

Hillary Clinton Makes Pitch for Mandate and a Swing-­State Sweep, Trip Gabriel and Ashley Parker, New York Times, today

She knows some voters still may have questions for me, and she respects that and wants to answer them, and earn her listeners’ vote?  Does she think those questions are whether or not she would accept the outcome on Election Day if she lost?  And about whether as president she’d trash families of fallen U.S. Armed Services members who are Muslim, and attempt to categorically keep Muslims from immigrating here?

Who does she think that reminding voters of Trump’s actions and words of those sorts, including ones that has dominated the news and internet since last Wednesday night, is concerned about whether Clinton would do these things?

Clinton obviously thinks that these things are the only things that moderates and mainstream Republicans would support her about.  That’s what’s been at the heart of her campaign from its inception to, apparently, this very minute.  And it’s why she’ll win only because of who her opponent is, and why Dem Senate candidates are struggling so hard.

Paul Krugman keeps pushing the line that Clinton actually  is a terrific candidate, and by golly she’d be way ahead against Rubio or another mainstream Republican, partly because those candidates’ policy agendas and base-baiting lines are mostly pretty similar to Trump’s.  He’s right about mainstream Republican candidates’ policy agendas and, certainly, about the meaning of the Rubio bot.  But he probably still would be very much in the running to beat Clinton—who herself is trapped in a bot.

Meanwhile, yesterday, there was this little news story:

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown and a staffer were in a car crash in the senator’s home state on Thursday, but have been released after receiving treatment for minor injuries at a Cleveland area hospital.

The Columbus Dispatch reports that Brown and the staffer were driving from Columbus to Brown’s home in Cleveland when they were hit by another car around 4 p.m.

Brown, a Democrat, thanked hospital staff and the makers of his Jeep Cherokee in a statement to the newspaper. “[M]y Jeep Cherokee, made with American steel by union workers in Toledo, made all the difference in allowing us to walk away from this crash, a little stiff, but unharmed,” he said.

Brown reaffirmed his thanks in a Twitter post on Friday: “Thx for care & concern. Doing fine. Grateful to Parma police, medical staff & my Jeep made w/American steel by union workers in Toledo,” he wrote.

The Dispatch also reports that “Brown’s rescue dog Franklin, strapped in with a harness, was uninjured.”

Sherrod Brown treated for minor injuries after car crash, Madeline Conway, Politico

I don’t doubt that the ad featuring Mr. Khan is powerful.  But I do doubt that it will sway many wavering Rust Belters, because they already know Mr. Khan’s message.

Had the Clinton stranglehold on the Democratic Party apparatus (certainly including donors) not elbowed out the very thought of any progressive other than Bernie Sanders—who ran only because no other progressive would—Sherrod Brown I think would have.  And would be about to witness a largely-progressive Democratic wave not seen since Franklin Roosevelt’s death.

Instead, Democrats may not even retake the Senate.

Even Franklin probably knows that things such as NLRB appointments would be good to mention in Ohio.  Maybe he can tell Clinton.  Since her campaign gurus apparently haven’t.

 

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ADDENDUM:  Gail Collins’s NYT column today, titled “Don’t Take Donald Trump to Dinner,” is mostly about Trump’s jarring use of the annual Catholic Charities dinner in NYC a few days ago as just another forum for his usual ugly comments about Clinton.  But Collins also said this:

In a perfect world, Hillary Clinton would then have gotten up and given the most good-­natured speech in political history, scrapping all the barbed lines in her prepared script, like the one about how a Trump White House would be awkward for gatherings of the ex­-presidents (“How is Barack going to get past the Muslim ban?”). But she didn’t change a word, because Clinton is not a spontaneous politician.

If this were a normal election, we could have a very interesting discussion about how programmed she can be, and whether that would be a problem if she’s elected. But as things stand, unless we discover she’s actually an android, there’s just no point.

I wouldn’t have expected Clinton to spontaneously scrap her prepared speech and give an entirely off-the-cuff one, and at least that joke that Collins quoted was funny and pointed at Trump’s and the alt-right’s actual words and positions.

But this is a person who genuinely seems unable to take a breath on her own, and who apparently delegated to campaign consultants and advisors her campaign’s very raison d’être.  G.W. Bush did the same.  But that was unusual.  And it was a very different political era, although Clinton and her circle hadn’t noticed this until Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump forced them to belatedly, and even then not really.  Or at least not fully.  Even yet.

We have no choice now but to look forward, not backward.  But anyone who thinks that had either one run, Elizabeth Warren or Sherrod Brown would not be about to usher in a genuinely progressive era, is willfully blind.  That is precisely because a Warren or a Brown campaign’s raison d’être would be Warren’s or Brown’s own raison d’être as politicians to begin with, argued eloquently and passionately, and contrasted to their Republican opponent’s and the Republican Party’s—in their own words, their own sentences, their own paragraphs.

Added 10/22 at 4:40 p.m.

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