In a world where Americans don’t need another reason to distrust our government — enter the FBI.
Back in July, FBI Director James Comey stood before Congress, the American people, and the world to announce that despite the fact Hillary Clinton and her staff had willfully established and used an unauthorized email server, intentionally used that server to send and receive classified information, and then, after the server was discovered, deliberately destroyed the server and various devices after being subpoenaed to turn over said equipment and data, the FBI would not recommend the DOJ indict the former Secretary of State or any of her staff. Comey justified his decision by claiming none of the questionable or (probably) illegal actions were done with criminal intent.
Let’s put aside how silly it is to even suggest there was no intent — as if the illegal server set itself up and used itself to illegally process and store classified information. Let’s just agree that ship has sailed. OK? Good, because that doesn’t actually matter.
The real problem is intent is not required to prosecute someone for mishandling classified information or violating government policies and laws. Unauthorized actions and mishandling of government property for any reason is a punishable offense. Every person who operates in a capacity that provides them access to government property — especially sensitive data — must undergo special training and swear to protect said property or suffer the often harsh penalties that come with failing to do so. At the very least, the persons responsible will never be allowed to work in such a capacity again.
And yet, the FBI and DOJ elected not to pursue any action whatsoever against Secretary Clinton or her staff. In fact, most of her staff were given total immunity without offering anything in return!
Needless to say, all of this created chaos in the news and on social media. The major parties engaged in partisan attacks, the Democrats lauding Comey as a champion of justice while Republicans called him a political hack and a sellout.
This went on for months. And just as the turmoil from the FBI and DOJ’s joint decision not to indict was dying down — Weiner strikes back!
About two weeks ago, James Comey sent a letter to Congress notifying them new emails were discovered during an unrelated criminal investigation. On that bombshell, all forms of media exploded into a frenzy of accusations and speculation.
In a not-at-all surprising plot twist, this time the Democrats turned on Comey and alleged he was trying to alter the outcome of the election, while the Republicans praised him for finally coming to his senses.
Politics are so predictable. Or are they?
Comey said he notified Congress of new emails because he had said under oath he would do so, not to sway the election. On the surface his assertion is believable, but unsurprisingly, there was more to the story.
Soon after Comey’s apparent political flip-flop, new information came to light suggesting the FBI knew about these new emails (650,000 of them) several weeks before the FBI Director notified Congress. Also, his letter to Congress offered no details at all beyond the fact the FBI found new emails. Oh, and then there was the source for all these new emails: Anthony Weiner. (Yes, that Anthony Weiner.)
This is where the narrative on both sides of the political aisle falls apart.
Democrats and Hillary supporters (not necessarily the same groups in this crazy election cycle) claimed the evidence clearly proved Comey was a political operative in Trump’s pocket. They argued if there was anything damning in the new emails, he wouldn’t have been so vague in his letter to Congress. They suggested the delay between the discovery of the emails and his announcement was politically motived. They completely ignored the fact all those emails were on Weiner’s laptop.
The trouble with the Hillary camp version of the story is the FBI doesn’t typically discuss details of evidence before it has been analyzed. Likewise, there’s no evidence the FBI knew the new emails were related to the Clinton investigation on the date of discovery.
Ignoring the fact the emails were found on yet another personal computing device doesn’t strengthen the case against Comey, it strengthens the case against Hillary.
Over on the Republican / Trump supporter side (again, not necessarily the same groups), Comey was hailed as a hero — he was the prodigal son returning home where he belongs. They pushed the idea these new Weiner emails were completely new and unique. They declared the new evidence forced the FBI to reopen its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information. They completely ignored the fact no one outside the FBI knew anything about the content of the emails.
This version of the story isn’t without its own issues. It turns out the emails were mostly duplicates — backups from the phone of Weiner’s estranged wife and closest Clinton aide, Huma Abedin. Also, the FBI didn’t actually reopen their Clinton investigation. The truth is it was still open and Comey’s report to Congress was part of the ongoing investigation.
As much as the Trump crowd wanted these new emails to be the long-hidden evidence to bring down “crooked” Hillary Clinton, that simply wasn’t the case.
And now, only one day before Election Day — At World’s End!
In the final week, just days before the election, Director Comey announced there would be no indictment. He cleared Hillary Clinton. Again. For the same reasons.
“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July,” Comey wrote in a new letter to Congress.
Really? Is that it? After everything that’s happened over the last few months, we’ve ended right where we started. It was all for nothing!
Predictably, Hillary supporters are relieved and Trump supporters are enraged. Trump went on the stump to try and discredit the FBI, saying, “You can’t review 650,000 new emails in eight days. You can’t do it, folks.” Hillary attempted to paint the whole ordeal as a witch hunt by extremists. Neither of them are telling the truth.
The end. Fade to black on Americans walking into polling stations…
Of course, that’s not the end of the story. The fallout of the FBI’s investigation, decision not to indict, discovery of new evidence, announcement of said evidence, and finally determining nothing has changed since July is no one — absolutely no one — wins.
We, the American people, on both sides of the aisle are left with an unpleasant taste in our mouths. This election cycle has been particularly vile and vitriolic. Friendships have ended, families have been shattered, and innocent people have been attacked verbally and physically for petty political disagreements. All of this is bad, but probably the worst part of it all is our already eroding trust in law enforcement agencies and respect for the rule of law is further diminished by the handling of the Clinton investigation — not only by the FBI, but both major political parties.
In an environment where law enforcement is portrayed as violent, racist predators, it is completely irresponsible for our elected and appointed officials to engage in behavior encouraging Americans to trust our law enforcement agencies even less. Regardless of who wins the election, both parties and law enforcement agencies everywhere must actively work to restore faith in the rule of law. Failing to do so is dangerous.
Ignoring the growing contempt for police — local and federal — will likely result in conflict and turmoil that makes the last year of scandals, insults, fights, and riots seem like a relaxing vacation.
Regardless of how you vote tomorrow — pray for America.