It would be surprising if there were any undecided voters left in this election and twenty million, or so, votes have been cast, already. Despite fluctuating polls, there has been one constant since the Democratic Convention and that’s that Clinton is going to get her 270 electoral votes. The statement by Director Comey that his agents are investigating whether to investigate unidentified documents once possessed by top Hillary Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, is unlikely to change the Electoral College math.
What Comey did, until and unless proven otherwise, was entirely within his prosecutorial discretion. It’s the cops’ job to pursue leads whatever the weather, and they shouldn’t be expected to take ambient air pressure readings first. At least that’s the idea. The Director was, already, in the eye of the storm and he might have figured, “what the hell.”
It would have been better, of course, for Democrats, maybe everyone, if the F.B.I. would have waited until after the election to toss a firecracker into the rattlesnake den, but that’s not how the Director saw it and you can’t say he didn’t allude to this happening when grilled by Congress over his earlier recommendation not to prosecute Clinton over careless mishandling of classified data.
Comey is not the enemy in this set piece. He’s stood on principal before, like when the Alberto Gonzalez wing of the Bush White House was trying to get a deathly ill Attorney General, John Ashcroft, to extend some dicey domestic spying programs and he threw them out of the sick guy’s room. That took courage and gave Bush, Cheney, and the then White House Counsel, Gonzalez, some pretty good shiners.
If anyone deserves a slap up alongside the head, in this case, it’s the Clinton tech team. The flip-flopping Director, it’s, now, fairly certain, to any middle-school graduate, will not be keeping his current job beyond its slated term, if that long, no matter how much Donald Trump appreciates his latest iteration just because, at one time, or another, he’s bummed everyone out, Democrat and Republican. That’s to his credit, not disgrace. Respect for the chain of command is another story.
There’s more at stake here than the emails. Everyone knows Clinton is briskly careless. Huma, her alter-ego, however, gifted and, purportedly, sweet, needs to upgrade her act before it goes first run or else the Russians will be playing Power Ball with our most precious numbers. A cabinet secretariat for Secure Technology isn’t a bad idea. The clashing between intelligence agencies that formation of Homeland Security was supposed to solve never quite did the trick. The confusion, at least to the public, just seems to be getting bigger, like a Roman Curia on steroids. That needs to stop.
The F.B.I. has not done itself any favors, either, with its announcement of a new look-see at Abedin’s estranged husband’s computer. The bureau should have seen the Abedin files, already, if they’d been quicker on the uptake, back when the whole secret server business began. What they’ll be doing, now, probably, will be to be little more than a re-read of old materials, but it’s their own fault.
Republicans, eager to salvage something after a looming defeat and, maybe, some hotly contested down-ballot races, are, disingenuously, reinterpreting jurisprudence in this cause. It has always been the law that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, at trial, or by admission. To assert that a person is guilty because they’ve been charged is not our way because it invites all sorts of abuses.
To claim that an investigation equates to guilt insults our laws, even more, and, to say that a person must be guilty because there is a factual review to determine if a formal investigation is warranted is wrong. The F.B.I. knows this and would help itself if it stated this fact, clearly. If it doesn’t the Bureau and Comey, need new spokespersons, badly.
The upshot, here, is that another bunch of time, and oodles of money, will be expended, by law enforcement, and Congress, looking at Clinton’s lame office practices, and the woebegone, misfortunate in love, Ms. Abedin. This kerfuffle, like the previous email scandal, isn’t expected to show the intent required to convict for mishandling classified materials any more than the last one, just more technical flippancy. Huma might get a jump on the circus, by filing papers to make her separation from her husband permanent, but don’t be surprised if she doesn’t. That isn’t the Clinton women’s way. They are long-suffering and patient.
Americans need to trust an institution of government, any institution. The Presidency has lost its luster, though Obama is popular and been a good, decent, man during his time in office. Congress is a disgrace, one that the Republicans have programmed for failure by chronic naysaying. The Supreme Court, many thinks, is an ideological rubber stamp for whomsoever appoints the nation’s highest philosophical arbiters.
The F.B.I., which itself suffered from past abuses and rose above them, had been, until recently, one of the institutions that Americans could trust. The people should let this case play out. Give Comey the benefit of the doubt.