Comey’s Letter Ignites A Public Seminar On Spin And Disinformation


From the New York Times (Note: the officially declared Trump  reviling/Clinton-favoring  Times is still a solid source on the matter of Hillary’s e-mails, because it broke the story about her private server in the first place.):

WASHINGTON — The presidential campaign was rocked on Friday after federal law enforcement officials said that emails pertinent to the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server were discovered on a computer belonging to Anthony D. Weiner, the estranged husband of a top Clinton aide.

In a letter to Congress, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said the emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, which law enforcement officials said was an F.B.I. investigation into illicit text messages from Mr. Weiner to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. Mr. Weiner, a former Democratic congressman from New York, is married to Huma Abedin, the top aide.

Mr. Comey’s letter said that the F.B.I. would review the emails to determine if they improperly contained classified information, which is tightly controlled by the government. Senior law enforcement officials said that it was unclear if any of the emails were from Mrs. Clinton’s private server. And while Mr. Comey said in his letter that the emails “appear to be pertinent,” the F.B.I. had not yet examined them.

That’s it, as of this morning. Anything else, at this point, is speculation or disinformation. However, this is undeniable: whatever was found on the computer was considered relevant enough to the question of whether Hillary Clinton knowingly violated federal law and endangered US security in her machinations to avoid FOIA scrutiny of her private dealings to mandate re-opening the investigation, which had been, as the Times notes, closed.

It seems fair to assume that this is all we will know until the election, which means that Hillary Clinton will face the verdict of voters while under FBI investigation. That isn’t good for her, but boy, does she (and the Democrats) deserve it. The Clinton way, as we learned from Whitewater and the other controversies during Bill’s administration, is that when one of their seamy deals provokes suspicion, the game plan is to deny, deny, stonewall, confuse, muddle the story, muddy the water, barely cooperate with authorities, count on the “friendly journalists” to assist, run out the clock, and wait for the public to become so frustrated and bored that the cry of “Let’s move on!” is effective. We have seen this time and time again, because it has worked. This time, her lies and delaying tactics backfired, and left the sword dangling over her head for all to see far too long. Now everyone will have to wonder if Clinton will be declared a felon while in the White House. I’d say that’s extremely unlikely, but you never know, especially with this bizarre election script.

What’s going on here?

What’s going on here is that James Comey played it by the book, and by book I mean the District of Columbia Rules of Professional Conduct governing the ethical conduct of all lawyers within its borders, including Comey.

Rule 3.3 in all jurisdictions (except California, but it has an equivalent rule) requires  lawyers to correct any material representations of fact or law that they have presented in a “Tribunal,” which is defined as an “ajudicative body,” usually a court. Congress and congressional committees are not adjudicative bodies for the purposes of 3,3. However, the most obscure and infrequently cited rule in all of legal ethics, Rule 3.9, says this:

Rule 3.9 Advocate in Non-adjudicative Proceedings

A lawyer representing a client before a legislative or administrative body in a nonadjudicative proceeding shall disclose that the appearance is in a representative capacity and shall conform to the provisions of Rules 3.3, 3.4(a) through (c), and 3.5.

I have met few lawyers in the government or out of it that have ever read this rule. I know for a fact that lawyers who testify before Congress almost never “disclose” that. However, lawyers—ethical ones, anyway—will correct misleading testimony as Rule 3.3, though 3.9, requires. That’s what Comey did.

It is disgraceful that the FBI’s investigation into a matter bearing on the fitness of a Presidential candidate was closed prematurely and that its recommendation to the Justice Department in the matter was based on incomplete evidence, resulting in the current uncertainty. Nonetheless, once new evidence was uncovered that agents felt could change the results of that investigation, the Bureau had no choice. It had to investigate, and Comey had to correct his testimony that the investigation of Clinton’s conduct was over. It’s not.

Now Democrats, partisan agents of the Clinton campaign and corrupted journalists are giving a spectacular public seminar on how they spin, and, if we pay attention, a demonstration of who is interested in truth and whose function in life is to mislead the public.

Let’s start with arguably the worst of the worst: Occupy Democrats, an organization that appears to be a more untrustworthy version of, if you can conceive of such a thing. The group is most prominent in its distribution of uniformly misleading and simple-minded progressive and Democrat memes. (I wonder if my Facebook friends who approvingly post this garbage realize that they lose about 10% of my remaining respect for their intellect every time they do it?)  Here is the Occupy Democrats post from yesterday evening, with the classy and objective headline,  “Here’s Why The “New” Investigation Into Hillary’s Emails Is Utter BULLSH*T”:

Various media outlets jumped the gun today when they raced each other to announce that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had reopened their investigation into Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s emails. But less than two hours later it’s clear that what actually happened has been blown way out of proportion and out of context.

FBI Director James Comey announced to Congress today that “investigators are examining newly discovered emails that ‘appear to be pertinent’ to the email probe. Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update you.”

Clarifying: Comey doesn’t say the FBI is reopening the Clinton investigation per se, rather that it’s assessing newly found emails.— Shane Harris (@shaneharris) October 28, 2016

The investigation is not “reopened” – technically, it was never closed.

The new emails were not “hidden” or “recovered” or related to her email server in any way.

The emails were discovered on the cellular device of former Congressman Anthony Wiener as part of an unrelated probe into whether or not Wiener was sending sexually explicit messages and photographs to minors. What the new emails contain is anyone’s guess, but they are not to or from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Wiener’s soon-to-be ex-wife Huma Abedin is a longtime aide to Clinton.

The media has been just as complicit as the Republican witch-hunters in Congress in perpetuating these baseless smears against the credibility of Hillary Clinton, one of our nation’s most dedicated public servants.

While Republicans are leaping on this news in hopes it will revive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s flailing campaign, these “developments” are nothing but a non-story from an overly impressionable media desperate for views on a slow Friday afternoon and deserves no more of your time.

This is shameless and obvious spin from beginning to end. OD, like almost everyone else on the left aping Media Matters talking points distributed yesterday, cites the “clarification” in a tweet by Shane Harris, who is an editor with the openly progressive Daily Beast. He has no authority on this matter: he’s a biased, partisan Clinton supporter with a byline, and that’s all he is. His “clarification,” amusingly enough, is an obfuscation, and the favorite pastime of the “It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is” Clintons and their minions, deceit.

True, Comey doesn’t use the word “re-opened,” just as he didn’t use the word ambergris, and so what? His letter states that the investigation has been re-opened: that’s why it was sent. He wrote Congress to say that he had previously told it that the investigation was “completed,” and now, thanks to new evidence becoming available, the investigation is  continuing. As that “complicit,” “witch-hunting” Republican ally the New York Times said, the investigation was “closed”—a completed investigation is closed, technically or otherwise. When people start investigating again, then it is closed no longer.

An aside: How can anyone with any self-respect or common sense use a source like Occupy Democrats? They believe in lying for political expediency, distorting the truth to win power for progressives. They are not smart enough to do it sufficiently well to fool anyone who pays attention and who isn’t persuaded by rationalizations, but that still gives OD a substantial victim pool.

For example,these baseless smears against the credibility of Hillary Clinton, one of our nation’s most dedicated public servants” is the equivalent of wearing a sign that says, “I’m lying for Hillary.” First, Hillary Clinton has no credibility, especially in this matter. She destroyed potential evidence, 30,000 emails she knew were about to be subpoenaed. She initially claimed she passed on no classified material, which would be literally impossible for a Secretary of State. She said she used only one device to communicate, and the records show she used many. She said the server was for Bill’s use, and Bill doesn’t use e-mail…on, and on and on. Asked via e-mail and under oath about many of the matters she was questioned on by the FBI, she answered with that old stand-by of the guilty stonewaller, “I don’t recall” to 80% of the questions!

As for the gratuitous “one of our nation’s most dedicated public servants,” that the fallacy of “special pleading” at it’s worst, and an opening to “The King’s Pass”.What does Hillary’s dedication have to do with whether or not she broke the law? Huey Long was a dedicated public servant, who, like Hillary, was not averse to making himself rich in the process. Richard Nixon was dedicated to public service. In fact, the only individual who has ever run for President with no record of being a dedicated public servant is Donald Trump, but that has nothing to do with whether Hillary intentionally put U.S. national security at risk.

Another pure partisan source, Reverb Press, issued a post called “5 Facts That Killed New Hillary Email Scandal In Less Than An Afternoon.” Apart from the reality that the “scandal’ was not “killed,” and that the “facts” cited range from speculation to irrelevant, it’s great headline. Here are my two favorites among the “5 Facts”:

2. The emails did not come from Hillary Clinton.

As noted by HuffPo‘s senior politics editor: Pete Williams sources say in course of a separate investigation, FBI came across “a device.” found emails there. but emails NOT from HRC

— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) October 28, 2016

There we have the rarely seen double hearsay reported as a fact, because to  Clinton agents and enablers, a fact is whatever serves the candidate, and a lie is whatever doesn’t. Sam Stein says Pete Williams’ unnamed sources say…that not a fact, that’s a rumor. (It might also be triple hearsay, or the Hearsay Hat Trick) The New York Times—I know that’s no authority compared to what Sam says Pete’s un-named sources say— writes, “Senior law enforcement officials said that it was unclear if any of the emails were from Mrs. Clinton’s private server. ” Unclear.

Then there is #5:

5. The Clinton campaign is already asking for transparency.

The campaign is clearly not scared of what’s in these emails and is asking for the FBI to put out more info for the public.

Statement from @johnpodesta in response to Comey letter to GOP chairmen — Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) October 28, 2016

Ah. The fact that the Clinton campaign is asking the FBI to release the details of an investigation before the investigation is completed so Clinton’s spinmasters can get a head start on lying about it, knowing full well that the FBI cannot and will not release anything, proves there’s no problem!  As is often the case, I can’t tell if the writer is stupid, or dishonest.

Both, probably.

I’ll do one more, let’s see…How about ThinkProgress?

Another investigation! And right before the election! She could be indicted!

Well, probably not. Indeed, almost definitely not…. The relevant paragraph in this brief letter is the middle one, where Comey writes that the FBI “has learned of the existence” of emails that it previously did not review. In response to this new information, the FBI will now “allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information.”

The FBI, in other words, is not reexamining its previous findings. It is not questioning its previous legal conclusion that “no reasonable prosecutor” could determine that charges are warranted. Based on the letter, it appears that the FBI will simply provide the same scrutiny to these newly uncovered emails as it previously applied to the emails it already reviewed when it determined that criminal charges are not warranted.

Though the initial narrative to emerge from this new letter — a narrative pushed by Republican House Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz — is that the FBI has “reopened” the case against Clinton, several reporters did acknowledge on Twitter that this narrative is not true…

ThinkProgress then cites the opinions of several reporters that the case has not been “re-opened.” Again, this is the same word game. If an investigation is closed, and new evidence related to it is discovered, resulting in investigators examining the new evidence in connection with that previously closed investigation,  then the investigation is obviously no longer closed, but in fact has been re-opened, which is the opposite of “closed.”

This—“Based on the letter, it appears that the FBI will simply provide the same scrutiny to these newly uncovered emails as it previously applied to the emails it already reviewed when it determined that criminal charges are not warranted” —is intentionally confusing double-talk to obscure the truth. The FBI is investigating new evidence, and if the new evidence shows that the previous conclusions were wrong, it will alter those conclusions. If that were not so, there would be no point in examining the new evidence, would there?

Later, ThinkProgress also cites Sam citing Pete’s anonymous sources.

The left-wing site concludes,

“Based on the letter’s actual content, however, there is no reason to believe that the FBI will change its ultimate conclusion that no reasonable prosecutor could bring charges against Clinton.”

Masterful spin! Nobody has suggested that the letter itself asserts anything other than, “You know that investigation I said was closed? It’s open again: we found new evidence.”  There is clearly reason to believe the FBI could change its conclusion: while a closed (as in “completed”) investigation will definitely not change, once it’s open again (as in new evidence being “reviewed”), anything can happen. ThinkProgress is just stating the obvious as if it’s an indictment: the letter intended to inform Congress that the investigation thought completed had resumed doesn’t assume what the results will be. Of course it doesn’t.

However, the re-opening of the investigation does cast a cloud over Clinton’s candidacy as the election nears. All of these partisan, public-misleading organs are spinning like the Wheel of Fortune to try to make the public believe that the cloud is a mirage. It’s real, and it was well-earned. Mark them: they have revealed themselves, not for the first time, as being dedicated to propaganda and deception rather than truth. Mark too anyone who cites them as authority.

Your friends are assisting liars as they seek to mislead you.

23 thoughts on “Comey’s Letter Ignites A Public Seminar On Spin And Disinformation

  1. The posts by spinning progressives on this topic are mind-boggling. Panic! Accusations! Comey, who was such a fair-minded hero not to have Hillary indicted, is suddenly trying to influence the election!

    I hope they are just getting in shape for all the spinning and lying they will have to do for President Clinton as her many scandals proliferate.

    • I think this situation highlights more than anything else why the average person is jaded and cynical towards politics. Before Comey gave his press release, both sides were hedging and putting out damage control, then immediately after, he was held up by certain Democrats as a pillar of professionalism and vilified by certain republicans as a biased hack. (I remember saying that I didn’t question his integrity, but I questioned his courage, and I still do.) Now, those same democrats are now calling him a hack, and those same republicans are singing accolades. It’s so manufactured!

  2. From the NYT editors: “Mr. Comey’s letter said that the F.B.I. would review the emails to determine if they improperly contained classified information, which is tightly controlled by the government.”

    “Which is tightly controlled by the government?” What? Excuse me while I laugh my head off. This from the same crew that pushed the idea that no one in government knows how to deal with classified information and prior Secretaries of State all did it and HRC didn’t know what C meant on a document and all sorts of unimportant documents are up classified ex post facto? Give me a break. What incredible nerve.

  3. As of Saturday night, the FBI had still not gotten approval from the Justice Department for a warrant that would allow agency officials to read any of the newly discovered Abedin emails, and therefore are 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.”

    Politically, a warrant should be issued immediately to put this to rest. However, without probable cause, this would violate a prospective defendant’s rights. I don’t mean HRC. That in itself would be a political scandal. Genuine wrongdoing for political gain.

    I feel that the FBI director’s statement must now be seen as premature at best. All statements that “there must be something significant that’s been found in them” for him to mention it are.. well, premature shall we say.

      • Was there a violation of the Hatch act? Impossible to prove mens rea, and even on the balance of probabilities, I couldn’t convict.

        But premature, certainly.

        Perhaps the whole “nothing controversial released 60 days before the election” principle, designed to implement it, is itself contrary to the act.

        Yet it has stood the agency in good stead regarding developments in the ongoing investigations into Russian involvement with the Trump campaign. Plenty of time to look at that later without fanning the flames of innuendo and speculation that would damage the campaign even if found to be wholly chimeric and unevidenced.

        Intent is all.

        • Oh Jeez, no sooner do I mention things Russki than Reid most improperly attempts to put pressure on the FBI to “reveal all”.

          Reid, shut up. Really.

          Either there’s nothing to it, and any FBI ststement that they’re “looking into it” would be unfair, unjust, unethical, possibly illegal undrr the Hatch act ,and with no conceivable reason other than a partisan political one. Such investigations are routine:

          Or, far worse,

          There really may be something to it, and it would jeopardise an investigation with serious national security implications. To blab would not just be unwise, but traitorous.

          Reid must know this. Hopefully he’s retiring. Unfit to serve.

  4. Can you clarify on Rule 3.3? Comey’s testimony to Congress that the investigation had been “completed” was true at the time. Does reopening the investigation make his previous statements of material fact “false” and in need of correction? I had talked to a lawyer friend about this but she insists Rule 3.3 had no bearing because Comey’s testimony wasn’t false when he gave it, and therefore he had no obligation to disclose the reopening of the investigation.

    • Your friend isn’t wrong. However, all that means is that a lawyer who has left what he knows is a false impression with a body (because the facts have changed) can duck the responsibility of correcting the record, without being punished or accused of breaking the Rule. It doesn’t mean he should, or that the spirit of Rule 3.3 doesn’t mean he shouldn’t. Most lawyers believe that the rules should be interpreted as narrowly as possible for guidance as well as for disciplinary purposes. I don’t.

      The pertinent part of Rule 3.3 is…

      (a) A lawyer shall not knowingly:

      (1) Make a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or fail to correct a false statement of material fact or law previously made to the tribunal by the lawyer, unless correction would require disclosure of information that is prohibited by Rule 1.6;

      The relevant Comment to 3.3 says,

      There may be circumstances where failure to make a disclosure is the equivalent of an affirmative misrepresentation. If the lawyer comes to know that a statement of material fact or law that the lawyer previously made to the tribunal is false, the lawyer has a duty to correct the statement, unless correction would require a disclosure of information that is prohibited by Rule 1.6.

      Comey said that the investigation was “completed.” He has “come to know” that it is not completed. The statement that it was completed is now false, and his “failure to make a disclosure” to Congress correcting that misimpression would be “the equivalent of an affirmative misrepresentation.” The revelation/correction does not require revealing any confidential information.

      Thanks for that question.

  5. Much as I hate to admit error, my initial assessment of Mr. Comey may have been in error. IMHO, this is one of the MOST ethical stances taken by an FBI director in recent memory, regardless of outcome.

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