I’ll grant Democrats this much: James Comey’s FBI has more leaks than the Russian navy. It’s becoming unseemly, in fact. I half-expect to be accosted outside my apartment building by law enforcement agents waving around classified emails and chattering about Hillary Clinton with the candlestick in the conservatory. A veritable avalanche of information has come thundering out over the past 24 hours, and given the intricacy of the narratives and the immediacy with which they become political hot potatoes, it’s difficult to know what to believe.
So you can almost understand the howls from Clinton defenders, almost, until they go and say stuff like this:
I don’t want to live in a world where chronically corrupt political oligarchs are hassled by endless investigations. The level of partisan hackery from left-wing neckbeard journalists in recent days has been astonishing.
Let’s unpack what we actually know. On Monday, the Wall Street Journal published a report with the lede buried deep in the sediment: the Clinton Foundation has been under FBI investigation for over a year, and has been stonewalled by the Eastern District of New York prosecutors’ office, formerly headed by Loretta Lynch, and the greater Justice Department, currently headed by Loretta Lynch, neither of which believe the bureau has a case. Specifically, DOJ lawyers, in a meeting where FBI agents presented their findings, adamantly refused to allow for a deeper probe—even formal witness interviews were ruled out.
Then, last night, Bret Baier of Fox News teased his own trickle out of the FBI. Not only is the Clinton Foundation being investigated, Baier said, but the laptops of Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson are being combed through, and an indictment is “likely” (!!) over something to do with the charity’s pay-to-play practices, “barring some obstruction in some way” from the DOJ.
Later, from the Journal, another blockbuster: “The FBI had secretly recorded conversations of a suspect in a public-corruption case talking about alleged deals the Clintons made,” presumably illegal ones. This fueled an internecine war within the justice system, as FBI agents demanded they be allowed to pursue the case, DOJ officials scoffed at what they claimed was only “hearsay,” and Robert Capers, the U.S. attorney for Brooklyn, seemed to waffle, telling both sides what they wanted to hear and leaving everyone bewildered.
So here we are, a mere five days before an election, with not the foggiest idea whether our likely next president is about to be smacked with criminal charges. There are takeaways to be had. First, it seems a formidable faction within the FBI is furious with the Clintons’ scofflaw behavior, perhaps dating back to Bill Clinton’s obscene Marc Rich pardon, perhaps not, but coming to full mushroom with the emails and the Clinton Foundation. That doesn’t indicate pro-Republican bias, as some lazy smear artists have insinuated, but it does mean they think they have a real case and they’re exasperated—unusually exasperated—with the endless roadblocks.
If there’s a partisan tilt to be found here, it seems to me it’s outside the FBI at the Justice Department, with Loretta Lynch’s impromptu tarmac chats, as well as Peter Kadzik, the assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, who piping hot Wikileaks emails show tipped off John Podesta to upcoming questions at a House Judiciary Committee hearing about Clinton’s emails.
The problem is, given the ferocity of the bureaucratic warfare within the DOJ right now, we can’t be certain what will come of this. Did FBI sources tell Baier an indictment was looming because they wanted to turn the tables on prosecutors and pressure them into filing charges? Did the DOJ have a point when they said the bureau was lacking in evidence? Even if there is a partisan stench in Loretta Lynch’s shop, it doesn’t mean their objections are baseless.
This is why trials in the media argued via leaks are always horrible.
So hunker down, don’t conjecture too feverishly, and wait to see what else comes out in the coming days. I’m actually anxious writing a post like this because, given the rapidity with which new information is being released, my account could be obsolete by the time my editor hits the “publish” button. This is a mad, mad election, and it’s nowhere near over.