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What is Comey Doing?

04 Nov 2016

James Comey’s decision to reopen the investigation against Sec. Hillary Clinton has caused an immense amount of conjecture.  His initial, rather confusing, statements about Sec. Clinton after the first investigation that she had been wreckless, dishonest, and at the very least violated policy related to the handling of classified documents ended with a recommendation that she not be indicted.   Attorney General Loretta Lynch was undoubtedly all too happy to receive the news, but Comey’s comments hinged on what he said was a lack of clear evidence of intention that could make a legal case against her.  As many pointed out, intent is not vital when it comes to breaking the law.  Critics suggested that Comey’s actions could be explained by two possibilities:  1) he simply did not have the evidence he needed to convict her or 2) he succumbed to pressure from leadership within the executive branch to not pursue the case against Sec. Clinton.  Fast forward four months and once again, Comey has made headlines again.  He notified Congress that he was reopening the investigation after more emails had been found in an unrelated investigation.  The investigation involved estranged husband of Sec. Clinton’s top aid, Huma Abedin.  Abedin’s husband, Anthony Weiner, is under investigation for sending inappropriate texts to underage girls.  The revelations seem now to have estranged Clinton and Abedin as well.  But that is not at issue here.  The question now is what is Comey doing and why?

If we accept the options for Comey’s original decision not to pursue indictment, how do we assess his decision to reopen the investigation?  If Comey refused to recommend indictment originally because of lack of evidence, it would appear that he now thinks there is additional evidence of import.  If Comey refused to recommend indictment originally because he was a mere sycophant, then it would appear that the evidence he is now looking at must be very compelling to override the political pressure he has been facing.  Either way, it seems reasonable that he must have good reason for reopening the investigation.  Americans ought to take notice.  I am sure there are other arguments to be made here.  Some might say Comey simply wants to leave his mark on American history, but the reality is he has already done that from his original decision.  It seems unlikely he is doing this to simply add to that legacy.  We are indeed in a strange situation to have a candidate with the specter of an unfinished investigation and possible indictment hanging over her head.  The allegations swirling around are disconcerting. The email scandal is just the tip of the iceberg.  The prospect that donors, particularly representatives of foreign governments, could gain access to State Department personnel and even the Secretary of State herself because of donations to the Clinton Foundation is cause for serious concern.  Honestly, I am as bothered by the fact that the Federalist reported that only fifteen cents of every dollar donated to the Clinton Foundation actually goes to the causes it allegedly supports.  Most average Americans would find it hard to donate to such a “charity,” suggesting Clinton is not as in touch with the common American as she claims.  I am further struck by the irony of Sec. Clinton’s past service as a lawyer investigating the Nixon scandals while now finding herself the subject of such investigations.  One would think that investigating Watergate would leave an indelible mark regarding the need for ethical behavior.

It was not that many years ago that another Clinton was running for president amid speculation and allegations about inappropriate behavior.  The American electorate largely ignored those allegations and elected him anyway.  The country later learned that many of those allegations were true and lived through the national embarrassment of an impeachment investigation and trial.  Have we learned anything?