FBI director James Comey has announced the FBI has reviewed all the emails on Anthony Weiner’s computer, and absolutely nothing has changed regarding the conclusion that Clinton has done nothing criminal.
So what all has happened, and what effect has it had on the election? We may never know for sure what the full impact is, and surely this will be analyzed for years to come. But based on what we already know, what can we discern today?
For starters, it seems pretty obvious that Rudy Giuliani, a major player in the Trump campaign, had significant insider knowledge from the beginning, before Comey issued that first letter.
Giuliani has bragged about his close ties to the FBI for months, mentioning in interviews that “outraged FBI agents” have told him they’re frustrated by how the Clinton investigation was handled. And two days before FBI Director James Comey announced that the agency was reviewing the newly uncovered emails, Giuliani teased that Trump’s campaign had “a couple of surprises left.”
“I did nothing to get it out, I had no role in it,” he said. “Did I hear about it? You’re darn right I heard about it, and I can’t even repeat the language that I heard from the former FBI agents.” (Source)
There is a lot of question about how much influence he still has.
The Daily Beast reported on Thursday on ties between Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor, and the FBI’s New York field office, which reportedly pressed the FBI to revisit the Clinton server investigation after beginning an inquiry into Weiner’s alleged sexual texting with a minor. The website reported that a former New York field office chief, highly critical of the non-indictment, runs a military charity that has received significant financial donations from Trump.
Next, we still question why Comey made this public to begin with.
Andrew Rosenthal asks this in an op-ed for the New York Times:
We know his announcement went against policy and tradition, which call for the F.B.I. to stay out of politics. What law enforcement officer, by the way, announces that he is going to conduct a search before even obtaining a warrant?
Of great concern is the general attitude within the bureau. “The FBI is Trumpland,” said one current agent. There was a great deal of backlash from agents when the original decision was made not to indict Clinton. How can they conduct investigations and remain neutral?
Sunday, Comey sent a letter that cleared Clinton. All the emails were duplicates of emails that had already been analyzed or were personal. Trump and his surrogates have now begun to argue it is impossible the FBI could have reviewed so many emails in such a short period of time. The concept of technology in the 21st century obviously eludes them.
“You can’t review 650,000 emails in eight days,” Trump said Sunday in an appearance at the Freedom Hill Amphitheater. “You can’t do it folks. Hillary Clinton is guilty.” (Source)
Analysis of polls shows the possibility this has had an impact. From 538, Clinton went from having a 6-point lead pre-Comey to a 3-point lead post-Comey. The cause and effect is not certain, but obviously it did not help.
At the end, this was much ado about nothing. Was it a violation of the Hatch Act? Was Comey intentionally interfering in the election? Was Giuliani involved? These are all questions we will still be asking and trying to answer for some time, and we may never know for sure the full impact. For now, we just cross our fingers and hope it hasn’t cost the election itself.