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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Democratic choir of FBI outrage - no talking poins needed

It's certainly not a reason for self congratulations. Typically, Democrats are as difficult to manage as herding cats, Thankfully, Democrats have responded with instant choir like unaninimity and consistent outrage in a "take no prisioners" response to James Comey and his ambiguous missive about Mrs. Clinton's emails, given late on Friday afternoon to Congresss, 11 days before a national election. No Democratic talking points were needed when the facts about this unsupported FBI action was revealed.

Congratulations to Hillary Clinton and her well organized campaign for bringing all Democrats together. Indeed, Democrats rsponded with nearly miraculous coordinations, to demand for James Comey to explain what he did, why he did it and, moreover, where he expects to find the evidence to support his action?

In fact there are no warants for the FBI to even release this ambiguous information.

FBI Director Comey has taken an unprecedented action by releasing ambiguous information

Hillary Clinton Assails James Comey, Calling Email Decision ‘Deeply Troubling’- reports the NewYorkTimes

Hillary Clinton and her allies sprang onto a war footing on Saturday, opening a ferocious attack on the F.B.I.’s director, James B. Comey, a day after he disclosed that his agency was looking into a potential new batch of messages from her private email server.

Treating Mr. Comey as a threat to her candidacy, Mrs. Clinton took aim at the law enforcement officer who had recommended no criminal charges less than four months earlier for her handling of classified information as secretary of state.

“It’s pretty strange to put something like that out with such little information right before an election,” Mrs. Clinton said at a rally in Daytona Beach, Fla. “In fact, it’s not just strange; it’s unprecedented and it is deeply troubling.”

For Democrats, it was also deeply worrying. Mrs. Clinton’s advisers expressed concern that the F.B.I.’s renewed attention to emails relating to the nominee would turn some voters against her, hurt party candidates in competitive House and Senate races, and complicate efforts to win over undecided Americans in the final days of the election.

So, after stepping gingerly around the issue on Friday, calling on Mr. Comey to release more specific information but not overtly criticizing him, her campaign made it personal on Saturday, accusing the director of smearing Mrs. Clinton with innuendo late in the race and of violating Justice Department rules.

The decision to target Mr. Comey for his unusual decision to publicly disclose the inquiry came during an 8 a.m. internal conference call, after aides saw reports that Justice Department officials were furious, believing he had violated longstanding guidelines advising against such actions so close to an election.

Even before Mrs. Clinton spoke in Florida, her campaign chairman, John D. Podesta, and campaign manager, Robby Mook, criticized Mr. Comey for putting out incomplete information and breaking with Justice Department protocol.

“By providing selective information, he has allowed partisans to distort and exaggerate to inflict maximum political damage,” Mr. Podesta said during a conference call with reporters. “Comey has not been forthcoming with the facts,” he added, describing the director’s letter to Congress on Friday as “long on innuendo.”

Whatever shortcomings Mrs. Clinton may have as a candidate, Saturday’s coordinated effort showed that the political organization that she, her husband and her allies had built over decades remained potent and would not let what seemed like victory erode easily. By midday, Mr. Comey, a Republican appointed by President Obama and confirmed nearly unanimously by the Senate, found himself in its cross hairs.

Encouraged by Mrs. Clinton’s senior aides to reframe the story and make it about Mr. Comey’s actions, liberal groups such as the Congressional Black Caucus demanded that he release more information. Other surrogates were emailed talking points prodding them to deem it “extraordinary that 11 days before the election a letter like this — with so few details — would be sent to 8 Republican committee chairmen.” (Ranking Democrats on the committees also received copies.)

Mr. Comey has not publicly commented on the investigation, other than with the letter saying that more emails were being examined. He also wrote an email to F.B.I. employees explaining that he felt he had to inform Congress even though the agency did not yet know “the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails.”

With Mrs. Clinton leading Donald J. Trump in nearly every battleground state, Clinton advisers were emphatic that they would not be thrown off stride. They said they would not change any political strategy, television advertising or campaign travel plans.

For months, the F.B.I. had investigated whether Mrs. Clinton had broken any laws by using a private email server while she was secretary of state. This past summer, Mr. Comey said that Mrs. Clinton had been “extremely careless” by allowing sensitive information to be discussed outside secure government servers, but that the agency had concluded that Mrs. Clinton had not committed a crime. The investigation was closed.

But on Friday, Mr. Comey notified Congress that the agency had discovered emails, possibly relevant to the investigation, that belonged to Mrs. Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin. 

Apparently, the emails were discovered on the computer of Ms. Abedin’s estranged husband, Anthony D. Weiner, during a separate investigation into allegations that he had exchanged sexually explicit messages with a teenager.

According to several Clinton advisers, Mrs. Clinton told them overnight and on Saturday that she wanted the campaign to operate normally, not rashly, while pressuring Mr. Comey to dispel any possibility that her candidacy was under legal threat.

But the Clinton team also had to deal with a newly emboldened Mr. Trump, who urged voters at a rally on Saturday in Golden, Colo., to oppose Mrs. Clinton because of her “criminal action” that was “willful, deliberate, intentional and purposeful.” (OMG- more #Trumponian lies because if there was anything "deliberate" it was the action of James Comey, in my opinion.)

Handed a new opening against Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Trump used the moment to baselessly claim there had been an internal F.B.I. “revolt” and made a sexually suggestive joke about Mr. Weiner.

“As Podesta said, she’s got bad instincts,” Mr. Trump said, distorting a comment in one of the thousands of Mr. Podesta’s hacked emails recently released by WikiLeaks. “Well, she’s got bad instincts when her emails are on Anthony Weiner’s wherever.”

The paramount fear among Clinton advisers and Democratic officials was that an election that had become a referendum on Mr. Trump’s fitness for office, and that had increasingly seemed to be Mrs. Clinton’s to lose, would now become just as much about her conduct.

Hillary Clinton has a 91% chance of winning the presidency.

In phone calls, email chains and text messages on Saturday, Clinton aides and allies were by turns confident that the F.B.I. would find nothing to hurt Mrs. Clinton and concerned that the inquiry would nudge demoralized Republicans to show up to vote for down-ballot candidates — and perhaps even cast ballots, however reluctantly, for the battered Mr. Trump.

“This is like an 18-wheeler smacking into us, and it just becomes a huge distraction at the worst possible time,” said Donna Brazile, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee and a close Clinton ally. “We don’t want it to knock us off our game. But on the second-to-last weekend of the race, we find ourselves having to tell voters, ‘Keep your focus; keep your eyes on the prize.’”


As much as Clinton advisers stressed that they were not panicking, some of them radiated anger at Mr. Comey, Mr. Weiner and even Mrs. Clinton — a reflection of 18 months of frustration that her personal decisions about her email practices and privacy were still generating unhelpful political drama. Two Clinton aides, for example, pointedly noted in interviews that it was difficult to press a counterattack without fully knowing what was in Ms. Abedin’s emails.

Some prominent Democratic women, meanwhile, were angry that a murky announcement from the F.B.I. might impede the election of the first female president of the United States.

“It worries me because it gives the Republicans something to blow up and fan folks’ anger with,” said former Representative Patricia Schroeder of Colorado, who considered a run for the Democratic nomination for president in 1988. “I was on the Judiciary Committee when I was in Congress, and I have never seen the F.B.I. handle any case the way they have handled hers.”

While some voters are undecided, about 20 million Americans have already cast ballots in early voting, and millions more long ago concluded which candidate they would support.

In a polarized country where many are unwaveringly contemptuous of either Mr. Trump or Mrs. Clinton, the latest development in the email story prompted a mix of shrugs and renewed determination from the left and told-you-so claims of Clinton perfidy from the right.

“My mind was made up,” said Luis Luaces, 57, a Florida Republican who expressed little surprise about the Weiner email twist as he cast his ballot for Mr. Trump on Saturday in Miami. “I know what the Clintons are about.”

Democrats also said the development had done little to alter their perceptions. In Charlotte, N.C., Ian Leemans, 35, a Democrat, said he had been at work checking news sites when he saw a flashing banner with Friday’s news. He had already planned to vote early for Mrs. Clinton, but after the news, he felt even more urgency to cast his ballot.

“I thought, O.K., this is going to be an advantage for Trump people to say, ‘Oh, it is a rigged election,’” Mr. Leemans said. “So I thought, ‘Oh, I need to make sure I get up at 8 o’clock on a Saturday and vote.’”

Several Republican pollsters and strategists said that given Mr. Trump’s weakness, the F.B.I. inquiry was more likely to help the party’s candidates for the House and Senate than to transform the political fortunes of Mr. Trump.

“To the extent this affects relative enthusiasm among Republicans and Democrats, it helps down-ballot Republicans,” said Whit Ayres, a pollster advising one such candidate seeking re-election, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Referring to Mrs. Clinton’s lead over Mr. Trump in recent polls, Mr. Ayres added, “The margin at the top of the ticket is large enough so that it probably takes an indictment, rather than an investigation, to move those numbers sufficiently.”

With control of the Senate on a knife’s edge and Democrats wielding Mr. Trump’s unpopularity like a weapon to make gains in the House, Republicans were exultant to at least get off the defensive.

While few Republicans were willing to argue that Mr. Comey’s letter could revive Mr. Trump, they said that the new revelations dovetailed with a message they were already pushing: that Democratic candidates would only enable Mrs. Clinton’s instinct for secrecy and not hold her accountable.

“It boosts the check-and-balance argument because it is a reminder of all of the things voters hate about Clinton,” said Rob Simms, the executive director of the House Republican campaign arm.

Reporting was contributed by Yamiche Alcindor, Nick Corasaniti, Matt Flegenheimer, Jack Healy and Thomas Kaplan.

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