I wanted to weigh in on the latest bombshell in the 2016 presidential election. The FBI director, James Comey, indicated that additional emails had been discovered and needed to be reviewed in the Hillary Clinton investigation of her use of a private server while she was secretary of state. Comey sent a letter to Congress announcing this development just eleven days before the election.
Talk about an October surprise. This development has thrown the election into chaos. Was Comey's decision appropriate? Everyone has a different opinion. I just want to share a few thoughts that have come to me as I reacted to this amazing news along with everyone else.
Comey says that he indicated to Congress last July that he would keep them informed of any new developments so he felt obligated to let them know that conditions had changed. This seems to be a reasonable position. The point has also been made that if he did not share this information and it came out after the election he would be severely criticized. Fair enough.
On the other hand there is actually no new information here. There is no suggestion of wrongdoing. We have no idea what is in these emails, or whether there is anything significant or relevant about them.
There seems no correlation between the amount of information Comey has provided, and the possible damage that could be done to one presidential candidate.
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Comey is a man of impeccable reputation, of which he is justly proud. Yet it seems to me that his decision to share this information was determined primarily by his concern about protecting this reputation. He released the information because he felt it was the right thing to do for him.
He does not seem to have considered sufficiently the damage to an individual, voters, or the country. He provided voters with nothing new to advance the email controversy, but his announcement raised questions for which voters had nothing concrete to help them answer. The candidate, Hillary Clinton, had no way to defend herself since no one knows what is in the emails, and no one is likely to know between now and Election Day.
He has clearly violated Justice Department rules and protocols. He was advised by the Justice Department not to take this step, but took it upon himself to do so anyway.
Wittingly or not he has placed his thumb on the scale in favor of a particular candidate. No one knows what will happen on Nov. 8. Yet, if Donald Trump were to win this election, James Comey will almost singlehandedly be responsible for that result.
When a football player drops the touchdown pass that would win the game in the final seconds, he becomes the goat. The coach and the players will insist, however, that they all had a hand in the loss because of what happened throughout the game.
Many have already pointed out that Hillary Clinton has only herself to blame. If she had not used a private email server none of this would have happened. Yet that situation had already been investigated, and she was exonerated of any criminal charges.
Comey should have waited until all the facts were in concerning these new emails. No amount of pressure or disagreements within the agency changes his responsibility in these matters.
His actions have done damage to the election and to the Department of Justice itself. With distrust of so much of government a reality, we don't need for voters to lose faith in our system of justice as well.
Again, suppose, as is likely, there is nothing new in these emails, but Comey winds up tipping the election to Trump anyway.
Well, at least, James Comey's reputation will remain intact.