More Curran emails, Handley offered job, O’Connor told off

This story keeps on rolling. Clare Curran has admitted ‘there may be more’ emails, and it is claimed that Derek Handley was offered the job of Chief Technology Officer but that was put on hold when the Curran story started coming out.

Stuff:  Clare Curran admits ‘there may be some more’ Derek Handley emails not yet released

Former Communications Minister Clare Curran says there “may be some more” emails between her and job applicant Derek Handley that have not been released.

When Curran was fired from Cabinet she proactively released a chain of emails, texts, and Twitter direct messages between her and Handley setting up the meeting.

But one of Handley’s emails indicates that other communications may have been exchanged, at one point saying he wants to check “one final time” about the meeting and that he appreciates Curran might not have the time to respond to his “emails”.

It’s also not clear where Handley got Curran’s mobile number or got direct instructions on how to access the Beehive after-hours, when the meeting took place.

Asked if she had released all of her emails with Handley on Tuesday, Curran said “there may be some more”.

“They are the full chain of emails that related to the meeting I had with him in February,” Curran said. “There may be some more.”

Curran said she was archiving all of her Gmail messages that were related to ministerial matters and they would be discoverable to journalists under the Official Information Act.

That sounds like an open invitation to journalists to make OIA requests to see the emails.

RNZ:  Clare Curran tells PM she will make Gmails available

Former government minister Clare Curran has assured Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern she is archiving all emails she sent using her personal Gmail account.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today work-related emails on Ms Curran’s G-mail account would be saved as official records and be discoverable under the Official Information Act.

Stuff: Derek Handley was offered CTO job before it was put on hold, says source

Entrepreneur Derek Handley was offered the job of chief technology officer by the Government, according to an informed source, raising the question of whether he could be entitled to compensation if the appointment is not now confirmed.

The recruitment process remains in limbo after former communications minister Clare Curran admitted last month that she had “omitted” to disclose a February meeting with Handley when responding to a written parliamentary question.

Handley was understood to have been selected as the preferred candidate for the $400,000 job as the country’s first national chief technology officer (CTO), but it was not previously clear whether he had actually been offered the role.

An informed source said he had been, but had no information on whether he had then accepted.

The appointment process is believed to have been stopped in the same week that he was due to be announced as the successful candidate.

Meanwhile, Jacinda Ardern scolds Ohariu MP Greg O’Connorfor saying things could have been handled better…

ODT (NZME): MP told off for Curran resignation comments

Labour backbencher Greg O’Connor has received a “stern phone call” from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern after criticising her handling of Clare Curran’s resignation.

O’Connor told Heather du Plessis-Allan on NewstalkZB today that Ardern’s handling of Curran’s decision to resign on Friday “could have been done better”.

“Yeah it could have been done better, I don’t think anyone will disagree with that. I’ll tell you what, it will be done better next time,” he said.

A spokesman for Ardern confirmed that Ardern gave O’Connor “a stern phone call” about his comments tonight.

“She has relayed her disappointment to Greg O’Connor around his remarks, and he has affirmed his support and confidence in the Prime Minister,” the spokesman said.

…but separately admits that she could have been handled things better.

RNZ: Lessons to be learned from Curran controversy – Ardern

At her post Cabinet briefing she was asked whether she could have handled the whole situation better.

“I, on reflection, can learn from some of the things along the journey of government. I don’t think you’d want a leader that couldn’t learn from the past.”

I wonder if she told herself off.

Curran’s emails an ongoing issue

Clare Curran resigned as a minister last week, but issues remain and look like continuing to receive attention.

Andrew Geddis (@acgeddis):

Re Claire Curran’s gmails … I think people are barking up the wrong legal tree. The question isn’t direct application of the OIA, but rather whether she complied with the Public Records Act 2005. Obligations under that legislation don’t end with her resignation.

If she didn’t so comply, then the Chief Archivist can direct Curran to properly record emails that are “public records” … whereupon they will become “official information” that can be accessed.

Now that Curran will no longer be subject to ministerial scrutiny at Question Time in Parliament, attention may switch to Jacinda Ardern and her handling of the Curran failures.

The mess in the US

The mess in the US is looking messier.

The latest news claims that the ‘private memos’ of James Comey contained classified information, and Donald Trump Jr has been more closely linked to Russian interefrence in last year’s election.

The Hill: Comey’s private memos on Trump conversations contained classified material

More than half of the memos former FBI Director James Comey wrote as personal recollections of his conversations with President Trump about the Russia investigation have been determined to contain classified information, according to interviews with officials familiar with the documents.

This revelation raises the possibility that Comey broke his own agency’s rules and ignored the same security protocol that he publicly criticized Hillary Clinton over in the waning days of the 2016 presidential election.

Comey testified last month before the Senate Intelligence Committee that he considered the memos to be personal documents and that he shared at least one of them with a friend.

Comey insisted in his testimony he believed his personal memos were unclassified, though he hinted one or two documents he created might have been contained classified information.

President Trump dived in to that –  Trump on Monday morning tweeted out an angry response: “James Comey leaked CLASSIFIED INFORMATION to the media. That is so illegal!”

But his son Donald trump Jr has been linked more closely to Russian interference in the election.

NY Times: Trump Jr. Was Told in Email of Russian Effort to Aid Campaign

Before arranging a meeting with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer he believed would offer him compromising information about Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump Jr. was informed in an email that the material was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy, according to three people with knowledge of the email.

The email to the younger Mr. Trump was sent by Rob Goldstone, a publicist and former British tabloid reporter who helped broker the June 2016 meeting. In a statement on Sunday, Mr. Trump acknowledged that he was interested in receiving damaging information about Mrs. Clinton, but gave no indication that he thought the lawyer might have been a Kremlin proxy.

Mr. Goldstone’s message, as described to The New York Times by the three people, indicates that the Russian government was the source of the potentially damaging information.

There is no evidence to suggest that the promised damaging information was related to Russian government computer hacking that led to the release of thousands of Democratic National Committee emails. The meeting took place less than a week before it was widely reported that Russian hackers had infiltrated the committee’s servers.

But the email is likely to be of keen interest to the Justice Department and congressional investigators, who are examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government tried to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump.

And the NY Times now has a copy of the email: Russian Dirt on Clinton? ‘I Love It,’ Donald Trump Jr. Said

The June 3, 2016, email sent to Donald Trump Jr. could hardly have been more explicit: One of his father’s former Russian business partners had been contacted by a senior Russian government official and was offering to provide the Trump campaign with dirt on Hillary Clinton.

He replied within minutes: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

Four days later, after a flurry of emails, the intermediary wrote back, proposing a meeting in New York on Thursday with a “Russian government attorney.”

Donald Trump Jr. agreed, adding that he would most likely bring along “Paul Manafort (campaign boss)” and “my brother-in-law,” Jared Kushner, now one of the president’s closest White House advisers.

The documents “would incriminate Hillary and her dealings with Russia and would be very useful to your father,” read the email, written by a trusted intermediary, who added, “This is obviously very high level and sensitive information but is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

This is now under more investigation.

The Justice Department, as well as the House and Senate Intelligence Committees, is examining whether any of President Trump’s associates colluded with the Russian government to disrupt last year’s election. American intelligence agencies have determined that the Russian government tried to sway the election in favor of Mr. Trump.

Trump Jr has been defending himself via Twitter.

On Monday, Donald Trump Jr. said on Twitter that it was hardly unusual to take information on an opponent.

On Tuesday morning, he tweeted, “Media & Dems are extremely invested in the Russia story. If this nonsense meeting is all they have after a yr, I understand the desperation!”

After being told that The Times was about to publish the content of the emails, instead of responding to a request for comment, Donald Trump Jr. tweeted out images of them himself on Tuesday.

“To everyone, in order to be totally transparent, I am releasing the entire email chain of my emails” about the June 9 meeting, he wrote. “I first wanted to just have a phone call but when that didn’t work out, they said the woman would be in New York and asked if I would meet.”

Both Putin and President Trump have tried to distance themselves.

A spokesman for Mr. Putin said on Monday that he did not know Ms. Veselnitskaya and that he had no knowledge of the June 2016 meeting.

Back in Washington, both the White House and a spokesman for President Trump’s lawyer have taken pains to distance the president from the meeting, saying that he did he not attend it and that he learned about it only recently.

So his sone, his son-in-law and and his campaign boss said nothing to him at the time? And have said nothing to him since, even though it has been a prominent ongoing topic?

The president has denied any collusion with Russia over the election, but he looks like he could sink into the mire.

This draining the swamp thing may take a while yet.

Especially when the Trumps look as murky as anyone else.

UPDATE: Murkier

Russia, FBI and hacked elections

Two articles of inter from last week on the US election – one saying that the consensus view of the CIA was that “Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected”, and the other a detailed analysis of ’10 crucial decisions’ that affected the presidential election.

Washington Post: Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House

The CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system, according to officials briefed on the matter.

Intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and others, including Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to U.S. officials. Those officials described the individuals as actors known to the intelligence community and part of a wider Russian operation to boost Trump and hurt Clinton’s chances.

“It is the assessment of the intelligence community that Russia’s goal here was to favor one candidate over the other, to help Trump get elected,” said a senior U.S. official briefed on an intelligence presentation made to U.S. senators. “That’s the consensus view.”

During the campaign Trump said a number of times that a rigged election was a serious concern, but he doesn’t seem to think this is a big deal – see Trump: Claim of Russia Meddling “Ridiculous,” Dems Making Excuses.

(With Kim Dotcom claiming that WikiLeaks may target next year’s New Zealand election this should be of some concern here).

Looking back through the presidential campaign Glenn Thrush at Politico: 10 Crucial Decisions That Reshaped AmericaNothing about the most dramatic campaign in memory was a foregone conclusion. The inside story of the pivotal choices that got us to President Trump.

It should be remembered that the election was eventually decided by I think about 50,000 votes in three states, so it was very close.

When deciding whether to contest the presidency Trump rated his chances at 10%.

This is a detailed analysis that’s worth reading if you are interested in what lead up to the result that shocked the world. The ten ‘crucial decisions’:

1. Hillary Clinton copies the Obama playbook. December 12, 2013.

But, in the end, Brooklyn simply failed to predict the tidal wave that swamped Clinton—a pro-Trump uprising in rural and exurban white America that wasn’t reflected in the polls—and his candidate failed to generate enough enthusiasm to compensate with big turnouts in Detroit, Milwaukee and the Philadelphia suburbs.

Either way, there was something missing that technocrats couldn’t fix: The candidate herself was deeply unappealing to the most fired-up, unpredictable and angry segment of the electorate—middle-income whites in the Middle West—and she couldn’t inspire Obama-like passion among her own supporters to compensate for the surge.

2016 wasn’t 2012 because Obama wasn’t the nominee.

2. Jeb Bush decides to run for president. December 16, 2014.

There wouldn’t have been a President Donald Trump without Jeb Bush. A rebel needs a crown to crush, and the wolfish insurgent found his perfect prey in this third Bush to attempt to claim the White House, a princeling of a family that by 2015 had come to represent everything angry GOP voters hated about their own party.

3. Donald Trump taps Corey Lewandowski as his campaign manager. January 7, 2015.

It was probably the single most important decision Trump made early in his campaign for the presidency and, true to form, the candidate made it without much consultation or due diligence, and without quite knowing what he was getting into.

“What do you think of my chances?” Trump asked Lewandowski as soon as he sat down in Trump’s office, according to a person familiar with the interaction.

“Five percent,” Lewandowski replied.

Trump countered with his own assessment: 10 percent.

“Let me propose a deal,” Trump then joked. “Let’s settle on 7½.”

4. Bernie Sanders doesn’t attack Clinton on her “damn” emails. October 13, 2015.

The second problem was more durable, utterly avoidable, entirely self-inflicted and ultimately damning: Clinton’s enemies were starting to weaponize the murky tale of her private email server, an issue that would do her permanent political damage, sap public trust and, eventually, hand Trump a winning issue. “It’s a cancer,” a longtime Clinton insider told meas her campaign was ramping up. “She’s her own worst enemy,” another said.

Lucky for Clinton that Sanders wasn’t her worst enemy. Sanders, an (uncommonly) principled politician who was as intent on running the campaign he wanted as in winning, attacked Clinton on the issues he felt were the most important. Under pressure, he would eventually bash Clinton on her refusal to release the text of her Wall Street speeches, her cozy relationship with fat cat donors, her late-in-the-day conversion to an opponent of trade deals. But that was only in later debates, and only after Clinton and her team had savaged Sanders on his gun control record.

Most of all, he flummoxed his own advisers by steadfastly refusing to attack Clinton on the issue that would hurt her most: the emails.

5. CNN shows Trump’s empty podium for 30 minutes. March 3, 2016.

This was symbolic of how obsessed media became with Trump coverage – in this case remarkable focussing on his absence rather than his presence.

But if Trump’s time was, literally, money for the networks, the cable-Trump marriage was also unprecedented in a way that threw the political coverage dangerously out of balance.

The absurdity of the situation was laid bare on March 3, 2016, when CNN, Fox and MSNBC prepared to air what was billed as Trump’s much-anticipated rebuttal to Mitt Romney’s claim that the GOP front-runner was a “phony” and a “fraud.” Trump was supposed to start talking at 1:30 p.m., but he was strategically, playfully late.

The live shot of a flag-backed podium in Maine sat empty for five, 10, 15, eventually 30 minutes of Donald-free empty space that illustrated the vacuity of the celebrity-driven frenzy that defined Trump’s early campaign. CNN officials dismissed the incident, arguing that the image was just that—a static picture—that provided a backdrop for a stream of talking-head banter, much of it critical of Trump.

For Trump, the point was clear: He was so much more important than any of his rivals that even his absence was more newsworthy than their presence, and the networks did nothing to dispel that view, airing his speeches in their entirety when no other candidate or even President Obama was afforded that privilege.

6. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio play patty-cake with Trump at the debates. August 6, 2015.

The only two candidates who ever really had a real chance to stop him—golden boy hawk Marco Rubio of Florida and Tea Party icon Ted Cruz of Texas—made the calculation that ignoring Trump, and letting him run amok in the early debates, was their best chance at self-preservation.

The decision by the two young senators—they are both just 45 years old today—may well go down as one of the most consequential wimp-outs in recent politics.

But it seemed to make perfect sense in the summer of 2015, when Rubio’s Capitol Hill-based circle and Cruz’s Houston-based operation simultaneously decided on a hands-off-Donald approach.

7. Trump insults the parents of a dead war hero. July 28, 2016.

The final night of the convention was supposed to be Clinton’s big night, and many of the reporters who crammed into the press section in the early evening of July 28 were busily pre-writing their big Hillary speech stories when Khizr Khan and his wife, Ghazala, walked onto the stage.

“Donald Trump: You’re asking Americans to trust you with their future. Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution?” said Khizr Khan, whose son, a Muslim-American Army captain, had died protecting his fellow soldiers from a suicide bombing in Iraq in 2004.

Khan spoke, in a quavering monotone, about the injustice of Trump’s proposed Muslim immigration ban. By the time he pulled out a tiny dog-eared copy of the Constitution from his suit jacket pocket, the audience was on its feet, and reporters on press row were plucking out their ear buds to hear what he was saying. “I will gladly lend you my copy,” Khan told Trump, as his wife silently stood next to him, fighting back tears.

It was a critical moment in the election, or so it seemed at the time—“an appeal from a regular person for Trump to show some human decency,” in the words of former Jeb Bush adviser Tim Miller, “which he never does.”

Privately, Trump fumed about the Khan speech—he hated to absorb any insult without responding—even as the people around him, including Manafort, encouraged him to let it go. But there was, as always, no controlling Trump.

This is a concern about Trump as president, especially internationally. Some think that Trump a ‘telling it like it is’ tough guy stance will allow the US to dominate countries like China, others dread what it could precipitate.

The public hated it. A Fox News poll taken in the first week of August signaled to GOP leaders (wrongly, as it turned out) that Trump was cooked and could never recover: He dropped from running neck-and-neck with Clinton to 10 points down over the course of two weeks. “I thought that was it,” said one former Trump aide.

“If he loses,” Robby Mook, Clinton’s campaign manager, told me at the time, “his attack on Khans was the turning point.”

But here’s the thing: At that very moment, Mook’s own internal data was showing that Trump’s negative message overall—his “diagnosis of the problem” as Brooklyn called it—was resonating.

Clinton’s team laughed off Trump’s nomination speech. Yet her pollster John Anzalone and his team were stunned to find out that dial groups of swing state voters monitored during the speech “spiked” the darker the GOP nominee got.

8. Clinton decides to take a summer break. August 1, 2016.

Trump wasn’t dead. And the polls clearly showed that whatever he said or did, he still commanded between 36 and 43 percent of the national vote. The partisan divide was simply that stark, the animosity toward Clinton that real.

But it was a genuine boot-on-neck moment for Clinton’s Brooklyn operation.

Too bad it was the height of summer, and the Clintons had made plans they refused to change with their rich friends. So, the race almost, seemingly in the bag, Clinton came off the road, for a work-and-play semi-hiatus to regroup for the big fall push that saw her take four consecutive weekends off the trail, post-convention.

So at this moment of Trump’s maximum vulnerability, Clinton was work-vacationing with the likes of Jon Bon Jovi, Paul McCartney and Jimmy Buffett in the manses of Long Island, Beverly Hills, Martha’s Vineyard and Silicon Valley.

But Trump, surprisingly resilient and coachable when he needed to be, was to make masterful use of Clinton’s absence.

9. Trump goes scorched earth after Access Hollywood tape. October 7, 2016.

One month before Election Day, Donald Trump was hit by a bombshell that would have spelled instant electoral death for anybody without his chutzpah (or even a human-apportioned sense of shame).

On a Friday morning four weeks before the voting, the Washington Postobtained a hot-mic tape from a 2005 appearance on Access Hollywood in which Trump described in gross detail an incident in which he had sexually assaulted a woman who resisted his romantic entreaties.

The fallout was swift, damaging and seemingly campaign-killing.

The candidate’s daughter Ivanka, two people close to the family said, was mortified, and urged him to apologize immediately.

Trump’s natural instinct—stoked by Bannon’s attack-when-attacked attitude—was to give as little ground as possible.

One longtime adviser to Trump described the strategy this way: He couldn’t do anything about the tape—it was out there for everybody to hear—but he could stick with “his core brand” by reinforcing his refusal to play by the usual rules of politics.

Trump came out of it seen as he wanted to be: a defiant candidate who flouted rules of “political correctness” and whose in-your-face candor consistently registered in polls as the perceived attribute voters liked most about him. And anyways, it was a classic Trump move: When you’re caught doing something indefensible don’t even try to defend it—attack.

Trump, a guy who couldn’t seem to shut up, urged his surrogates to “go dark,” according to a former aide.

Trump’s numbers collapsed again, but Bannon never doubted that his pal could pull it out and urged Trump to indulge his most brazen showman’s impulses by turning damning on-tape proof that he was a sexual harasser into a populist crusade against the “rigged system.

10. Jim Comey sends a letter to Congress. October 28, 2016.

Clinton wanted to run her campaign her own way. To the frustration of her staff, that often entailed less retail campaigning: She insisted more often than not on flying back to her house in Chappaqua on most days, and held her debate prep sessions at a nearby conference center instead of doing them on-the-fly in battleground states, so she could combine cramming and campaigning.

That hesitation about “the campaigning part” was why, despite their confidence Clinton would pull out a win, many in her camp came to see the campaign as a high-stakes game of musical chairs: The candidate who had the worst final news cycle would probably lose.

It was Clinton.

On a sleepy Friday afternoon 10 days before the election, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter informing Congress that he had obtained a big new batch of emails pertaining to Clinton’s email server. It was a revelation widely (and inaccurately) cast as his decision to “reopen” the case, after having announced in early July that Clinton had been cleared of wrongdoing but had been reckless in setting up her private email server.

Top officials for both campaigns said the revelation—which turned out to be an inconsequential cache of previously parsed emails kept on the laptop of Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s estranged husband, Anthony Weiner—was a game-changer in a race in which Clinton had little margin for error.

A campaign that was notable for Trump doing everything not by the book which kept shocking many, and for Clinton’s flawed candidacy and flawed campaign, two of the biggest deciding factors turned out to be Russian and FBI involvement.

It’s nothing new that Russia and the US interfere in elections of other countries but the extent Russia has allegedly done this in the US to this degree is unprecedented.

The way hacked emails have been used should be a concern around the world.

It’s not new – hacked emails and other communications featured in Nicky Hager’s ‘Dirty Politics’ book launched early in New Zealand’s 2014 general election, as it turned out unsuccessfully. But I suspect that how that was done will have been noted and learned from.

WikiLeaks tried a different approach in the US election, drip feeding emails over a period of time. This certainly had an impact.

Ultimately FBI head James Comey’s interference probably swung the election in Trump’s favour at a crucial time, but that situation was set up and enabled by the hacking and the drip feeding.

Democracy is at real risk of being trashed by hacking.

Assange denies influencing election: yeah, right

Politico reports that Julian Assange has denied trying to influence the outcome of the US election.

The email jar must be just about empty, and crumbs are all over Assanges face. Plus jam. Plus egg.

Assange denies WikiLeaks trying to influence election outcome

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Tuesday defended the group’s decision to post troves of Democratic documents during the height of the election season, saying a moral imperative drove them to do so.

“This is not due to a personal desire to influence the outcome of the election,” he wrote in a 1,000 word statement posted as Americans streamed to the polls on Election Day. “The Democratic and Republican candidates have both expressed hostility towards whistleblowers … Publishing is what we do. To withhold the publication of such information until after the election would have been to favour one of the candidates above the public’s right to know.”

Yeah, right.

There may be public interest in illegally hacked emails.

But drip feeding them throughout the last months of the US campaign is clearly aimed at influencing the election, and using the election to get attention.

If it was important enough and justified to make emails public they would have been made public when they were available, not drip fed through the campaign.

Assange and Wikileaks have lost a lot of credibility and support through this exercise. He has made himself no better than his target, Hillary Clinton, and no better than the person he may enable, Donald Trump.

If Trump wins I expect a lot more disappointment will be directed at Assange in particular.

Power corrupts, and WikiLeaks has been absolutely been corrupted in trying to manipulate the US election.

FBI email surprise #2

FIB head James Comey sprung another surprise on the US election, saying that after checking emails they wouldn’t change their earlier stance that they would take no action against Hillary Clinton.

“Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July,” Comey in the new letter to congressional committee chairmen.

Comey’s letter was the culmination of a fast-paced review of the newly discovered email, law enforcement sources said Sunday.
We went through this as fast as we could,” a senior law enforcement official told CNN, with another law enforcement official saying investigators worked “around the clock” to review the large volume of emails.
The FBI found the new emails as part of its separate investigation into a sexting incident by Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
The thousands of new emails were mostly personal and duplicates of what had already been seen, law enforcement officials said in explaining how the conclusion was reached so quickly. The laptop which was found was about a decade old with lots of personal content on it not relevant to the investigation, according to one source.
The probe is considered over with regard to Clinton.

http://edition.cnn.com/2016/11/06/politics/comey-tells-congress-fbi-has-not-changed-conclusions/index.html

The Clinton camp is praising Comey now, and Trump is back to saying the election is rigged.

About 20 million votes have been cast since the first announcement. It’s difficult to know how much the swings will affect the final result, but with Clinton still ahead by 2-3% in most polls this will help give her a final nudge.

Newsweek has details – HERE’S WHAT THE FBI FOUND IN THE EMAILS ON ANTHONY WEINER’S LAPTOP (nothing incriminating Clinton).

It’s too late for this to show up in polls before the election so the result of the mess will have to wait until results start to become known on Wednesday (New Zealand time).

 

Trump statement on Weiner emails

Donald Trump has put out this statement on the FBI bombshell of bugger all.

cv4nyknwiaap7kf

Trump is making things up, again.

The FBI stated “cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant”. So Trump is making claims he cannot substantiate.

Trump has got away with making false and unsubstantiated claims and accusations through his campaign, to the extent that he still could get elected President of the United States.

If he then continued with his habits of frequent fabricating and lying, and kept attacking the media, and follows through with threats of restricting the media, is that going to be worse than a President Clinton with a record of inappropriate and possibly illegal use of emails?

Clinton appears to have ignored good advice about her use of emails.

Trump has ignored a lot of advice in his campaign.

Two very flawed candidates.

nogoodchoice

What Comey’s letter said

A letter from FBI director James Comey ignited a new fire storm in the US presidential campaign, but it actually said very little, especially about Hillary Clinton.

From ThinkProgress: What the FBI Director’s letter about the Clinton emails really says

comeylettter

The relevant paragraph in this brief letter is the middle one, where Comey writes that the FBI “has learned of the existence” of emails that it previously did not review. In response to this new information, the FBI will now “allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information.”

The FBI, in other words, is not reexamining its previous findings. It is not questioning its previous legal conclusion that “no reasonable prosecutor” could determine that charges are warranted. Based on the letter, it appears that the FBI will simply provide the same scrutiny to these newly uncovered emails as it previously applied to the emails it already reviewed when it determined that criminal charges are not warranted.

It would be remarkable if the US presidential election swung on this letter.

It would appear that at the very least it has handed an enhanced weapon to Donald Trump’s campaign.

 

FBI reopens Clinton email investigation

As if the US election hadn’t been bizarre enough, it has just been announced that the FBI is going to have another look at Hillary Clinton’s use of emails.

Fox News: FBI reopens investigation into Clinton email use

The FBI has reopened its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, in a stunning turn of events just days before the presidential election. 

FBI Director James Comey wrote in a letter to top members of Congress Friday that the bureau has “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.”

Comey did not detail those emails, saying only that they surfaced “in connection with an unrelated case.”

He told lawmakers the investigative team briefed him on the information a day earlier, “and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”

He said the FBI could not yet assess whether the new material is significant and he could not predict how long it will take to complete “this additional work.” 

The move comes after Comey and the Justice Department decided in July not to pursue charges over Clinton’s email practices. 

Comey has since come under criticism from lawmakers and others who claim the investigation downplayed the mishandling of classified information during Clinton’s tenure. 

The presidential campaign has been dominated by Clinton’s use of emails and Donald Trump’s alleged abuse of women.

Whoever wins in two weeks the controversies and potentially legal actions are likely to linger, possible for years.

There have been reports that if Clinton wins and the Republicans keep control of the House there will be a barrage of ‘Oversight’ investigations.

Inside the GOP plot to undermine Hillary Clinton’s presidency

As David Weigel of The Washington Post reported on Wednesday, the chair of the House Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz, is planning on “spending years, come January, probing the record of a President Hillary Clinton.” Republicans will start by continuing to investigate everything she did when she was secretary of state, and just keep on going with whatever ghastly crimes she commits as president. Welcome back to the 1990s.

Of course, the Oversight Committee’s job is oversight. And Rep. Chaffetz is much smarter than the person who preceded him in that position, Darrell Issa; Issa’s probes of the Obama administration were far more likely to end with Issa looking foolish than with the administration being embarrassed, and Chaffetz is unlikely to commit as many pratfalls. But it’s a hint that Republicans are in no mood for a “honeymoon” with the new president, where everyone says they hope they can get along and make important progress for the good of the country. It’ll be open warfare from Day 1.

That’s dependent on Republicans retaining control of the House, which they will probably do. As long as they have the chairmen’s gavels, they can mount whatever investigations they want and drown the administration in subpoenas. And look, oversight is important. It can be done in a responsible way that ferrets out wrongdoing and keeps the administration honest. But how much confidence should we have that Republican lawmakers are capable of that?

To answer that question, all you have to do is look at what the last eight years have been like. It isn’t encouraging.

Take Benghazi, about which many Republicans are still livid. There were eight separate congressional investigations into the attack that killed four Americans. Clinton’s emails will eventually get just as vigorous an examination, with the fact that she has not yet been placed in leg irons spurring every new hearing.

Unfortunately for Republicans, this will be exactly what their base demands. After all, you can’t go through an election in which your presidential nominee leads daily chants of “Lock her up! Lock her up!” and then think all that rage will just disappear.

The next White House tenure could be ongoing ugly. Or uglier.

UPDATE – NY Times: New Emails in Clinton Case Came From Anthony Weiner’s Electronic Devices

Federal law enforcement officials said Friday that the new emails uncovered in the closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server were discovered after the F.B.I. seized electronic devices belonging to Huma Abedin, a top aide to Mrs. Clinton, and her husband, Anthony Weiner.

The F.B.I. is investigating illicit text messages that Mr. Weiner sent to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina. The bureau told Congress on Friday that it had uncovered new emails related to the Clinton case — one federal official said they numbered in the thousands — potentially reigniting an issue that has weighed on the presidential campaign and offering a lifeline to Donald J. Trump less than two weeks before the election.

In a letter to Congress, the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said that emails had surfaced in an unrelated case, and that they “appear to be pertinent to the investigation.”

Mr. Comey said the F.B.I. was taking steps to “determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.” He said he did not know how long it would take to review the emails, or whether the new information was significant.

So the new information may not be significant but the FBI is dropping it into the closing stages of the campaign, without any indication details will be released prior to election day?

So the Democrats are a mess, the Republicans are a mess, the FBI is a mess. And the US has been seriously divided.

Can any good come out of this?

But the emails…

WikiLeaks continues to drip feed emails into the US presidential campaign.

Fox News: Emails show ’08 Clinton camp probed Obama vulnerability on Muslim father, cocaine use

Another day, another batch of WikiLeaks emails – this time, showing the 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign’s efforts to test then-Sen. Barack Obama’s potential vulnerabilities, including on deeply personal matters like his father’s Muslim faith and his own past cocaine use.

WikiLeaks say they will keep leaking ‘daily’ but this is a continuation of stuff that is not getting the attention of the Trump sexual assault stories. It’s mostly very dry and convoluted, and is failing to make many headlines.

Often of more interest is why WikiLeaks is effectively campaigning against Clinton.

From the UK Guardian: From liberal beacon to a prop for Trump: what has happened to WikiLeaks?

How did WikiLeaks go from darling of the liberal left and scourge of American imperialism to apparent tool of Donald Trump’s divisive, incendiary presidential campaign?

Robert Mackey of The Intercept website wrote in August: “The WikiLeaks Twitter feed has started to look more like the stream of an opposition research firm working mainly to undermine Hillary Clinton than the updates of a non-partisan platform for whistleblowers.”

The seeming alliance between Trump and WikiLeaks is an astonishing role reversal. In 2010 it was lauded by transparency campaigners for releasing, in cooperation with publications including the Guardian, more than a quarter of a million classified cables from US embassies around the world. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange became a hero to many.

At the time, Republican politicians expressed outrage at WikiLeaks, but now some are seizing on its revelations as potential salvation for Trump’s ailing candidacy.

Conversely, liberal activists have expressed dismay at the hack of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta’s email account and the calculated timing of the release.

Last week US intelligence officials blamed Russia for previous hacks. It is not yet known whether Podesta’s emails were hacked by the Russians, but US officials say the attack fits the same pattern. Russian president Vladimir Putin has denied the allegation.

Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook told reporters on Thursday: “The Department of Homeland Security took the unprecedented step of saying … beyond any doubt that this hack and then the leaking of the emails was perpetrated by the Russian government for the purpose of intervening in the election and trying to affect the outcome in favor of Donald Trump. This is getting closer and closer to the Trump campaign itself.”

All of which raises the question: do Assange, Putin and Trump form a triangle? Are they in communication with each other or merely exploiting a coincidence of interests?

Trump has praised Putin and numerous links with Russia have emerged this year. But on Wednesday he denied any business interests beyond staging Miss Universe there. He has contradicted earlier statements about knowing Putin.

Some observers argue that Assange’s war on Clinton is personal: she was secretary of state at the time of the diplomatic cables leak. Her perceived secrecy and hawkish foreign policy represents the antithesis of his anti-US imperialist worldview. The capricious, nihilistic, non-ideological Trump might seem like a kindred spirit by comparison.

Alina Polyakova, deputy director of the Eurasia Center at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, said: “My impression of Julian Assange is that he sees US hegemony in the international world order as the biggest problem facing us today. In his attempt to bring ‘transparency’, he ends up siding with the very regimes that deny transparency and human rights. That’s the irony of my enemy’s enemy is my friend.”

So far WikiLeak’s campaign against Clinton has been largely ineffectual.

If the Republicans had chosen a safer traditional type candidate they could have chugged away and let Wikileaks damage Clinton.

But they have Trump, who has used the media adeptly to get the nomination, but that has now turned dramatically against him.