Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Friday, June 15, 2018

Poor Comey was scared to death of Fox News

by digby

My Salon column today about the DOJ Inspector General report:

One of the longstanding tropes in the modern conservative movement is that the mainstream media is liberal to its core and incurably biased against them, a charge they hurl relentlessly at the press in all its permutations. This has been going on since at least the 1960s and continues to this day. It is not a sincerely held belief, at least not on the part of the professional political operatives who push this disingenuous conceit. It is a cynical tactic to pressure the media into taking a jaundiced view of their political enemies lest they be accused of being biased in their favor. And in the process they almost always end up giving the conservatives the benefit of the doubt for the same reasons. It's called "working the refs" and it's been extremely effective for them.

I have written about this phenomenon many times but it was most perfectly demonstrated in 2016 when the inanely trivial Clinton email server issue was elevated to a major scandal that consumed the campaign and served to make the overwhelming corrupt ineptitude of Donald Trump appear to be no worse. The press had already partnered with right wing operatives Peter Schweizer, and Steve Bannon on hit jobs like "Clinton Cash" and were well primed by years of character assassination from the likes of Citizen United's David Bossie, who later became Trump's deputy campaign manager. Hillary Clinton had been the Great White Whale for both the press and the Republicans for many years. The refs did not need much working.

The overheated coverage was lethal for the Clinton campaign and very likely made more than a few people feel vaguely ill with the knowledge that such trumped up scandals as Benghazi would be the norm if Clinton were elected, as was the intention all along. Indeed, on the cusp of the election November 3, the Washington Post reported this:

Chairmen of two congressional committees said in media interviews this week they believe Clinton committed impeachable offenses in setting up and using a private email server for official State Department business.

And a third senior Republican, the chairman of a House Judiciary subcommittee, told The Washington Post he is personally convinced Clinton should be impeached for influence peddling involving her family foundation. He favors further congressional investigation into that matter.

Donald Trump's rally-goers had been deliriously chanting "lock her up" for months and Trump was insistent that the election had been rigged, saying outright that he would accept the results of the election ---only if he won.

This was "working the refs" on a scale we have never seen before. And according to the Department of Justice's long awaited Inspector General's report on how the FBI handled the investigation into Clinton's email server management, it was incredibly successful. All that hectoring, threatening and accusing terrified poor FBI director James Comey so much that he threw out the normal rule book and defied his bosses so these bullies wouldn't accuse him of being biased if Clinton happened to win.

Silly Comey didn't understand how this works at all. They would never forgive him for failing to lock her up and nothing he did or said was going to help him.

Inspector General Michael Horowitz's report makes it clear:
Instead of referring to and being guided by longstanding Department and FBI policies and precedent, Comey conducted an ad hoc comparison of the risks and outcomes associated with each option. He described the potential consequences “concealing” the existence of the emails as “catastrophic” to the FBI and the Department, because it would subject the FBI and the Department to allegations that they had acted for political reasons to protect Hillary Clinton. Instead, Comey said he chose the option that he assessed as being just “really bad.”
Horowitz notes that Comey didn't see the risk of being seen to put his thumb on the scale in favor of Trump to be much of a problem and posits this was because Comey assumed Clinton would win. But that doesn't really explain it. Comey had been "worked" into believing that he had to push the envelope on Clinton or risk being called a partisan by the Republicans --- no matter how it came out. We know this because at the very same time he did this, he had no problem "concealing" the much more serious investigation into Russian involvement in the Trump campaign.

Remember, Comey is a Republican and had been around this block before. He was counsel to Senator Alphonse D'Amato's Whitewater investigations back in the 1990s. Indeed, I suspected at the time that he may have been harboring some leftover animosity toward Clinton from his work during that era. But I've since concluded that he's much too vain and self-righteous to be a mere partisan. He simply couldn't bear being called unfair or biased so he fell for the oldest GOP dirty trick in the book: he got played.

Not that it did him any good. He was fired by Trump who fatuously declared it was because he was unfair to Clinton and then immediately admitted that it was really because of the Russia investigation. What a fool.

The report notes once more that the two indiscreet DOJ employees involved in the case and then fired from the Russia probe by Robert Mueller wrote some emails showing bias against Trump but could find no evidence that they'd misdirected the investigation to help Clinton. Indeed, the opposite was true. They had wanted to go much harder on her as did the now disgraced Andrew McCabe who was fired for leaking damaging information about Clinton to the press and lying about it. But the report confirms the finding of the original investigation into Clinton's email server scandal which was that she committed no crime.

The right wingers are screaming bloody murder, of course.  Trey Gowdy, the scourge of Benghazi, is upset because the FBI didn't use the kind of hard core tactics in the server investigation they have used in the Russia probe.  Evidently he's lost the ability to see the difference between an investigation into the use of private email, a practice used by previous Secretaries of State with no concerns, and a suspected conspiracy between the president of the United States and a foreign adversary. (And the fact that the right's allegedly villainous FBI lovers and Andrew McCabe wanted to use harder tactics complicates Gowdy's narrative just a bit.)

On Friday morning, Trump made his first comment on the Horowitz report, which largely consisted of self-congratulation:

But Trump's mouthpiece, Rudy Giuliani -- whose own involvement in leaks from the New York FBI office apparently remains under investigation -- had a lot to say on Fox News Thursday night, and was not nearly as restrained:

Trump's defenders are trying to push their manufactured crisis to Defcon One. This should be an interesting weekend.