No one knows exactly (or even inexactly) what it means, but FBI Director Comey’s bombshell letter to Congress essentially reopening the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s crooked server is a bigger October Surprise than anything yet — and October still has a few more days to go.
The hugeness of this news is reflected in the Comments sections of the three major papers I’ve sampled online: thousands and thousands of them in each case. People know something big (or just potentially big?) has transpired and partisans and observers alike are mightily agitated, chickens running around not knowing whose head has been cut off. Is Comey simply, belatedly trying to save his hugely damaged reputation? In fact, indications are he just might be, and not for frivolous reasons. Note that the new information he mentions has come from an FBI field office — the very sort he bypassed in his earlier investigations into Hillary. This, according to a source, bypassed the “regular order” of how the FBI is to perform its work. We know as well that Comey’s behavior has sparked a rebellion within the FBI’s ranks. Had he not acted immediately on what a field office investigation into Anthony Weiner’s computer had discovered (and separately, what a lulu of a case, with Weiner e-cavorting with a 15 year old — just the sort of activity child-protecting Hillary doesn’t need to be linked to right now, seeing as how her husband has also been linked to an admitted pedophile), Comey would be burned toast.
This is just the beginning, one has to assume.
UPDATE: “[T]o reopen this investigation 11 days before the election is a big deal,” moderator Chris Wallace has just said.
UPDATE: Will Comey call John Podesta’s bluff? (“It is extraordinary that we would see something like this just 11 days out from a presidential election. The director owes it to the American people to immediately provide the full details of what he is now examining. We are confident this will not produce any conclusions different from the one the FBI reached in July.”) It’s revealing too that Podesta in his official response is blaming it all on “Republicans’ continued second-guessing of how the FBI handled its investigation.” So Comey just caves to Republicans after caving to Democrats previously?
UPDATE: David Brooks, on the NewsHour, concludes some who were prepared to vote for Hillary reluctantly may now think twice and conclude that there’s now “a parity of sleaze.”** It’s not a game changer, Brooks says, just slightly reduces the chances of Clinton’s expected victory by a point or to, say from 80 percent to 78 or so. Tut, tut. Watch for one thing: any Trump celebration of Comey’s announcement will be reason enough to criticize Trump further.
UPDATE: NOW HILLARY IS SPEAKING. Defiant. Follows up on Podesta wanting full explanation from FBI. Wants to build a better future for our country. She’s taking questions! No one from the FBI contacted her. She’s smiling. She said FBI released the letter to “Republican members of the House.”***(Um, they are in the majority, though oft times you’d never know it.) She’s encouraging every one to get out and vote early! Good idea, considering the circumstances. Anyway, it’s all rumors, you see. Hence why it’s incumbent that the FBI release all information.* And that’s the end of her presser. Shortest one in Friday night memory.
BTW, the “rumors” business is Hillary’s reaction to the news that the reopening of the FBI investigation is connected to what the FBI has found it its investigation of Anthony Weiner. She knows as well as anyone what being linked directly to Weiner would mean to her. Not a pretty picture.
Preliminary conclusion: Hillary & Co. are dismissing this as Republican dirty politics and moving ahead in their usual way that there’s nothing to see here. They must think it’s a case of too little, too late, with an emphasis on late, way too late. So see you at the Inauguration.
We shall see.
*UPDATE: The Democrats at the NYTimes are on board. The paper’s home page declares: “James Comey’s failure to provide specifics about a new, potentially important development, less than two weeks before Election Day, is confounding.”
**UPDATE: “Smear by tease,” an “appalled” Paul Begala announces on CNN. Who’ll break the tie and call it “sleaze by tease”?
***UPDATE: Donald Trump has just attacked Hillary for lying here — the letter was sent to both Republican and Democrat congressional leaders. CNN’s John King has just confirmed Trump’s point, noting Hillary was inaccurate and “partisan” in making her claim. If you’ve lost John King…