Democrats demanding quick revelation of the FBI’s latest Clinton email evidence should be careful. The track record on Clinton scandals is not a pretty one, and they are unlikely to again receive Director Comey’s “Christmas in July” gift. As the old adage warns: Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it.
Just four months ago, FBI Director Comey had seemingly put to bed the email scandal that had dogged Clinton for over a year. He had damned Hillary’s entire handling of her use of an impermissible private email server while Secretary of State, then inexplicably short-circuited any possible prosecution for it. As far as Clinton and Democrats were concerned, this meant “case closed.” Oh, how wrong they were.
On October 28, Director Comey informed Congress the FBI had “learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent” to its Clinton investigation. As a result, Comey was informing Congress “I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps…to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to their importance to our investigation.”
Clinton, usually always ready with a dodge for every ethical bullet was caught flat-footed here. Unable to simply ignore this — as she had WikiLeaks’ trove of hacked emails — she has been unable to get out in front here.
The result has been a campaign unable to get on-message or get off this one. A race seemingly over days ago, is now a toss-up with all the momentum in Trump’s direction. Clinton no longer looks to win, as much as try to hang on.
Desperately Democrats and the Clinton campaign are trying to “make it stop.” Hillary implored in the wake of Comey’s announcement: “…[I]t’s imperative that the bureau explain this issue in question, whatever it is, without any delay.” Other Democrats have piled on as well.
While it’s clear why Democrats want this over, it should be even clearer that Comey may be doing them a bigger favor by taking his current course and not revealing any more before the election.
First, Democrats should understand that this is not the earlier investigation where Comey had far more control. Then, things were far more contained through grants of immunity, nondisclosure agreements on investigators, and destruction of the laptops being examined. Now, the evidence has come from outside the walls that immured the earlier investigation.
If reports of the enormous dissension arising from his earlier unilateral exoneration of Clinton are true, then Comey faced little choice but to inform Congress this time. The facts were going to come out. By informing Congress and formally announcing a renewal of the investigation, Comey gets some control over how and when information is released.
Second, the stakes are much higher this time. Because Clinton’s use of the private server has been so documented, excoriated, and publicly understood, she now faces three serious threats: New emails emerge, evidence emails were intentionally sent with classified information, and evidence of any attempted cover-up. Any one of these would catapult this episode from being the simple misuse that Clinton claims.
Third, Democrats should look beyond just this episode and ask themselves the broader question: When has a Clinton scandal ever been less than meets the eye? Usually, just the reverse is true. Clinton scandals, which now have decades’ worth of track records, are usually more than meets the eye
As their history has repeatedly shown, it is the Clintons’ explanations which usually disappoint on relevant details. The scandals themselves frequently link together in a sordid chain from which only the most diligent can plumb all the facts.
Why then should Democrats think they could take comfort in a quick revelation of the details of this one — particularly when the public is comparatively familiar with it and has passed negative judgment on it?
Of course, Democrats’ claims to want a quick disclosure of the latest round of the FBI’s investigation may be simply bravado. The kind of “I dare you” approach one takes when you really hope the dare is not taken.
Clinton scandals are a hard graveyard to whistle your way past. There are simply too many skeletons which are too unwilling to stay buried. Daring the worst of those who have done the worst is as ill-timed as it is misplaced in this instance. If this episode has taught Democrats anything, it should be how little they can trust Hillary — and how things involving her can always get worse.