Politics November 6, 2016: November surprise FBI’s Comey announces Clinton will still not face charges over server

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November surprise FBI’s Comey announces Clinton will still not face charges over server

 By Bonnie K. Goodman

FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 7, 2016. Comey is testifying on his July 5 recommendation that no charges be brought over US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while secretary of state, saying the investigation does not support a criminal prosecution. / AFP / YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)

FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, on July 7, 2016.
Comey is testifying on his July 5 recommendation that no charges be brought over US Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, saying the investigation does not support a criminal prosecution. / AFP / YURI GRIPAS (Photo credit should read YURI GRIPAS/AFP/Getty Images)

In an election cycle with never ending surprise, FBI Director James B. Comey whipped up a November surprise with barely two days left to Election Day. On Sunday afternoon, Nov. 6, 2016, Comey sent another letter to the chairman of Congressional committee announcing that they have reviewed the newly discovered emails and that the FBI is standing by their July decision not to recommend any criminal charges against the former Secretary of State over her usage of a private email server. The announcement is just as interfering in the election as Comey’s first letter on Oct. 28, and it has been met with criticism from Republicans as a close campaign enters its final two days.

In Comey’s second letter, he informed Congressional leaders that the second investigation had been completed, “Since my letter, the FBI investigative team has been working around the clock to process and review a large volume of emails from a device obtained in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation. During that process, we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State.”

The FBI Director concluded, “Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton.” Attorney General Loretta Lynch disagreed with Comey’s first letter, but on Sunday, the Justice Department issued a brief statement, saying, “The Department of Justice and the FBI dedicated all necessary resources to conduct this review expeditiously.”

The Clinton campaign was relieved after hearing the news but defiant. Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted, “We were always confident nothing would cause the July decision to be revisited. Now Director Comey has confirmed it.” While Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director told reporters, “We have seen Director Comey’s latest letter to the Hill. We are glad to see that he has found, as we were confident that he would, that he had confirmed the conclusions he reached in July and we are glad that this matter is resolved.”

Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, was equally pleased with the results of the investigation and its timing. Schiff in a statement expressed,
“While the original letter should never have been sent so close to an election, the expeditious review of these emails should put to rest — once and for all — the irresponsible speculation indulged in by the Trump campaign and others. Voters can now make their decision based on the merits, and that decision should be simple: it is the choice between a woman superbly qualified to be commander in chief, and a man patently unfit for office.”

Not all Democrats were as content one told CNN “It opened a wound that cannot be quickly healed.” Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, is still angry at Comey. In a statement, Feinstein said, “Today’s letter makes Director Comey’s actions nine days ago even more troubling. There’s no doubt that it created a false impression about the nature of the agency’s inquiry. The Justice Department needs to take a look at its procedures to prevent similar actions that could influence future elections.”

The Republicans, however, were less than impressed by the November Surprise that might ruin their argument to vote Republican so close to the election. The letter seemed like another election spoiler. Trump spokesman Jason Miller commented on CNN, “We thought that Director Comey and the FBI were wrong when they made their initial recommendation in July, and we think that they’re wrong now.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan dismissed the letter, saying, “Regardless of this decision, the undisputed finding of the FBI’s investigation is that Secretary Clinton put our nation’s secrets at risk and in doing so compromised our national security,” Ryan said in a statement. “Fortunately, the American people have the opportunity to ensure Secretary Clinton never gets her hands on classified information again.”

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus agreed with Ryan, stating, “None of this changes the fact that the FBI continues to investigate the Clinton Foundation for corruption involving her tenure as secretary of state. Hillary Clinton should never be president.”

GOP vice presidential nominee Mike Pence hammered Clinton at “a rally in an airport hanger in Hickory, North Carolina,” saying, “Mishandling classified information is a crime. Hillary Clinton said that she never sent or received any classified information and the director of the FBI told the Congress classified information was sent.”

Meanwhile, Republican nominee Donald Trump spoke very little about the letter at his rally in Minneapolis, Minnesota, which began minutes after the news broke. The GOP nominee, however, renewed his call of a rigged system, claiming, “Well, you have to understand it’s a rigged system and she’s protected.” Top Trump surrogate Newt Gingrich concurred on Twitter, accusing, “Comey must be under enormous political pressure to cave like this.”

In July, Comey announced his decision not to prosecute Clinton after a lengthy FBI investigation. Comey said on July 5, “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.” Although Comey expressed, the FBI could not “find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts,” he called Clinton’s handling of her emails “extremely careless.” Clinton has always dismissed the issue as merely a “mistake” of judgment.

Then on Friday, Oct. 28, Comey sent a letter to Congressional Committee Chairman informing them that the FBI uncovered new “pertinent” emails relating to the Clinton investigation in an unrelated case, and advised that the FBI would be reopening their investigation into Clinton’s private server. The FBI discovered 650,000 emails on the computer of disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner in their investigation of his sending sexually inappropriate text messages to an underage girl.

Weiner is the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s longtime aide who was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff at the State Department and is now her deputy campaign chair. Abedin also had an account on Clinton’s server. Abedin denied knowing the emails were ever on her husband’s laptop; she had been cooperating with authorities on the matter.

Initially sources claimed the emails were not duplicates of those the FBI already reviewed, but it turns out they were all copies. FBI agents knew of the emails for two weeks before notifying Comey on Thursday, Oct. 27. The Bureau was granted a warrant to search the emails on Sunday, Oct.  30. The probe was supposed not to be complete before the election, but pressure from the White House forced the FBI to complete the investigation before. The FBI used computers programs to scan and the emails and compared with those they already they had in the possession.

Initially, Comey faced praise from Trump’s campaign but was attacked and criticized by Clinton her campaign, Congressional supporters, most Democrats and President Barack Obama for the timing of the letter. Democrats in Congress even threatened to investigate Comey and the FBI for the timing of the letter, which interfered in the election a long known taboo.

Former Attorney General Eric Holder who formally instituted a policy in 2012 preventing investigations from interfering with elections wrote an editorial in the Washington Post criticizing Comey. Holder joined 100 Justice Department writing an open letter telling Comey his “letter to Congress was inconsistent with prevailing department policy, that it broke with longstanding practices followed during past elections and that they were astonished and perplexed.”

Now the Republicans and still some Democrats are criticizing Comey with good reason. Comey has played with the voters’ emotions and the election. Clinton may have received her all clear before the election, but Clinton lost her lead the contest is now close between Trump and Clinton, with Trump eclipsing Clinton is some crucial battleground states. The first letter united Republicans and saw them rallying around the nominee. The electoral map shifted in Trump’s favor after the first letter, will the second letter flip it back to Clinton or will voters remain wary of a scandal and investigation prone Clinton. Only on election night will anyone know how much Comey’s October and then November Surprises affected the 2016 election.

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Politics November 6, 2016: New scandal Clinton had her maid print classified emails documents, yet she leads in polls

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New scandal Clinton had her maid print classified emails documents, yet she leads in polls

By Bonnie K. Goodman

PHILADELPHIA, PA - NOVEMBER 06: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during church services at Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ on November 6, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With two days to go until election day, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Florida and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA, PA – NOVEMBER 06: Democratic presidential nominee former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during church services at Mt. Airy Church of God in Christ on November 6, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With two days to go until election day, Hillary Clinton is campaigning in Florida and Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is taking laziness and risking national security to a new level. On Sunday, Nov. 6, 2016, the New York Post dropped a bombshell; Clinton asked her maid in her house in Washington, DC to print for her emails and documents including classified docs during her tenure as Secretary of State. The NY Post is claiming their story comes from emails and FBI memos. The news comes just two days before the election as the race is close between Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump and just a week after the FBI’s Director James Comey announced they were reopening their investigation. Ironically, polls are still positive for Clinton with her lead growing in the campaign’s final days.

According to the report, Marina Santos is the maid at the center of the new controversy. Santos is a Filipino immigrant who works at Clinton’s home, Whitehaven and does not have or had a security clearance. According to the NY Post, Clinton had Santos print for her “drafts of her speeches, confidential memos and “call sheets” – background information and talking points prepared for the secretary of state in advance of a phone call with a foreign head of state.”

Emails show that Clinton routinely asked her staff and aides to forward documents to Santos so she could print them for her. Some of the examples include an unclassified email from 2011  where Clinton asked her longtime Huma Abedin, “Pls ask Marina to print for me in am.”  Abedin is the center of the FBI’s renewed investigation where all of her State Department communications that were also on Clinton’s private server were uncovered on her estranged husband’s former congressman Anthony Weiner’s laptop.

There are also three other emails that are labeled as classified under the level of confidential in which Santos is referred to print items all come from aide, Monica Hanley. One from 2012 had to do with the new president Malawi, the other from the same year had to do with Iran both times Hanley mentioned Santos printing them, first writing, “We can ask Marina to print this,” and the other time “Marina is trying to print for you.” Hanely also mentioned a State Department fax in a 2012 email, “to see before your Netanyahu mtg. Marina will grab for you.”

The FBI’s investigation notes always pointed out that Santos had access to these documents by accessing the SCIF room (sensitive compartmented information facility) set up in Clinton’s Whitehaven home. The FBI wrote from their interview with Abedin, Santos “collected documents from the secure facsimile machine for Clinton.” Some of the documents besides emails were “the Presidential Daily Brief” on national security issues.

Despite the revelation and Santos involvement, she has not been interviewed neither has her devices been subpoenaed by the FBI for review. The FBI never asked Santos to hand over the iMac she received the emails on or the printer she used. Santos also was responsible for downloading all of Clinton’s State Department emails onto the Secretary’s Apple MacBook laptop, and USB flash drive that has become conveniently missing throughout the investigation.

The FBI noted in the case summary, “The two copies of the Clinton e-mail archive (one on the archive laptop and one on the thumb drive) were intended to be stored in Clinton’s Chappaqua and Whitehaven residences,” and that it “does not have either item in its possession.” Hanley told the FBI the devices were lost, a sadly unbelievable excuse.

What is believable that Clinton may have had her maid print out documents. The latest batch of emails released by the State Department and uncovered by the FBI during their investigation were near duplicates that usually had a “please print” added to it. Clinton said she used the private server mostly as a convenience to use one phone for both her professional and personal emails, essentially admitting laziness. If Clinton was that lazy, she had to have her information stored on the State Department server, and have an assistant with security clearance print and fetch her documents, not her maid.

Despite these reports, and the renewed FBI investigation American voters still say they are voting for Clinton. Two new polls released Sunday give Clinton comfortable leads. The ABC News-Washington Post Tracking gave Clinton a 5-point advantage 48 percent support to Trump’s 43, while the NBC News and Wall Street Journal poll has Clinton with a four-point lead, 44 percent to Trump’s 40.

In the opposite spectrum the LA Times/USC Tracking which has had an essential tie between the candidate opens up to a five-point lead for Trump, with 48 percent to Clinton’s 43 percent. The most reliable poll in 2012, the IBD/TIPP Tracking has the race at a tie, one up for Trump in a four-way race with while Clinton has the one-point advantage in a two-way race. However, the election is a four-way race with voters inevitably casting their ballots for third-party candidates.

Why would anyone want to elect a president who is extremely careless with FBI investigations over their head and a Congress that is threatening impeachment? In a recent exchange on Twitter with former Politico reporter and author of “HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton” Jonathan Allen, he claims it is a “prioritization” about voters believing “Clinton is competent to run the country and that Trump is not.”

Being politically corrupt, however, is worse than any lack of readiness for the presidency. The two last presidents Republican George W. Bush and Democrat Barack Obama were criticized for not being ready enough for the presidency. Bush resolved the issue by surrounding himself with experience advisors and very hands on Vice President in the form of Dick Cheney, while Obama learned the lessons himself with the help of a Democratic Congress.

Trump too can surround himself with experienced advisors, and he has an accomplished running mate in Indian Governor Mike Pence, a veteran of Congress as well. Trump will also have a Republican Congress backing him up. As leaks from the Trump campaign’s final days prove, he can learn to listen and restrain himself. Maybe the outsider needs a learning curve, but at least he has never risked national security and classified documents as Clinton did as Secretary of State, indictment or not she was irresponsible, and that never makes anyone “competent to run the country.”

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