Over the past week, Trey Gowdy and Lindsey Graham have hinted that there was evidence showing active collusion between the Clinton campaign and Loretta Lynch. This evidence supposedly was what gave James Comey the great idea of doing his July press conference on the Clinton email scandal.
Given the impetus building to re-open the Clinton investigation to look at the collusion with Justice, leakers have now turned to the Washington Post to shortstop that effort.
A secret document that officials say played a key role in then-FBI Director James B. Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation has long been viewed within the FBI as unreliable and possibly a fake, according to people familiar with its contents.
In the midst of the 2016 presidential primary season, the FBI received what was described as a Russian intelligence document claiming a tacit understanding between the Clinton campaign and the Justice Department over the inquiry into whether she intentionally revealed classified information through her use of a private email server.
The Russian document cited a supposed email describing how then-Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch had privately assured someone in the Clinton campaign that the email investigation would not push too deeply into the matter. If true, the revelation of such an understanding would have undermined the integrity of the FBI’s investigation.
Current and former officials have said that Comey relied on the document in making his July decision to announce on his own, without Justice Department involvement, that the investigation was over. That public announcement — in which he criticized Clinton and made extensive comments about the evidence — set in motion a chain of other FBI moves that Democrats now say helped Trump win the presidential election.
But according to the FBI’s own assessment, the document was bad intelligence — and according to people familiar with its contents, possibly even a fake sent to confuse the bureau. The Americans mentioned in the Russian document insist they do not know each other, do not speak to each other and never had any conversations remotely like the ones described in the document. Investigators have long doubted its veracity, and by August the FBI had concluded it was unreliable.
The only thing that differentiates this story from the “Trump dossier” is that the FBI didn’t offer to put the Russians on the payroll to produce more of this stuff like they did for the guy who concocted the “Trump dossier.”
This is the kicker. According to the article, Comey based decisions, like the July press conference, on this intelligence but at no time did the FBI actually question anyone about it. I’m not a professional law enforcement officer, and maybe I’m missing something, but if I were going to violate Department of Justice policy and trash decades of tradition (which is what happened at the July press conference) I would have put a little bit of effort into trying to validate it.
The Washington Post, ever eager to please, has asked the questions Comey refused to ask and they allege that many of the conversations alleged in the intelligence took place between people who don’t actually know one another. Those assertions may or may not be true because the people being questioned, like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, know the Post isn’t going to dig very hard to find bad stuff about Democrats.
None of this makes Comey or the FBI look terribly bright or honest. If Comey was afraid of collusion between the Clinton campaign and Lynch, hiding that intelligence information from Congress and refusing to act upon it himself were the actions of a moral cretin. The best, THE BEST, inference you can draw from this is that he knew Lynch wouldn’t investigate, he was certain Clinton was going to be his next boss, and he hid the intel as bargaining material to ensure he could keep his job in a Clinton administration.
Without an investigation into the intelligence Comey relied upon, we can’t get a feel for its veracity. Either a real collusion or a Russian forgery are equally plausible. What is ironic is that the FBI seemingly fell for concocted derogatory information on both major candidates and relied upon that intelligence to make a decision. The irony of this is that if the Russians were trying to screw with our election, they correctly identified a credulous James Comey as the weak link and they exploited his flaws to the maximum extent possible.