Last night, heavy-hitting Clinton supporter Douglas Schoen revealed live on Fox News that “as of this moment I am withdrawing my support for Secretary Clinton”. Almost every media commentator is now assuming that we are dealing with national security and FBI revenge. But my instinct is that they may be missing two elements here: the sexual involvement of Anthony Weiner, and electoral crimes.
For some weeks now I have seen the Hillary emails saga as a turf-scuffle between the FBI and the Department of Justice, with the CIA quietly concerned in the background about anyone as senior as Clinton using a personal server for classified conversations.
Much play is being made of the FBI’s Director Comey having “had his hand forced” by other senior bigwigs there because “the original investigation was such an obvious whitewash” and “a cave-in by Comey after Bill put the fix in with Lorette Lynch at Justice”.
Indeed, this morning, a former CIA operative states unequivocally that “no senior official uses private email for official duties, period. When faced with an investigation, Clinton’s staff deleted thousands of emails before handing them over. It was a cover-up, pure and simple”.
The central issue has usually – almost always, in fact – been presented as national security. But I’m not so sure.
Let’s look at Schoen first.
Douglas Schoen is a polling consultant and close intimate of both the Clintons, having been active in all their elections. Rather than being either vague or inflammatory, Doug Schoen was logical and appeared only to be concerned about the Constitutional implications. “We cannot,” he said bluntly, “let a Presidential candidate be elected while under a serious criminal investigation that could go on for months”.
However, Doug dropped the nuclear bomb on Fox News, a Murdoch Channel. He writes regularly for the Wall Street Journal, where pretty much all his pieces this year have cast doubt on Clinton’s electability. He has expressed surprise in private that Bernie Sanders, for example, was seen off so easily. The Journal is owned by Murdoch. When the news broke of Comey’s decision last week, the New York Post went straight for the jugular, calling the scandal ‘dickyleaks’ in honour of Anthony Weiner’s proclivities. The Post is owned by Murdoch.
From having been a massive donor and balls-out supporter, Rupert Murdoch seems to have morphed into a man on a mission to keep Clinton out of the White House at all costs. Why? Could it be – embroiled as he is in the Deutsche Bank cliffhanger – the Antipodean Doodle Dandy has learned of something inside the DoJ that makes Hillary a Class A liability?
Now let’s examine the reaction of Donald Trump to the Comey decision.
It seems, to me at least, obvious that Trump had inside track on what the new FBI line of enquiry was. The Donald is an incorrigible loudmouth, but he’s not stupid. The minute it broke, Trump declared it “bigger than Watergate”. Yesterday, Trump sent a rally wild by opening with, “Boy did I call this one right”. He was referring to sexter-in-chief Weiner, and his claim is fully justified: late last year he called for his Anthony’s wife Huma Abedin “to dump your husband because he is a serious liability”.
So: we have an electoral pollster, a media magnate supporter, and a new line of emails enquiry focused on the sexpest husband of a senior Clinton aide. Whatever the CIA thinks about private servers, more of the same would not be enough to get Comey to go public on “a new batch of emails”.
I suspect the initial emails scandal was a clear attempt to suggest that Hillary Clinton is so arrogant, she would risk national security to have her own server rather than State’s. But think on this:
- Suppose there were exchanges about illegality and malpractice she wanted to write about without Government snoopers knowing about it?
- Suppose Schoen has – as a pollster – either twigged or was tipped off to the reality that the Clintons have indulged in voter skullduggery?
- Suppose Weiner – himself a political professional and used to the cut, thrust and dirty tricks of US elections – sent emails to his wife of an accusatory nature about how this district had been rigged or that voting machine fixed? (Such charges have followed Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign)
- The new elements of late are first, the email author being Weiner, not Hillary; and second, the Murdoch-Weiner-Schoen link. If a sociopath like Rupert Murdoch has spotted a liability that forced him to volte-face, then Trump is absolutely right to say it will be something “bigger than Watergate”.
There are two additional possibilities: that Weiner – not the most discreet of men – made one or more references to Bill Clinton, airport runways, Loretta Lynch and a DoJ move to pull rank on the FBI. This would deliver a smoking gun into the hands of the anti-Lynch cabal inside the Bureau, which is substantial.
Second, that Weiner made one or more sexual references – either confessional or accusatory – in relation to Bill and/or Hillary Clinton – that themselves might have national security implications.
Either way, the bottom-line point is this: I think the nature of these new developments suggests strongly that it’s a mistake to see Emails1 as the same plot as Emails2.
Yahoo news reported over the weekend – quoting unnamed “government officials” – that when he informed Congress of the new line of enquiry, Comey had no idea what was in the new email batch. I’d bet 100-1 that the officials were from Justice, not the FBI: it is the most ridiculous suggestion what has already been a saga crammed with incredible spin.
Facing the risk of getting your backside burnt for all time, you – the boss of the FBI – inform Congress that you’re about to cause a Constitutional crisis, but you don’t even ask your staff what they’re getting animated about?
Of course he knew: it would a be a dereliction of his duty not to know.
This is why the ball is now very firmly in Director Comey’s court: the pressure on him to give more details is going to be like standing on Jupiter’s surface.