Monday, October 31, 2016


So it's all but certain that we'll be talking about nothing between now and Election Day except Hillary Clinton's emails -- no Donald Trump groping victim is going to penetrate our consciousness, no jaw-dropping Trump pronouncement or tweet or new feud is going to matter. We know this because, after a couple of days in which Clinton and her allies tried to make James Comey's conduct as FBI director into the real story, pro-Trumpers in the FBI have pushed back hard, the result being this Wall Street Journal story:
The surprise disclosure that agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation are taking a new look at Hillary Clinton’s email use lays bare, just days before the election, tensions inside the bureau and the Justice Department over how to investigate the Democratic presidential nominee.

Investigators found 650,000 emails on a laptop that they believe was used by former Rep. Anthony Weiner and his estranged wife Huma Abedin, a close Clinton aide, and underlying metadata suggests thousands of those messages could have been sent to or from the private server that Mrs. Clinton used while she was secretary of state, according to people familiar with the matter.
Wow -- 650,000! That ought to shut us all up about "why can't we have more information before the election?" -- right? Take that, libtards! Even though only "thousands" seem relevant to this investigation, and ought to be somewhat sortable in a few days. "Thousands," by the way, seems to be a slight climbdown from this, which came from Fox News over the weekend:
On Saturday, a senior law enforcement official told Fox News that the laptop contained "five digits," or at least 10,000, emails of interest to investigators.
But here's the big news:
Fourteen paragraphs into a report on the internal feuding between the FBI and the Justice Department over the Clinton email probe, the Wall Street Journal mentions that the bureau has been investigating the Clinton Foundation.

It appears the probe was in its preliminary stages, and while some at the FBI wanted to launch a more robust investigation into allegations that the charity provided improper favors or political access to donors, the Justice Department’s public integrity unit said there was not enough evidence to move forward with the case.
So now, if you believe the gripes of the FBI agents who spoke to the Journal's Devlin Barrett, we're in Conspiracy So Vast territory -- the email-mismanagement scandal has morphed into a Clinton Foundation scandal, and folks at the top are engaging in a cover-up.

But here's my favorite detail, from The Washington Post:
It is unclear what, if any, evidence [agents] had to substantiate those [Clinton Foundation] allegations, particularly through subpoenas or search warrants. One person familiar with the matter said their presentation drew at least in part from media accounts over various foundation-related controversies.
So some or all of this is based on news stories? Not on anything these agents have actually found? And now we have to have a trial of Clinton in the media a week before the election based on that? The puke funnel's working better than ever.


I know all the smart folks -- the Sam Wangs, the Ed Kilgores -- are sanguine about the effect of all this on the outcome of the election. We're too polarized for this to change many votes, they tell us. Clinton has a big lead and a firewall of several states, and, unlike Trump, she has a get-out-the-vote effort.

Well, this is Trump's get-out-the-vote effort, however little his campaign may be involved in it. It's going to bring Republicans home to a nominee a lot of them have been reluctant to support, and even if it suppresses a tiny percentage of the Clinton vote, the loss of her least enthusiastic voters could tip the election.

Nate Silver is already pondering scenarios in which an election that seemed likely to be an Obama-sized victory for Clinton now comes down to one state, possibly Pennsylvania, assuming Trump takes a lot of the toss-up states. I think Clinton will win Pennsylvania -- she's up nearly 6 points there according to Real Clear Politics. She has a cushion.

But I think if Trump doesn't win, Republicans not named Trump are certain to try to litigate her victory. Oh, she won because of Pennsylvania? Lotta fishy stuff happens in Philadelphia at the polls, doesn't it, especially in certain neighborhoods?

It's been said that Vladimir Putin doesn't actually want Trump to win -- he assumes Clinton's victory is inevitable and just wants to weaken her as much as he can. I don't know if that's really what Putin is thinking, but it's more or less what the GOP is thinking. I seriously believe you'll see Mitch McConnell or Jason Chaffetz or, who knows, maybe even John McCain seriously suggesting that electors withhold their votes for Clinton because the race was close and because all those FBI investigations seriously call into question whether she should serve as president.

In other words: Either Trump's going to win or we really might have a ginned-up constitutional crisis. I'll be pleasantly surprised if we avoid both of these outcomes.


Victor said...

It looks like I stopped sniffing glue/drinking heavily/doing meth/snorting cocaine/shooting-up heroin too soon.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rclz said...


Anonymous said...

I have suspected for quite some time the military has gone rogue, that a bunch of racist assholes within the department would do so does not surprise me.

Eight more years of this,
Ten Bears

Kathy said...

Dammit, they're going to take down the Clinton Foundation one way or the other. Who cares that it's saving and enriching lives all over the world? Who cares that charity watchdog groups give it top ratings? This may piss me off more than anything else.

Feud Turgidson said...

No, the FBI pre-investigation process into 'suspicions' about the Clinton Foundation isn't going to produce prosecution-worthy material. It might not even produce ANY court admissible material, given the procedural problems the FBI has already created.

Boy, this Weiner laptop bullcrap has really fired up Steve M's shaky leg. No, Sam Wang is NOT expressing concern over the effect on the presidential election. He IS expressing concerns about how this Comey fiasco might effect DOWN BALLOT races.

There are reports that this latest twist is actually having the effect of FIRING UP the D base about coming out to vote in support of Clinton. That makes sense to me: the main themes Wang has consistently harped on about this presidential election are POLARIZATION and LACK OF BIG MOVEMENT in the polls, certainly over the last 10 months & indeed extending back well over a year. Polarization means BOTH sides are going dig in, and that's really what we're seeing.

But here's the thing, at least insofar as the presidential election is concerned: maximizing the turn-out on BOTH sides simply guarantees a win for Hillary. Huge numbers of votes were already cast BEFORE Comey shat the nest on Friday, and there's absolutely no indication of any reduction of enthusiasm for voting on the D side since.

Again, the problems Comey's mess might visit itself on are in close down ballot races. That's it.

Jimbo said...

I agree with Feud's analysis on this. Of greater concern to me is the open politicization of the FBI investigations. I am quite concerned about the chain of custody, open evidence tampering and other abuses. Apparently, Weiner's laptop was "rarely used" and yet somehow had 650,000 emails on it. Who even keeps that many emails on an internal drive that could fail at any time? I smell a lot of rotten fish in that puke funnel.

Feud Turgidson said...

This is quoted verbatim from a tweet by Jon Ralston, the celebrated hard-nosed Nevada political news reporter, from one hour ago:

"Consider this based on NV early #s:
Even if Trump holds 90% of base (um, no)
and wins indies by 20 (not gonna happen),
he's losing NV by 2"

1. HRC has a huge edge in already-banked early voting in almost every state that provides for it, particularly so in blue states, as well as in every red state except Florida.

2. I suspect GOTV programs aren't as critical in 2016 as before the Internet became ubiquitous to the point of being an essential personal device & standard household appliance, but even Sam Wang concedes it remains relevant in close state battles, & there's no doubt the Dems & HRC in particular have better GOTV operations in every swing state than the GOP & certainly Trump has.

3. If you think this Comey mess is more daunting to HRC & Dem than Rev William Barbour's GOTV program is effective in NC, you're kidding yourself.

Feud Turgidson said...

Jimbo, I'm thinking that 650k number is highly misleading. Here's why:

1. Over the years since the Internet became a thing in election campaign financing, I've sent money to a number of candidates & not just in-state. Doing that put me onto not just the websites of partisan candidates I've supported, but anyone with access to my having done that. The result is that during election cycles, it's not unusual for my email account to accumulate dozens of messages daily, even over a hundred messages on some days, all asking for money & inviting me to meetings & alerting me to campaign events & policy commitments.

2. Almost all of those election emails I "DELETE" without reading. But even if I stick to cloud-storage emails, if I pull up an email & THEN delete it, it's still on my PC's database. Once you pull up a document on your PC, all that deleting it does is disengage the document from whatever skeletal organization the PC came equipped with when you bought it, or from whatever file structure you yourself have imposed on your database.

That's just me. I've never run for public office. I've been involved in a number of political election campaigns, but only a few at anything approaching a senior level, and even those were local. Now imagine that you're Anthony Weiner, political animal, past and still hopefully (to him at least) future player in electoral politics. Can you imagine how many campaign-centric databases his email address is on? I can't, but I'm sure it's in the thousands. Thousands, that is, of CONTACTS, each of which might be sending him multiple formatted emails every day.

And if he's unemployed, stuck at home with nothing to do but pull up email traffic and read it, it's easily possible he could have pulled up and read in whole or part the vast bulk of 650k in emails, then deleted whatever he's read, most of it at least - and STILL those pulled up & deleted emails could be stored on his PC.

Moreover, I don't think it's at all clear that the FBI sources are referring to 650k of full warehoused messages on a single device. The indications are that the warrant application covered ALL Weiner-Abedin household and personal devices, which might well includes the printer, devices no longer being actively used or since replace, Y even a home server, & quite a bit of all those are virtually certain to be duplicates.

I know from my professional life, I've had support staff keeping track of my email and regular mail traffic who've told me that on some days I've actually JUST SENT OUT over a hundred messages. I recall a consulting file where over the course of just under 6 months I billed out in total for over 5000 messages sent out and over 15 times that many received and reviewed - ONE FILE!

Jimbo said...

Feud, you're undoubtedly right. I head a large project on environment and climate as a government contractor. On even a normal day, I send/receive at least 100 work related emails. So, yeah, I didn't think of it that way but one could easily end up with such an apparently large number of emails and that political contribution list, yes, it does get yuuuuge. I was thinking consciously being saved but there are a myriad of ways they end up hanging around in one form or another.

Green Eagle said...

I have been trying to point this out where I can, because for some incomprehensible reason not a single person besides me seems to have realized this:

The Feds cannot find a single e-mail on someone's computer, because your e-mails are not stored on your computer, they are on the servers of your internet service provider. So, if the Feds know of the existence of e-mail accounts, as they have for a long time with Hillary and Huma Abedin, there is not a single thing they can learn from examining a specific computer.

This entire thing is a political hatchet job, which relies on voters knowing nothing about where e-mails are located. And if you think Comey and his cyber-investigators are unaware of this fact, you really are an idiot.

Feud Turgidson said...

Green Eagle, I take it you're referring to cloud storage, such as on Google Mail from the outset, & now on Yahoo &, as I understand, Microsoft as well, & no doubt others.

IMO you're missing something: legal use in court and court-like settings.

I gather that you may be referencing the fact that the NSA, directly or thru partner spy agencies in the UK, Canada, Aus & NZ
(those in particular, as James Bamford has explained in his books & talks; no doubt there others;
eg I suspect the NSA has additional source feeds out of Japan, South Korea, Sweden & Germany, not to mention those nation states open to contributing for money, in the form of aid or otherwise via means more obviously like bribery)
captures everything & warehouses everything for future possible use.

You seem to think that applications for access to actual computer hard drive databases is not just duplicative but duplicitous.

To some extent there's a fair point you're making. But it fails to account for what our courts are prepared to allow into evidence.

That is, the NSA may well have 'it all', & be open to actively share whatever it wants with "agency clients", that is, dozens and dozens of both USG & state agency investigators.

But to actually use any of that in a court setting is an entirely different matter, involving actual rules based on jurisprudential precedents based on interpretations of how the 4th Amendment works.

But if the idea is to be able to access the communications LEGALLY, in a manner that renders them admissible in evidence in a court setting, almost invariably it will be necessary for law enforcement at some point to seize actual hard drives. There will be cases where the investigators will proceed to tie communicated info that they FULLY EXPECT to appear on a device to what's actually present on devices, whether or not retrievable on the device's indices or in untethered form from having been deleted.

But investigators will not even succeed in obtaining court orders allowing them to demand specific items from cloud storage administrators without having first tried thru the regular search warrant process and, after exhaustive hard drive recover & analysis, having failed to find what they're able to convince a judge SHOULD be there.

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