Amidst the epic flood of political statements and media commentary that keeps on rolling in and on, there’s something that doesn’t seem to occur to most people, and it should. That is, the unfortunate but apparently inevitable discussion about all the unfortunate and/or illegal things that either candidate may or may not have done, must be seen in the light of the capacity in which -perceived- errors or even crimes are committed. It is essential to this issue.
What far too many people are far too eager to ignore is that everything Donald Trump may have done that may have been illegal or on the edge, he did as a private person, and most of what Hillary Clinton has done in that same category was as a representative of the American government and hence the American people. The demands and standards when it comes to behavior are much higher for people in representative government positions than they are for private citizens, and they are so for good reason.
One may try and argue that this is not fair, but that’s a moot argument. One may also argue that everyday news strongly suggests that Washington is the very place where moral standards seem to count least, but that is also moot. What others do today, or have done in the past, can never be an excuse for eroding the standards to which government officials should be held. If anything, it should be reason to hold all of them to higher standards going forward.
This is the only way The Office of the President of the United States, and the US political system as a whole, can be expected to retain, or regain, the respect it badly needs to command, both domestically and on the international front. It is for this very reason that on the political scene, actors need to “do the right thing”, or “draw the consequences”, when the situation so demands. Respect for the office must always come before personal gain, or the whole edifice will crumble.
This also means that a president and his secretaries have much less room to move on their public statements on issues than ‘civilians’ do. And in that regard President Obama, though he seemed to be doing well, is now moving onto dangerous ground. On Monday, Obama seemed to back FBI director Jim Comey, or at least he refused to join his party in attacking Comey.
Note that the president can’t do anything even remotely perceived as attacking the head of the FBI. Not in public. And that would be true even if Comey were not his own appointment. The NY Post wrote:
While top Democrats are attacking James Comey, President Obama’s spokesman on Monday described the FBI director as a man of “integrity” and “good character” and said he is not trying to tilt the election. “I’ll neither defend nor criticize Director Comey,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. “The president doesn’t believe that Director Comey is intentionally trying to influence the outcome of an election. He doesn’t believe he’s secretly strategizing to benefit one candidate or one political party. He is in a tough spot.”
Still, some sort of caveat was inserted by Press Secretary Earnest:
Earnest rebuked those who were assailing Comey for saying last Friday the FBI was reopening the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe just days before the Nov. 8 election. “There are other people that have the luxury of being able to opine, writing op-eds or serving as anonymous sources for reporters to weigh in with their own view, but when I stand here representing the institution of the presidency, I don’t have that luxury,” he said.
But not long after, the president joined the Clinton campaign choir after all, in a move that smells not at all presidential. Mother Jones headlined: Obama Slams FBI Over New Hillary Clinton Emails . This is a risky move not worthy of a president, who represents not a party but an entire nation, and all Americans.
President Barack Obama harshly criticized the FBI’s actions informing Congress about the discovery of new Hillary Clinton emails, suggesting to NowThisNews on Wednesday that the much-criticized letter was outside of law enforcement protocol. “We don’t operate on innuendo,” Obama said in his first remarks since the FBI’s announcement last Friday. “We don’t operate on incomplete information and we don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.”
Obama acted presidential on Monday; he did not on Wednesday. And that’s not all. On Monday, Obama had already made another questionable move. Not only did he seem to ‘support’ Comey, he also lavished praise on Donna Brazile, the -interim- head of the Clinton campaign.
He did so mere hours (!) after Brazile had been fired by CNN, a network that drools Clinton 24/7. So when even CNN had had enough, Obama found it appropriate to say “she is a person of high character”. That does not add up. Here’s from Adriana Cohen at the Boston Herald in one of the best pieces I’ve read on the whole issue:
To put how serious this is into context, if Brazile traded stocks off inside information, the SEC would toss her in jail faster than you can say Martha Stewart. Yet, despite all of the above, the White House yesterday praised her integrity. You read that right. When asked about the hacked emails White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “No, the president believes she has done a fine job stepping in during a very difficult situation to lead the Democratic Party … she is a person of high character. She is a true professional who is a tenacious and effective advocate for Democrats.”
Why was Brazile sacked? For feeding the Clintonians debate questions. As per The Hill:
In an email dated March 5, 2016 — the day before a CNN debate in Flint, Mich. — Brazile sent Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta and communications director Jennifer Palmieri an email with the subject line, “One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash.” “Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of Flint,” she wrote.
Think about this for a second. Donna Brazile gets fired by CNN for -very illegally- letting the Clinton campaign in on a question that will be asked in a debate (with Bernie Sanders). Now, I think we can all agree that CNN does not have excessively high moral standards. And perhaps they don’t have to. But the president of the United States does.
Ergo: while the network said they were ‘completely uncomfortable’ with Brazile’s ‘interactions with campaign’, the same Donna Brazile was not only praised by the president, who is supposed to stand above all parties and divisions by the very nature of the Office he holds, she is also still the head of the Democratic campaign.
In other words, the sender of the messages containing debate questions (there were more than one) gets fired by one end of the ‘transaction’, but the receiving end has no problems with that exact same action, and then even sees that decision sanctioned by the nation’s president.
As if it wasn’t not illegal for Hillary to have those questions before the debate. There’s a sender and a receiver, and both are equally to blame. And so is Hillary, because of course she knew the questions had to have been obtained illegally. But she keeps on Brazile, the sender, as head of her campaign, as well as Podesta and Palmieri, the receivers, despite all this.
What does that tell you? Regardless of legal implications, doesn’t that scream out something in the vein of: “When we go low, but do we go really low”? What does it tell you when the Clintonians, and Obama, are fine with something even CNN won’t stand for? It can only mean that a network like CNN, not exactly famous for its moral stances, has higher moral standards than the campaign for a candidate for the presidency of the United States, a position where moral standards are a high priority.
These are the things that drag down the entire American political system. Obama’s statements on the FBI and Donna Brazile drag down the office of the president. And if Hillary would be elected on November 8, that office would be dragged down that much more.
And not only can we now foresee, and must we prepare for, serious domestic unrest no matter what the election result will be (I liked the notion I read somewhere of ‘America between 9/11 and 11/9’), the damage will also reverberate globally. I’ve said it before, I don’t see how Hillary and her people can still backtrack on all the innuendo they spread on Russia, but to be presidential, she will not have a choice.
Or she would risk getting stuck somewhere in the middle of all the untruths and outright lies about Putin, Assange and now James Comey, and that would mean a behemoth blemish on the presidency, something neither she nor the American political system can afford. You need more than just insinuations, you need at least kernels of truth if you want to be president.
When even the NY Times reports that the FBI Finds No Clear Link Between Trump and Russia, the Democratic campaign will have no choice but to step back or double down:
For much of the summer, the FBI pursued a widening investigation into a Russian role in the American presidential campaign. Agents scrutinized advisers close to Donald J. Trump, looked for financial connections with Russian financial figures, searched for those involved in hacking the computers of Democrats, and even chased a lead – which they ultimately came to doubt – about a possible secret channel of email communication from the Trump Organization to a Russian bank. Law enforcement officials say that none of the investigations so far have found any conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government.
[..] Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the minority leader, responded angrily on Sunday with a letter accusing the FBI of not being forthcoming about Mr. Trump’s alleged ties with Moscow. “It has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers, and the Russian government – a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity,” Mr. Reid wrote. “The public has a right to know this information.”
And maybe that’s another reason for them to go after Comey, that the FBI would not support the claims that Russia is linked with Trump. Regardless, we now see the FBI biting back. On just about all fronts. What exactly Comey’s role is in that is not 100% clear, but what is, is that Hillary would probably face two separate -criminal- investigations even before she could be inaugurated, if she’s elected.
One for the Clinton Foundation (pay-for-play), and one for her email server issue. About which, incidentally, Bret Baier at Fox said yesterday:
.. we learned there is a confidence from these sources [with intimate knowledge of the FBI investigations] that her server had been hacked. And that it was a 99% accuracy that it had been hacked by at least five foreign intelligence agencies, and that things had been taken from that…
It’s starting to feel like the nets are closing in on the Clintons. And they may hope that there’s just enough time to get the election and win it, but that may well turn out to be a Pyrrhic victory. US law has many provisions that shield the president from persecution, but even if she would get elected, Hillary wouldn’t be sworn in for another ten weeks or so.
If Hillary wins, it may feel like it’s open season on her, and there’s no one to blame but herself. She’s incurred the wrath of so many parties, it’s hard to keep track. Donald Trump may be the least of her worries.
One last word, and this on the Huma Abedin related emails on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. I see a lot of suggestions that no FBI agent has seen any of the mails, but that makes no sense. Comey would have never sent his letter to Congress on Friday if that were true. It might have gotten him accused of partisanship.
In reality, one or more agents have seen one or more mails. And they had permission for that. Note also that they had had access to the laptop for weeks before Comey’s letter. How much of the 650,000 they’ve seen we don’t know, but they’ve seen some. They had permission to read the mails, but under a warrant that pertained to the Weiner investigation, not the Hillary one.
Under the ‘Weiner warrant’, they undoubtedly read enough of them to know they’re hot stuff, and at some point someone decided reading any further would -for one thing- put the option of using them against Hillary at -grave- risk. This may well be a contentious point right now: how the evidence was obtained.
Whether Comey himself read anything is less clear: if they really kept him out of the loop for weeks because they were pissed off at him -as has been suggested-, perhaps not. But others have. And as we are seeing more and more, they are an angry bunch. In their eyes -and many others- Comey made a mistake, alright, but he did not do that last Friday. His huge error came in July, when he decided not to file charges against Hillary.
The July decision was probably due to a large extent to an ‘inner quarrel’ between the DOJ and FBI, and now that’s out in the open, it’s the classic genie and the bottle tale. It’ll be interesting to see how much of that genie is going to come out before Tuesday.