Thursday, July 7, 2016

Emailgate is Hands Down the Most Overhyped Story of 2016

Fred Kaplan says it's 'one of the most overhyped' but I think it just plainly is the most hyped. Judging by it's level of coverage, what has been close?

Kaplan points out that we didn't learn anything new from Comey's report:

"The fuss over Hillary Clinton’s email has now proved to be one of the most overhyped news stories of this overhyped news season. Look at Tuesday’s statement by FBI Director James Comey. Ignore his self-righteous, scolding tone. Read the facts he’s uncovered, place them in context, and the conclusion is inescapable: As Gertrude Stein once said of Oakland, California, there’s no there there."

No there there. As in storm and stress signifying nothing.

"Let’s review the numbers."

"Examining the 30,000 emails that Clinton turned over, the FBI agents found 110—the back and forth of 52 email chains—that contained classified information. Of these, just eight had material that she should have known was “top secret”; 36 of them had “secret” information; and eight more had stuff that she should have known was “confidential.”

"The agents also scrounged through the bits and pieces of 30,000 more emails that she didn’t turn over and found three—three!—that contained classified information: one secret and two confidential."

"About those first 30,000 emails, the ones Clinton turned over, the FBI handed them out to auditors at other agencies that might have an interest in the matter, and after months of review they “up-classified” 2,000 emails to confidential. In other words, when Clinton wrote or received those 2,000 emails, she and her correspondents would have had no reason to suspect they were jotting down classified facts. But the reviewers have declared them classified retroactively. Your taxpayer dollars at work."

One of the things you have to appreciate if you want to understand this whole issue at all is the fact of overclassification.

"As anyone who’s ever had a security clearance will tell you, the labels secret and confidential mean next to nothing. When I worked on Capitol Hill in the late 1970s, the government gave me a secret clearance on my first day of work, pending the investigation into my worthiness to hold a top secret badge. As far as anyone knew, I might have been a Soviet spy, carting out confidential and secret documents every night and making copies for my handler. But they also knew the risk was low because there was nothing in those documents that the Soviets would have paid a dime for. The same is true of our various adversaries and stuff marked secret today."

"Top secret information is another matter, but the stuff that showed up in Clinton’s private email wasn’t so special. Seven of the eight email chains dealt with CIA drone strikes, which are classified top secret/special access program—unlike Defense Department drone strikes, which are unclassified."

"The difference is that CIA drones hit targets in countries, like Pakistan and Yemen, where we are not officially at war; they are part of covert operations. (Defense Department drone strikes are in places where we are officially at war.) But these operations are covert mainly to provide cover for the Pakistani and Yemeni governments, so they don’t have to admit they’re cooperating with America. Everyone in the world knows about these strikes;nongovernment organizations, such as New America, tabulate them; newspapers around the world—including the New York Times, where some of the same reporters are now writing so breathlessly about Clinton’s careless handling of classified information—cover these strikes routinely."

"The other top secret email chain described a conversation with the president of Malawi. Conversations with foreign leaders are inherently classified."

"In other words, even if Russian, Chinese, Iranian, or Syrian spies had hacked into Clinton’s email servers, and if they’d pored through 60,000 emails and come across these eight chains that held top secret material, they would not have learned anything the slightest bit new or worthy of their efforts. The FBI’s discoveries should be viewed in that context."

"As we argued this morning, the GOP is hopeless. Even if you believe Comey's pubic statement is political gold, surely the GOP will somehow turn it into Fool's Gold. They truly are Midas in reverse."

"This is the party that managed to nominate Donald Trump for President. They will overreach with this as they did with Whitewater, Travelgate, Vince Foster, Monica Lewinsky and Benghazi."

And this is what has happened today, already. Greg Sargent:

This was meant to be about Hillary. It has devolved to point where Comey is angrily defending his integrity against conspiracy theories.

" Republicans are currently grilling FBI Director James Comey about his decision not to recommend prosecution of Hillary Clinton over her email server. I'm "watching" the hearing on Twitter, and it doesn't seem to be going well. It turns out that Comey is considerably smarter than your average GOP member of Congress. "There's no evidence that she lied to the FBI," he says clearly, thus proving the old adage that you shouldn't ask a question you don't know the answer to. The upshot of the whole thing may actually help blunt some of criticisms Comey made of Clinton in his press conference on Tuesday. Nice work!"

Today, James Comey warned against the danger of 'celebrity hunting' in high profile cases like Emailgate.

"Following an exchange with Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) over the FBI's recommendation not to prosecute Clinton for lack of evidence of intent, Comey laid out his reasoning as to why the department has not used the Espionage Act of 1917's "gross negligence" statute to bring forth charges. The statute has been used only once by the Justice Department, he said, and in an espionage case."

"And whether their decision was smart or not, that is the record of fairness. And so you have to decide: Do I treat this person against that record and, if I do, is that a fair thing to do? Even if you're not worried about the constitutionality of it, my judgment is no reasonable prosecutor would do that," the FBI director told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, echoing his remarks from Tuesday. "That would be celebrity hunting. That would be treating this person differently than John Doe."

Read more:

You shouldn't treat a celebrity differently: not better but not worse either which is what the GOP wants.

Wow. Comey: "You know what would be a double standard? If she were PROSECUTED for gross negligence."

This is all sort of weakening rather than strengthening the GOP's anti Hillary case.

Meanwhile some argue that Comey did engage in 'celebrity hunting' in the speech he gave yesterday where he eidtorialzied about 'extreme carelessness' rather than sticking to the facts.

"Now Democrats and their allies in the legal community are beginning to respond with a new argument: In openly speculating about that possibility, Comey overstepped the boundaries of his office in a way that employed his public position to improperly give Republicans political material to damage Clinton’s presidential candidacy. Instead, they say, he should have confined himself to whether criminal charges were appropriate, and to the facts relevant to that question."

In other news Hillary leads Trump by 9 in a Pew poll but trails by 2 in Rasmussen. I'm sure that Ras is the one that has shown Trump winning two weeks in a row is just a shear coincidence.

Harry Enten says the Rasmussen cross tabs are a dumpster fire.

Trump seems to have an ever so slight problem with college educated white women.

"Obama led among college educated white women by 3 at this point in 2008 & 1 in 2012. She leads by 31 among them now."


  1. The practice of using "gate" as the suffix for a scandal has been with us for a long time now. I'm hoping the word "Trump" will also become part of our lexicon for decades to come. Maybe it will mean to fall like a rock for an untalented obvious slow witted huckster ("con artist" gives him too much credit) like a pathetic desperate brain dead chump, jonesing for "Alpha" like a heroine addict desperate enough to give up what little is left of his savings for a bag of white powder on the off chance it might be the real thing.

  2. Indeed. In 2016 the GOP is truly Trumped

  3. Sargent said, "It turns out that Comey is considerably smarter than your average GOP member of Congress."
    The only people who aren't are your average GOP voter.
    Ok, it was too easy, but someone had to say it.

    1. Really? You don't thin that Louie Gohmert is one of the top minds in the GOP these days? Sadly, he may be actually.

  4. This is kinda funny (in a Noah Smith "Bestiary" sort of way):