The FBI Doesn’t Want Hillary to Know What They Know

hillary-fbi-2Yesterday (4/21/16) there was an interesting update on the Hillary Clinton e-mail saga.

Some time ago, Vice News filed a FOIA suit for the e-mails that Clinton had deleted from her server which the FBI is reported to have recovered. The Department of Justice filed for summary judgment against Vice News.  Generally, when you file for summary judgment, you give your reasons why summary judgment should be granted.  In this case, the DOJ could have argued that they couldn’t produce the e-mails because they hadn’t actually been recovered.  Or they could have argued that they had been recovered, but they concerned personal matters and therefore did not constitute government records or were protected by privacy exemptions.  They could have even argued that they had recovered e-mails but these e-mails all included classified information.

They didn’t do any of those things. Instead, they filed a “Notice of Lodging of Classified, In Camera, Ex Parte Declaration.”  That would be a document that only the judge in the case is authorized to read, where the DOJ explains their reasons for requesting a summary judgment.  The problem with such declarations, of course, is that as the plaintiff can’t read them, they cannot answer the arguments in them.  They are usually only used when there are national security considerations.

In response, Vice News filed a motion to require the DOJ to, at the very least, release the non-classified parts of their answer or explain why this cannot be done.  The judge granted the motion, and the DOJ has until April 26th to do so.

Now, it’s very possible that the DOJ is just abusing the system and that there is no legitimate reason to hide from the public – or anyone else – their rationale for not releasing Hillary Clinton’s deleted e-mails.  But if the DOJ is actually justified in filing this classified declaration, we can speculate as to why that is.

I think the most likely reason is that they don’t want Hillary Clinton to know whether they have, indeed, retrieved her deleted e-mails before she is interviewed by the FBI in the investigation as to her server.  While there are reports that the FBI had recovered some e-mails, these have not been confirmed and it’s not publicly known how many of the deleted e-mails the FBI was able to ultimately recover.

By now, I think it’s pretty clear that Clinton is considered at the very least a subject, if not a target, of the FBI investigation.  Unlike former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Hillary Clinton has said publicly that she has not been contacted by the FBI.  If the FBI saw her merely as a witness – as is the case with Powell -, they would have interviewed her right away to get as much information as possible from her to aid their investigation.   The fact that they haven’t suggests that the FBI does not want to interview her until they have independently gathered as much information as possible in the case.  Then, they can trip her.

For example, the FBI could ask her: “Did you delete or cause to be deleted any e-mails related to your work as Secretary of State other than those you handed to the Department of State? ”  If she says “yes”, she has just admitted at destroying government records.  But if she says “no” and it turns out that the FBI had uncovered such deleted e-mails, she can be prosecuted for lying to the FBI – a felony that carries a maximum five year prison sentence.   If Hillary knew for sure that the FBI had not recovered the deleted e-mails, then she could probably feel comfortable in lying about this.  If she knew for sure that they had recovered them, then she might decide that her best bet is to tell them the truth or – more likely – not meet with the FBI at all.  But as long as she doesn’t know what they have, she can’t really know how best to play this.  That’s what the FBI is counting on.

FBI Director James Comey said today that the FBI will not necessarily have concluded their investigation by the time of the Democratic convention.   That should concern all Democrats, a post-convention indictment (or, what’s more likely, a mere recommendation for indictment) could very well serve not just the Presidency but many other offices to the Republicans.

Note: This article has been edited for clarity

 

In the United States, even the Vice President’s Family is Not Safe from Financial Ruin

This story by Vice President Biden reflects, better than anything, what the American Dream has become and why we need the changes Bernie Sanders is talking about.

When Biden’s son was sick, he realized that he might not be able to continue working as Delaware’s Attorney General. But as it is with most middle class families, even those making relatively good salaries, they didn’t have enough money to live off if he had to resign. So the Vice-President and his wife talked about it and decided to sell their house if it came to it.

Now, the story as it’s reported is of how President Obama stepped in and offered to help financially.  The real story, however, is that we live in a country where even the family of the Vice-President of the United States is an illness away from financial ruin.  

This is not the country we should live in.

Who is Dayani Crystal?

dyaniMovie recommendations: Who is Dayani Crystal? A documentary that tries to find out who one of the many men found dead in the Arizona desert was. It’s available on Netflix streaming now.

I tend to make light of Donald Trump, I’m amused at how he has repackaged the far-right’s talking points into plain talk.  He has scared the hell out of the Republican establishment which figured they could use the rhetoric of xenophobia to command the votes of that part of the electorate whose feelings of financial insecurity – as Hitler described in Mein Kampf – make them easy targets for any sort of chauvinistic messaging.

There is some sordid pleasure in seeing the Republican establishment being bit on the butt by the monster they created.  And I honestly don’t think that Trump means anything he says. I think he’d just as likely to say exactly the opposite if it’d got him the same adulation – but liberals are not as easily fooled (or at least I hope we are not, Hillary Clinton notwithstanding).

But then I go back and think about the men and women who have died in the desert because the US government spends so many resources trying to keep desperate people looking for jobs out. I don’t think Donald Trump is Hitler nor do I believe most Americans would condone a genocide. And yet, isn’t this how it starts? By saying – through our votes – that it’s OK to establish policies that will kill people?  Indeed, by tacitly determining that there are people whose life does not matter?

Watch the documentary, then come back.

Now that you’ve watched it, did you find it a little discomforting to have Gael García Bernal standing for the dead man? I love García Bernal, I think he is one of the best and most revolutionary actors of his generation.  But he also has such an upper class Mexican accent, speaks so eloquently (he’s an actor after all) and is so good looking and famous, that it makes me wonder if the impact of the documentary is that I cannot possibly imagine a man looking and sounding like García Bernal, dying in the desert. That tragedy has greater impact because it’s unexpected, but it is not “Dayani Cristal”‘s tragedy.  As much as I appreciate the fact that García Bernal got this movie made, his presence in the film ultimately looks as misery tourism.

It’s Open Season on Hillary Clinton

Hillary-Clinton-1200I’m starting to feel sorry for Hillary Clinton.  It looks like the Obama administration is throwing her under the bus (justifiably, mind you) with the full complicity of the media.  I anticipate that Biden will be announcing he’s running for President very soon.

Meanwhile, Hillary is finding enemies on all sides:

1 – Two days ago, CNN released a poll that had Hillary at 42%, Sanders at 24% and Biden at 22%. The headlines everywhere were about how Hillary was widening her lead. Today, a Bloomberg poll shows Hillary at 33%, Biden at 25% and Sanders at 24%. The two polls are within the margin of error of each other. However, the headlines today were all about how Biden is competitive with Hillary, how this is a 3-person race or, specially in the conservative press, how Hillary is on the outs.

2 – Meanwhile, for no apparent reason, the State Department decided to clarify that they asked Hillary specifically for her e-mails when they noticed that they didn’t have them, and only later they asked other former secretary of states. The story is sold as Hillary fibbing/lying as to the timeline of what happened.

3 – Soon after, we find out that – as expected – the FBI has recovered some of her deleted e-mails. The headlines are that these are deleted “personal and work e-mails“, though no details of what work e-mails were deleted have come out.  Of course, if she did delete work e-mails that would mean that she both lied and broke the law.  And I think we can all be sure that she deleted work e-mails because that’s the only reason why anyone would get a private server in the first place.

4 – Meanwhile, the court chastises the State Department for not turning in even more Benghazi related e-mails.

5 – As if this was not enough, online tabloids are all excited about a new book to come out next week with all sorts of nasty details about Hillary – including the suggestion that she yelled at Obama and told him to “call off his fucking dogs”.  The writer of the book is described as a former Newsweek editor – but it turns out that it’s been decades since he’s done serious journalism and since then he’s been writing pulp books about politicians filled with disgusting claims. Not helping their case, Clinton’s spokesperson’s response was to call the claims “bullshit”.

6 – Trump, a genius at seizing the moment, is going on a rampage blaming Hillary for “birtherism”.  Hillary has to come out and defend herself against what seem to be plain false accusations.

7- To add insult to injury, it’s left to Republican Carly Fiorina to express empathy for Clinton.

And I thought that House of Cards and Scandal were fiction!  Personally, I just hope that Hillary and Biden mutually destroy each other and leave room for Bernie Sanders​.