Politically Speaking: The FBI on Clinton, polls, and veep watch – July 5, 2016

by John English
by John English

To the surprise of only the adorably naive, the FBI recommended not indicting Hillary Clinton over her use of a private email server where she sent and received classified information. Here were some of FBI Director Comey’s statements from the press conference.

“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

If you didn’t intend to speed, you shouldn’t get a speeding ticket.

“For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation. In addition to this highly sensitive information, we also found information that was properly classified as Secret by the U.S. Intelligence Community at the time it was discussed on e-mail (that is, excluding the later “up-classified” e-mails).

None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.”

“Any reasonable person” = she’s either incompetent or deliberately skirting around the law.

“While not the focus of our investigation, we also developed evidence that the security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to use of unclassified e-mail systems in particular, was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.

With respect to potential computer intrusion by hostile actors, we did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked. But, given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence. We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.”

Due to poor emphasis on security in her department, she was probably hacked but we can’t prove it.

“To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.

As a result, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.”

If it was someone else, they’d probably be charged, but since it’s Hillary Clinton, well, she’s too big to jail.

But don’t take my word for it.


No matter. If the Republican Party had nominated a remotely normal candidate, today would have been a huge win for them. A non-indicted but weakened Hillary Clinton will be stumbling around, spinning that, see, some of the material was classified but it wasn’t that big a deal. That normal theoretical GOP nominee could use it as just one more example of how dishonest the Clintons are, how they’re above the law, how the State Department was poorly run on her watch, etc. But no, the GOP wanted Donald Trump, a gleefully dishonest con-man who keeps courting white supremacists with winks and nods.

The latest unforced error by the Trump campaign was his tweeting out of a graphic that originated from a white supremacist’s account.


The creator of the graphic intended it as a Star of David, but the Trump campaign is insisting it’s a sheriff’s badge. Cuz sheriffs are so corrupt.  That must be why former Klansman David Duke loved the tweet.

This Week in Polls

The debate commission, set up by the Democrats and Republicans, made a rule that any third-party candidate has to be polling at 15% to make it on the debate stage.  Due to the gigantic unpopularity of the two parties’ frontrunners, this looks like a prime year to make a splash. The most viable option so far is former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, a Libertarian. Once his name was added to polls, he started getting results in the teens.

Shortly after that, Green Party nominee Jill Stein also started to be included. Now whenever you see a national horserace poll, it’s either two candidates – Clinton and Trump – or four candidates – Clinton, Trump, Johnson, Stein. It means that Johnson or Stein is going to need to break out, and Johnson still has the better chance of that. The Libertarian Party is on the ballot in all 50 states, and he’s gets twice the numbers of Stein. Plus being a two-term governor is not experience to sneeze at. But with both of them in there, I don’t see how Johnson gets to 15%. It’ll require a groundswell to have the rules changed so they can participate in the national debates this fall.

But notable in all the polls, be it with two, three, or four candidates, Hillary Clinton is always about 5 points ahead of Donald Trump. She’s also on course to get an even smaller percentage of the popular vote than Bill Clinton did in 1992, with his 43%. She’ll be more like Woodrow Wilson’s 1912 election at 41.8%, where Teddy Roosevelt and William H. Taft split the vote.

Vice-President Watch

The debate in Clintonland seems to be over whether they want to go safe with Tim Kaine, or go splashier with someone like Cory Booker or Julian Castro. I know Elizabeth Warren is on many Democrats’ wish lists, but I can’t see it. I don’t think Clinton wants to be outshined, and Warren does that. Plus she’s enough to the left of Clinton that it might hurt her with disaffected moderates who can’t stomach Trump.

With Trump, it’s a matter of balance. Does he want a sycophantic manservant like Chris Christie, or does he want someone a little more outside who might persuade some established Republicans to stay in the fold, like Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin? Newt Gingrich would bring baggage and bombast. Sen. Jeff Sessions would move no needles. Sarah Palin’s lost her splodey-splode mind.


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