Just in time for Halloween, Hillary Clinton’s classified document scandal rose from the dead; FBI Director James Comey announced Friday that a newly discovered collection of emails “appear to be pertinent to the investigation.” Those emails were found while investigating a sexting scandal involving former Democratic Rep. Anthony Weiner (former husband of top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin). And the New York Times is not happy.
Particularly aggrieved was columnist and Democratic hack Paul Krugman, who alleged that Comey was rigging the election (sound familiar?): “If we don't hear more from Comey, we just have to conclude that he was trying to swing election. And *that* should be the story.” That after weeks of the Times saying such talk was a threat to democracy.
In Saturday’s lead editorial, “Emails Again, Now With Mr. Weiner,” the Times, which had gotten cocky about Hillary’s electoral prospects, sounded a bit weary of the whole Democratic scandal thing.
Every time Americans start thinking nothing more can surprise them in this presidential campaign, something detonates to prove them wrong. So it was that on Friday, 11 days from Election Day, the F.B.I. director, James Comey, sent a cryptic letter to Congress saying, “In connection with an unrelated case, the F.B.I. has learned of the existence of emails that appear pertinent” to its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server.
Whose emails? About what? Do they have any connection to Mrs. Clinton herself? Mr. Comey wasn’t saying. Indeed, he appeared to have no idea. He went on to inform Congress that the F.B.I. “cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant,” nor could he even predict how long it would take the F.B.I. to figure that out.
In a rare moment of bipartisan agreement -- if not mutual interest -- the campaigns of both Mrs. Clinton and Donald Trump demanded, quite correctly, that Mr. Comey provide more information, and fast.
Which is more than Hillary Clinton’s camp did, when it dragged its feet and lied all during the FBI investigation into classified information on her private email server.
According to numerous reports on Friday evening, the new emails were discovered during the bureau’s investigation of Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of Huma Abedin, an aide and confidante of Mrs. Clinton’s. Mr. Weiner is being investigated in connection with illicit text messages he sent to a 15-year-old girl in North Carolina.
The Times, and most of the left, are averse to the dramatic idea of the FBI “reopening” the Hillary Clinton case.
There is so far no indication that Mr. Comey’s missive means the F.B.I. is “reopening” its investigation into Mrs. Clinton, as hyperventilating Republicans, including Mr. Trump, are suggesting, nor is it an acknowledgment that the F.B.I. erred in its earlier efforts. It doesn’t mean that anybody within the F.B.I. is trying to influence the election, as some panicky Democrats are implying. But without more information, it’s impossible for voters to judge the significance of this discovery as they head to the polls.
(So why did the front page of Saturday’s Times say that the FBI James Comey’s look into her emails was “an investigation that had been declared closed”?)
But Mr. Comey’s failure to provide any specifics about a new, potentially important development, less than two weeks before Election Day, is confounding. As Mr. Comey put it in July, “The American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest.” They deserve details even more urgently today.
One of the three front-page stories Saturday on the FBI’s dramatic reversal was “Decision Pulls F.B.I.’s Leader Back Down Into Political Fray” from Eric Lichtblau, Michael Schmidt, and Matt Apuzzo. The headline left a clear indication that by making the announcement less than two weeks before Election Day, Comey has degraded himself by sinking into partisan muck. (What would Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh have said?)
The reaction was swift and damning, with Mrs. Clinton’s supporters and even some Republicans blasting Mr. Comey. Indeed, Mr. Comey, who was attacked this summer by Democrats and Republicans for both his decision not to bring charges against Mrs. Clinton and for the way he handled it, found himself in an even stronger crossfire on Friday.
Across Pennsylvania Avenue from the F.B.I., Justice Department officials were said to be deeply upset about Mr. Comey’s decision to go to Congress with the new information before it had been adequately investigated.
That decision, said several officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity, appeared to contradict longstanding Justice Department guidelines discouraging any actions close to an election that could influence the outcome.
Some Republicans praised Mr. Comey on Friday for his integrity and independence in coming forward with the new information. But praise was largely drowned out by criticism, with even some of Mrs. Clinton’s biggest opponents upset at Mr. Comey’s sudden re-emergence in what they said was a bungled case.
The investigation of Mrs. Clinton and her aides has been a major reason the bureau, more than at any time since at least the Watergate era, has been drawn uncomfortably into a presidential campaign.
The online version concluded:
F.B.I. agents say their community meetings invariably lead to questions about what the bureau is or is not doing in connection with the election. Mr. Comey has urged his agents to stay above the fray. But many of them worry that regardless of the election’s outcome, the F.B.I. might end up the loser.
And after weeks of righteous lectures from the New York Times intoning that any suggestion of a rigged election was an authoritarian threat to democracy, Democratic hack columnist Paul Krugman instantly went on Twitter to air his suspicions of a plot by the FBI to swing the election to Trump: “If we don't hear more from Comey, we just have to conclude that he was trying to swing election. And *that* should be the story.”