The New York Times is breaking, and can we say, desperately spinning, the reports that former FBI Director James Comey is under investigation for leaking classified information.
Breaking News: U.S. prosecutors appear to be scrutinizing whether James Comey illegally disclosed classified secrets, part of an unusual inquiry into years-old leaks that leaves law enforcement officials open to accusations of politicizing their work https://t.co/ZEA82KJYei
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 16, 2020
How’s that for an attempt to spin the investigation? This is the news timeline, not opinion. But yes, let’s pretend they’re objective. And maybe the reason it wasn’t investigated when it should have been is that there were still Comey cronies controlling everything? Of course, just a thought.
But on to what they’re trying to spin.
Comey had previously violated FBI policy in leaking the information to the times through his friend, Daniel Richman and the matter was referred to federal prosecutors in New York.
Now this new investigation involves leaks relating to two articles including one in the Washington Post and another in the NY Times (now we see why the spinning) about a Russian intelligence document, which the Times says was highly classified.
Now this part is fascinating:
The document played a key role in Mr. Comey’s decision to sideline the Justice Department and announce in July 2016 that the F.B.I. would not recommend that Hillary Clinton face charges in her use of a private email server to conduct government business while secretary of state.
Wait, what? What would a Russian intelligence document have to do with Comey stepping in and taking the power away from the DOJ, which he could not properly do anyway? At the time, Comey implied in his reasoning that there was classified information with regard to Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
The document is mentioned in a book published last fall, “Deep State: Trump, the F.B.I., and the Rule of Law” by James B. Stewart, a Times reporter.
Here’s the money paragraph, hidden down in the story.
The latest investigation involves material that Dutch intelligence operatives siphoned off Russian computers and provided to the United States government. The information included a Russian analysis of what appeared to be an email exchange during the 2016 presidential campaign between Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democrat of Florida who was also the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee at the time, and Leonard Benardo, an official with the Open Society Foundations, a democracy-promoting organization whose founder, George Soros, has long been a target of the far right.
In the email, Ms. Wasserman Schultz suggested that then-Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch would make sure that Mrs. Clinton would not be prosecuted in the email case. Both Ms. Wasserman Schultz and Mr. Benardo have denied being in contact, suggesting the document was meant to be Russian disinformation.
That document was one of the key factors that drove Mr. Comey to hold a news conference in July 2016 announcing that investigators would recommend no charges against Mrs. Clinton. Typically, senior Justice Department officials would decide how to proceed in such a high-profile case, but Mr. Comey was concerned that if Ms. Lynch played a central role in deciding whether to charge Mrs. Clinton, Russia could leak the email.
Whoa, so strip everything away and what the document says is that Debbie Wasserman Schultz was guaranteeing that Lynch would get Hillary Clinton off.
So where is the investigation of this?
The Times does the best it can, suggesting it’s disinformation. They literally accuse Trump of trying to pressure the DOJ to investigate his enemies despite no such thing ever occurring.
But American officials at the time did not believe that Ms. Lynch would hinder the Clinton email investigation, and neither Ms. Wasserman Schultz nor Mr. Benardo had any inside information about it. Still, if the Russians had released the information after the inquiry was closed, it could have tainted the outcome, hurt public confidence in the Justice Department and sowed discord.
Prosecutors are also looking at whether Mr. Richman might have played a role in providing the information to reporters about the Russia document and how it figured into Mr. Comey’s rationale about the news conference, according to the people familiar with the investigation. Mr. Comey hired Mr. Richman at one point to consult for the F.B.I. about encryption and other complex legal issues, and investigators have expressed interest in how he operated.
Mr. Richman was quoted in the April 2017 article in The Times that revealed the document’s existence. A month later, The Post named Ms. Wasserman Schultz and Mr. Benardo as subjects of the document in a detailed article. A lawyer for Mr. Richman declined to comment.
This is going to be interesting to see it when the information ultimately comes out without the New York Times spin on it. But this is pretty huge.