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Comey Was Putin’s Most Important Mark

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It is well known that the Wikileaked EMAILS! and massively overblown controversy over Clinton’s EMAILS! had a mutually reinforcing effect, creating the impression of a major scandal based on nonexistent and trivial misconduct, respectively. I can’t say that this was a plot twist I anticipated, however:

A secret document that officials say played a key role in then-FBI Director James B. Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation has long been viewed within the FBI as unreliable and possibly a fake, according to people familiar with its contents.

In the midst of the 2016 presidential primary season, the FBI received what was described as a Russian intelligence document claiming a tacit understanding between the Clinton campaign and the Justice Department over the inquiry into whether she intentionally revealed classified information through her use of a private email server.

The Russian document cited a supposed email describing how then-Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch had privately assured someone in the Clinton campaign that the email investigation would not push too deeply into the matter. If true, the revelation of such an understanding would have undermined the integrity of the FBI’s investigation.

Current and former officials have said that Comey relied on the document in making his July decision to announce on his own, without Justice Department involvement, that the investigation was over. That public announcement — in which he criticized Clinton and made extensive comments about the evidence — set in motion a chain of other FBI moves that Democrats now say helped Trump win the presidential election.

But according to the FBI’s own assessment, the document was bad intelligence — and according to people familiar with its contents, possibly even a fake sent to confuse the bureau. The Americans mentioned in the Russian document insist they do not know each other, do not speak to each other and never had any conversations remotely like the ones described in the document. Investigators have long doubted its veracity, and by August the FBI had concluded it was unreliable.

This is…remarkable. And it makes attempts to characterize Comey as a nonpartisan civil servant just trying to PROTECT THE BUREAU even more farcical than they already are. There’s no way Comey would have been similarly credulous about highly implausible quadruple hearsay from the Russians if it had been about, say, Mitt Romney.

JMM:

Now this new story tells a very different story. The email appears to be much more specific, suggesting that Lynch had given her assurance that she wouldn’t let the probe go too far. But that’s not the big news: it now appears to be the consensus opinion in the FBI and intelligence community that the email is in fact fraudulent, presumably a fake document woven into a trove of genuine documents with the aim of having it be found by the FBI and trigger something just like what in fact happened. Notably, the apparently fraudulent email never appeared in any of the document dumps during the course of the election. It only seems to have dropped directly into the FBI’s hands.

There is a lot here that is unclear, a lot left to supposition. But fraudulent documents get woven into caches of genuine documents for specific reasons, sometimes merely to sow confusion, more often to trigger specific actions. Remember, the Niger Uranium forgeries which played such a notorious role in the lead up to the Iraq War and controversies lasting long after it were in fact forgeries included in a batch of genuine documents. Some dissenting sources suggest that the phony email didn’t play much role in Comey’s decision. It only got pulled in as an ex-post facto explanation once Comey’s decision-making came into question. (Even if true, that in itself would be a highly disturbing development.) Regardless, the idea that the FBI and James Comey himself could have been punked by such an operation and taken such consequential actions on the basis of it is simply astonishing.

This doesn’t let Bill Clinton off the hook for his staggeringly stupid decision to visit Lynch on the tarmac, which may still have been integral to this chain of events. But it’s also pretty clear that Comey was looking for reasons to open his yap about the Moral Failings of Crooked Hillary, and manufactured Russian evidence was to his misconduct in June what the Weiner laptop was to his misconduct in October.

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