The big October surprise that Trump himself was crowing about at a rally this afternoon is actually part of a plot to help Clinton, huh?
It is a strange instinct to read enemy conspiracies into good news for your own side. But maybe there’s some method to this madness. I think my pal Karl might have solved the riddle:
Maybe Rush is a move ahead on the chessboard and anticipating that the FBI announcement won’t do any damage, or at least not enough to tilt the election to Trump. If that happens, it makes it harder to blame the vote’s outcome on the malfeasance of “the system” (although of course Trump and his loyalists will try anyway). The FBI giving Clinton a pass on mishandling classified info in July is a key part of the story that the election was rigged. It’s the strongest part, in fact — Clinton really did break the law, as Comey all but acknowledged at the time, yet she got out of jail free anyway. Now, with today’s announcement, suspicion has been cast on her anew; Trump was so giddy about it that he went as far as to retreat on his usual “rigging” claims at today’s campaign event. The election is fair-ish after all! But if the election’s fair-ish and Trump gets beat handily anyway … then what’s left to delegitimize Clinton’s win? Media bias? Dubious claims of widespread vote-rigging? Trump’s not thinking that far ahead. Rush is. Only if, contrary to all logic, today’s announcement is itself part of the rigging can the argument be maintained that the FBI was part of Hillary’s tainted victory. To put this in lawyerly terms, Rush is objecting here in order to preserve the issue for appeal later.
His idea of how this is going to go is that Comey will come back a week from now and announce that the new investigation is over, no wrongdoing was found, and Hillary Clinton is free and clear again. That’s possible, I guess, but if the feds were that close to resolving this, Comey could have simply waited until they’d reached a conclusion and then announced the whole thing in one shot — we found some stuff on Weiner’s computer, everything checked out, Hillary’s all good. The fact that he announced today that the investigation has begun makes me think he doesn’t believe it’ll be resolved before the election and wants to be transparent that something is being looked at so that voters don’t accuse him of a cover-up later. This new cloud of suspicion over Clinton might last all the way to election day, all while millions of Americans are headed to the polls for early voting. But even if it doesn’t, even if you assume the worst about Comey’s motives here and he resolves it quickly, it’d be reckless to the point of idiocy for him to think he’d be helping Hillary by giving the public new reasons to doubt her honesty for however brief a period. The last thing Clinton wants is for voters to be thinking about her character when they go in the booth instead of Trump’s. Even if the FBI clears her again, today’s news is a reminder that she’s been under federal scrutiny not once but twice — and many Americans will simply assume that Comey let her go a second time because she really has rigged the system to her absolute advantage. She wants a referendum on Trump next month, not a referendum on her. The FBI just made that harder for her.
One more thing. It’s not at all clear that the Wikileaks revelations have done real damage to Clinton, as Rush seems to believe. Read this post for a quickie summary of polling trends over the last month. Podesta’s emails have been leaking for weeks now yet Clinton’s numbers have climbed since the first debate on September 26th. Trump’s numbers have actually dipped slightly overall, although they’re on their way up lately. Clinton is down a bit off her October polling high of 10 days ago but that’s probably due to her bounce from the “Access Hollywood” tape and the groping stories fading more so than it is from anything that Wikileaks has dropped on her. At a minimum, I’d think, you’d expect to see Clinton losing liberal support if the Wikileaks stuff was taking a bite out of her; that’s where we got our first glimpse at her speeches to Wall Street, after all. But she’s not losing lefties. On the contrary, her numbers lately among young left-leaning millennials are up. If you’re looking for a scandal that hurt Hillary in the polls, you should look back to … Jim Comey’s FBI announcement in July. Hillary was at 45.6 percent in the two-way race on July 7th, two days after Comey’s press conference. Nine days later, after loads of media coverage, she was at 43.1 percent. Which is not surprising: Of course American voters take public criticism of Clinton by the director of the FBI more seriously than Wikileaks stuff, especially given how difficult it can be to untangle some of the email exchanges in the Wikileaks material. I doubt today’s announcement will hit her as hard poll-wise as the July announcement did given how vague it was plus the fact that Clinton herself wasn’t named as a target, but if it does, this election is a jump ball. Which makes it nuts to think Comey would take that risk if he really was in the tank for Hillary.
Two clips for you here, one of Rush and the other of Hillary calling on Comey to show his cards and lift the cloud of suspicion.
BREAKING: Hillary Clinton addresses FBI director's revelation of new review related to private email server case. https://t.co/vSxftfXcIZ
— NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt (@NBCNightlyNews) October 28, 2016