I was absolutely astonished that people so clearly guilty of crime number one, and who so openly destroyed the evidence of that guilt—crime number two—would be greatly rewarded for crime number two by having made it difficult or impossible to prosecute them for crime number one, which, in turn, would make crime number two moot. Criminals seem to know this stuff, somehow.
Fortunately, we drew a prosecutor who was tough, determined, and had been around the block a few times, and she wasn’t having any of it. But it took four years, and when they went to jail, it wasn’t for the main crime, because they had destroyed the evidence of that. Prosecutors found enough evidence to get them convicted for ancillary things, sort of emanations from the crime. They left just enough traces, essentially things they forgot about, to nail them on mail fraud and tax evasion (you know, the Al Capone approach), and that induced them to provide a full confession.
That’s why Comey’s construct—“we found no evidence”—resonated. It’s also why there’s a big difference between “I didn’t do it” and “There’s no evidence I did it.” There could be any number of reasons for no evidence, only one of which involves the target not having done it; it could also be because someone got rid of the evidence. Or maybe the evidence is buried in such a mountain of irrelevancies that it can’t be teased out, or the dog chewed it up.