Ah, those hobgoblins of the past. It turns out that elections are over when they are over.
Just a day after the latest Wikileaks/KGB data dump revealed former President Bill Clinton's body man-turned-closest aide laying out how he and his partners -- during Hillary Clinton's tenure as U.S. secretary of state -- leveraged the Clinton Foundation and its international programs to yield $116 million in personal income for the first President Clinton, plus a smaller fortune in perks for the family, FBI Director James Comey announced that his agency will investigate new information in the Hillary e-mail controversy.
If not election game changers, certainly terrible blows to the Clinton image. What is Comey up to? And what is the long game for Moscow?
What left field did this second thunderclap of an announcement come from? Well, a separate investigation touching very much on the life of another extremely close Clinton associate, Hillary's closest aide, Huma Abedin. Her estranged husband, former Congressman and New York mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, his career wrecked spectacularly and, amazingly, repeatedly, by a ludicrous sexting habit, is under federal investigation for allegedly sexting with an underage girl.
Investigators reportedly found seemingly sensitive State Department-related e-mails on at least one device used by Weiner, including a laptop computer shared by Abedin and Weiner which was used to sext with the girl, a 15-year old (yikes!) in North Carolina.
Not at all incidentally, is there any more obvious security risk in history, and I mean the history of the entire universe, than Anthony Weiner? Back in the day, the KGB would have had a field day with Weiner and his wacko predilections and his intimate access to Hillary Clinton's alter ego. Now, of course, we needn't worry about such ... oh, hang on.
As long-time readers know, I was fairly sympathetic to Hillary's ill-conceived desire for some e-mail confidentiality. Until, as discussed here, it emerged that she and her crack team managed to lose her entire, obviously highly sensitive, e-mail archive as secretary of state by sending it to her new office via snail mail. Or maybe it was lost in the shuffle of the new office. Hahah. I think Russian intelligence is simply too good to miss an easy bet like that.
If Donald Trump wasn't a world class screw-up, it would be virtually impossible for him to lose the election with this sort of ammunition at his disposal.
Indeed, the ABC/Washington Post tracking poll, which gave Clinton a 12-point lead last week has dropped to only a four-point margin, and that was taken before the big revelations of Thursday and Friday.
But Trump is such an obnoxious, erratic jag-off -- not to mention an aggressively know-nothing neo-fascist, racist, and sexist -- that Hillary still has a quite decent shot at winning.
As readers know, I've always felt that Trump is a dangerous possibility until the end. He has a powerful set of messages -- much more so than the establishment empty suits like Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio he crushed in the Republican primaries -- but is a wildly erratic, self-indulgent, and self-destructive messenger.
And Hillary was quite vulnerable, even before "Grifters-in-chief" became a meme.
Many are asking what the FBI director is up to dropping his ill-defined bombshell a week-and-a-half before the presidential election.
Well, perhaps he is routinely informing the public that there is some new information to be examined in the course of a routine investigation. Hmm, maybe not.
Or perhaps he is covering his behind in anticipation of some new revelation.
Or perhaps, given how awkward it would have been for the Obama Justice Department to indict the president's preferred successor, the director is reflecting some sort of FBI sense of rough justice in making trouble now for Clinton. There have already been two FBI reports which have been rather embarrassing for the former secretary of state.
All speculation, of course.
What is less and less speculation is my longstanding sense that Moscow and its spymaster president Vladimir Putin is out to delegitimize rather than defeat the Clintons, who first stirred up Russian enmity with their plan to expand NATO toward post-Soviet Russia's borders back in the 1990s. I discussed the longstanding dispute with the Clintons in July.
Although my sourcing was informal, I learned some time back that Hillary campaign chairman/ex-Obama counselor/ex-President Bill chief of staff John Podesta's e-mail was hacked in plenty of time to turn the tide for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries. Sanders repeatedly clashed with Hillary over her Russia hawk stances.
Now it appears to have been established that Russian intelligence accessed Podesta's incredibly sensitive and revealing trove of communication just after Hillary won the Ohio primary in mid-March. There were nearly three more months of primaries after that.
Release Hillary's secret Wall Street speech transcripts, as Wikileaks finally did earlier this month, at any point there and the Democratic nomination probably falls to Sanders and his massively funded advertising campaign.
And, obviously, had Trump had the revelation about Bill Clinton's vast enrichment via the Clinton Foundation during his wife's tenure as U.S. secretary of state before any of his three debates with Hillary and the dynamics are greatly altered.
My theory, based on no formal sourcing, continues to be that Moscow is out to delegitimize rather defeat the Clintons. This makes for much greater dynamics for the theatrical Putin on the world stage and makes America a much better punching bag down the line. Trump? Well, he is just too erratic to have in the White House.
It's the smart play for an intelligence professional who is a Russian nationalist, and Putin is, above all, precisely that.
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