As part of Wednesday's late day bombshell dump, the Washington Post has revealed that former FBI Director James Comey’s decision to unilaterally announce the closure of the investigation into whether Hillary Clinton intentionally mishandled classified information was inspired by a "secret, dubious" Russian document, that FBI officials now believe was “bad intelligence.”
The secret document, which purported to be a piece of Russian intelligence, claimed that former Attorney General Loretta Lynch had privately assured someone in the Clinton campaign that the investigation into Clinton’s handling of classified information would go nowhere, "a conversation that if made public would cast doubt on the inquiry’s integrity."
Current and former officials have said that document played a significant role in the July decision by then-FBI Director James B. Comey 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.
Whil FBI Investigators have long doubted the document's veracity, by August the FBI had concluded it was unreliable.Comey
The “document” in question is an email allegedly written by disgraced former DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz and sent to Leonard Benardo, who is an official with the George Soros organization Open Society Foundations. According to the document, Wasserman Schultz claimed Lynch had assured senior Clinton campaign staffer Amanda Renteria that the investigation would not go too far
Supporters of Comey claim that the document gave him good reason to take the microphone in July, without consulting with Lynch, to announce the close of the Clinton probe in great detail.
“It was a very powerful factor in the decision to go forward in July with the statement that there shouldn’t be a prosecution,” a person familiar with the matter told the Post. “The point is that the bureau picked up hacked material that hadn’t been dumped by the bad guys involving Lynch. And that would have pulled the rug out of any authoritative announcement.”
As the Post explains, that decision set off a chain of events that Democrats believe contributed to Clinton’s shocking loss in November. The White House has also cited Comey's handling of the close of the probe in its official rationale for the former director's dismissal earlier this month.
In other words, this is reportedly yet another angle which casts the blame for Hillary's loss on Russia, even if in this case it was mediated by alleged FBI incompetence.
The report is the second within a week’s time to raise serious doubts about the competence of U.S. intelligence agencies, the first being the NYT report about how China’s Communist Party murdered or imprisoned nearly two dozen CIA operatives between 2010 and late 2012 while outspoken Clinton Supporter MIke Morell was in charge of the agency.
According to WaPo, Comey believed he had “little choice” but to announce the closure of the Clinton investigation and detail the nature of the evidence against her without the involvement of the AG because if the document leaked, he feared that the legitimacy of any announcement by the AG would be questioned.
It's hard to imagine the outpouring of support and sympathy for Comey that Democrats exhibited following his firing by President Trump will continue now that WaPo has revealed that the director's strategy for publicizing information about nature of the Clinton investigation – something liberals believe cost her the election – was based on unreliable Russian intelligence.
Comey's decision to announce the closure of the Clinton investigation back in July set off a chain of events that eventually led to him announcing, just a week before the Nov. 8 vote, that the FBI had reopened the investigation after finding some of Clinton's emails on a laptop owned by Anthony Weiner, the then-husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, the paper reported. Wapo also notes that the veracity of the document was under suspicion from the moment the bureau received it in early March 2016.
But as is typical of the leaks that have trickled out from the intelligence agencies since the election, this one too contains an important caveat. To wit:
Comeys defenders still insist that there is reason to believe the document is legitimate and that it rightly played a major role in the director's thinking.
Earlier today, the Daily Caller reported that DWS reportedly threatened the chief of the U.S. Capitol Police with “consequences” for holding on to a laptop she says belongs to her. The police are holding the computer as evidence in a case against a Congressional staffer accused of wide-ranging data breaches. So a parallel question is: what is on that laptop that DWS doesn't want us to see?