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Home/New S#!+ Has Come To Light, Man

New S#!+ Has Come To Light, Man

Somebody needs to get James Comey a white Russian already.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbIv7W7rhx4]

But seriously people: let’s think about this. FBI director James Comey is a civil servant of great integrity, as attested to by multiple people over the course of his career and as evidenced by his behavior across that period of time. (And I will say that I personally know someone who used to work with him who holds him in the highest possible esteem.)

Why does his office need to look into these emails? Because they appear to be pertinent — i.e., they pertain to the prior investigation of Secretary Clinton’s email server. The FBI doesn’t know yet if they are significant because they haven’t seen them yet. All they can tell is that they are likely pertinent, which probably means they know who they are from and who they are addressed to and not much more.

So why did Comey issue his terse letter? Well, consider the alternatives.

He could have said nothing — in which case he would have been sitting on information that was definitely pertinent to the Congressional committee responsible for oversight of the matter in question. That would have been much more blatant interference in the election — and it might have been a violation of his legal duties as well.

He could have said more — framing the news explicitly as “no big deal.” Such a framing might have pleased people in the Clinton camp, but its most likely effect would have been to further undermine Republican confidence in Comey himself. Why, after all, would he need to include such framing unless he were trying to influence their perceptions, and therefore the election? And how, after all, can he know there’s nothing there, until he’s completed his investigation?

It seems to me that he did what he needed to do and no more than that: report the facts. It just so happens that the facts themselves are very thin in this case.

So we’re left to fill in the gaps based on our prior perception of the candidates. If you think Clinton is sloppy and paranoid but not covering up anything in particular, there is literally no reason to change that perception. If you think Clinton is engaged in a sustained cover-up of illegal behavior, then there is no reason to change that perception either. Because there is not, actually, anything particularly new and significant that has come to light.

about the author

Noah Millman, senior editor, is an opinion journalist, critic, screenwriter, and filmmaker who joined The American Conservative in 2012. Prior to joining TAC, he was a regular blogger at The American Scene. Millman’s work has also appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Week, Politico, First Things, Commentary, and on The Economist’s online blogs. He lives in Brooklyn.

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