The Corner

Politics & Policy

Comey’s October Surprise

We don’t know yet what new evidence Jim Comey is sitting on, but you wouldn’t think that he would drop the equivalent of an atomic bomb eleven days before the election if it were just Hillary’s yoga routine emails.  If you take his letter at face value, which might be a silly thing to do in this context, the FBI doesn’t really know what this new line of inquiry will lead to and is prejudging nothing.  If that were true, I would have a hard time seeing that this changes anything in the legal case against Hillary Clinton.  The FBI and DOJ were willing to overlook a mountain of damning evidence before today, so a few more classified emails that turn up in some other investigation shouldn’t change anything.  

But why would Comey take such a drastic public step if he didn’t have some indication from the new evidence that there is something much more serious than some mildly classified information turning up elsewhere?  We’re eleven days before the presidential election.  You don’t announce that you’re reopening a federal investigation of one of the candidates without some inkling that the new evidence might be damning. 

We can speculate until we are blue in the face, but there are things that we do know.  The main thing we know is that Jim Comey and the Department of Justice have made it much more difficult to bring a real prosecution against Hillary Clinton and her cohorts.  As Andy McCarthy has explained, the Department of Justice tied Comey’s hands by both refusing to empanel a grand jury and giving out immunity deals like candy on the evening of October 31.  And Comey’s extensive commentary on the evidence complicates a potential criminal trial (as if one would ever happen), as does the FBI’s massive and unusual evidence dump, including most or all of the material witness interviews.

Comey presumably rushed to his infamous press conference to announce that he would be recommending no prosecution against Hillary or anyone else, at least in part, because he didn’t want to be seen as interfering with the stretch run of a presidential election.  Well, Mr. Comey, how’d that work out for you?

Shannen W. Coffin is a contributing editor to National Review. He practices appellate law in Washington, D.C.

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