The Comey Effect
While we might never know with any certainty how much the extensive and extraordinary Russian hacking and fake news injects effected the outcome of the 2016 election, there is clear and unequivocal statistical evidence that FBI Director James Comey’s “October Surprise” of re-opening the Hillary Clinton email investigation just 11 days before close of the national election had a decisive effect that threw the election to Trump
The evidence is clear and consistent, regarding the Comey effect. The timing of the shift both at the state and national levels lines up very neatly with the publication of the October 28 letter to Congress (leaked immediately by Republicans to the press), as does the predominance and tone of the media coverage in the final week of the campaign. With an unusually large number of undecided voters late in the campaign, the letter hugely increased the impact of what was the defining critique of Clinton as untrustworthy during the campaign at its most critical moment.
Averaging across 14 battleground states, the race moved 1.1 points in Trump’s direction in the week following the third and final debate – but Trump gained an additional 2.4 points after October 28.
The effect of Comey’s late intervention into the election is also clear in the national polls. Clinton’s significant margin over Trump fell dramatically in national polls directly after the Comey letter and never recovered. At the time, statistician extraodinaire Nate Silver noted that the Comey letter coincided with “a swing of about 3 points against her” – a massive swing in a tight election. These public polls are supported by internal polling from both campaigns suggesting that Comey was a massive blow to Clinton at a pivotal moment in the election.
Early voting numbers are also suggestive of Comey’s impact on the race. In Rhode Island, for instance, where there was no contest but the presidential race, Clinton got a 60% margin with absentee voters, but on Election Day her support collapsed, dropping by a net 13 points. In Florida, Clinton won the early vote 52% to 48%, but Trump won the Election Day two-party vote 56% to 44% – a stunning reversal.
Voters who chose their candidate in the last week tilted strongly towards Trump. And no media event was more important in the late stages of the campaign than Comey’s letter.
The Comey effect dominated media coverage in a way few events did during the campaign, other than Trump’s famous “grab ’em by the pussy” Access Hollywood video. During the final days of the election, major newspapers published 100 stories, 46 of which were on the front page, about or mentioning the emails. The tone and tenor of coverage shifted markedly against Clinton in the closing week of the campaign.
Coverage of Clinton’s emails eclipsed her policy proposals and ended up being the only story about Clinton that stuck with voters. While 79% of registered voters had heard “a lot” about Clinton’s emails, only 23% heard “a lot” about Trump’s housing discrimination, 27% heard “a lot” about the Donald J. Trump Foundation’s illegal political contribution to the Florida attorney general, and, surprisingly, only 59% had heard “a lot” about the Hollywood Access tape.
According to a Politico/Morning Consult poll taken immediately after FBI Director Comey’s end-of-October announcement that the FBI would be reviewing additional evidence in the Clinton email-server case, one-third of likely voters reported that the revelation made them “much less likely” to vote for Clinton. While 26% of the poll’s 33% figure comes from Trump voters, the remaining 7% comes from those reporting to be Clinton voters (that translates into 9.5 million votes).
The totality of the evidence suggests that, absent this “October Surprise”, Hillary Clinton would have won the presidential election in a landslide (as all the pre-October 28 polls had correctly predicted).
Trump-Giuliani-FBI Conspiracy to Throw the Election
The only relevant issue that Congress and the Justice Department should be investigating is: What did Comey know, when did he know it, and why did he choose to violate long-standing prohibitions against discussing ongoing investigations and against saying anything that could impact an election in the final months – in contradiction to repeated and clear orders from his superiors?
The answers to those questions have been in plain sight, but the mainstream media have chosen not to connect the dots.
Fortunately, Seth Abramson, an assistant professor at University of New Hampshire and a former public defender who graduated from Harvard Law School, has done that work. What follows is a summary of his reporting.
[For Abramson’s article, see: The Domestic Conspiracy That Gave Trump The Election Is In Plain Sight.]
Clinton lost the White House because of a scandal so much more far-reaching than Watergate as to make that impeachment-level conspiracy pale in comparison.
October 3, 2016: NYPD gave Anthony Weiner’s computer to the NY FBI office, which sat on it. For 24 days, NY FBI agents kept their discovery a secret from their own boss, FBI Director James Comey, yet nevertheless shared their new information with the “tremendously angry” rank-and-file FBI investigators from the Clinton email-server case.
Had the NY office informed Comey, and had his letter been sent weeks earlier, the infamous “second Comey letter,” in which Comey conceded that the new Abedin emails were of no legal significance, would have been written before the early voting period in most states began – rather than just 48 hours before Election Day.
October 25, 2016: In appearances on Fox & Friends and an October 26th appearance on Fox News with Martha McCallum, Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump’s closest advisers, began teasing an October “surprise” which, Giuliani said, would turn the tide against Hillary Clinton. He refused to say what the forthcoming surprise would be, but he indicated that it would be coming in just a few days.
October 26, 2016: As Fox News host Martha McCallum is trying to end her interview with him, Giuliani says of Trump, “He’s got a surprise or two that you’re going to hear about in the next few days. I’m talking about some pretty big surprises.” When pressed by McCallum for more information, Giuliani says, “You’ll see! We’ve got a couple things up our sleeve that should turn things around.”
October 27, 2016: Comey is briefed on the “new” Clinton emails, by the NY FBI agents, who demand that Comey publicly re-open the Clinton investigation before Election Day. These are the same agents Giuliani repeatedly described, in multiple television interviews, as being livid at Clinton for escaping prosecution, and livid at Comey for not prosecuting her.
October 28, 2016: FBI Director James Comey released his now-infamous October 27th letter announcing the reopening of the Clinton email investigation – in substantial part because he had determined that “word of the new emails…was sure to leak out” and he “risked being accused of misleading Congress and the public ahead of an election”. The letter was immediately leaked to the press by House Republicans.
Comey feared he would not be able to get a warrant for the emails and confirm them as duplicates prior to Election Day – a fact that would allow anti-Clinton elements within NYPD and the FBI, and Trump surrogates and advisers with sources in these organizations, to mischaracterize the “new” emails in a way that would swing the election to Trump. His only hope of keeping public discussion of the “new” emails within the sphere of reality was to use the cover of a prior promise to Congress to speak publicly about an ongoing investigation – and then close that investigation in short order.
The leaks that Comey was certain would occur absent his intervention, would be a violation of the Hatch Act, a federal statute prohibiting certain federal employees, including FBI agents, from engaging in partisan political behavior by, among other things, issuing targeted leaks to the press.
October 28, 2016: Giuliani boasted on the Lars Larson radio program on that he had sources within the FBI – active agents – who had told him of virulent anti-Clinton sentiment in the New York field office and an internal rebellion against Comey’s July decision not to indict Clinton. Giuliani confessed that current FBI agents working on the Clinton investigation had illegally leaked information to him – a violation of the Hatch Act – about the Abedin emails before Director Comey had been told of the emails, and, moreover, were intending to leak this information – if they were unable to get Comey to do it via the implicit threat of a leak – as an “October surprise”.
The same day, Erik Prince – the founder of Blackwater private security, one of Trump’s biggest donors, a conspiracy theorist who’d previously accused Huma Abedin of being a terrorist in the employ of the Muslim Brotherhood, and who blamed former Clinton Chief of Staff Leon Panetta for outing him as a CIA asset in 2009 – claimed to have NYPD sources within the Weiner investigation who were illegally leaking information to him.
October 29, 2016: Giuliani tried to walk back his very explicit claim of being the recipient of Hatch Act-violative FBI leaks, and now maintained to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he’d only been speaking with former FBI agents. But no one was buying it. Multiple Congressmen almost immediately called for a Congressional investigation into what Giuliani knew and when he knew it. Meanwhile, the Clinton campaign proposed that the Inspector General of the FBI should investigate the matter.
October 30, 2016: The FBI secured a warrant to view the Weiner/Abedin emails, but violated the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure by never disclosing the warrant to either Anthony Weiner or Huma Abedin, nor making any attempt to contact either fully cooperative witness for further assistance in their investigations. It is later revealed that the warrant was defective on its face, as the FBI had no basis to believe the “new” emails were either new, evidence of a crime, or accompanied by the specific intent to violate federal law that Comey had already said (in July) would be necessary to prove a prosecutable crime.
Later, Los Angeles attorney E. Randol Schoenberg sues the NY FBI for failing to respond to a FIOA request for the search warrant the FBI sought for the Abedin emails on Weiner’s computer, to determine what probable cause they had believe they contained evidence of criminal conduct, and to determine whether “someone in the Manhattan orbit of then-candidate Donald Trump may have provided a false lead to the FBI” regarding the Abedin emails.
November 4, 2016: Prince he relayed information to Breitbart News that turned out to be almost entirely false and salaciously malicious. He claimed the Weiner/Abedin emails revealed money laundering, that Hillary went to a sex island with convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, underage sex, pay-for-play, and of course plenty of proof of inappropriate handling of classified information – and that the DOJ has been exerting all kinds of undue pressure on NYPD to back down.
The same day, Giulliani was asked on Fox & Friends about whether he had heard about the “reopening” of the Clinton investigation prior to James Comey announcing it publicly. Giuliani replied, “Did I hear about it? You’re darn right I heard about it. And I can’t even repeat the language that I heard from the former FBI agents.”
Giuliani, who was the top surrogate for the Trump campaign and in near-daily contact with the candidate, almost certainly acted under orders from Trump, and Prince either acted under orders from Trump or Steve Bannon – well-known to Prince from their mutual association with, and financial investment in, Breitbart. All those associated with the conspiracy were subsequently rewarded. Erik Prince’s sister, Betsy DeVos, was named Education Secretary by Trump, despite having no experience for the job, and Prince was named a shadow adviser to Trump.
Prince is so close to Trump that he was present at the election-night returns-watching party to which Trump invited only close friends and associates; Prince’s wife posted pictures of the event.
November 6, 2016: Comey announces that the Clinton emails on Weiner’s computer were duplicates, there was nothing to see, his previous recommendation stood, and the investigation was closed. Too little, however, and too late.
November 8, 2016: Both polling, poll analysis, and internet meta-data confirm that the Comey Letter was sufficient to hand Trump the 77,143 combined votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania that won him the election. Statements made by Giuliani and numerous statements made by Trump on the campaign trail prove that both men believed the Clinton email server case could be leveraged to ensure Clinton’s defeat.
November 8 to December 9, 2016: For the first month that he is President-elect, Trump leaks that Giuliani is being considered for Secretary of State – but appears to never interview him for the job or play him up as a potential candidate.
December 9, 2016: Giuliani mysteriously took himself out of the running for any position within the Trump administration on the very same day that The Washington Post and The New York Times ran stories about Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election, thereby beginning a period of heavy scrutiny for both the FBI and CIA’s actions before and during the election.
December 11, 2016: Statistician extraordinaire Nate Silver, founder of the Webby Awarded “Best Political Blog” FiveThirtyEight, and who successfully called the outcomes in 49 of the 50 states in the 2008 presidential election, and correctly predicted the winner of all 50 states and DC in the 2012 election, tweeted that Hillary Clinton would likely have been elected to the White House if not for FBI Director James Comey’s October letter to Congress regarding the investigation into her private email server. Silver tweeted a graph showing “late-deciding voters broke strongly against Clinton in swing states, enough to cost her MI/WI/PA”.
December 20, 2016: US District Judge P. Kevin Castel unsealed the search warrant in the Weiner/Abedin email case. Schoenberg, the lawyer who sued to have the warrant unsealed, said he saw “nothing at all in the search warrant application that would give rise to probable cause, nothing that would make anyone suspect that there was anything on the laptop beyond what the FBI had already searched and determined not to be evidence of a crime, nothing to suggest that there would be anything other than routine correspondence between Secretary Clinton and her longtime aide Huma Abedin.”
December 22, 2016: In a new article, the Washington Post claimed, quoting anonymous sources, that “within days, Comey was notified of the [October 3rd] discovery” of the “new” Clinton emails, contradicting their earlier reporting that Comey was not informed of the emails until October 27.
January 12, 2017: Giuliani, originally assured a Cabinet position and then separated from the Trump team entirely – perhaps as punishment for his carelessness on Fox News – was then given a highly lucrative but substance-free position within the administration.
On the same day, the DOJ announced that the Inspector General would be investigating the sequence of events comprising the Prince-Giuliani-Trump conspiracy. Inspector General Horowitz noted that within his brief was investigation of the series of leaks that occurred between the NYPD, the FBI, and outside entities – including, based on context, the Trump campaign.
By the time Christopher Steele, the former head of MI6’s Russia desk, disseminated his research into Donald Trump’s ties with Russia (see: Kremlin & Trump Conspire to Undermine US Democracy) to American journalists and the American intelligence community, he had come to believe that “there was a cover-up, that a cabal within the Bureau blocked a thorough inquiry into Mr. Trump, focusing instead on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails”. Evidence substantiating this concern is legion: that the FBI had Steele’s memos as early as mid-summer of 2016, after the Clinton investigation was closed, but appeared to do no work on the case (which involved alleged treasonous conduct by the Republican nominee in collusion with a hostile foreign actor) between that time and Election Day; that FBI Director Comey was intimidated into revealing the status of the Clinton case on October 27th but would not, even in the face of numerous allegations of federal crimes against the president-elect, reveal anything about the Bureau’s investigation into that matter. The FBI and CIA conducted little or no investigation of criminal allegations exponentially more serious than any of those leveled against Hillary Clinton.
Publicly available information paints a picture of illicit collusion between the Trump campaign and the FBI to swing a presidential election, and yet the media have made no effort to connect the dots they themselves have drawn.
by Robert Riversong: may be reproduced only with attribution for non-commercial purposes and a link to this page