A new bombshell report raises serious questions about the nature of the presidential election that has just passed us by.
With two weeks to go before Election Day, all the national polls were heavily in Hillary Clinton’s favor. While Donald Trump made sporadic leads in some red states, the general feeling pervading both the Democratic and the Republican camp was that Clinton was well poised to become the first female president of the United States.
But on October 28, something happened that would change the fate of American politics, at least for the foreseeable future. FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to members of the Congress informing them — or rather insinuating — that the agency had come in possession of new evidence that could possibly incriminate Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton. In effect, the letter read, the newly recovered emails could shed an altogether new light on the Clinton email investigation. This meant that the earlier clean chit that was provided to Clinton by the agency was now subject to reconsideration.
The repercussions that this letter had on the race cannot be overestimated. The American media, in its zest to make the election a spectacle of epic proportions, could not detach itself from obsessing about the meaning of Comey’s letter. During the next week, all the major media outlets were awash with reports about the aforementioned letter, which, in turn, seems to have shaped public opinion in such a way that proved detrimental to Hillary Clinton’s chances, while giving Donald Trump a much-needed boost.
In hindsight, of course, this conclusion is not difficult to reach, but a new bombshell report has made the affair much more complicated than it appeared at the early stage. According to a report by Vice News, the FBI was not only investigating Clinton in the days leading up to the election but also Trump. But while the Clinton investigation drew widespread media attention, the Trump investigation was never mentioned. In fact, up until the report came out in Vice, nobody knew that the FBI was investigating the other presidential candidate for his remarks.
One is left wondering the fate of the election if the FBI had revealed the information on time. If Donald Trump was really under investigation, could it have swayed the public mood in Clinton’s favor?
Judging by what transpired after Comey’s letter, one would certainly be inclined to believe that such a revelation could have hurt Donald Trump’s chances. But before asking why the Trump investigation was never mentioned before the election, let us first discuss how Vice News managed to get the information about the possible probe.
Back in September, Vice and an MIT doctorate candidate, Ryan Shapiro, filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the FBI, demanding documents connected to a pair of bizarre comments Trump made during the campaign trail. The first of those comments had to do with Trump asking Russia to interfere with the U.S. elections, while the second was to do with a comment he made during a campaign rally in North Carolina in August, in which he had insinuated that the “Second Amendment people” should take the matters into their own hands when dealing with Hillary Clinton, which was widely panned by critics as a call for assassination.
The complainants had asked the FBI to furnish the information quickly so that the American public could make an informed choice, but the agency decided to respond to the FOIA request 20 days after the election.
“The nature of your request implicates investigative records the FBI may or may not compile pursuant to its broad criminal and national security investigative missions and functions. Accordingly, the FBI cannot confirm or deny the existence of any such records about your subject as the mere acknowledgment of such records existence or nonexistence would in and of itself trigger foreseeable harm to agency interests.”
Known as a Glomar response because of its nature of neither confirming nor denying the investigation, this wordplay sounds pretty suspicious for a number of reasons. First, because the FBI can directly deny information citing a pending inquiry, but such a move would have meant that the FBI accepted that it was investigating Donald Trump. Second, because the FBI hardly ever furnishes a Glomar response to an FOIA request, meaning that the case was certainly different from the other cases that FBI was handling at the time. From the evidence at hand, it would not be naive to assume that the FBI was conducting a probe into Trump’s remarks in some capacity.
All of which means that the FBI might have made a right mess of the public’s right to stay informed when they are casting their vote. If indeed Trump was under the agency’s investigation, why wasn’t this information as widely disseminated as reports about the Clinton investigation?
“It is extremely difficult to understand the FBI’s position,” Democrat Elijah Cummings said.
“On one hand, they are refusing to provide any information whatsoever in response to these FOIA requests relating to Donald Trump, yet at the height of the presidential campaign, the FBI director personally disclosed details about the investigative steps the FBI was taking with respect to Secretary Clinton — even though there was no finding of criminal activity. I have said repeatedly that if the FBI is going to break from longstanding precedent, it cannot do so for only one presidential candidate and not the other. I believe this approach has done great harm to the public’s trust in the FBI.”
While it is possible that the FBI investigation into Trump’s remarks would not have led them to something more ominous, the fact that the agency did not have the same regard for both presidential candidates is frightening. Even Clinton’s investigation came to naught, but evidence exists that the public information about the probe tipped the election in Trump’s favor.
By any standards, the report raises serious questions about the intentions of the FBI, the absurd nature of the 2016 presidential race, and whether or not there was something to the 2016 elections that did not meet the public eye.
Bottom-line? FBI must have responded to the FOIA request before Election Day, and if it did not want the public to cast a partisan eye on Donald Trump, it should have stuck to the same standards for Hillary Clinton.
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]