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Sunday 30 October 2016

FBI Email Probe - Get A Grip

Some Sunday newspapers in the UK - and Piers Morgan - have been getting terribly excited about emails. That is because Hillary Clinton is potentially (note that word) involved, and the story began running after James Comey, director of the FBI, wrote a letter to the US Congress on Friday suggesting the emails were “pertinent” to Hill’s use of a private email server. He was therefore reopening that investigation.
Supporters of The Donald were ecstatic, and Trump himself, as he has done throughout the campaign, declared Hill guilty without bothering with recourse to due process, something that may come back to bite him. But, as Yahoo! News has pointed out, there is a problem with all those people getting ahead of themselves.

When Comey wrote his letter, “agents had not been able to review any of the material, because the bureau had not yet gotten a search warrant to read them”. You read that right: the FBI had not obtained a warrant. One official confirmed “he had no idea what was in the content of the emails”. They might concern Hill, they might not. They were apparently found on a laptop belonging to disgraced former Representative Anthony Wiener.

It got worse: “As of Saturday night, the FBI was still in talks with the Justice Department about obtaining a warrant … and therefore was still in the dark about whether they include any classified material that the bureau has not already seen … a message that Comey wrote to all FBI agents Friday seeking to explain his decision to write the controversial letter strongly hinted that investigators did not not yet have legal authority establishing ‘probable cause’ to review [the emails]”. So they don’t know. Yet.

And for all those Trump fans declaring that this is an indication of criminality, even though no legal process has been entered into, let me remind them of what the Guardian reported more than two weeks ago: “A federal judge in New York has ordered counsel for Donald Trump and the disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein to appear in court along with the attorney for a woman referred to only as ‘Jane Doe’ who alleges the Republican presidential nominee raped her when she was 13”.

No, The Donald has not been charged, far less stood trial. But that case is further down the line than the Hillary email one that Trump supporters are now braying about. Due process, the premise of innocence before guilt is proven, these concepts have gone out the window for some cheerleaders. And it gets worse still.
Trump is battling independent candidate Evan McMullin in the state of Utah. Trump is on record complaining that McMullin is “going from coffee shop to coffee shop” to secure votes in Utah. Let me take this nice and slowly.

Utah is a strongly Mormon state.
Evan McMullin is a Mormon.
Mormons do not drink coffee.

That is how out of touch Donald Trump is. So let’s not get too carried away about an investigation that hasn’t even started, talked up by a candidate whose own past isn’t exactly squeaky clean, and who is staggeringly ill-informed about those whose votes he is trying to secure on November 8. Get a grip, folks - and a sense of proportion.

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