Friday, April 14, 2017

Public Relations Job

On October 26, 2016, the Chairman of the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform, Republican Jason Chaffetz of Utah, thought- as did most of the country- that Hillary Clinton would be elected President of the United States in two weeks. He was licking his chops and announced "Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good."

As coincidence* would have it, two days later FBI director Jim Comey announced that his bureau was reopening an investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server,  an irregular decision inasmuch as

Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates disagreed with FBI Director James Comey's decision to notify Congress about his bureau's review of emails potentially related to Hillary Clinton's personal server, law enforcement officials familiar with the discussion said.

There was no direct confrontation between Lynch or Yates and Comey. Instead, the disagreements were conveyed to Comey by Justice Department staff, who advised the FBI chief his letter would be against department policy to not comment on investigations close to an election, the officials said.

They added it was contrary to department policies and procedures, one law enforcement source said.

Comey decided to disregard their concerns and sent the letter Friday anyway, shaking the presidential race 11 days before the election and nearly four months after the FBI chief said he wouldn't recommend criminal charges over the Democratic nominee's use of the server.

When vulnerable to congressional pressure, it matters whose ox is gored. Four months or so after the election, The New York Times reported

The F.B.I. is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government — and whether there was any coordination, Mr. Comey said.

Mr. Comey said that it was unusual for the F.B.I. to confirm or deny the existence of any investigations, but that in unusual circumstances when it is in the public interest, the bureau will sometimes discuss such matters.

“This is one of those circumstances,” he said....

But he has now gotten religion:

Mr. Comey told lawmakers that the investigation began in July, but he conceded that he had only “recently” briefed congressional leaders on the existence of the F.B.I. investigation. Asked why he had waited so long, he said, “Because of the sensitivity of the matter.”

There was no issue of sensitivity, however, when tilting the election to one candidate, coincidentally* the candidate of the party which controlled the House committee on government oversight.

This sort of thing could prove a public relations nightmare, at least if the media  were not warming up to the Trump presidency, now that he has made things go "boom" in the Middle East.  Not to worry, though, because, CBS has learned

FBI Director James Comey announced Thursday that he allowed producers Dick Wolf and Marc Levin to have access to the bureau’s New York offices for a year to film a new TV series.

“We have to care what people think about us,” Comey explained during an interview at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. “The faith and confidence of the American people is the bedrock.”

The series will be called “Inside the FBI: New York” and is produced by Dick Wolf, the creator of “Law and Order”, along with documentarian Marc Levin. 

He hopes that the new documentary series will boost the FBI’s image, an understandable wish following a campaign season in which the FBI played an unusually public—and scrutinized—role. 

And on Tuesday we found out

The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of an adviser to presidential candidate Donald Trump, part of an investigation into possible links between Russia and the campaign, law enforcement and other U.S. officials said.

The FBI and the Justice Department obtained the warrant targeting Carter Page’s communications after convincing a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court judge that there was probable cause to believe Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power, in this case Russia, according to the officials.

This is the clearest evidence so far that the FBI had reason to believe during the 2016 presidential campaign that a Trump campaign adviser was in touch with Russian agents. Such contacts are now at the center of an investigation into whether the campaign coordinated with the Russian government to swing the election in Trump’s favor.

It is unclear whether there was a coordinated effort between the Russian government and the Trump campaign to throw the election to the corrupt real estate mogul, who may have known more than suspected when he ironically referred to the upcoming election as "rigged." But we do realize that Jim Comey influenced the election, by coincidence* or otherwise.

“I worry sometimes that people don’t know us,” he said at the interview at the Newseum.   “We did a lot last year that confused people.” The guy should do stand-up, with the audience in on the joke, that he worries that people actually do know the  Federal Bureau of Investigation and its director.

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