Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Rigged, Indeed

He's right, you know.

Donald Trump and his lackeys complained throughout the presidential campaign that the election was "rigged,"  This year, on Groundhog Day

“The top Leadership and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized the sacred investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans — something which would have been unthinkable just a short time ago,” Trump wrote on Twitter hours before ordering the release of the formerly classified memo. “Rank & File are great people!”

Obviously, the Devin Nunes memo indicated no such thing. Claiming an election is "rigged" brings to mind for most people the idea that it is fixed. However, the Urban Dictionary maintains "The word rigged is used to describe situations where unfair advantages are given to one side of a conflict."  By that (questionable) definition, the 2016 presidential election clearly was rigged.

The New Yorker's Jane Mayer notes a "top-secret Oval Office meeting" on January 5, 2017, in which "the nation's top intelligence agencies briefed (Obama and Biden and some national security officials for the  first time about the (Steele) dossier's allegation that Trump's campaign team may have colluded with the Russians."  One person who was there later told her

No one understands that at the White House we weren’t briefed about the F.B.I.’s investigations. We had no information on collusion. All we saw was what the Russians were doing. The F.B.I. puts anything about Americans in a lockbox.

It does so with almost any American- but not with Hillary Clinton.  Mayer found that Christopher

Steele was therefore shocked when, on October 28, 2016, Comey sent a letter to congressional leaders: the F.B.I. had come across new e-mails bearing on its previously closed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server as Secretary of State. He said that these e-mails required immediate review. The announcement plunged Clinton’s campaign into chaos. Two days before the election, Comey made a second announcement, clearing her of wrongdoing, but by that point her campaign’s momentum had stalled.

To Steele, the F.B.I., by making an incriminating statement so close to Election Day, seemed to be breaking a rule that he’d been told was inviolable. And, given what he—and very few others—knew about the F.B.I.’s Trump investigation, it also seemed that the Bureau had one standard for Clinton and another for her opponent. “Chris was concerned that something was happening at the F.B.I.,” Simpson later told the House Intelligence Committee. “We were very concerned that the information that we had about the Russians trying to interfere in the election was going to be covered up.” Simpson and Steele thought that “it would only be fair if the world knew that both candidates were under investigation.”

Shortly after the election, a mentor of Steele gave the dossier to hawkish Armed Services committee chairperson John McCain. But while the dossier was still largely a secret

On December 9th, McCain handed Comey a copy of the dossier. The meeting lasted less than ten minutes, because, to McCain’s surprise, the F.B.I. had possessed a copy since the summer. According to the former national-security official, when (McCain aide) Kramer learned about the meeting his reaction was “Shit, if they’ve had it all this time, why didn’t they do something?” Kramer then heard that the dossier was an open secret among journalists, too. He asked, “Is there anyone in Washington who doesn’t know about this?” 

As of then- a month after the election- plenty of people in Washington still didn't know about it.  That group included the President of the USA, the Vice President of the USA, and Hillary Clinton (and her campaign).

In a startling departure from Justice Department policy, FBI director Comey in July had announced that an American who would not be referred to prosecution was probably "extremely careless" in "handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

But that was unacceptable to some FBI agents.  A year ago, Vanity Fair's Bethany McClean revealed

A former D.O.J. official says that, as early as 2015, a rumor was floating around that the F.B.I. agents in New York were cracking jokes about seeing Hillary Clinton in handcuffs. “It was widely understood that there was a faction in that office that couldn’t stand her and was out to get her,” this person says.

Moreover, Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani, who as a former US Attorney for New York and mayor of the city was close to James Kallstrom once head of the FBI's field office in New York- evidently had inside information:

On October 26, Giuliani appeared on Fox News and said, “We got a couple things up our sleeve that should turn this around. Even the liberal pollsters will get to see.” When pressed about what these surprises would be, Giuliani broke into a smile and said, “You’ll see. Ha ha ha.”

Two days later, on October 28, just 11 days before the election, Comey sent his letter to Congress saying that “in connection with an unrelated case, the F.B.I. has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation” of Clinton. 

That halted Clinton's momentum, which was not in the least resurrected when two days before the election, Comey acknowledged that the allegedly "pertinent" emails actually changed nothing.

So, yes, the vote was "rigged" in the loose definition of the term. And when the full findings of Special Counselor Robert Mueller (assuming he is not dismissed) are released, Donald J. Trumplikely will wish the election never was rigged in his behalf.

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