Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton had a pretty good night at Monday’s debate. The media has since provided endless coverage of how great it thinks she did and implying the direction of the election has now changed.
I don’t think one debate – especially not this one – is capable of that. Clinton won the debate, but it had more to do with Trump’s performance than her own. If Trump improved where he faltered in the first debate, he might win the next ones. Clinton doesn’t really have room for improvement. That’s not to say she was exceptional perfect, there’s just not much to change.
But since the debate, the media has jumped on her performance and focused on the one Democratic poll that showed Clinton ahead in the days after her debate performance and all the short-term polls that showed people thinking she won the debate.
What was buried in this glowing coverage was information learned this week about the FBI investigation into Clinton’s mishandling of classified information. As my colleague, John R. Schindler, wrote Sunday morning (while everyone was talking about what to expect during Monday’s debate), the investigation into Clinton’s private email server was “a sham.” The reason it was a sham from the start, Schindler wrote, was that the FBI granted immunity to too many people.
In addition to Bryan Pagliano, who set up Clinton’s email server, and Paul Combetta, who managed that server, the FBI granted immunity to Clinton’s lawyer Heather Samuelson, former State Department IT manager John Bentel and Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills.
“Mills served as the State Department’s Chief of Staff and Counselor throughout Hillary’s tenure as our nation’s top diplomat. Granting her immunity in EmailGate, given her deep involvement in that scandal – including the destruction of tens of thousands of emails so they could not be handed over to the FBI – now seems curious, to say the least, particularly because Mills sat in on Hillary’s chat with the Bureau regarding EmailGate,” Schindler wrote.
During a congressional hearing on Wednesday, FBI Director James Comey tried to downplay the immunity issue, saying he didn’t think “a lot of immunity” had been granted (five people seems like “a lot” to me for a single investigation) and that it was comparable to other investigations.
Mills acted as part of Clinton’s legal team, and so she was allowed to accompany Clinton during her interviews with FBI agents. Comey said during the hearing on Wednesday that the FBI couldn’t prevent a target from bringing anyone to a voluntary interview. Comey did say, however, that it was “unusual” for a target such as Clinton to bring nine lawyers to her interview.
“It’s unusual to have that large a number, but it’s not unprecedented,” Comey said.
Comey also flat out debunked Clinton’s claim that he had said her answers during the investigation “were truthful, and what I’ve said is consistent with what I have told the American people.”
Clinton made the comments on Fox News Sunday, after host Chris Wallace played a video montage of Clinton making claims about her emails that Comey had said none of which were true. Politifact gave Clinton’s claim about her truthfulness about her email responses “pants on fire” and on Wednesday, Comey himself directly addressed the issue.
Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, brought up Clinton’s claim and asked Comey directly: “Did you say that she was telling the truth with respect to her email claims?”
Comey responded: “I did not. I’d never say that about anybody. Our business is never to decide whether someone is – whether we believe someone – our business is always to decide what evidence do we have that would convince us not to believe that person. It’s an odd way to look at the world, but it’s how investigators looks at the world.”
Although, as many observers have pointed out – myself included – it seems like the FBI had many, many reasons not to believe Clinton, but it didn’t matter. She still got away with breaking the law because Comey and the FBI determined she lacked intent, even though the investigation seems to have uncovered lots of intent and intent wasn’t included in the statute Clinton violated. The email server itself and the deletion of thousands of emails should have been enough to prove intent. But here we are.
Don’t expect to hear much more about Clinton’s email scandal or the FBI investigation thereof between now and the election. The media has latched onto negative Trump news and positive Clinton news (those polls) and is unlikely to let that go.