The media is deeply committed to the pretense that:
- The Wikileaks documents are not just someone’s personal email being doled out by Russian intelligence forces in the service of the Trump campaign
- We’re not paying enough attention to these documents (repeat this message through all available channels, at least 50 times per day, to demonstrate how it’s not getting attention)
- Somewhere between the pasta recipes and inter-office gossip, if you hold the paper sideways, or read it backwards, is something Hugely Bad for Hillary Clinton.
The latest Hugely Bad thing? A supposed 'quid pro quo' deal between the State Department and FBI to get the classification altered on emails that landed in Hillary Clinton’s private server.
“In return for altering the classification, the possibility of additional slots for the FBI at missions overseas was discussed,” Chaffetz said. The Utah Republican said documents recently released from the FBI’s year-long investigation into Clinton’s private email server proved it.
Which sounds … well at least Bad if not Hugely. Except there’s a slight problem with this latest teed-up-for-Trump talking point. Though this isn’t actually a Wikileaks thing, but a part of notes released this week concerning the FBI investigation into email practices, but that doesn’t mean it’s directly tied to that investigation.
... the bureau is pushing back against that claim, saying that the email in question doesn’t prove any such arrangement.
There’s a very good reason. Not only did no such deal occur, it would have been impossible.
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First, there was no reason for Hillary, or the State Department, to seek reclassification of any particular email that eventually landed on Hillary’s server, because this thing occurred before there was an investigation of that server.
In a statement to CBS News, the FBI said that prior to the agency’s investigation into the Clinton server, the State Department asked them to “review and make classification determinations on FBI emails and information.” The State Department, at the time, was producing emails to publish in accordance to Freedom of Information Act requests.
Instead, the State Department was asking if the email could be made public as part of a FOIA request. The FBI agreed to check.
That’s the supposed “quid.” So what about the “quo?” That’s the part about how the FBI was going to get additional assignments overseas. And it’s in there, only it’s missing the “pro.” Chaffetz (and Trump, and a hundred eager, clumsy columnists) seem incredibly anxious to insert an “in return” into this story. As in “In return for altering the classification ...”
Only that’s not what the emails says.
“Having been previously unsuccessful in attempts to speak with the senior State official, during the same conversation, the FBI official asked the State Department official if they would address a pending, unaddressed FBI request for space for additional FBI employees assigned abroad,” the bureau said.
A happened. B happened. But that doesn’t make B the result of A. There’s no attempt to make it that way in the memo, or in later conversations.
The truth is that this document was absolutely routine. The State Department often engages in discussions about classifications with other departments, especially when there’s a desire to get information out to the public. The FBI had previously asked about the posts, and took this opportunity to ask again.
- The email in question was not addressed because of Hillary’s server, which wasn’t even under investigation at the time.
- The email was under review because of a FOIA request.
- The supposed ‘quid pro quo’ never existed, not in the message and not in reality.
- The entire exchange was absolutely routine, and indicative of no attempt to do anything wrong on anyone’s part.
And finally, this story is not even new. The email in question was already public knowledge and was discussed months ago. The attempt to make it into a story now is just part of the desperate attempt to find something, anything to talk about out of the Wikileaks documents that makes the whole mess seem worthy, instead of a sloppy, poorly executed hack of a private person’s email for the express purpose of helping the Republican candidate advance his Russia-friendly agenda.