There has been little doubt among any other than the most devout Hillary Clinton supporter that the investigation into her exclusive use of an unauthorized and unsecured email server to conduct the nation’s diplomatic business during her four years as President Obama’s first Secretary of State was a legitimate inquiry into a practice that ran contrary to federal law.

The probe took more than a year as Clinton fought off a challenge from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders while FBI Director James Comey – a seasoned prosecutor with a sterling reputation – reassured both Congress and the public that the investigation would be thorough and not driven by the political calendar with the conventions of both parties looming in July.

Then in late June, after Clinton’s top aides and IT consultants had been deposed and with only the candidate herself left to interview, Comey’s boss at the Department of Justice made a decision that would taint the entire process and put Comey in a vice.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with former President Bill Clinton in her private plane on a tarmac at the Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix for 40-minutes.

When confronted, a day later, with questions about the meeting, Lynch stated that the two learned, quite accidentally, that they would be at the same airport at the same time, they met up to talk about… golf. And their grandchildren.

The meeting took place as Lynch’s department was completing an investigation of his wife, the former Secretary of State and current Democrat candidate for the presidency running to succeed Democrat president Barack Obama, a woman who would hold the power to appoint at least one likely as many as three Supreme Court justices in her first term.

When asked about the meeting creating an appearance of impropriety, Lynch said later it might have been a mistake in judgment and announced she would abide by Comey’s recommendation to reassure the public and maintain the integrity of the investigation.

Four days later, on July 2, FBI agents interviewed Hillary Clinton.

The interview took place at her home with aides, including Abedin, present. The less than four-hour interview was not conducted under oath and no court reporter or tape recorder created a permanent record of her answers to questions posed by agents only – Comey did not attend the interview.

On Tuesday, July 5, the day after the long holiday weekend, Comey announced his findings that while Clinton’s mismanagement of confidential information via her unsecured email server was “extremely careless,” he did not find evidence of any intent on her part to violate the law.

In fact, the governing federal statute, 18 USC 793(f), requires only a finding of “gross negligence,” a synonym for “extremely careless.”

Democrats immediately praised Comey for his decision and Republicans pointed to the Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting and cried foul.

Now, with less than a dozen days before the election, Comey again went public with an announcement – informing Congress that the FBI’s discovery of what sources say are tens of thousands of emails on devices shared by Abedin and her estranged husband, “sexter” Anthony Weiner, may be pertinent to the Clinton investigation.

The unexpected move took both campaigns by surprise, with the Clinton camp reacting with shock first, then anger, and Trump relishing the seeming vindication about the opponent he calls, “Crooked Hillary.”

On Saturday, it was revealed that Comey’s public announcement ran contrary to the express wishes of his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, whose tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton created suspicions that she would not do anything to jeopardize the election of a woman who, if elected, would have the power to name justices to the Supreme Court.

Speculation on the Sunday news programs will center on Comey’s motives for taking the extraordinary step of reopening the investigation just days before the election, noting that the increasing volume of Wikileaks coming out may have forced his hand to avoid charges of withholding evidence.

For now, just as he was in July, James Comey may be the most powerful man in Washington as his bold, independent decision has thrust the presidential contest into chaos and raised questions about interference from the highest levels.

 

 

 

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