On Monday, columnist Jonathan Chait wrote a column in The New York Times previewing some of the information covered in James Stewart’s upcoming book, “Deep State: Trump, the FBI, and the Rule of Law,” which discusses what was going on behind the scenes at the FBI during the 2016 campaign cycle, when both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were subject to two interlinked federal investigations.
One of the key takeaways from Stewart’s book, Chait wrote, is that the FBI knew almost immediately after opening the investigation into Clinton’s email server that it would be impossible to charge her with a crime — something that in fact many sober legal commentators were pointing out at the time — but that higher-ups at the agency, including then-Director James Comey, felt pressured to continue the investigation publicly, because the FBI field offices in New York and Little Rock, Arkansas wanted Clinton’s blood.
“Stewart describes how F.B.I. officials encouraged colleagues investigating the Democratic nominee with messages like ‘You have to get her’ and ‘You guys are finally going to get that b*tch,'” wrote Chait.” James Comey … went so far as to tell Attorney General Loretta Lynch, ‘It’s clear to me that there is a cadre of senior people in New York who have a deep and visceral hatred of Secretary Clinton.’ Those agents leaked regularly to right-wing media sources that the bureau was turning a blind eye to what they saw as Clinton’s criminality.”
“This pressure drove Comey to make two fateful decisions,” wrote Chait. “First, when he announced that the bureau was not bringing charges against Clinton, he denounced her ‘extremely careless’ behavior, as a kind of middle course between what the law dictated and what Republicans demanded. Second, when an unrelated investigation into sex crimes by the former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner turned up more Clinton email 11 days before the election, Comey felt trapped into announcing that he had reopened the investigation.”
While there will never be a way to know for sure, some elections analysts believe it likely that these actions were decisive in costing Clinton the election. What was more, ironically, “William Barr enthusiastically endorsed Comey’s decision to reopen the case against Clinton, but then — once Comey became a threat to Trump — cited that very decision as grounds to fire him.”