Donald Trump and The Art of Deceit


May 18, 2017

Donald Trump and The Art of Deceit

by David Remnick@www.newyorker.com

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The Master of Deceit

Donald Trump, who may well have attempted to obstruct justice within just a few weeks of taking his oath of office, came to the Presidency with a wealth of experience in the art of deceit. He may know little of domestic or foreign policy, he may be accustomed to running an office of satraps and cronies, and he may be unable to harness an institution as complex as the executive branch, but experience told him early on that he could dodge any accusation and deny any aggression against the truth

As Trump’s biographers Marc Fisher and Michael Kranish tell the story, Roy Cohn, who lived for decades under various indictments for bribery, extortion, and other sins, and yet always managed to escape conviction, first instructed Trump more than forty years ago in the dark arts of counterattack and an over-all “go to hell” philosophy. Cohn, as a devious young lawyer, had been the protégé of Joe McCarthy, during the anti-Communist witch hunts of the fifties. He met Trump at a club called—seriously—Le Club, and began to tutor this eager young scion of an outer-borough real-estate family in the art of what’s what. Nothing delighted Trump more than to learn that prosecution did not necessarily follow from wrongdoing.

“When Cohn boasted that he had spent much of his life under indictment, Trump asked whether Cohn had really done what was alleged,” Fisher and Kranish write. “ ‘What the hell do you think?’ Cohn responded with a smile. Trump said he ‘never really knew’ what that meant, but he liked Cohn’s toughness and loyalty.”

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Trump knew very well what Cohn was telling him, and he lived by that lesson. As a businessman, he distinguished himself as a disreputable con; he was spurned by the New York business community less for his cartoonish flamboyance than for his essential dishonesty, his meanness of character. He routinely stiffed contractors and workers. He screwed creditors. He violated casino regulations. He bragged of charitable contributions that he never made. He promoted scams such as Trump University. In the nineties, as his bankruptcies mounted, he lost the ability to obtain credit from the largest and most reputable American banks. In foreign deals, brandishing an inexplicably attractive marketing name, he ignored his legal obligations to carry out due diligence and did deals with flagrantly corrupt business partners. In Azerbaijan, he was party to a deal whose only real enterprise might have been the laundering of money. And yet he always avoided serious legal peril, not least because he played by the lessons imbibed from Roy Cohn. And all the while he lived it up, acquiring the life-style decorations of a third-world dictator or a second-world oligarch. His excess was his brand

As a politician, Trump has had little reason to discover the qualities of modesty, scrupulousness, or seriousness. Throughout the primary and Presidential campaigns, he succeeded in no small measure because of his defiance of convention. Emboldened by his astonishing early exposure on cable television and his first wins in the primaries, he came to see himself as invulnerable.

Nothing could hurt Trump. Even he seemed stunned by this stubborn fact. “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters,” Trump said, while campaigning in early 2016. And he was, for a long time, right

Until now. In the past two weeks, a Presidency of ideological meanness and unsurpassing incompetence has moved into another, more recognizable realm. The usual comparison is with the Watergate era.

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I actually think the comparisons at this point obscure more than they reveal. Nixon was just so shrewd, so strategic: it’s simply inconceivable he would get caught with his pants down implicating himself on the record, like Trump now does almost daily,” Rick Perlstein, the author of “Nixonland,” told me. “My favorite Nixon maxim was ‘Never get mad unless it’s on purpose.’ But the words ‘on purpose’ and ‘Donald Trump’ now feel like matter and antimatter; with him, it’s all impulse. Nixon was so obsessed with preparation he used to memorize answers to likely press conference questions, questions he’d delegate to staffers like Pat Buchanan to dream up. Can you imagine!? And, look, when Nixon fired Archibald Cox, he was truly backed into a corner, his king in check: that was the only move he had before the world discovered, via the tapes, that everything he’d been saying about the scandal since June, 1972, was a lie. But, even then, he managed to keep moving pieces around the board for ten more months!

“Both, of course, were authors of their own predicaments,” Perlstein went on. “But Nixon was so much the smoother criminal: everything was buffered through intermediaries and cutouts. An example that comes to mind: on the famous meeting with John Dean of March 21, 1973, Nixon, realizing he’d said too much, maneuvering Dean near the microphones to say something along the lines of ‘. . . But that would be wrong.’ Can you imagine Trump with that kind of situational awareness?”

Despite the shrewdness gap, Nixon once paid Trump an encouraging compliment. In 1987, when Trump was thinking about politics for the first time, the disgraced ex-President heard from his wife, Pat, that Trump had put in an entertaining performance on “The Phil Donahue Show.” Nixon wrote to Trump, “Dear Donald, I did not see the program, but Mrs. Nixon told me you were great. As you can imagine, she is an expert on politics and she predicts that whenever you decide to run for office, you will be a winner!”

Nixon himself was never a political mentor to Trump, but one of his aides, the original dirty trickster Roger Stone, was. Stone was as instrumental in creating Trump’s political career as Roy Cohn had been in forming Trump’s moral behavior in business. (Watch the new documentary “Get Me Roger Stone,” starring my colleagues Jeffrey Toobin and Jane Mayer, and you will understand the current craziness more deeply.) It was Roy Cohn who introduced Stone to Trump, and Stone was instantly enamored.

“I was like a jockey looking for a horse,” Stone says in the film. “And he’s a prime piece of political horse flesh in my view.”

Stone helped Trump see the political advantage in many sleazy tactics and alliances. He pushed him on birtherism (which was for Trump what the Southern strategy was for Nixon); he led him toward conspiracy mongers like Alex Jones and Infowars, and operatives like Paul Manafort, who led the campaign for a while and is now a source of intense investigation for his associations in Russia and Ukraine.

Over the years, Trump has been the focus of investigations on housing discrimination, bribery, corruption, dealings with the mob, misleading earnings reports, fraud, and improper campaign contributions. (Of his behavior with women we shall not speak.) But that was nothing compared to the hard light that is on him now from the F.B.I., Congress, the press, the public, and various other realms of civil society. Discussion of Trump’s Presidency ending before his four-year term is up is no longer an oppositional fantasy. The events of these recent days­­—the Comey firing; the opera-buffa intel giveaway with the Russian delegation to the Oval Office; and now the news of the Comey memos—just may be the point of no return for a Presidency that has been a kind of emergency of chaos, incompetence, injustice, and deception from its first days.

But it will be a complicated road, legally and politically. To prove obstruction of justice, the subject must know that there is an investigation against him and take an action to obstruct that investigation with corrupt purpose. The next step, clearly, will be for Congress to inspect James Comey’s memos regarding his meetings and conversations with the President, which were written about Tuesday in the Times. Jason Chaffetz, the chair of the House Oversight Committee, has said that he is prepared to subpoena those memos if they exist.

We are likely to learn a great deal more about Trump’s behavior from those documents. Comey might have been grotesquely mistaken in his judgment regarding the Hillary Clinton e-mail case, but he has a reputation for righteousness and honesty. In Comey’s account, as relayed in the Times, the President, over dinner, demanded an oath of loyalty; Comey promised only his honesty. At the Valentine’s Day meeting in the Oval Office, Trump told the Vice-President and the Attorney General to leave the room before asking Comey to end the investigation into Mike Flynn’s relations with the Russian government. Trump even suggested to Comey that he consider prosecuting and jailing journalists for publishing classified material.

Is it conceivable that Trump made these requests with innocent purpose? Or was he attempting to obstruct justice? The same questions apply to the President’s insistence on firing Comey. First, he asked Comey to shut down the investigation, and, when he refused, the President fired him. Can one contrive an innocent motive in that? And if there are, indeed, tapes of White House conversations, what are the odds that Trump’s version is closer to the truth than Comey’s?

The point is that Trump has a long record of lying, shady business practices, public deception, and crossing legal lines. His instructors in this include Roy Cohn and Roger Stone and other base figures. Comey’s memos are far more likely to bury Trump than to exonerate him.

As Evan Osnos has pointed out, Trump will survive until he loses the Republican Party. Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan are not likely to act out of an attack of moral conscience. But at some point, and it may come soon, they will begin to feel political pressure—pressure from Republican constituents in swing states and districts; pressure on their own reputations—and their patience with Trump will run out.

James Comey is fired


May 12, 2017

James Comey’s Costly Conspicuous Independence

How the fired F.B.I. director’s greatest asset proved his undoing.

In Tuesday, when Donald Trump abruptly dismissed the F.B.I. director, James Comey, his Administration insisted that he was merely following the recommendation of his Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, the two most senior officials in the Justice Department.

In a three-page memorandum attached to Comey’s termination letter, the Deputy Attorney General, Rod J. Rosenstein, cited concern for the F.B.I.’s “reputation and credibility.” He said that the director had defied Justice Department policies and traditions and overstepped his authority in the way he handled the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation.

This was a puzzling assertion from the Trump Administration, not least because Trump is widely acknowledged to have reaped the benefits of Comey’s actions on Election Day. After the F.B.I. director sent his letter to Congress, on October 28th, about the discovery of new Clinton e-mails and the Bureau’s plans to assess them, Trump praised Comey for his “guts” and called the news “bigger than Watergate.”

In the aftermath of Comey’s firing, Democrats and some Republicans in Congress have proposed a far more credible explanation for Trump’s action, accusing the President of trying to halt the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russian interference in the election and possible collusion with his campaign. Some of those legislators, as well as many critics in the press, have said that Trump has ignited a constitutional crisis, and they called for the appointment of an independent prosecutor to carry out the Russia investigation.

Comey’s dismissal came just as his Russia probe appeared to be widening. Just last week, the F.B.I. director went to Rosenstein, who had been in his job only for a few days, to ask for significantly more resources in order to accelerate the investigation, according to the Times. Tensions between the Trump Administration and Comey had been escalating already, and Trump’s fury over the F.B.I.’s Russia probe remained full-throated. On Monday, Trump tweeted that the inquiry was a “taxpayer funded charade.”

It is now clear that the aim of Rosenstein’s memo was simply to provide a pretext for Comey’s firing. White House officials may have thought it would be a persuasive rationale because Comey has come in for criticism from leaders of both political parties. Trump had been harboring a long list of grievances against the F.B.I. director, including his continued pursuit of the Russia probe. On Thursday, Trump confirmed in an interview with NBC News’s Lester Holt that, even before he received the Deputy Attorney General’s memo, he had already made up his mind to dismiss Comey. In the end, Comey’s conspicuous independence—for so long, his greatest asset—proved his undoing, making him too grave a threat to Trump but also giving the President a plausible excuse to fire him.

Rosenstein’s memo does reflect genuine frustration inside the Justice Department about the F.B.I.’s handling of the Clinton e-mails, and betrays long-standing fissures between the two institutions, which are headquartered across from each other on Pennsylvania Avenue. Rosenstein, a Trump appointee who was previously the U.S. Attorney in Maryland, titled his memo “Restoring Public Confidence in the F.B.I.” In the wake of Comey’s ouster, the F.B.I.’s impartiality and competence remains an essential issue, making understanding what actually happened in the Clinton e-mail inquiry urgent as well.

Comey’s announcement about the discovery of the new Clinton e-mails did break with written and unwritten Justice Department guidelines against interfering with elections. Last week, during testimony before Congress, Comey cast the move as a singularly difficult decision and an act of principled self-sacrifice, driven by events far beyond his control­­. “I knew this would be disastrous for me personally,” he said. “But I thought this is the best way to protect these institutions that we care so much about.’’

A close examination, however, of the F.B.I.’s handling of the Clinton e-mails reveals a very different narrative, one that was not nearly so clear-cut or inevitable. It is one that places previously undisclosed judgments and misjudgments by the Bureau at the very heart of what unfolded.

“I could see two doors and they were both actions,” Comey recounted in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. “One was labelled ‘speak’; the other was labelled ‘conceal.’ . . . I stared at ‘speak’ and ‘conceal.’ ‘Speak’ would be really bad. There’s an election in eleven days—lordy, that would be really bad. Concealing, in my view, would be catastrophic, not just to the F.B.I. but well beyond. And, honestly, as between really bad and catastrophic, I said to my team, ‘We got to walk into the world of really bad.’ I’ve got to tell Congress that we’re restarting this, not in some frivolous way—in a hugely significant way.”

But by the time Comey elected, on October 28th, to speak, rather than conceal, he and his senior aides had actually known for more than three weeks that agents sifting through files on a laptop belonging to the former congressman Anthony Weiner, as part of a sex-crimes investigation, had stumbled across e-mails sent by Clinton when she was Secretary of State. The agents had been unable, legally, to open the e-mails, because they fell outside the bounds of their investigation of Weiner.

F.B.I. officials kept the discovery to themselves. Without consulting or even informing the Justice Department lawyers who had worked on the e-mail inquiry, F.B.I. officials concluded that they lacked the evidence to seek a search warrant to examine the e-mails right away. Several legal experts and Justice Department officials I spoke to now say that this conclusion was unnecessarily cautious. F.B.I. officials also ruled out asking Weiner or his wife, Huma Abedin, one of Clinton’s closest aides, to allow access to the laptop—permission their lawyers told me they would have granted.

Instead, New York agents working the Weiner investigation, which centered on allegations of an explicit online relationship with a fifteen-year-old girl, were told to continue their search of his laptop as before but to take note of any additional Clinton e-mails they came across.

In the days that followed, investigators slowly sorted through the laptop’s contents, following standard protocols in a case that was anything but standard, and moving with surprisingly little dispatch to assess the significance of the e-mails.

After weeks of work, the agents concluded that the laptop contained thousands of Clinton messages, a fact they waited at least three more days to share with Comey. Finally, as Comey recounted before Congress last week, the F.B.I. director convened his top aides in his conference room at Bureau headquarters to weigh the political and institutional consequences of what to do next.

At this point, Comey and his deputies were venturing far beyond their typical purview as criminal investigators. Under normal circumstances, department policies discouraged public discussion of developments in ongoing cases of any kind; with the election fast approaching, there was the added sensitivity of avoiding even the perception of interference with the political process. But F.B.I. officials worried that agents in New York who disliked Clinton would leak news of the e-mails’ existence. Like nearly everyone in Washington, senior F.B.I. officials assumed that Clinton would win the election, and were evaluating their options with that in mind. The prospect of oversight hearings, led by restive Republicans investigating an F.B.I. “coverup,” made everyone uneasy.

One more misjudgment informed Comey’s decision. F.B.I. officials estimated that it would take months to review the e-mails. Agents wound up completing their work in just a few days. (Most of the e-mails turned out to be duplicates of messages collected in the previous phase of the Clinton investigation.) Had F.B.I. officials known that the review could be completed before the election, Comey likely wouldn’t have said anything before examining the e-mails. Instead, he announced that nothing had changed in the Clinton case—on November 6th, just two days before the election, and after many millions had already cast their ballots in early voting.

The debate over Comey’s effect on the 2016 election and, now, his historic dismissal, is likely to persist for years. In the months since Donald Trump became the nation’s forty-fifth President, a number of media organizations—most recently, the Times—have scrutinized Comey’s handling of the Clinton e-mails. They have also examined Comey’s accompanying silence about the Bureau’s investigation of possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, an inquiry that began in July of 2016.

Clinton traces her loss directly to Comey; she asserted recently that if the election had been held on October 27th, “I would be your President.” Trump retorted, in a tweet, that the F.B.I. director was “the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds!’’

This account is based on interviews with dozens of participants in the events leading up to the election. They include current and former officials from the F.B.I. and the Justice Department who were eager to have their actions understood but unwilling to be quoted by name. Comey himself declined my requests for an interview. Back in early January, however, he replied politely to a written interview request, acknowledging that he was aware of my “ongoing work.” He wrote from an e-mail address whose whimsical name, he said, “the Russians may have a harder time guessing.”

Comey added a note of intrigue, suggesting that there were unappreciated complexities to the story that hadn’t yet become known: “You are right there is a clear story to tell—one that folks willing to actually listen will readily grasp—but I’m not ready to tell it just yet for a variety of reasons.”

During his testimony before Congress last week, Comey said that the possibility that he’d influenced the outcome of the Presidential election made him “mildly nauseous.” Previously, over two decades of public service, Comey had made independence from partisan politics the foundation of his political identity. Comey, who is fifty-six years old, had been the rarest of creatures in Washington: a Republican even Democrats could love.

A registered Republican for most of his adult life, Comey had made a point of telling a congressional committee last July that he was no longer affiliated with either party. (His distance from partisan politics extends to the voting booth; records show that Comey hasn’t voted in a primary or general election in the past decade.)

Comey rose to prominence through the Justice Department, first as a federal prosecutor in New York and Virginia, and then as the United States Attorney in Manhattan, and the Deputy Attorney General under President George W. Bush. From early on, colleagues say, Comey carefully cultivated a reputation for integrity and nonpartisanship. Until the events of the past year, it had always served him well. “He knew what was the right thing to do,” a former federal prosecutor who worked with Comey told me. “But he figured out how to execute it in a way that, whatever the result, Jim Comey would be protected. I say that respectfully. He has an exceptional gift for that.”

Comey liked to map out the ramifications of major decisions, often in lengthy meetings with deputies. At critical moments in his career, Comey showcased his independence—too eagerly, in the view of some who accuse him of “moral vanity.” “I think he has a bit of a God complex—that he’s the last honest man in Washington,” a former Justice Department official who has worked with him told me. “And I think that’s dangerous.”

Daniel Richman, a Columbia law professor and close friend of Comey who has served as his unofficial media surrogate, acknowledged Comey’s penchant for public righteousness. “He certainly does love the idea of being a protector of the Constitution,” Richman said. “The idea of doing messy stuff and taking your lumps in the press.” But Richman, who worked with Comey as a federal prosecutor in Manhattan, insisted that Comey’s motivations were sincere. “More than most people, he thinks that when it comes to making really difficult decisions, transparency and accountability have incredible value,” Richman said.

Among scores of people I interviewed, not even Comey’s harshest critics believe that he acted out of a desire to elect a Republican President. Comey built his reputation by taking on powerful figures of both parties. Most famously, while serving as acting Attorney General under George W. Bush, he’d raced to the hospital bedside of the ailing Attorney General, John Ashcroft, to confront Administration officials seeking Ashcroft’s reauthorization for a domestic-surveillance program that the Justice Department considered illegal. Comey’s congressional testimony, in 2007, about the confrontation raised his public profile, earning him encomiums from both parties. In 2013, after Comey completed a seven-year interlude in the private sector, Barack Obama chose the Republican lawyer as the director of the F.B.I. “To know Jim Comey is also to know his fierce independence and his deep integrity,” the President declared, in a Rose Garden ceremony. The Senate confirmed him ninety-three to one.

The F.B.I. is a division of the United States Department of Justice, and its director reports to the Attorney General. But, from the start of his ten-year term at the F.B.I., Comey asserted a belief in the agency’s right to chart its own course. “The F.B.I. is in the executive branch,” Comey likes to say, “but not of the executive branch.”

The investigation of Clinton’s e-mails was exactly the sort of challenge Comey seemed to have spent his career preparing for. The F.B.I. formally opened its probe on July 10, 2015, just three months after Clinton announced her candidacy for President. “We all recognized it was a no-win situation,” the former F.B.I. executive assistant director John Giacalone, who helped oversee the investigation’s first seven months, said. At the outset, the goal was to finish the investigation by the end of 2015—before the first primary votes were cast. It took twice that long, barely ending before the party conventions in July, 2016.

The focus of the inquiry, run out of F.B.I. headquarters because of its sensitivity, was whether Clinton’s use of an unclassified e-mail system housed on private servers in the basement of her Chappaqua home violated any laws or allowed hackers and foreign governments to access government secrets. It was staffed by a core team of a dozen F.B.I. agents and analysts, along with two prosecutors from the Justice Department’s National Security Division and two from the Eastern District of Virginia.

Much of their time was taken up trying to find and examine all of the roughly sixty-two thousand messages from Clinton’s four years as Secretary of State, which began in January, 2009; two of Clinton’s lawyers had deleted about half of the e-mails, deeming them purely personal. This had sent the F.B.I. on an often-frustrating hunt for the missing e-mails. Agents fanned out to locate, examine, and reconstruct scattered hardware and data-backup systems from Clinton’s private network, as well as all the BlackBerrys, iPads, computers, and storage drives that Clinton, her aides, and her lawyers had used. Forensic recovery would eventually help the F.B.I. to find 17,448 deleted e-mails, including thousands that agents deemed work-related.

Even as thousands of messages remained elusive, the investigators ultimately reached consensus that the evidence didn’t warrant criminal charges, which required proof of intentional misconduct, gross negligence, or efforts to obstruct justice. After nearly a year and more than ninety interviews, they had identified eighty-one message chains deemed to be classified that passed through her private server. Clinton’s practices were sloppy, irresponsible, and in defiance of State Department policies, but investigators found no proof of criminal conduct—just a misguided effort by Clinton to maintain control over what the public, and her opponents, could learn about her.

As the inquiry neared its end, Comey, who had closely monitored it from the start, requested summaries of more than thirty government prosecutions involving mishandling of classified information. He waded through the records, seeking to understand the cases’ rationale and how they had been resolved. In the end, he agreed with the investigators’ unanimous conclusion: Clinton should not face criminal charges.

By June, 2016, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department were jointly weighing the question of how to reveal their decision in the midst of the Presidential campaign. F.B.I. and Justice officials had been discussing for weeks a major departure from the usual handling of a criminal inquiry that ended without charges.

The final interview, with Clinton herself, was scheduled for Saturday, July 2nd, at F.B.I. headquarters. Agents planned to spend the next week completing a confidential memo detailing their findings, assuming nothing new materialized. Then, in accord with standard Justice Department procedure, the supervising prosecutors and agents, along with top officials from both the Justice Department and the F.B.I., would privately brief the Attorney General, Loretta Lynch, on their recommendation against bringing charges. She would accept, closing the case.

Lynch was a widely respected seventeen-year Justice Department veteran who had previously served as the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, under President Bill Clinton and, then, President Obama. In April, 2015, a Republican-controlled Senate confirmed her to replace Eric Holder as Attorney General. The first African-American woman to serve as Attorney General, Lynch was a graduate of Harvard Law School, the daughter of a librarian and a Baptist preacher and the sister of a Navy SEAL. She’d prosecuted corrupt politicians from both parties and was viewed as a career prosecutor, not a political figure. But the Trump campaign and conservative Web sites called her integrity into question. Any exoneration of Clinton, they said, would be tainted because Lynch was an Obama appointee.

So the Justice Department and the F.B.I. together plotted an unusual strategy. Over weeks of meetings, they discussed a plan in which Comey and Lynch would appear together at a news conference. After announcing the F.B.I.’s recommendation and the Attorney General’s acceptance of it, they would affirm their mutual confidence in the thoroughness and integrity of the investigation. Given the public appetite for more information, officials also considered sending a limited summary of their findings to the inspector general for the intelligence community. He had referred the matter for investigation in the first place, and could choose to make the summary public.

“It hadn’t all been sketched out,” a former Justice Department official familiar with the matter told me. “But there were conversations about how it could go. There were these discussions between the buildings, leadership to leadership. Everyone knew how this rolled out was really important.”

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Comey had his own ideas. Unbeknownst to his Justice Department colleagues, Comey had resolved to proceed alone with the announcement. Since May, he had been holding a parallel series of meetings with top F.B.I. confidants to thrash through his plan. He would publicly announce—and explain—the Clinton decision without Lynch at his side. “We had discussions for months about what this looked like,” Michael Steinbach, who retired as the F.B.I.’s executive assistant director for national security in February, 2017, said. “This, for us, was the best course of action, given the political situation that we were in—for us to do it independently.”

As Comey saw it, according to Steinbach and others familiar with his thinking, the public doubted Lynch’s independence and would be less likely to accept the decision if she were involved in announcing it.

Comey and his aides had another motivation for acting alone. In their view, the American people were entitled to hear the investigators’ views of Clinton’s conduct, something they believed Lynch would not allow. Justice Department policies frown upon officials commenting on investigations, especially if they are making subjective remarks about people whom prosecutors have declined to charge. But with Election Day just four months away, F.B.I. officials felt that it was essential to provide a fuller accounting “that allowed the American people to make an informed decision,” Steinbach said. “Our concern, as we got closer to the election, was to make sure that the American people understood we found no evidence of a crime but we did find evidence of misconduct.’’

F.B.I. officials began drafting a lengthy statement that explained their recommendation not to prosecute but was, nevertheless, harshly critical of Clinton. “For the director to get that out, he’s either doing it alone or he’s not doing it,” Steinbach told me. “D.O.J.’s not going to let it happen.”

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Then, on the evening of June 27th, former President Bill Clinton and Lynch both happened to be on the tarmac at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, and the ex-President strode aboard her government plane. When news of the visit inevitably spilled out, both Lynch and Clinton insisted that they’d merely discussed golf and family matters during a thirty-minute conversation.

For those who felt that the Obama Administration was doing everything it could to help Hillary Clinton win, the encounter was conclusive proof. “SNAKES ON A PLANE,” the New York Post screamed. “Bill’s shady meeting taints probe.” Lynch declined to recuse herself from the case but said that she fully expected to accept whatever recommendation the F.B.I. agents and career prosecutors made.

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The tarmac episode reinforced Comey’s conviction to act on his own. The F.B.I. interviewed Clinton the following Saturday, July 2nd. Justice Department officials settled in to wait for a draft of the F.B.I.’s report.

Instead, at about 10:30 A.M. on July 5th, Justice Department officials received an informal heads-up: in thirty minutes, Comey was going to hold a live-televised press briefing at F.B.I. headquarters. Before stepping in front of cameras, Comey sent an e-mail to all F.B.I. employees with a copy of his prepared remarks, and an explanation of why he was speaking so freely and on his own. “I am doing that,” Comey wrote, “because I think the confidence of the American people in the FBI is a precious thing, and I want them to understand that we did this investigation in a competent, honest, and independent way.”

Moments later, Comey delivered what he called “an update on the F.B.I.’s investigation.” He told reporters, “This is going to be an unusual statement in at least a couple of ways. First, I’m going to include more detail about our process than I ordinarily would, because I think the American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest. And, second, I have not coördinated this statement or reviewed it in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government. They do not know what I’m about to say.”

Comey then described Clinton as “extremely careless” in handling “very sensitive, highly classified information.” As “any reasonable person” in her position “should have known,” Comey declared, a private, unclassified e-mail server “was no place for that conversation.” Despite these statements, Comey concluded that, because there was no evidence of intentional misconduct or efforts to obstruct justice, “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

Late the following afternoon, Lynch met with the F.B.I. director, agents, and prosecutors for their formal briefing. In a two-sentence statement, the Justice Department announced that the Attorney General had accepted their “unanimous recommendation.”

Partisan outrage was immediate. Conservative media and Trump surrogates accused Comey of protecting Clinton and preventing rank-and-file F.B.I. agents from pursuing the truth. During nine hours of congressional hearings in which Comey elaborated further on his opinions of Clinton’s conduct, Republicans repeatedly questioned his reasoning for ending the investigation without charges.

Perhaps more worrisome to Comey was the rising discontent within the F.B.I. The retired assistant director James Kallstrom, a Trump backer who had run the New York field office from 1995 to 1997, became a fixture on Fox News and Fox Business, where he attacked Comey’s “nonsensical conclusion” in the Clinton probe and highlighted the “disgust” of “hundreds” of active and retired agents, including some “involved in this thing” who “feel like they’ve been stabbed in the back.” Kallstrom said, “I think we’re going to see a lot more of the facts come out in the course of the next few months. That’s my prediction.”

For their part, Justice Department officials were incredulous at Comey’s decision to proceed without them. On Tuesday, in his Comey memo, Rosenstein said that the F.B.I. director was “wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority” by announcing “his own conclusions about the nation’s most sensitive criminal investigation.” He added, “It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement,” and “the Director ignored another longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation.”

A recent report in the Times raised the prospect of another factor in Comey’s calculations. Early last year, another F.B.I. investigative team had found a memo or e-mail hacked by the Russians in which a Democratic operative expressed confidence that Lynch would protect Clinton. According to the Times, Comey worried that if Lynch were involved in the Clinton announcement and the Russians leaked the document, then voters would not trust the inquiry.

But Comey did not confront Lynch, demand that she recuse herself, or raise the matter with the Deputy Attorney General, Sally Yates, former Justice Department officials told me. Instead, he sent an aide to confer with David Margolis, a respected senior Justice Department official, who has since died. Margolis never raised the issue with department leadership. Two former officials who have seen the document told me that it was never a real concern. Comey and his defenders, they insisted to me, are now engaged in “revisionist history.”

In May, 2016, just as the F.B.I.’s investigation into the Clinton e-mails was nearing its final stages, a young woman in Indiana named Sydney Leathers received a Facebook message from someone she did not know.

Three years earlier, Leathers had earned notoriety as Anthony Weiner’s most famous sexting partner. Leathers, then a twenty-three-year-old college student, had come forward, at first anonymously, with details about her online relationship with the disgraced former congressman, who had gone by the screen name Carlos Danger. Leathers’s story inspired countless tabloid headlines and ended Weiner’s political comeback as a candidate for mayor of New York City. Leathers quickly cashed in, selling her story to tabloid media, letting “Inside Edition” record her cosmetic-surgery makeover, starring in porn films, and charging for phone sex and Webcam services.

The messages Leathers received in 2016 were from someone who identified herself as a fifteen-year-old in North Carolina. The sender said she had been sexting with Weiner, but Leathers was skeptical. “I just thought it was a crazy person,” she told me.

Leathers changed her mind after the girl sent screen shots from months of exchanges with the former congressman. The teen-ager wanted to go public, but Leathers urged her to call the police instead. “I don’t claim to be a morality queen,” Leathers said. “I don’t care if he was sexting another adult. But, if it’s a child, it’s another story. I felt a little protective of her.”

After it became clear that the teen-ager was determined to tell her story, Leathers said she shifted to “damage control.”

“How can I at least make you some money?” she said she asked the teen-ager. “I basically said, ‘The only way you should do this is if they pay you.’ Certain outlets will pay you to talk, and I had made deals with a lot of them.” Leathers’s agent alerted dailymail.com, the online version of a British tabloid with which she’d previously done business. Both Leathers and the girl received a sizable fee; the teen’s father, an attorney, helped negotiate her payment.

On July 30th, Leathers took another step. She had not communicated with Weiner for years, but she decided to send him a private Facebook message that amounted to a half-warning, half-scold:

This is super awkward but you need to know something. There’s a 15-year-old girl named [redacted] messaging me and she’s claiming you guys sext and skyped. And that you know how old she is. For once I’m keeping my mouth shut. I want nothing to do with this. Frankly, I hope it isn’t true. But she showed me a screenshot that looks legit to me. How have you not learned your lesson? This is another level of fucked up. I suggested to her not to talk to the press so you’re welcome but you may want to refrain from messaging anyone under 18 for gods sake. If she is really someone you’ve been talking to, you better cut that off quickly. She’s talking about potentially messing with Hillary’s campaign. I am kind of pissed to be put in this situation to be honest.

The Daily Mail story appeared on September 21st. The twenty-two-hundred-word article was accompanied by dozens of screen captures, displaying half-clad photos and suggestive texts that Weiner had sent the teen-ager, a high-school sophomore whose name was withheld. She told the Daily Mail that she had contacted Weiner, then fifty-one, in late January, 2016. During online video chats, she said, Weiner had invited her to undress and masturbate. She said he’d urged her to engage in “rape fantasies.” The girl’s father said that he’d learned of the relationship in April but did not alert the police because his child believed the relationship was “consensual” and “I didn’t want to exacerbate anything that she has mentally going on.” The article included four pictures of Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, including one of her with Hillary Clinton.

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Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin–Whispering in the Ear of Power

Abedin was perhaps Clinton’s closest aide, often described as a surrogate daughter. She had met Clinton in 1996, while she was a White House intern, and spent her entire adult life working for her. When Abedin married Weiner, in 2010, Bill Clinton officiated at the ceremony; the couple had a son a year later.

When the F.B.I. began investigating the Clinton e-mails, in 2015, agents had taken special interest in Abedin because she was one of the four aides who served as conduits for most of Clinton’s State Department messages, screening them, forwarding them, and printing them out for her boss. When agents interviewed Abedin on April 5, 2016, she told them that she had used Yahoo and state.gov accounts while working in the State Department, as well as an e-mail address on Clinton’s private basement server, huma@clintonemail.com.

They asked Abedin what devices she used for e-mail, at work and home, and whether she’d kept any archive. According to F.B.I. notes of the interview, Abedin said that she had already turned over everything she had to the State Department. The agents did not ask to inspect any personal computers at her Manhattan apartment, where she lived with Weiner and their son. Her lawyer would later publicly insist that Abedin had no idea that her exchanges with Clinton were on his laptop. The couple has since separated.

The Daily Mail story raised the possibility of serious criminal charges for Weiner. If he had encouraged an underage female to take explicit photos or video of herself, he could be charged with producing child pornography, a felony that carries a minimum prison term of fifteen years. F.B.I. agents in New York immediately began investigating.

On September 26th, after federal prosecutors in New York obtained a search warrant, and the F.B.I. collected Weiner’s iPhone, iPad, and laptop. Agents began examining the computer—a silver, 15.6-inch 2015 Dell Inspiron 7000—for any pictures, videos, or other evidence involving Weiner’s teen-age sexting partner. An agent sorting through the contents of the hard drive came across a jolting find: a State Department memo and some e-mails between Abedin and Hillary Clinton. The documents were not covered by the sex-crimes warrant, which meant that the F.B.I. had no legal right to examine them.

The Presidential election was five weeks away.

The agent went to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York for guidance. Prosecutors there wanted no part of the e-mail case, which had been staffed by a special team of agents, F.B.I. analysts, and Justice Department lawyers working out of F.B.I. headquarters, in Washington. The New York prosecutors told the agent to seek advice from that team. They said nothing to their own bosses at Justice Department headquarters.

By October 3rd, senior officials at the F.B.I.—including Comey—had been alerted that the Weiner laptop contained an unknown number of Clinton e-mails. By this point, the e-mail controversy had receded as an issue in the Presidential race. Any news of the discovery would surely have profound consequences for the Clinton campaign, especially as the election drew ever closer. Yet, over the following three weeks, F.B.I. agents proceeded unhurriedly with their investigation, on the premise that what they knew of the discovery was not, as one official put it to me, “investigatively significant.”

F.B.I. officials decided not to share news of the new e-mails on the laptop with the Justice Department prosecutors who had worked with them on the Clinton case. A former high-ranking Justice Department official, who dealt frequently with the F.B.I., blamed the failure on institutional distrust. “There is a general tendency, with everything at the Bureau, to keep things inside the Bureau until they figure out what to do,” he told me.

Without the involvement of their Justice Department colleagues, the F.B.I. eschewed options that might have expedited matters. Former Justice Department officials familiar with the case told me that the F.B.I.’s failure to move more quickly in this phase of the investigation represented a serious blunder. “It probably would have helped to have the prosecutors on the investigation involved at the earliest moment,” the former high-ranking official told me.

A crucial question was whether the discovery of the first few e-mails and a State Department document was sufficient to obtain a new search warrant to locate and examine all the Clinton messages right away. The former federal magistrate judge John Facciola, now an adjunct law professor at Georgetown University, told me that he would have granted such a warrant request, even after the discovery of just a “handful” of Clinton e-mails. The F.B.I.’s earlier investigation had revealed that some messages from the Clinton server contained improperly stored classified information, Facciola noted. “If the headers show transmittal from Clinton to Abedin, it follows as night to day that others bearing that header may also be classified, and we have a right to search. What more you need than that, I don’t know.”

Former Justice Department officials told me that they also could have sought consent from Weiner and Abedin to examine the e-mails without a warrant. Lawyers for both told me that they were never asked and would have readily acceded. F.B.I. officials, who were not fond of consent agreements, reportedly did not do this because they worried that Weiner would have sought concessions on any sex-crime charges; lawyers familiar with the matter dismiss the notion that he had any bargaining leverage.

Officials at F.B.I. headquarters instructed the New York agent examining Weiner’s hard drive for evidence of sex crimes to continue his work as before, and to keep a log of any further Clinton e-mails he came across.

By all accounts, this phase of the process went slowly. The software that the Bureau used to inventory the contents of Weiner’s laptop kept crashing. It would take about ten days before agents were able to retrieve a complete record of the messages saved on the laptop, showing dates, senders, and recipients. But, even then, the F.B.I. did not immediately seek a warrant.

By mid-October, inside the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan, the handful of officials who knew about the discovery of the Clinton e-mails were openly wondering what was going on. Any effort to obtain a second warrant would have to go through their office, and they had heard nothing.

On Friday, October 21st, Joon Kim, the Deputy U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, called an official in the Deputy Attorney General’s office at Justice Department headquarters to ask what was being done about the Clinton e-mails on Weiner’s laptop. Recognizing the importance of the call, Kim wrote a memo noting it.

For Justice Department officials, the call was the first they’d heard of the e-mails. The following Monday, F.B.I. and Justice Department lawyers finally gathered in Washington to discuss what to do. The New York agents had finished tabulating the e-mails between Abedin and Clinton, and they numbered in the thousands. F.B.I. investigators who had been part of the Clinton inquiry decided that they were eager to examine the new e-mails.

Throughout their yearlong investigation, F.B.I. investigators had been frustrated by their inability to locate all of Clinton’s e-mails, especially those sent during the first eight weeks of her tenure as Secretary of State, a troubling gap in their records. Some of those now appeared to be on Weiner’s laptop, and they might reveal incriminating information about Clinton’s motivation in setting up the private server in the first place. Investigators recognized that, in all likelihood, the new e-mails would not change the decision to close the case without charges. Most were probably duplicates of what the F.B.I. had already seen. It seemed improbable that agents would find written proof that Clinton intended to violate the law. Still, it seemed foolish not to examine the e-mails. The Justice Department lawyers readily agreed to seek a court order, leading Comey’s deputies to schedule a meeting with their boss on the morning of October 27th.

More than three weeks had passed from the time that Comey and his top deputies had been alerted to the initial discovery of Clinton e-mails on Weiner’s laptop. Yet, in his congressional testimony, Comey described what he heard in his briefing that Thursday morning as a startling new development. “The Anthony Weiner thing landed on me on October 27 and there was a huge—this is what people forget—new step to be taken,” he said. “We may be finding the golden missing e-mails that would change this case. If I were not to speak about that, it would be a disastrous, catastrophic concealment.”

Comey immediately approved plans to seek a new warrant. Such warrants are typically obtained in secret before a magistrate judge and not made public, but Comey told his deputies that he wanted to send a letter to congressional leaders the next day.

Justice Department policies bar employees from interfering with elections and discourage taking any action that might be perceived as interference in the weeks before votes are cast. Election Day 2016 was less than two weeks off; early voting had already begun in thirty-six states.

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Comey would justify his October 28th disclosure as a matter of moral obligation: he’d told two congressional committees that the investigation was complete, and plans to review the new material meant that that was no longer true. Before Congress last week, he characterized his decision as a choice between “speak” and “conceal.”

In his memo released on Tuesday, Rosenstein scorned this characterization. “ ‘Conceal’ is a loaded term that misstates the issue,” he wrote. “When federal agents quietly open a criminal investigation, we are not concealing anything; we are simply following the longstanding policy that we refrain from publicizing non-public information. In that context, silence is not concealment.”

There was another motivation for Comey’s decision to “speak”: F.B.I. officials feared that news of the new e-mails would leak out, damaging the Bureau and its director. The primary source of anxiety was the F.B.I.’s own New York field office, which was handling the Weiner case and harbored deep pockets of anti-Clinton sentiment. New York agents had already been griping to the media about headquarters’ curbs on their investigation of the Clinton Foundation. Two prominent Trump surrogates with close local F.B.I. ties—Kallstrom and Rudy Giuliani, a former U.S. Attorney and New York mayor—had for weeks been warning about agent fury over Comey’s decision in the e-mail case. Lately, Giuliani had been chortling on Fox News about the Trump campaign’s plans for “some pretty big surprises” that “you’re going to hear about in the next few days.” (He would later claim that he had advance knowledge of the new e-mails.)

Comey and his aides had considered saying nothing about the discovery until agents could assess its significance, but only if their task would be completed by the election. “If we were of the belief we’d get through it before the election, we wouldn’t have said anything,” Steinbach said. But, given the number of Clinton-related messages on Weiner’s laptop (the F.B.I. had identified forty-nine thousand as “potentially relevant”), no one felt confident promising the F.B.I. director that they could be examined in time. “I was thinking, I hope we can get this done in a couple of months,” Steinbach told me.

Mark Pollitt, a Syracuse University information-studies professor who ran the F.B.I.’s national computer-forensics lab program during his career as a special agent, said that this mistaken judgment was likely born of excessive bureaucratic caution. “If you know this one’s going to go to the director and Attorney General and maybe the President of the United States, we’re going to give them the worst-case scenario so we don’t get yelled at for dragging our feet,” he said. “I’m not going to say I can get it done in a particular time frame and then not make that deadline.”

This time, Comey decided to alert the Justice Department of his plans. Officials there tried vigorously to dissuade him from sending the letter. Heated discussions took place between a Comey deputy and an official in the Deputy Attorney General’s office, acting as surrogates for their bosses. The Justice official retrieved a transcript of Comey’s congressional testimony to point out that the director had never explicitly promised an update of every development in the case. Comey’s deputy acknowledged that this was the case but said the director’s view was that it didn’t matter; he had a “duty” to correct the “impression” he’d left that the F.B.I.’s work was done. According to the former Justice official, Comey’s deputy also made clear that the F.B.I. director was “very concerned” about a leak—that the news “was coming out anyway.”

The Justice official reminded Comey’s deputy about department policy regarding overt investigative steps before an election. Criticism was inevitable, he argued; the best defense was to consistently follow the normal process. The F.B.I.’s response: “This one’s different.”

“This wasn’t a policy-position disagreement,’’ the former Justice Department official told me. “Comey felt this was his credibility on the line. He was the one who had testified before Congress. Their view is, ‘We get the policy and procedures. But he’s the one who had to personally suffer the fallout if he doesn’t update the Hill. It’s his ass in the sling.’ ”

Lynch and Yates had the power to order Comey not to send the letter. But Comey’s high-minded characterization of his “obligation” made that option seem perilous to senior Justice Department officials. If they gave Comey such an order, it wasn’t clear that he would comply. And if he did, there was a chance that it could be portrayed as the Attorney General ordering the F.B.I. director to hide information from Congress. None of that would play well, especially in the aftermath of the tarmac incident. So the Justice Department officials stuck to pleading through staff.

Comey deliberated with his deputies into Thursday night about exactly what to say, generating multiple drafts of his letter. The first ran just two sentences; later versions offered far more detail, then somewhat less, as Comey and his staff struggled to find the right balance. Steinbach joined a conference call about the language while shopping for Halloween pumpkins in Virginia with his daughter. “The intention was to write a statement that was as politically neutral as possible—that did not allow for incorrect inference,” one person familiar with the situation told me. Predictably, that would prove impossible.

During a conference call the next morning with a half-dozen participants, F.B.I. officials read portions of their draft to their Justice Department counterparts, who argued that the letter was certain to be used to political advantage by Trump. They urged Comey to add language that made clear that the director was making the disclosure because of the obligation he felt from his testimony, not because of the gravity of the discovery—and that the e-mails had been found on the laptop of an aide’s husband, not in Clinton’s possession.

Comey declined to make any changes. He dispatched his three-paragraph letter to sixteen congressional leaders shortly before noon on Friday, October 28th. It disclosed the discovery of new Clinton e-mails “that appear to be pertinent,” as well as plans to “assess their importance,” before noting, “The FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant, and I cannot predict how long it will take us to complete this additional work.”

Comey explained his actions more fully in an e-mail to F.B.I. staff:

Of course, we don’t ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed. I also think it would be misleading to the American people were we not to supplement the record. At the same time, however, given that we don’t know the significance of this newly discovered collection of emails, I don’t want to create a misleading impression. In trying to strike that balance, in a brief letter and in the middle of an election season, there is significant risk of being misunderstood.

Within hours, “law-enforcement officials” disclosed to the press that the “unrelated case” was the Weiner sexting investigation. Trump, who’d previously been bashing Comey, celebrated the news at a New Hampshire rally. Clinton’s “corruption is on a scale we have never seen before,” he declared, amid chants of “Lock her up!” “We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office.” Democrats, who had praised Comey since July, were outraged. A Clinton spokesman blamed Comey for “unleashing a wildfire of innuendo.”

Clinton’s campaign set up a war room at its Brooklyn headquarters to respond to the news. The campaign highlighted an open letter signed by ninety-nine former Justice Department officials from both parties who declared that they were “astonished and perplexed” by Comey’s actions. “The strategy was not to debate what Comey had done,” the Clinton pollster Joel Benenson told me. “The strategy was to aggressively discredit his actions with these bipartisan prosecutors.”

As the campaign—and debate over Comey’s actions—churned on, the F.B.I. faced enormous pressure to complete its review of the new e-mails before Election Day, on November 8th. The government obtained its search warrant on Sunday, October 30th, two days after Comey’s letter, and agents immediately began scouring a copy of Weiner’s hard drive, which an agent had already carried to Washington from New York.

Exactly how thousands of Clinton e-mails ended up on Weiner’s laptop remains somewhat mysterious. In his testimony last week, Comey said that Abedin had forwarded “hundreds and thousands” of e-mails—including some containing classified information—to her husband’s e-mail account, so that Weiner could print out the messages for delivery to Clinton. But two sources familiar with the matter told me that Abedin forwarded only a handful of Clinton e-mails to her husband for printing. Most of the old Clinton messages found on the laptop trace to backups of Abedin’s BlackBerry, which might have been first stored on a desktop computer at the couple’s home before ending up on Weiner’s laptop inadvertently, as part of a bulk transfer of old files. After Abedin’s lawyer and I pressed the F.B.I. to clarify the matter, and I wrote an article about it, the Bureau released a letter correcting Comey’s testimony.

F.B.I. agents had told their bosses that reviewing the new e-mails would take them well past Election Day. But, as the ten-member team began working around the clock, the process quickly accelerated. The F.B.I. agents rapidly ruled out huge batches of messages that weren’t work-related, “de-duped” thousands of e-mails they’d seen before, and isolated the relative few—about six thousand, according to Comey—that required individual scrutiny. Potentially classified e-mails went to analysts for review.

Midway through a final all-night push, on Saturday, November 5th, two agents left F.B.I. headquarters for a pizza-and-soda run. Outside, they found lime-green spray-painted graffiti near the building’s main entrance, some of it covering the F.B.I. seal. It read “ASSHOLE” and “CORRUPT.

At about 2:30 A.M. on Sunday, the F.B.I. agents finished their work, and the team’s leader dispatched a message to their bosses. They had found new State Department messages but none, after all, from the missing period at the start of Clinton’s term, and nothing that suggested a criminal motive. Twelve e-mail threads contained classified information; none of them were new.

That afternoon, Comey wrote to Congress again, revealing that the F.B.I. had completed its review without finding anything to change the conclusions that he had announced back in July.

The days after Comey’s revelation had been devastating to Clinton’s campaign. “Comey put a hole through the wall, and Trump drove a Mack truck through it,” Benenson told me. The news dominated the home-stretch coverage; even the announcement that the review was over didn’t help. “You are in no good position at that point,” Benenson said. “Any discussion of e-mails and investigations is going to be a losing proposition.”

Trump’s campaign made the most of the Comey letter. “Decades of lies, coverups, and scandal have finally caught up with Hillary Clinton,” a new Trump TV ad intoned. “Hillary Clinton is under F.B.I. investigation again, after her e-mails were found on pervert Anthony Weiner’s laptop. Think about that! America’s most sensitive secrets, unlawfully sent, received, and exposed by Hillary Clinton, her staff, and Anthony Weiner. Hillary cannot lead a nation while crippled by a criminal investigation!”

“The Trump campaign was using it to the hilt,” Benenson said. “They took Comey’s statement, and they drove it. The most effective thing they did with it is to say, ‘This will never end. If she’s President, it will never end.’ ”

The “Comey effect” set in quickly. In a uniquely volatile electorate, enamored of neither candidate, weighing Trump’s temperament versus Clinton’s ethics, many of those who had finally been ready to vote for the Democrat fled. Her numbers slipped in key states. “It was enough of a lingering concern that at the end they said, ‘Screw it. I’m not going to vote for her,’ ” Benenson said. “They went with the third-party candidate or stayed home.”

Many analysts concluded that Comey’s actions tilted the Presidency to Trump. Nate Silver, the polling guru at the Web site FiveThirtyEight, said that Comey’s letter produced a swing of about three points in the popular vote in the handful of states that won Trump the Presidency. In a post-campaign interview, the Trump pollster Tony Fabrizio put it this way: “When you really drill down on this election, if you change the vote in five counties, four in Florida, one in Michigan, we’d be having a totally opposite conversation right now.”

F.B.I. officials remain bitter at how Clinton and her supporters have blamed them for Trump’s election. “I don’t find it credible,” Steinbach said. “It’s a mess she helped create from start to finish, with start being when she elected to use a private server. Even if you were to assume the investigation influenced the election, her actions created the environment. You can second-guess how it played out. But our guiding principle was to protect the American people and the Constitution of the United States.”

In January, the Justice Department’s inspector general announced that he would review charges that Comey’s public disclosures about the Clinton investigation violated department policies. Comey issued a statement saying that he welcomed “thoughtful evaluation and transparency” on the matter. Some of Comey’s friends and colleagues had weighed making public a letter of support for him, before eventually deciding against it. In conversations with reporters, they began seeking to explain his actions.

Some of the most withering criticism of Comey focussed on his refusal, before the election, to disclose the F.B.I.’s investigation into the possibility of collusion between the Russian government and Trump associates—even as he spoke at length about Clinton’s e-mails. In late March, quoting two anonymous sources, Newsweek reported that Comey had actually wanted to talk about the Russian political meddling, through a personal, bylined newspaper column, but the White House had blocked him from doing so. People familiar with the matter told me that the Obama Administration had wanted to respond in a more direct way, through an official finding. That came on October 7th, through a statement about Russian hacking from the secretary of Homeland Security and the director of National Intelligence. Comey declined to be included on the statement, telling Administration officials that he believed it was too close to the election.

During conversations I had with Richman, he began to hint at something in the Russian e-mail hack that had influenced Comey’s decision to go it alone with his July 5th announcement on the Clinton inquiry. “It’s not just the stupid tarmac visit,” he told me in late February, 2017. “You don’t get to always defend yourself when you’re in his position.” Two months later, the Times disclosed the existence of the document claiming that Lynch would protect Clinton.

Last week, Comey finally got his chance to defend himself. Called before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he offered an emotional account of his handling of the e-mail investigation but then made his misstatement about Abedin forwarding “hundreds and thousands” of e-mails to Weiner. This week, after F.B.I. officials clarified the issue, I asked the Bureau another question: Why hadn’t agents, who had access to Abedin’s e-mails and could, presumably, see that she had forwarded two classified messages to her husband, taken the opportunity to examine his laptop much earlier, as part of the original e-mail inquiry? If they had done so, what ensued in October might never have happened. The F.B.I. declined to comment.

On Wednesday, in a farewell letter e-mailed to Bureau employees, Comey said he was not dwelling on his firing and urged his former colleagues not to, either. “I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all,” Comey wrote. “I have said to you before that, in times of turbulence, the American people should see the FBI as a rock of competence, honesty, and independence.”

This piece is a collaboration between The New Yorker and ProPublica.

Get it right with the media


Get it right with the media

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In conjunction with World Freedom Day on May 4, it’s only appropriate for the media to urge leaders and politicians to treat the media with respect.

If leaders don’t like the way they are questioned, the media may be barred from attending press conferences or requests for interviews with them can be rejected.

Unfortunately, journalists are taken for granted and shooed away like goats in a barn. No other profession is treated and criticised as journalists and the media are marked and ridiculed by leaders.

As a ‘no-Internet-censorship’ commitment was part of the Malaysian government’s promise when it launched the Multimedia Super Corridor, Malaysia enjoys unrestricted Internet access and a space for independent media outlets to operate.Unfortunately, as of 2017, Malaysia ranked 144th on the World Press Freedom Index.

Having been a journalist for more than 35 years, taught journalism, media relations and authored five books, I feel that the constant harassment of journalists should stop. Only then can Malaysia see its freedom index improve to a higher notch.

To move up the ladder of the Freedom Index, here are some tips for leaders to work well with and maintain good relations with the media. The confrontations with the media must cease and leaders need to train themselves on how to work with the media and not fight with the media.

Get it right

Therefore, understanding the media and saying the right things at the right time is the first step a candidate to succeed in the 14th general election. A candidate’s better perception of the media will gain greater positive media coverage in the media.

With GE 14 looming in the next few months, perhaps October, it is important for candidates to position themselves in the right media with the right message.

Politicians should stop blaming the media and face the truth. As this week commemorates World Press Freedom, it must be reiterated that the media has attempted to give two sides of the story all the time to make it a balanced article for its audience.

Individual politicians from both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan parties, meanwhile, have verbally attacked reporters who ask questions to unveil the truth.

Certain online media outlets have also been banned from covering press conferences after the UMNOo SupremeCcouncil meetings at the party’s headquarters at PWTC in Kuala Lumpur.

Need for transparency

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This certainly does not speak well for transparency. The lack of training for leaders in facing the media has made politicians appear sloppy, dumbfounded and tending to put their foot in their mouth at press conferences.

When a leader develops better skills in media relations, you are on the road to the victory of being elected and this is only one part of the journey.

Every other news headline and story on online news portals goes to show the weakness of a politician in the way they speak to the media and the blunders they make. It’s because politicians take the media for granted and think they can get away from liability in their statements, thus making it into the headlines for the wrong reasons.

Therefore, one has to master the skills in facing the media when being interviewed, at press conferences, in writing effective press statements and maintaining excellent interactions with the media.

This is the first step to build greater hope for the leader in winning as a candidate in GE 14. A candidate may think he has a ‘cool’ relationship with the media, but the media may perceive otherwise.

So, how does one build a cool relationship to win in GE 14? If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.

Media relations training

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In whatever field, learning is a journey. Without the passion to learn techniques in facing the media, a candidate’s chances of winning are dim.

No one candidate is perfect. To err is human. It is in this spirit that leaders can improve practical knowledge through training to improve their skills on how to face the media.

As part of Malaysiakini’s corporate social responsibility (CSR), it has organised eight courses to help leaders perform better with the media.As a facilitator the workshops, I realise that from learning comes understanding and knowledge in being a better politician to serve the people better.

Knowledge sets us free, for it is ignorance that will make one inadequate as a politician or leader.

Let’s start with lesson one on key messages.

Key messages are phrases and sentences that will help the leader deliver his or her views on what is important for the community to know.

Today, the popular way to win the hearts and minds of the electorate is to convey your key messages in a story-telling style or manner.It must be clear, free of jargon and be relevant to your audience or constituents. Be concise and deliver key messages to be understood in simple storytelling language.

Key messages

At the same time, key messages must be consistent and must be repeated so that it sinks into the minds of the people. So, when facing the media, stay focused on the messages that will help prevent you from being “taken out of context” or saying something “you did not say”.

The key messages should be reiterated in the opening statement to the media in an interview, press statement or a press conference.Being clear is straightforward. Don’t make your audience feel stupid, and they will not forgive politicians. This will be reflected in the way they vote for or against a politician.

Some samples of key messages:

  • Thank you for your continued support. Remember, I am here to serve you. I have given this constituency my top priority in the past, present and will continue to do so in future.
  • I have been transparent at all times and I will continue to voice your grouses on injustice, wrongdoings and constructive views to make Malaysia a progressive nation.
  • People may be angry and emotional over the blunders and mishaps or the government. It is my responsibility as your elected representative to present your views so that your grievances are heard and rectified.
  • I will continue to engage with this constituency to set things right for all to benefit.
  • I will continue to work with the authorities to help you all in this critical and difficult times.

Practice makes perfect. So, try using positive statements with the people’s welfare in mind. Say it with sincerity and conviction as you can’t fool the people. And be sure to demonstrate in action and deeds what you say.

Get down to soiling your hands, if you have to clean up the environment for a day with the constituents. Listening to problems will not help. As a politician you have to solve the people’s problems.

 


M KRISHNAMOORTHY is a media coach, associate professor and a certified Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) trainer. As a journalist, he has highlighted society’s concerns and has gone undercover as a beggar, security guard, blind man, handicapped, salesman and as a Member of Parliament. He also freelances as a fixer/coordinator for CNN, BBC, German and Australian TV networks and the New York Times.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

Thank You, Prime Minister Najib Razak for more 1MDB Financial Mess


May 4, 2017

Thank You, Prime Minister Najib Razak for  more 1MDB Financial Mess

By Stephen Ng@www.malaysiakini.com

The collapse of a RM7.41 billion deal to develop Bandar Malaysia is a clear sign of bigger problems ahead for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and the state investment fund, 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

Even Moody’s said that 1MDB’s agreement to resolve a debt dispute with Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) may not be the end of the tunnel, as market sentiment depends largely on how 1MDB will settle bond payments in the future.

Now, with the latest development on Bandar Malaysia, we know we are in deeper mess as the debts would have to be paid by Malaysian taxpayers.

According to the Wall Street Journal, despite 12 extensions were given to the consortium, the Chinese government had refused to authorise the investment by the China Railway Engineering Corporation to acquire 60 percent stake in Bandar Malaysia on the basis that “the 1MDB fund hasn’t published financial statements for 2015 or 2016, so its current financial situation is unclear”.

This is seen as a slap in the face of Najib, who had recently visited China and took home what he calls “big investments”.

The initial announcements included a RM55 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project which was revealed later as nothing but a 20-year low-interest soft loan by the Export-Import Bank of China (Exim) and the main contractor would be China Communications Construction Co.

While China may see it as taking money from the left pocket to put into the right pocket (at least in my opinion), Najib has incurred another major debt of RM55 billion.

The noose is tightening

Najib, who has been in the middle of the storm since the US Department of Justice (DOJ) filed a civil suit against several individuals to seize assets worth more than US$1 billion last year, may find it hard to hold his head up after the deal did not materialise.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the US authorities intend to file criminal charges against son of a Malaysian tycoon, Jho Low, who is a prominent figure in one of the biggest civil lawsuits filed by the DOJ. We will be hearing more of this in the near future.

The US DOJ claimed that a sum of RM2.6 billion, which had allegedly gone into Najib’s personal accounts, originated from the 1MDB fund. Based on the DOJ’s investigations, there is no Arab prince in Najib’s fairy tale story.

In the suit, he was dubbed the Malaysian Official No 1 (MO1), which later Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Abdul Rahman Dahlan (photo), announced to the whole world that MO1 referred to Najib.

At the moment, PKR lawmaker Rafizi Ramli is exposing alleged leaked documents that have since been blocked by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), which are said to be related to the money trail of SRC International. This could further implicate Najib in the court of public opinion.

Although Attorney-General Mohd Apandi Ali claimed that Najib was unaware of the amount of RM41 million banked into his private bank accounts, the evidence unearthed by international investigators who are on the money trail will put Najib in a tight spot, especially since the 1MDB scandal has reached international notoriety.

According to the latest Financial Times report, Italy is joining the fray as the 10th nation currently investigating the allegations of insider trading linked to the 1MDB scandal. The other nations include the US, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Luxembourg, UAE, Hong Kong, Thailand, Singapore and Australia.

The failed TRX City deal would have been Najib’s final major milestone in the 1MDB rationalisation plan. Things are certainly not working out well for Najib, as it is obvious that not even the Chinese government thinks the investment was worth the consideration.

Bigger headache for 1MDB

Now that the deal has been called off, Najib and 1MDB are left in the lurch on how to explain to all Malaysians about the final settlement of the debts owing to the IPIC.

Finance Minister II, Johari Abdul Ghani has gone on record citing a letter dated August 11, 2016, from the Registrar of Corporate Affairs, which he claimed stated that Aabar Investment registered in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) belongs to IPIC.

However, it is strange that the letter was not used to defend 1MDB’s case filed by IPIC in the London Court of Arbitration. Despite calls by several people, including Rafizi, to publish the said letter, neither Johari nor Najib had attempted to clear the air. The truth, after all, could not be told.

Even if the letter is published, it does not absolve either 1MDB or Najib, as the Minister of Finance, of any wrongdoing, since the money had been transferred to some dubious company registered in the British Virgin Islands.

The fact that 1MDB will have to pay the Abu Dhabi state investment firm US$1.205 billion in two equal payments on July 31 and Dec 31 clearly shows that the RM3.51 billion paid to the dubious company registered in BVI had gone unaccounted for. Yet, the Malaysian government has done nothing to recover the money from the Aabar Investment (BVI).

For this reason, most Malaysians no longer have confidence in the Najib administration, since he has never been able to provide any concrete explanations since the 1MDB scandal came out into the open. In the arbitration, IPIC had, in fact, said that it has no links to Aabar BVI.

1MDB claimed that it will pay the debts by selling off its investment units in Brazen Sky Ltd, but even on that, former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin has asked, “Who is the buyer of these investments and for how much? Does this investment unit actually exist?”

It is because too many lies have been told that Malaysians are becoming very sceptical about everything said by Najib or his ministers.

It is also interesting that both the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and the Auditor-General’s Department have not started looking into the allegations made by Rafizi, even after fresh evidence surfaced regarding the mentmoney from SRC.

Whatever it is, we are really in deep mess and you, Najib, are fully responsible for it. The problem could have been solved much earlier.

STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.

Stop the Spin: 1MDB actually capitulated to Abu Dhabi


May 4, 2017

Stop the Spin: 1MDB actually capitulated to all IPIC (Abu Dhabi) demands

by P. Gunasegaram@www.malaysiakini.com

Image result for 1MDB and Abu Dhabi

A Replay of Ali Baba al Najib and his 1MDB forty thieves–Malaysia Boleh

Desperation causes stupidity to rise to the fore.Take 1MDB and the way it spins its so-called settlement with Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), the parent company of Aabar Investments PJS. There was a dispute and it was settled, but there was no renegotiation. 1MDB capitulated to all IPIC demands.

But this has been spun to give the false impression that all matters have been settled between the two. Ministers rushed to make statements about how the eventual settlement will be in favour of 1MDB and how it indicates that no money went into Najib Abdul Razak’s accounts.

Singapore’s The Straits Times, which broke the news on the settlement, even preposterously reported that the settlement will make it more difficult for the US Department of Justice or DOJ to continue with its actions relating to 1MDB. It is difficult to see how because it caused no change in money flows.

The Straits Times reported that the “successful implementation of the proposed settlement could impact legal action being considered against 1MDB by foreign governments, including the DOJ.

“Bankers and legal executives (unnamed) familiar with the situation believe the deal could significantly dilute the international legal challenges confronting Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s administration over the fallout from the 1MDB saga.”

The report continues: “…Here is why. The disputed monies in the Malaysia-Abu Dhabi row are central to legal suits brought by the US Department of Justice over the alleged misappropriation of funds from 1MDB. The Department of Justice claims that the funds siphoned from 1MDB went to fund purchases of real estate and other assets by associates of PM Najib.

Image result for 1MDB and Goldman Sachs

“The settlement agreement between Malaysia and Abu Dhabi would achieve what is known in legal parlance as ‘no predicate offence’, the financial executives said.

“A predicate offence is a crime that is a component of a more serious crime and it is frequently applied in the US to actions involving the provision of funds for money-laundering and the financing of terrorism.

“Proponents of the settlement between Malaysia and Abu Dhabi argue that a successful completion of the deal would weaken the impact of any legal action taken by foreign governments over alleged money-laundering at 1MDB because of the lack of evidence,” The Straits Times said.

However, as it stands, US$3.5 billion is still missing and in dispute and IPIC says it never received the money. In this case, clearly the main offence is allegedly stealing money from 1MDB and the predicate offence is the laundering of part of this money in the US.

Everything that the DOJ has reported remains unaltered despite the settlement. Its case remains as strong as ever. The DOJ report says that US$3.657 billion was stolen from 1MDB (the main offence) and part of it was laundered in the US (the predicate offence).

Paying twice for same bonds

Under the settlement, despite outstanding issues, 1MDB agreed to pay RM1.2 billion to IPIC and the US$3.5 billion in two bonds are now guaranteed by 1MDB and Malaysia’s Minister of Finance Inc, instead of jointly with IPIC/Aabar before.

That’s a cost of at least US$1.75 billion (half of the value of the bonds) to 1MDB and leaves 1MDB with no more bargaining power at all. And the US$3.5 billion that 1MDB paid to the wrong Aabar – the one suspiciously incorporated in the British Virgin Islands – is still a matter of dispute.

This will be part of ongoing negotiations. “The parties have also agreed to enter into good faith discussions in relation to payments made by 1MDB Group to certain entities,” IPIC’s filing to the London Stock Exchange states.

Clearly this has not been settled, and as MP Tony Pua, one of the most knowledgeable people about 1MDB, had correctly pointed out, by taking over the guarantee that was previously jointly provided with IPIC, 1MDB is effectively paying twice for the same bonds – some US$7 billion in all! That US$3.5 billion, or over RM15 billion, at current exchange rates still remain missing.

Image result for Malaysia's Second Finance Minister JohariNajib got this former Second Minister by the Bees–Gone Missing

This is where Finance Minister II Johari Abdul Ghani comes in to disclose the existence of a letter confirming that Aabar Investments PJS Ltd (BVI) – the one incorporated in British Virgin Islands, is a subsidiary of IPIC even though the Abu Dhabi firm denies this.

“As far as I am concerned, based on records provided by 1MDB to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) prior to the settlement agreement, Aabar Investments PJS Ltd (BVI) is a subsidiary of IPIC. A fact which was confirmed by the Registrar of Corporate Affairs of the British Virgin Islands by its letter dated Aug 11, 2016,” Johari told Malaysiakini.

But as far as IPIC is concerned, it’s not and that’s what matters. If 1MDB and Malaysia thought otherwise, why would they let IPIC off the hook by assuming the guarantee in full? And there’s no chance IPIC is going to say different in future. The question to ask is, why did 1MDB make a payment to a so-called subsidiary instead of directly to Aabar or IPIC? Was it to deliberately siphon funds out of 1MDB?

And then Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Abdul Rahman Dahlan said that the settlement shows no money went into the Prime Minister’s account. He is saying that the money is in the form of unit trusts, presumably because 1MDB, in its own scant statement, said that the US$1.2 billion will be monetised from the unit trusts.

But really, that’s not true at all. The DOJ report clearly shows that during different phases of money moving out of 1MDB and into various accounts, a total of US$731 million came into Najib’s accounts between 2009 and 2013. Subsequently, US$620 million moved back into accounts controlled by Jho Low, leaving a net of US$111 million in Najib’s accounts still (see chart).

In the face of desperation, reason has been flung out the window and the increasing ridiculousness of 1MDB’s assertions, those of some ministers and even foreign news reports which appear to have been taken up by 1MDB’s propaganda machine, is a sign – if that was needed – that 1MDB is still very much in dire straits. And that much is being done deliberately to hide the extent of the problems. Still, it will continue to haunt Najib and his administration for a long time more.


P GUNASEGARAM says that truth eventually resurfaces despite all attempts to hold it underwater. Email: t.p.guna@gmail.com.

 

PAS–UMNO and The Death of Common Sense


May 2, 2017

PAS-UMNO and The Death of Common Sense

by Dr KJ John@www.malaysiakini.com

Time headlined a story for their April 3 issue entitled, ‘Is Truth Dead?’ Please see the picture below.

This column will focus on ‘The Death of Common Sense’, a book by a former Harvard Law School Dean, and reflect on today’s consequences of such a death of both the idea of objective truth and therefore also, common sense, at one and the same time in Malaysia. What is assumed to be common may not be familiar any more.

Image result for time magazine the death of truth

The New York Times bestseller summary promotes the book with the following words: “We need a new idea of how to govern. The current system is broken. Law is supposed to be a framework for humans to make choices, not the replacement for free choice.” So notes Philip K Howard in the new afterword to his explosive manifesto ‘The Death of Common Sense’.

“Here Howard offers nothing less than a fresh, lucid, practical operating system for modern democracy. America is drowning – in law, lawsuits, and nearly endless red tape. Before acting or making a decision, we often abandon our best instincts. We pause, we worry, we equivocate, and then we divert our energy into trying to protect ourselves.

“Filled with one too many examples of bureaucratic overreach, ‘The Death of Common Sense’ demonstrates how we – and our country – can at last get back on track.”

My column thesis will argue that the death of common sense will happen, especially because of the death of truth, as questioned by Time about today’s mainstream Republican worldview, especially after their original fake worldview hypothesis with the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ (WMD) or their public lie about the matter.

I do believe that there may be some kind of a newer global liberal conspiracy to lie or promote fake news, and we need to find what it is all really about. I am not sure of its potential origins but Israel and US maybe be colluding; that is only my guess. The son-in-law.Jared Kushner appears to be a link.

Trump’s America

United Airlines also became headline news through a misadventure for the world to see and hear. The unfortunate reality is that it also enabled every global citizen to experience the indignity of physical abuse; especially those of us who identify with Asian Americans.

Denial of human dignity by anyone should never be tolerated any more, anywhere in the world; especially now, thanks to modern media information capabilities. Evidence dissemination is today as simple as a click on social media technology.

Now, Corporate Capitalist America (CCA) or Centralist Communist China or (CCC), and all global organisations like United Airlines who ignore basic human rights and related concomitant truths, cannot continue such abuse of human dignity anywhere in the world. That is also why Aung San Suu Kyi is now under the media spotlight; although a Nobel Prize winner.

Whether it is the alleged killing of babies by rogue actors in Syria, or public abuse by security personnel at the Chicago airport, or missing citizens which our police ‘appear to know nothing about’, global citizenship and all mainstream human rightists will not tolerate such ignorance and abuse, any more. We demand full accountability from all publicly responsible actors.

They have to accept responsibility for roles assumed and it is not be merely playing a role; this is real life and not just media entertainment.

Politics as art of the ethically plausible

If objective science-based truth is in fact dead, or can be reduced or limited by one’s subjective interpretative worldviews; maybe then Time’s question is valid and 1MDB objective truths do in fact actually and really matter.

But, as Time magazine argued that in the world of material reality, objectives truths can quite easily be documented in writing or recorded with sufficient modern forms of evidence-gathering. Let us see what fake or false news is; in our beloved Malaysia.

Image result for Abdul Hadi Awang

No Objective Truth, No Common Sense, only lies with these fellas

Therefore, whether it is President Donald Trump, or  Prime Minister Najib Razak, or Ustaz Abdul Hadi Awang; objective truths about Malaysian life are already well-documented in our recent political history and lived life. The concerns of most moderate Malaysians is that there is ‘a lot of righteous-type anger rather than forgiveness’ being expressed for careless and human mistakes made by the government of the day.

The fact is that it is only truthfulness which can guarantee good and clean or clear politics, what some call ‘new politics’. Most of these unforgiving critics or ‘so-called political pundits’ appear not to understand one simple fact. They do not put themselves into their ‘objective evaluations’, but instead conduct themselves ‘as white knights on a white horse’.

Or, in even simpler language, these commentators pretend they do not live in glasshouses. Or, to quote Jesus, “Let him who had not sinned cast the first stone.” Or, as quoted on a Dalmatian dog poster, “I am not spotless; only forgiven”.

In fact just this past weeks there was great furore and a lot of political anger against a DAP exco member who “apologised for a badly worded non-Muslim faith codes and guidelines”, which he overlooked and did not review before it was issued. They have since withdrawn it, and in fact their deputy chairperson for Selangor DAP even issued a statement to clarify the matter.

Image result for Hannah Yeoh

DAP’s Hannah Yeoh, Selangor Speaker (centre) said it was unbecoming for the columnist to say such things as she felt she was not betraying the Chinese community by adhering to the dress norms of another religion. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng

That truth did not stop the so-called political pundits from turning on and attacking Hannah Yeoh for weighing in on such truth matters within a pragmatic policy-making framework for guidelines or codes of conduct.

Therefore, I find that most black and white purists do not understand the grey areas in between which frame and form much of real-world politics. In their world of actors and clowns, they try to deploy their limited analytical capability (framed and formed with black-and-white glasses) to evaluate pictures with multiple colours.

They fail to understand the newer reality of multiple and merged media from the convergent technologies facilitated by the Internet-worked world as recorded by new media forms and formats.

I say shame to all of them as they fail to realise that if they have not truly and really been involved in the ‘pol-aspects’ of life and reality; they should not be so brazen to comment from their higher grounds of intellectual or academic worlds of ideas and ideals, but without reality.

Image result for Politics today

Politics today is the absolute deployment of power premised upon legal or legitimate authority, but which can be abused or abusing towards all other realities. That is made worse when media begin to take sides or close one eye towards newer evidence and newer modes of communicating with and capturing truths vide evidence.

Politics of strange bedfellows

Similarly, my moral and ethical question to the President of PAS is, why allow yourself to be apparently deceived by the UMNO leadership whom you publicly appear to go into bed with? Is such a cleansing of PAS now almost complete with the ridding of Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat’s son and introducing of your son as a replacement? Is this a new kind of nepotism we all cannot decry?

To our middle moderate Malaysians – how did we allow PAS to evolve such an ‘agenda-driven, party-dictated and clergy-owned interpretation of Islam’? Does their reason and logic have no place for thinking professionals in our non-secular model of governance?

KJ JOHN, PhD, was in public service for 32 years having served as a researcher, trainer, and policy adviser to the International Trade and Industry Ministry and the National IT Council (NITC) of the government of Malaysia. The views expressed here are his personal views and not those of any institution he is involved with. Write to him at kjjohn@ohmsi.net with any feedback or views.