Bret Baier opened last night’s edition of Special Report with several scoops on the progress of the FBI investigations of Hillary Clinton and the Clinton Foundation (video below). Baier slightly expanded on his scoops in an interview with Brit Hume on On the Record, the video and transcript of which are posted here. Paul Mirengoff comments on Baier’s report in the adjacent post.
RealClearPolitics extracts the five points in Baier’s report as follows:
The Clinton Foundation investigation is far more expansive than anybody has reported so far and has been going on for more than a year.
The laptops of Clinton aides Cherryl Mills and Heather Samuelson have not been destroyed, and agents are currently combing through them. The investigation has interviewed several people twice, and plans to interview some for a third time.
Agents have found emails believed to have originated on Hillary Clinton’s secret server on Anthony Weiner’s laptop. They say the emails are not duplicates and could potentially be classified in nature.
Sources within the FBI have told him that an indictment is “likely” in the case of pay-for-play at the Clinton Foundation, “barring some obstruction in some way” from the Justice Department.
FBI sources say with 99% accuracy that Hillary Clinton’s server has been hacked by at least five foreign intelligence agencies, and that information had been taken from it.
What are we to make of Baier’s report? Herewith a few notes and queries.
1. Baier describes his two sources as possessing “intimate knowledge” of the investigations. We cannot infer whether the sources are within the FBI or not, RCP to the contrary notwithstanding. Baier’s description is purposefully ambiguous and the points are themselves unclear in part.
2. Baier reports that his sources believe Clinton’s server was hacked with a 99 percent level of confidence by at least five foreign intelligence agencies. That is of great interest, and I believe the likelihood of hacking to be true, but can we get some idea on what the opinion of his sources is based?
3. Earlier this week it was reported that hackers tried to hack Clinton’s private server 10 times in a two day-period in 2010, and the Secret Service knew about the attempted intrusions: “The hackers used the names of top Clinton aides as login names — doug, dougband and huma. The attack showed as coming from OpenDNS, a company that the Clintons’ server used to map domain names to IP addresses, meaning the server relied on and couldn’t block it.” It’s impossible to keep up with the news, especially when it remains unreported by the most widely consulted news organs.
4. Please don’t overlook this. Baier talks about the likelihood of indictments, but it is not apparent that a grand jury has even been impaneled. Indeed, it is highly unlikely that a grand jury has been impaneled. The impaneling of a grand jury and the presentation of evidence lie within the discretion of the Department of Justice. So long as the FBI investigation remains limited by the Department of Justice, the FBI investigation(s) will not receive the support it requires to proceed along a natural course. (Highlighted for emphasis upon request of a friend.)
5. Watching FOX News, we seem to be living in an alternate or parallel universe, perhaps the one conjured by Timothy Groseclose. Have Baier’s scoops escaped the right-wing echo chamber? One would like to read intensely reported pieces that expand on the questions implicit in Baier’s scoops.
6. The Wall Street Journal’s Devlin Barrett has written intensely reported pieces on the ongoing investigations. Today Barrett reports (with Christopher M. Matthews) on the FBI investigation “Secret recordings fueled FBI feud in Clinton probe.” It is hard to reconcile Baier’s bullet points with Barrett’s reportage (e.g., “FBI investigators grew increasingly frustrated with resistance from the corruption prosecutors, and some executives at the bureau itself, to keep pursuing the case”). Even so, this particular article only glancingly crosses paths with Baeir’s report. Much more reporting is required to evaluate and understand Baier’s bullet points.
7. Baier’s bullet points imply that the Weiner/Abedin laptop has turned up Clinton emails that were previously unavailable to the FBI because of the deletions authorized by Clinton. This presents an ambiguous preview of coming attractions. The newly discovered emails are “potentially” classified in nature. Comey has already declared that the presence of classified emails on Clinton’s private server is A-Okay insofar as the relevant criminal laws are concerned. What difference, at this point, does it make? The deletion of such emails would raise separate legal issues.
8. The Democratic nominee for president is the subject of two FBI investigations. Not that it matters! Her election is imminent. Clinton supporters remain untroubled by the gross wrongdoing underlying the investigations. Say what you will about Donald Trump, he is not under FBI investigation.
9. President Obama himself entered the conversation yesterday with a critique of the FBI. “We don’t operate on incomplete information,” Obama said in an interview with NowThis News. “We don’t operate on leaks. We operate based on concrete decisions that are made.” He also served as a character reference for Clinton: “I trust her. I know her. And I wouldn’t be supporting her if I didn’t have absolute confidence in her integrity.” This isn’t exactly John Dillinger vouching for Creepy Karpis, but it’s close.
10. Obama’s Department of Justice will do its best to assure that the information remains “incomplete.” Obama’s Department of Justice could shut down the FBI investigations. The leaks behind Baier’s scoops suggest the bureaucratic infighting that is going on under the surface, as do Barrett’s Wall Street Journal stories. Obama will pardon one or more Clintons if necessary to put this thing to bed.