Littwin: Trump, Clinton not scary enough? Add a little James Comey

Here are two things to consider in our brave new post-October-surprise world: One, the pros tell us that October surprises rarely matter in November. Two, the pros have been wrong about Donald Trump from the very beginning, so why not until the very end?

And thus we enter the final week of the weirdest presidential campaign ever in the weirdest possible way ever. And with very little idea of what happens next.

As you may have heard, FBI Director James Comey sent a strangely vague letter to Congress saying he’s looking into more Clinton emails, but — and this would seem to have been important — he hadn’t yet seen any of the emails and really had no real idea whether they might be pertinent to the Clinton investigation or to anything else.

If you believe Comey, as I do, he felt had to say something publicly but something vague, despite the fact that he knew it could well change the course of the election and despite the fact that he’d been warned not to, because how else could he cover his ass if one or more of his backstabbing FBI agents leaked to the press that he knew about the emails — the very emails that may or may not matter at all.

This appears to have been a, uh, mistake. Comey is getting hammered from both sides of the political divide for a decision that might be called “extremely careless.” In fact, his only defenders seem to be from the Trump camp where, until Friday, most had been calling Comey a corrupt Clinton stooge.

Which brings us to the obvious question: What did Comey think was more important — Comey’s reputation, which is probably ruined anyway, or the future of the country?

There’s another question: Why didn’t Comey just say, “We found some more emails. We have no idea if they’re relevant, but we’ll let you know if they are”?

And, of course, there’s another way to look at it as explained in a tweet from Politico’s Glenn Thrush, in which Comey may have been victim to Fate itself: “Of course 2016 would end with Clinton shouting ‘the game is rigged!’ and Trump solemnly defending Washington bureaucrats.”

Of course it would.

Meanwhile, as I write this, Comey is in Washington briefing congressional leaders about his decision — hoping that he can talk his way out of this mistake.

But in Colorado, where Trump spent much of his post-lifeline weekend, making campaign stops on consecutive days, we didn’t need Comey in order to gain some much-needed clarity.

We had Trump, who did jump on the email story, calling it bigger than Watergate, which, of course, it’s not. In Watergate, a president resigned and another four dozen or so Nixon aides pled guilty or were convicted at trial of criminal misconduct. By Monday, he was saying that the “Clinton crime spree” would end in November, which egged on the lock-her-uppers in the crowd but ignored the simple fact that no one – as in no one, but particularly not Clinton — has been charged with any crime, much less a spree.

But that’s not the story, because Trump guaranteed it wouldn’t be the story. And this tells you everything about Trump the campaigner and why the October surprise may not be surprising enough to overcome Trump himself.

In two stops in Colorado, Trump turned the narrative back from “Crooked Hillary” to absurd claims of a “rigged” election, starting with Colorado, where, in Trump World, all officials must be on the take, even the Republicans who run the state elections and the Republicans in charge of six of Colorado’s seven largest counties. He has no evidence, of course. Not even a hint of evidence, “probably because,” as ace Secretary of State spokesperson Lynn Bartels tweeted, “there is none.”

I’m sure you’ve seen the clips wherein Trump advised voters who had sent in their ballots to go ask for new ballots and get the old ones voided, because, “I have real problems with ballots being sent. Like people say, ‘Oh, here’s a ballot. Here’s another ballot, throw it away. Oh, here’s one I like. We’ll keep that one.’ I have real problems.”

On Sunday, he went further on getting a new ballot and voting again: “In some places they probably do that four or five times. We don’t do that. But that’s great.”

So, let’s review. Trump spends parts of two days in a state in which he trails Hillary Clinton, but where he thinks he may have a way to change the dynamic. It’s important. If Trump wins Colorado, there is every chance he wins the election. Colorado, Virginia and Pennsylvania are the Clinton swing-state firewall. If one or more goes, well, I don’t have to tell you about the conflagration that could follow.

The problem for Trump is that Colorado is the cleanest of clean states, even if former Secretary of State Scott Gessler tried to convince us otherwise. I wonder whatever happened to him. Clinton may have her problems, but that doesn’t make it our problem. You see, this is not New Jersey. We don’t tie up toll bridges. We don’t even have toll bridges. This is not Chicago. We don’t bring in dead voters. We can barely keep up with all the live voters that are moving to the state. This isn’t Florida. By one count, 1,760 public officials were convicted of corruption there between 1976 and 2012. And that doesn’t include the U.S. Attorney who was fired for biting a stripper.

This is Colorado, where, by most governmental standards, it’s boringly clean and where it wouldn’t surprise me if voters chose to ignore a carnival-barking demagogue who couldn’t tell the difference.

Photo by The Aspen Institute via Flickr, Creative Commons


  1. Comey’s double standard: comment publicly on the Clinton email investigation twice (July and October), something the FBI has never done, and is against DOJ rules.

    Yet he refused to join the statement regarding Russian hackers working to influence our election, saying it’s too close to the election and the FBI does not want to unduly influence the results. Nor has he confirmed the Trump is under investigation for Russian connections, and misuse of his foundation- there are strong indications both investigations are underway.

    Plus Republican Senator Chaffetz tweeted the contents of Comey’s letter before the Democrats even saw it- so either Comey or anti-Clinton FBI agents told him ahead if time.

    Even Hoover, who had the goods on every politician, didn’t release anything to influence elections.

  2. This is how Mr. Littwin characterized FBI Director James Comey on July 06, 2016:

    “FBI Director James Comey, whose reputation as a truth-teller was forever sealed when he served as deputy attorney general in the Bush administration, was the clear winner in the Hillary Clinton email story/scandal. In fact, he was pretty much the only winner.

    If you don’t know Comey’s background, read the story in The Washington Post about Comey’s willingness to battle with authority, including with Obama. The most famous instance came when Comey, as acting attorney general for the Bush administration, had refused to extend a warrantless domestic wiretap program. Upon hearing that Alberto Gonzalez, then White House counsel, was leading a team to a hospital to try to persuade ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft to overrule the decision, Comey literally raced to get there first.”

    In Senate testimony years later, Comey dramatically described how Ashcroft, who was in intensive care at the time, lifted his head from the pillow and, pointing to Comey, told Gonzalez and White House Chief of Staff Andy Card that “I’m not the attorney general. There is the attorney general.”

    This from the Washington Post story Mr. Littwin urged his audience to read:

    “Yet the most telling point of ( James Comey’s) public service career came out of the spotlight. In 2004, as the newly appointed deputy attorney general under John Ashcroft, he led the push to bring a terrorist surveillance program — known by its code names Stellar Wind and Ragtime — within constitutional boundaries. Almost single-handedly, he faced down Vice President Dick Cheney and Cheney’s lawyer David Addington in a series of meetings at the White House. Comey refused to sign authorizations for the program to continue unless changes were made.
    The week-long drama culminated in a late-night showdown at the bedside of Ashcroft, who was hospitalized with pancreatitis. Then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales and Chief of Staff Andrew Card tried to get Ashcroft to sign the authorization Comey wouldn’t. That evening, Comey, Mueller and other Justice officials prepared for a mass resignation that would have upended the 2004 presidential race and echoed Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre.” The letter of resignation Comey drafted that night read in part, “I and the Department of Justice have been asked to be part of something that is fundamentally wrong.””

    Now, less than four months after applauding FBI Director James Comey as a “clear winner in the Hillary Clinton email story/scandal” and today after saying he believes FBI Director Comey had to say something publicly about newly found emails, Mr. Littwin concludes that Comey was “extremely careless” in doing so.

    You can’t make this stuff up!

    But wait, there’s more: Mr. Littwin goes on to accuse Comey—-who, in July Mr. Littwin described as a man “whose reputation as a truth-teller was forever sealed when he served as deputy attorney general in the Bush administration”—-of trying to “cover his ass” because Comey felt his reputation was more important than the “future of the country”

    You can’t make that stuff up, either!!

    So how does Mr. Littwin reconcile those two contradictions? That’s a trick question, he doesn’t. He simply ignores them. And the Colorado “We take the role of journalism as a public trust very seriously” Independent turns a blind eye to Mr. Littwin’s, well, rather unorthodox version of “journalism” preferring instead to use him as a cash cow to lure $50 tax deductible donations from Mr. Littwin’s vast audience.

    Maybe PT Barnum was right.

    Will Mr. Littwin ever attempt to reconcile his numerous contradictions? As Nobel laureate and Littwin fav Bob Dylan would say, “The answer is blowin’ in the wind”.

    But wait, there’s yet another contradiction. This from

    “The White House said on Monday that President Barack Obama does not believe that FBI Director James Comey is trying to influence the election with his decision to review new evidence in the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

    “The president’s assessment of his integrity and his character has not changed,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters during the daily briefing. “The president does not believe that Director Comey is intentionally trying to influence the outcome of an election. The president does not believe that he is secretly strategizing to benefit one candidate or one political party.””

    So how does Mr. Littwin reconcile his view of FBI Director James Comey’s integrity with President Obama’s? Oh wait, we’ve already answered that. He ignores it.

    Less than one week before the election and Mr. Littwin has yet to offer even one reason voters should elect Mrs.“What difference does it make?” Clinton other than the implied, well, she’s not Donald Trump

    Less than one week before the election and Mr. Littwin has yet to explain how Mrs. Clinton has failed to pull away from Donald Trump who Mr. Littwin has described as “a demagogue, a xenophobe, a misogynist, a bigot, a sexist, an authoritarian, a boor, a crypto-fascist and the least-prepared person ever to be nominated by a major party.”.

    Maybe Mr. Littwin doesn’t know! That would be no surprise, admitting it would be.


    “Sixty percent of voters view Hillary Clinton unfavorably, according to a ABC News/Washington Post poll released Monday morning, the highest level of unpopularity yet for the Democratic presidential nominee.” –

    “According to former Jimmy Carter pollster Pat Caddell, Hillary Clinton is hemorrhaging support as a result of the FBI announcement and we could see a repeat of the 1980 election when anti-establishment candidate Ronald Reagan won in a landslide.” –

    “Has America become so numb by the decades of lies and cynicism oozing from Clinton Inc. that it could elect Hillary Clinton as president, even after Friday’s FBI announcement that it had reopened an investigation of her emails while secretary of state?

    We’ll find out soon enough.

    It’s obvious the American political system is breaking down. It’s been crumbling for some time now, and the establishment elite know it and they’re properly frightened. Donald Trump, the vulgarian at their gates, is a symptom, not a cause. Hillary Clinton and husband Bill are both cause and effect.
    FBI director James Comey’s announcement about the renewed Clinton email investigation is the bombshell in the presidential campaign. That he announced this so close to Election Day should tell every thinking person that what the FBI is looking at is extremely serious.” – Chicago Tribune

    “The specter of a drawn-out, Nixon-like investigation is clouding Democrat Hillary Clinton’s race for the presidency with a new poll showing nearly half equating the email scandal to Watergate and even more worried that the FBI probe will drag on into her presidency.

    While polls out Monday morning do not show a big swing away from Clinton to Republican Donald Trump, they do show renewed concerns about the revived investigation into her email server due to thousands of previously unknown emails found on the computer of former Rep. Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.” –

    “Whispers of “payback” are being directed at Hillary Clinton after she decried as “unprecedented” the surprise FBI revival of its probe of her email scandal.

    That’s because 24 years ago, as former President George H.W. Bush was surging back against challenger Bill Clinton, a special prosecutor raised new charges against Bush in the Iran-Contra probe, prompting Clinton to claim he was running against a “culture of corruption.”” –

    “’Cause I don’t have no use
    For what you loosely call the truth” – Tina Turner

    Greenlight a Vet
    Folds of Honor
    Special Operations Warriors Foundation
    Veterans Day – November 11, 2016

  3. One just needs to watch the compelling and relevant sixty-year-old movie starring Andy Griffith, “A FACE IN THE CROWD” to leave you shaking in your boots this election year. It is a eerily similar and frightening look into the character of a man who possesses the same traits as the Republican nominee. From beginning to end, it’s like a warning from the past, foretelling how the hunger for singular power can lead to our eminent downfall.

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