Today Newsweek published an explosive story about Donald Trump's legal dealings—or at least it should be explosive, because it shows what a hypocrite he is on Hillary Clinton deleting 33,000 personal emails. But explosive stories about Trump's legal dealings never really explode. Have you noticed that? The Trump Foundation? Not paying taxes? Not releasing tax returns? Being sued by the Justice Department? Somehow none of those stories stick, not the way that "grab 'em by the pussy" stuck.
But read the Newsweek story—it's shocking.
Or at least it ought to be shocking.
Over the course of decades, Donald Trump’s companies have systematically destroyed or hidden thousands of emails, digital records and paper documents demanded in official proceedings, often in defiance of court orders. These tactics—exposed by a Newsweek review of thousands of pages of court filings, judicial orders and affidavits from an array of court cases—have enraged judges, prosecutors, opposing lawyers and the many ordinary citizens entangled in litigation with Trump.
The first example is the Justice Department lawsuit in the early 1970s. In that case, "the Trumps ignored the government’s discovery demands, even though court procedure in a civil or criminal case requires each side to produce relevant documents in a timely manner." The Trumps stonewalled, delayed, and refused to hand over anything.
Finally, under subpoena, Trump appeared for a short deposition. When asked about the missing documents, he made a shocking admission: The Trumps had been destroying their corporate records for the previous six months and had no document-retention program. They had conducted no inspections to determine which files might have been sought in the discovery requests or might otherwise be related to the case. Instead, in order to “save space,” Trump testified, officials with his company had been tossing documents into the shredder and garbage.
The reason this is shocking is because Trump goes around saying that Clinton deleted 33,000 emails after getting a subpoena and that if she did that in the private sector she would be in jail. He even said that at debates—here's one example (start at the 3:16 mark):
So this is one more example of Trump the master projectionist: Whatever he accuses his opponent of is typically something he does himself.
Meanwhile, Clinton's email saga has been blowing up in a weird new way since Friday's strange move by FBI director James Comey. That day, it seemed as if Clinton might be in new trouble for not turning over emails. Then, on Saturday, it was clear that none of the emails Comey was referencing were to or from Clinton.
Yesterday, Eric Holder published an editorial in the Washington Post saying that Comey had seriously screwed up:
I am deeply concerned about FBI Director James B. Comey’s decision to write a vague letter to Congress about emails potentially connected to a matter of public, and political, interest. That decision was incorrect. It violated long-standing Justice Department policies and tradition.
Holder went on to say:
The department has a practice of not commenting on ongoing investigations. Indeed, except in exceptional circumstances, the department will not even acknowledge the existence of an investigation. The department also has a policy of not taking unnecessary action close in time to Election Day that might influence an election’s outcome.
Quick interruption here to show you how some journalists are responding to the "not commenting on ongoing investigations" part of this:
I thank James Comey for giving reporters an epic comeback to whenever the bureau tells us they won't comment on an ongoing investigation.
— Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman) October 31, 2016
Holder also wrote:
I served with Jim Comey and I know him well. This is a very difficult piece for me to write. He is a man of integrity and honor. I respect him. But good men make mistakes. In this instance, he has committed a serious error with potentially severe implications.
Also over the weekend, Richard W. Painter, the chief White House ethics lawyer for George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007, "filed a complaint against the F.B.I. with the Office of Special Counsel, which investigates Hatch Act violations, and with the Office of Government Ethics," about Comey's perceived intrusion into the presidential race. In an op-ed for the New York Times, Painter wrote:
I never thought that the F.B.I. could be dragged into a political circus surrounding one of its investigations. Until this week.
As Painter explained:
The F.B.I.’s job is to investigate, not to influence the outcome of an election.
Such acts could also be prohibited under the Hatch Act, which bars the use of an official position to influence an election. That is why the F.B.I. presumably would keep those aspects of an investigation confidential until after the election. The usual penalty for a violation is termination of federal employment.
In case you're not familiar, the Hatch Act "is a United States federal law whose main provision prohibits employees in the executive branch of the federal government, except the president, vice-president, and certain designated high-level officials of that branch, from engaging in some forms of political activity."
And who's Painter supporting for president? In case you're interested in his biases, he discloses them. Get out your sad trombone: "I have supported Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, John Kasich and Hillary Clinton for president, in that order."
For what it's worth, President Obama is trying to throw some water on this Comey business:
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.
And Clinton? What does she have to say today about all of the above?