Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Maybe he wasn't committing treason on TV, but that doesn't mean he's not being vile

Updated below: There's a lot wrong with this post, too much to fix by editing.

Harry Langdon in Mack Sennett's Picking Peaches (1924). Via.
So Donald Trump is publicly inviting Russian intelligence to hack the computer files of the former secretary of state:

Donald J. Trump said Wednesday that he hoped Russia had hacked Hillary Clinton’s email, essentially encouraging an adversarial foreign power to cyberspy on a secretary of state’s correspondence.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you’re able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing,” Mr. Trump said, staring directly into the cameras during a news conference. “I think you will probably be rewarded mightily by our press.”
Which sounds remarkably like what we usually refer to as treason. I want to argue that what he's really doing isn't so much treason as a classic McCarthy trick, sneaking a very nasty lie into the discussion by packing it into his presuppositions, where it can poison our minds without being noticed, in seeding the conversation with the story of those "30,000 emails that are missing".

Because they AREN'T MISSING, and haven't been missing, certainly not since FBI INVESTIGATORS RECOVERED THEM ALL LAST SEPTEMBER after Clinton turned the equipment over to the agency in August.  And there aren't 30,000 of them, but actually two or three thousand, together with some mails from Huma Abedin. Now the investigation is finished, and they're being sent in batches to the State Department, which is processing them for release to the public, starting last Thursday.

Of course there are surrogates out to say he's merely joking:

(Note how he doesn't assert it's a joke, but slips the idea in as a presupposition—same slimy rhetorical technique.)

Actually I think we should be most upset by the fact that the State Department, White House, and Pentagon have all been hacked by Russian cyberwarriors within the last year or so. Clinton's server was clearly more secure than the government systems she was supposed to be using.

Maybe he does intend it as a joke—I mean, just because it isn't funny proves nothing, none of Trump's jokes are funny. I'm convinced he's nasty and treacherous enough to do it, but if he really wanted to order up product from the FSB he probably wouldn't be doing it in front of TV cameras. The episode shows how heedless and criminally vindictive he can be, but it doesn't catch him in actual treason.

The Times story doesn't mention that there are less than a tenth as many emails as the original lie claimed and that they aren't missing in any way. Nobody working on the story does, because nobody remembers (Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs added it to his coverage after I sent him a Tweet).

Trump is succeeding in perpetuating this lie because nobody's calling him on it, and they're not calling him on it because they're so distracted by the ridiculous spectacle of Trump apparently committing treason on camera, or pretending to commit treason on camera for shits and giggles, as the case may be. The treason is just a beard for a vicious lie.

Update 7/29: Not exactly.

I haven't been reading the material correctly. H/t to commenter Ken_L at No More Mister Nice Blog for straightening me out. Comey's statement on the recovered emails (overlapping with 31,830 that she herself claimed had been deleted) reads as follows:
The FBI also discovered several thousand work-related e-mails that were not in the group of 30,000 that were returned by Secretary Clinton to State in 2014. We found those additional e-mails in a variety of ways. Some had been deleted over the years and we found traces of them on devices that supported or were connected to the private e-mail domain. Others we found by reviewing the archived government e-mail accounts of people who had been government employees at the same time as Secretary Clinton, including high-ranking officials at other agencies, people with whom a Secretary of State might naturally correspond.
This helped us recover work-related e-mails that were not among the 30,000 produced to State. Still others we recovered from the laborious review of the millions of e-mail fragments dumped into the slack space of the server decommissioned in 2013.
With respect to the thousands of e-mails we found that were not among those produced to State, agencies have concluded that three of those were classified at the time they were sent or received, one at the Secret level and two at the Confidential level. There were no additional Top Secret e-mails found. Finally, none of those we found have since been “up-classified.”
I should add here that we found no evidence that any of the additional work-related e-mails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them. Our assessment is that, like many e-mail users, Secretary Clinton periodically deleted e-mails or e-mails were purged from the system when devices were changed. Because she was not using a government account—or even a commercial account like Gmail—there was no archiving at all of her e-mails, so it is not surprising that we discovered e-mails that were not on Secretary Clinton’s system in 2014, when she produced the 30,000 e-mails to the State Department.
It could also be that some of the additional work-related e-mails we recovered were among those deleted as “personal” by Secretary Clinton’s lawyers when they reviewed and sorted her e-mails for production in 2014.
The lawyers doing the sorting for Secretary Clinton in 2014 did not individually read the content of all of her e-mails, as we did for those available to us; instead, they relied on header information and used search terms to try to find all work-related e-mails among the reportedly more than 60,000 total e-mails remaining on Secretary Clinton’s personal system in 2014. It is highly likely their search terms missed some work-related e-mails, and that we later found them, for example, in the mailboxes of other officials or in the slack space of a server.
It is also likely that there are other work-related e-mails that they did not produce to State and that we did not find elsewhere, and that are now gone because they deleted all e-mails they did not return to State, and the lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery.
There really were somewhere close to 32,000 emails deleted (according to Comey in the normal way one gets rid of them daily or weekly on one's personal account if one is not a slob like me), which the FBI has mostly been unable to recover, and it's pretty clear that Russian agents wouldn't be able to recover it either.

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