By leaking John Podesta's private emails, WikiLeaks offered a window into the thinking of Democratic Washington's smart set near the beginning of Hillary Clinton's campaign.
That was way back then. But what do you suppose the same people are saying in the emails they are sending now? How are they reacting to FBI director James Comey's announcement that the bureau has reopened its investigation of emails that Clinton illegally withheld for years from the State Department on her private server?
Our guess is that the inbox of nearly every left-leaning pundit, pol and other Democratic hack contains an urgent memo from Team Clinton to "deploy" and sing for their supper. If you want access or a job in the new administration, find the nearest camera and say anything that shifts attention away from Hillary's crimes to Comey.
That would explain why all hands, from the more turgid denizens of the Washington Post's op-ed pages to the rent-a-quote battalions of MSNBC, are on deck excoriating the FBI director whom these same hacks praised to the heavens as recently as July.
It was in July that Comey announced his unusual recommendation that the Department of Justice not prosecute Clinton. At the time, many Republicans and conservatives reacted almost as angrily as Democrats are reacting now. They pointed out that the excuse he offered, the lack of evidence of "intent" on Clinton's part, was not a proper reason to forgo prosecution under the relevant statute. They also noted that others have been prosecuted under the same statute for far less, and that Clinton was benefiting from a double standard.
Democrats countered with unequivocal praise for the FBI director, which they are now being forced to swallow whole.
"No one can question the integrity, the competence" of Comey, quoth the egregious Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid, in July. This same, infinitely partisan Democrat, now claims ludicrously that Comey is breaking the law by telling congressional overseers that the investigation he previously said was complete is, rather, resuming with renewed vigor.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, sympathized with Comey in a hearing during the summer. He told the FBI director that at the hands of Republicans, he saw "your honesty instantly turned against you because your recommendation conflicted with the predetermined outcome they wanted. ... They have attacked you personally, they have attacked your integrity."
Today, Cummings' faith in Comey has, almost magically, collapsed. The congressman now has "no idea how Director Comey will be able to explain his actions."
And on it goes. In July, Howard Dean said, "If you indict Comey's integrity, then you are making a big mistake." Today, Dean (never one to lapse into dignified moderation) says Comey "put himself on the same side as [Russian dictator Vladimir] Putin."
Nobel Prize-winning criminologist (or something like that) Paul Krugman was one of many who went straight to la-la-conspiracy land, declaring that Comey "has clearly made a partisan intervention, betraying his office."
Democrats scream that all this is unprecedented. But really, is the FBI staging a coup to rig the election? Has Putin infiltrated the bureau? Are Democrats hyperventilating? The truth is that they are making assertions every bit as wild as any that Donald Trump has made in the past two years. They're just worried that Clinton might lose, and all those spoils that go to the victor and which would trickle down to them are now in danger.
It isn't hard to understand Comey's reasoning unless your political reflex is to try and make Clinton look better than she is. Comey had given Congress the impression that the Clinton email investigation was over and done. When informed belatedly that agents had found hundreds of thousands of emails in the Anthony Weiner investigation, some of which may prove relevant to the Clinton probe, he set the record straight and made clear that the bureau was following a new lead.
Comey's announcement is neither as dramatic nor as suspicious as the October surprise once cheered by a young Gov. Bill Clinton and his wife. Special Prosecutor Lawrence Walsh, after a six-year investigation, chose the week before the 1992 presidential election to indict former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger on a charge that he withheld records from the Iran-Contra investigation. In the indictment, Walsh chose a piece of evidence that referred to Clinton's opponent, President George H.W. Bush. The indictment was thrown out a month after Clinton's victory, but the damage to Bush had been done, ushering in the first Clinton presidency.
One can find other suspicious and consequential cases of FBI and Department of Justice timing at lower levels of politics, too. The 2008 indictment of former Sen. Ted Stevens came so late that the GOP could not possibly find a credible candidate to take his place. Stevens' conviction, which happened to be handed down just days before the 2008 election, which he lost, was later thrown out because of grotesque prosecutorial misconduct.
Here's another. The feds conducted several raids on private residences in the October just before the 2006 election as part of a well-leaked investigation targeting GOP Rep. Curt Weldon, of Pennsylvania. Weldon lost his race and then….crickets. He was never indicted.
So no, late-stage-election criminal investigations are not unprecedented. What is unprecedented is to have a front-running presidential nominee so obviously corrupt that something so minor as Comey's announcement should throw her party into a panic and put her campaign in peril.