Monday, June 12, 2017

Updates To Stories

There are many recent updates to my last few articles, but the biggest one is to a December 1, 2015 story I published called "New York Times journalist Michael Schmidt wrongly reports on Hillary Clinton emails again."

Although the original article should be read to learn more about Schmidt's misreporting, this is the entire new update I added over the last few days due to recent news events and more research I completed. If you appreciate my hard work, please contribute to my PayPal account, since I keep working hard on this story - for years - but have never earned a dime for it.

(Updates added from June 8 to June 12, 2017, in light of recent news events.)

6/8/17 Update: Why is the following significant? Essentially, the adviser to former FBI Director James Comey - who once worked with him in US Attorney's office - has been a source for New York Times reporter Michael S. Schmidt for at least nine years. Schmidt reported many things incorrectly about Hillary Clinton during her unsuccessful 2016 presidency campaign, but he also got a lot of great scoops. Some Clinton supporters believe Comey may have violated the Hatch Act just before the election, and - one of the reasons - he was fired by President Trump as FBI director was due to wrongful testimony regarding her longtime aide, Huma Abedin.

On November 2, 2016, a NYT article - Schmidt co-wrote - reported, "Daniel C. Richman, an adviser to Mr. Comey and a Columbia University law professor, argued that despite the backlash, Mr. Comey’s decision to inform Congress preserved the F.B.I.’s independence, which will ultimately benefit the next president."

Defending Comey, Richman told the paper: "Those arguing that the director should have remained silent until the new emails could be reviewed — even if that process lasted, or was delayed, until after the election — give too little thought to the governing that needs to happen after November. If the F.B.I. director doesn’t have the credibility to keep Congress from interfering in the bureau’s work and to assure Congress that a matter has been or is being looked into, the new administration will pay a high price."

Schmidt and Richman appeared as guests during alternate halves of a PBS NewsHour broadcast last Halloween, three days after Comey sent his October 28 letter - to eight Republican chairmen of Congressional committees, seven Democratic ranking members and vice chairman of the Select Committee of Intelligence Sen. Dianne Feinstein - in order to "supplement [his] previous testimony" that the FBI had "completed its investigation of former Secretary Clinton's personal email server." The letter was very brief, but reverberated at the end: "I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony."

"In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation,” Comey wrote. "I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review those emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation."

On May 3, 2017, editor-in-chief Nate Silver claimed at FiveThirtyEight - which is now owned by ESPN, but had a "partnership agreement" and was published at the NY Times from 2010 to 2012 - that this letter "upended the news cycle and soon halved Clinton’s lead in the polls, imperiling her position in the Electoral College." Silver also noted, "The article that led The New York Times’s website the morning after the election did not mention Comey or 'FBI' even once — a bizarre development considering the dramatic headlines that the Times had given to the letter while the campaign was underway."

On the October 31st NewsHour show, New York Times reporter Schmidt - who was criticized a few times by the Clinton campaign for misreporting that had to be corrected - brought up the "classified" word first, and didn't note that there weren't any emails that were marked classified before they were sent by the Democratic presidential candidate and her former State Department staffers to private accounts. "That’s the real question here, whether any of the e-mails they’re in possession of are ones they had before that they know are classified or they know they looked at or if these are entirely a new batch," Schmidt said.

Schmidt defended the letter and wrongly predicted: "I sort of find it hard to believe that the FBI would go with such an aggressive step of telling Congress without really having some idea of what is truly here. If these end up to be just a bunch of duplicates, then this will have been a big hubbub over nothing." Politico's Josh Gerstein countered that "Comey might have violated Justice Department policy," and said, "We know from our other reporting that Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates strongly advised Comey against sending the letter, but he felt he needed to, so he did it anyway."

Without realizing that her next guest had been a Schmidt source for many articles, host Judy Woodruff asked him, "Is it your understanding from your reporting that FBI officials already know what’s here or are they truly looking for something unknown?" The New York Times journalist responded, "If you look at Director Comey’s letter to Congress, he basically says, we haven’t had a chance to look at these I wonder what the FBI really knows here. And did that lead them to push as far as they did?"

When asked if "Comey acted because of pressure of some sort from FBI agents who felt that he wasn’t being tough enough on Hillary Clinton", Schmidt said, "I find that hard to believe."

"I think that the line FBI agents who really knew what was going on with the e-mail investigation understood why Director Comey came out and said that the bureau wasn’t recommending charges," Schmidt said, before adding, "I think they realized that there wasn’t criminal intent there," and "So the idea that Director Comey would do this facing some insurrection by FBI agents, I think, is probably not true."

In the following half of the NewsHour broadcast, Woodruff welcomed Richman, introducing him as a "professor at Columbia Law School...a former federal prosecutor, himself, and current policy adviser to Director Comey." Richman sounded much like Schmidt, when he said that Comey was "protecting the credibility of the organization and of his own credibility with Congress," and had been "confronted with very little notice with a trove of e-mails that appeared to be pertinent."

Woodruff's other guest, Arent Fox attorney and partner Peter Zeidenberg - who "spent 17 years at the Justice Department as a federal prosecutor" and "also joined 100 others in an open letter critical of Comey’s actions" - said he thought the then FBI director was "premature to notify Congress before he had had a chance to actually examine these e-mails," that "it was a mistake," adding, "And, frankly, I think it was irresponsible to do it and drop this bomb."

"And, as Josh Gerstein mentioned, it’s very possible, if not likely, that all these e-mails have been looked at already," Zeidenberg told Woodruff. "They could all be duplicates."

Woodruff asked Comey's spokesman if there was "inconsistency", since, that day "the Clinton campaign and others pointed out that there is now new reporting that Director Comey didn’t want it to be known that the administration had confirmed that the Russians were behind the hacking of the Democratic National Committee, arguing that it was too close to the election, that this would influence the election."

Five months before Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway would catch heat over "alternative facts", Richman said, "There is only inconsistency, in the sense that there are really different facts."

Richman added: "And I certainly don’t know all the facts with regard to the internal deliberations with regard to the Russian hacking. But, yes, it certainly is the norm that the department doesn’t confirm or deny investigations and doesn’t confirm or deny the focus on any particular party."

"James Comey told a Senate committee on Thursday he was behind the leak of a memo he wrote that said President Donald Trump asked him to stem the FBI’s investigation to former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn," Max Kutner reports for Newsweek. "The account appeared in The New York Times in May, days after the president fired Comey as FBI director."

Kutner adds: "Comey did not name the friend, but Columbia Law School professor Daniel Richman reportedly confirmed he is that person to the Financial Times and CNN. In an email to Newsweek, he declined to comment."

"Richman’s faculty webpage says he is 'currently an adviser to FBI Director James B. Comey.' The New York Times previously quoted Richman in multiple articles about the former FBI director, around the same time the newspaper published the Flynn article. A New Yorker article in May quoted him and described him as Comey’s 'unofficial media surrogate.'"
"The professor is a former federal prosecutor and served as chief appellate attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, where Comey also worked," Kutner notes. NBC News adds: "Richman and Comey’s ties run deep, and the pair has been friends for 30 years, the law professor told NBC News last fall."

Schmidt's byline appears on multiple Comey stories that quote Richman, including "F.B.I.’s Email Disclosure Broke a Pattern Followed Even This Summer" (1/11/16), "Comey Tried to Shield the F.B.I. From Politics. Then He Shaped an Election." (4/22/17), and "‘Enough Was Enough’: How Festering Anger at Comey Ended in His Firing" (5/10/17).

Schmidt has cited Richman as a source - on the record - for his New York Times articles going back at least nine years to 2008, when he reported many stories related to drugs and baseball.

Some examples include: "Canseco Is Said to Seek Favor to Omit Name" (1/24/08), "Motion Would Take Aim At Clemens's Top Lawyer" (2/26/08), "Balco Prosecutors Target Trainer’s Wife" (2/20/08), and "Contradictions in Kirk Radomski’s Book Could Benefit Clemens" (1/25/09).

Schmidt has apparently ducked questions from multiple media organizations regarding his outed relationship with Richman, but he probably isn't the only journalist at the Times and other outlets that has used the former FBI director's friend, colleague, advisor and spokesman as an unnamed source for articles that have been published regarding Russian interference in the 2016 elections, Clinton and Abedin controversies surrounding the use of a private email server, and the presidential race itself.

However, Schmidt got a lot of things wrong in his reporting for the New York Times and in other media appearances, such as the PBS broadcast, but doesn't seem to care or ever apologize for his role in creating - arguably - "fake news". Despite being part of the story, on June 8th, Schmidt conducted a Facebook Live discussion video for the New York Times called "Key Takeaways From Comey's Testimony." One reader asked if Comey would face any "legal repercussions" for "leaks" from himself and "friends" to the media. Schmidt never mentions his source by name.

"Comey explained today how he had instructed one of his friends to put out to the media the contents of one of these memos," Schmidt said, then placed both hands against his chest to add, "I was the recipient of that memo." On May 16, Schmidt had reported, "The New York Times has not viewed a copy of the memo, which is unclassified, but one of Mr. Comey's associates read parts of it to a Times reporter." Schmidt said he didn't think Comey would face any "legal jeopardy" because the "contents of the memo were not classified."

Schmidt claimed "Comey went to great lengths to make sure that the memos were not classified I believe, in part, because if he ever needed to get them out there, that made it much easier." He added, "If they were classified it would have been very difficult to declassify them and get information from them out."

As noted above, the original article can be found at this link.

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