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Is the FBI trying to swing the election?


Here is a strange thing that happened: An FBI-affiliated Twitter account, which had been dormant for a year, sent out a boatload of tweets on Sunday, then released 129 pages of documents on Tuesday related to the FBI’s investigation into Bill Clinton’s controversial 2000 pardon of donor Marc Rich.

The documents were apparently put online on Monday, but weren’t tweeted until Tuesday and appear to have resulted from an FOIA request. According to Bloomberg, it’s “standard FBI practice” to post those documents online. What isn’t standard—given that the FBI Vaults account was dormant for so long—is to tweet those documents out. (One of the items tweeted on October 30 related to Fred Trump, Donald Trump’s father, but did not contain any damning information.)

The Clinton campaign and many of its supporters quickly jumped on the timing of these tweets, which, it goes without saying, is very strange, especially given James Comey’s decision on Friday to publicly announce that the FBI had found new emails that might be related to its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server. This led many people to connect the dots and suggest that a “coup” was underway.

Make no mistake: The document dump is very strange. But it also came from a Twitter account that people know very little about and is almost certainly not the key cog in a larger conspiracy. And suggesting that these tweets are a sign of a major conspiracy is irresponsible, given the total lack of evidence. That’s not to say it’s not weird and a bit troubling. The FBI has not clarified why it has started tweeting out FOIA dumps again, and it should (it hasn’t responded to a request for comment from The New Republic). But there is absolutely no evidence to tie it to a larger scheme to swing the election to Donald Trump.

There’s one week until the election is over and there’s understandably a lot of panic out there. But that panic is leading people to jump to radical conclusions—that Trump is a Russian sleeper agent, that Russia is blackmailing Trump, that the FBI is trying to undermine our democracy. There have been plenty of devastating revelations about Trump this cycle—that he is a demagogue and a racist and a misogynist who has been credibly accused of decades of sexual assault and harassment. It’s true that those devastating revelations have not knocked Trump out for the count, but that’s still not a reason to invent new ones.