Occasional reflections on Life, the World, and Mathematics

The smoking gun


US Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is all in favour of selective leaks from the FBI about ongoing investigations:

HH: It’s just a practical impossibility. But he might find a smoking gun. If he does, do you think he has an obligation to tell the American people about it?

PR: Yeah, look, I understand why he did what he did, because imagine if he didn’t, and we found out after the fact that he was sitting on this before the election. So I clearly understand why he did what he did. Hillary Clinton has no one to blame but herself, and she and Republicans are saying if you’ve got something you’ve got cleared, put it out there. So yeah, I think if he’s gone through the process that he needs to go through to vet evidence, and he’s got it, he should do it. I do agree with that. More disclosure is better, clearly.

Ordinarily, the crime-fiction term “smoking gun” involves investigation into, you know, a murder, there’s a body, there’s a suspect, and there’s a gun in his/her hand that seems to have just been used. In this case we must imagine a scene like the following:

JW: We see here the smoking gun. What do you make of it, Holmes?

SH: Yes, very odd that this gun has been smoking for the past four years. This is proof that Mrs Clinton is a murderer. It remains only for us to determine who has been murdered.

What is the actual crime that the “smoking gun” is supposed to be incontrovertible proof of? What lurid fantasies do the Republicans and the FBI have of the contents of these missing emails? Contacts with Libyan rebels informing them of the weak points in Benghazi consulate security? The communication that lured Vince Foster into the park? Arrangements to pay a dozen different women to falsely accuse Donald Trump of sexual assault?

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