The recent disclosure that then-FBI Director James Comey prepared a statement letting Hillary Clinton off the hook for her abuse of classified information more than two months before his public announcement shouldn’t be a surprise, according to a former federal prosecutor.
Comey simply was following a defense strategy voiced by President Obama in April 2016 and leaked by the State Department a month later “of concocting a crime no one was claiming Clinton had committed,” said former assistant U.S. attorney Andrew McCarthy, writing in National Review’s blog The Corner.
Obama, his Justice Department and Comey insisted the bar for prosecuting Clinton was evidence she had transmitted classified information with an intent to harm the United States.
But the relevant statute doesn’t require intent. The evidence that she, as Comey admitted, willfully transmitted classified information, was grossly negligent in handling it, and withheld or destroyed government records was enough to prosecute her.
“With media-Democrat complex help, they peddled the narrative that she could not be convicted absent this ‘malicious intent,’ in a desperate effort to make the publicly known evidence seem weak,” McCarthy wrote.
“Meanwhile, they quietly hamstrung FBI case investigators in order to frustrate the evidence-gathering process.”
Moreover, McCarthy points out, Obama knew at the time that he had communicated with Clinton over her non-secure, private communications system, using an alias. The Obama administration refused to disclose the email exchanges because they undoubtedly involve classified conversations between the president and his secretary of state, McCarthy said.
The bottom line, he said, is it “would not have been possible to prosecute Mrs. Clinton for mishandling classified information without it being clear that President Obama had engaged in the same conduct.”
And the Obama administration “was never, ever going to allow that to happen.”
When evidence began mounting that Clinton was guilty of gross negligence in her handling of classified information, the Obama administration rewrote the statute in an attempt to impose the “imaginary intent standards” and by “offering absurd rationalizations for not applying the statute as written,” McCarthy said.
“That plan was in place and already being implemented when Director Comey began drafting the ‘findings’ he would announce months later. But it was not Comey’s plan. It was Obama’s plan.”
Comey’s April statement was revealed last week by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. in a letter to new FBI Director Christopher Wray.
The senators pointed out that as of early May 2016, the FBI had not yet interviewed Clinton.
“Moreover, it had yet to finish interviewing sixteen other key witnesses, including Cheryl Mills, Bryan Pagliano, Heather Samuelson, Justin Cooper and John Bentel. These individuals had intimate and personal knowledge relating to Secretary Clinton’s non-government server, including helping her build and administer the device,” the senators wrote.
Obama was ‘calling the shots’
McCarthy said it’s important to understand that while Comey was the face of the investigation, he was not calling the shots.
McCarthy recalled that on April 10, 2016, President Obama publicly stated that Clinton had shown “carelessness” in using a private email server to handle classified information.
Obama made a point of insisting she had not intended to endanger national security, even though intent is not an element of the criminal statutes relevant to her email scandal.
The president acknowledged that classified information had been transmitted through her server, but he claimed the importance of that fact had been vastly overstated.
McCarthy argues that is “precisely the reasoning that Comey relied on in ultimately absolving Clinton.”
In his July 5, 2016, news conference, Comey stated that Clinton had been “extremely careless” in using a private email server to handle classified information but had not intended to endanger national security.
In May 2016, the Obama Justice Department was leaking to the Washington Post that Clinton probably would not be charged and that her top aide, Cheryl Mills, was considered a cooperating witness rather than a co-conspirator.
Citing its sources inside the investigation, the Post said there was “scant evidence tying Clinton to criminal wrongdoing” because there was “scant evidence that Clinton had malicious intent in [the] handling of e-mails.”
McCarthy noted that like Obama, the Post and its sources neglected to mention that Clinton’s felonies did not require proof of “malicious intent” or any purpose to harm the United States.
In May 2016, McCarthy pointed out, the Obama Justice Department was simultaneously barring the FBI from asking Mills questions that went to the heart of the emails investigation. The agency couldn’t ask her about the process by which Clinton and her underlings decided which of her 60,000 emails to surrender to the State Department and which would be withheld. Ultimately, about 33,000 being were withheld as “private.”
“This was the start of a series of Justice Department shenanigans we would come to learn about: Cutting off key areas of inquiry; cutting inexplicable immunity deals; declining to use the grand jury to compel evidence; agreeing to limit searches of computers (in order to miss key time-frames when obstruction occurred); agreeing to destroy physical evidence (laptop computers); failing to charge and squeeze witnesses who made patently false statements; allowing subjects of the investigation to act as lawyers for other subjects of the investigation (in order to promote the charade that some evidence was off-limits due to the attorney-client privilege); and so on.”
McCarthy concluded that if one wants to say Comey “went along for the ride rather than bucking the tide (as he concedes doing when Lynch directed him to call the Clinton probe a ‘matter,’ not an ‘investigation’), that’s fair. But the fact that Comey already knew in April what he would say in July has long been perfectly obvious.”
“The Obama administration was going to follow its leader. What Comey ultimately stated was just a repeat of what Obama was openly saying in April, and what Obama’s Justice Department was leaking to the press in May. ”