Responds to report Comey made decision to exonerate before investigation complete
Hillary Clinton’s bid to win election to the Oval Office may be over – for now – but it appears her email scandal will go on and on and on.
On Friday, President Trump said on social media, ‘Wow, looks like James Comey exonerated Hillary Clinton long before the investigation was over … and so much more. A rigged system!”
Wow, looks like James Comey exonerated Hillary Clinton long before the investigation was over…and so much more. A rigged system!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 1, 2017
His wonderment followed by only a day a report, according to CourthouseNews, that “Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Thursday that Comey had circulated drafts of [a] memo rejecting criminal charges for Clinton over her handling of classified material while secretary of state two months before the FBI interviewed her as part of its probe.”
That very interview created issues when it happened, since it apparently was not recorded, leaving agents without a way to corroborate any statements she made.
The email scandal is familiar to all by now: Clinton set up a private computer system for her own use to handle government email while she was secretary of state. However, the problems included that her plan allowed secret government information to be on unsecured systems, and deprived government archivists of their required access to her communications, among other issues.
She stated that there was no classified information on her system emails, yet the FBI found hundreds.
She stated she had turned over all government emails to the government, yet investigators found pages and pages that were not included.
Trump’s reaction came after the senators sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for all drafts of the statement Comey delivered July 5, 2016.
That was when he admitted Clinton was “extremely careless” with classified government documents. But then he stepped out of the role as investigator, and into the role of prosecutor, and determined no reasonable prosecutor would charge her.
He further complicated the issue by announcing just a few days before the election that the investigation was being reopened because additional emails were found, and then just days later, literally in the shadow of the election, that his recommendation of no charges would stand.
Hillary Clinton blamed his actions in large part for her collapse in the race and her loss to President Trump.
In the letter from the two Republican senators, they said they found out Comey worked on a statement exonerating Clinton as early as April 2016 – from transcripts of interviews the Office of Special Counsel conducted.
National security attorney Mark Zaid was quoted by Courthouse News that Comey “could have had an early idea of what the outcome” of the investigation would be – even before key interviews.
“Zaid said the gross negligence provision of the Espionage Act was the most likely applicable to the investigation, and that Comey could have determined there were serious constitutional issues about how to apply criminal intent to a gross negligence statute,” the report said.
“You don’t need to have anything from Clinton to identify that problem,” he said to the agency. “From a policy perspective it’s ludicrous to think that the government is going to go out on a limb to test a completely novel argument on a presidential candidate, given the consequences it could have.”
The report said, “The six-page letter from Graham and Grassley contained partial transcripts they said they received from the Office of Special Counsel, a government watchdog that had investigated whether Comey had violated the Hatch Act, which prohibits government employees from engaging in political activity in their official capacities.”
The report noted one of those transcripts might have been from Jim Rybicki, Comey’s former chief of staff , and said the former director emailed “a couple folks” in spring, perhaps as early as April, on his thoughts.
Comey was fired by the president in May, and at that time Trump cited his handling of the Clinton email scandal.
Comey, in return, collected his personal notes from private conversations with the president, likely considered government documents, and turned them over to a friend to give to reporters.
He said he wanted to reveal the confidential information to trigger a demand for a special prosecutor in the so-called “Russia” investigation, which did happen.
According to the letter from the senators, the FBI had still pending interviews with 17 key witnesses when Comey drafted his exoneration statement.
A video also appeared in which Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, pointed out to Comey during a congressional hearing the long list of evidence the FBI did not have for its investigation.
That list included the Clintons’ server, laptop, Blackberrys, 13 mobile devices, various backups, copies of her emails, her lawyers’ laptops, and more.