In Berger probe said ‘we take issues of classified information very seriously’
NEW YORK – FBI Director James Comey has a long history of involvement in Department of Justice actions that arguably ended up favorable to the Clintons.
In 2004, Comey, then serving as a deputy attorney general in the Justice Department, apparently limited the scope of the criminal investigation of Sandy Berger, which left out former Clinton administration officials who may have coordinated with Berger in his removal and destruction of classified records from the National Archives. The documents were relevant to accusations that the Clinton administration was negligent in the build-up to the 9/11 terrorist attack.
On Tuesday, Comey announced that despite evidence of “extreme negligence by Hillary Clinton and her top aides regarding the handling of classified information through a private email server, the FBI would not refer criminal charges to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Justice Department.
Curiously, Berger, Lynch and Cheryl Mills all worked as partners in the Washington law firm Hogan & Hartson, which prepared tax returns for the Clintons and did patent work for a software firm that played a role in the private email server Hillary Clinton used when she was secretary of state.
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Lynch and Comey both served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York. They crossed paths in the investigation of HSBC bank, which avoided criminal charges in a massive money-laundering scandal for which the bank paid a $1.9 billion fine.
After Attorney General John Aschroft recused himself in the Valerie Plame affair in 2004, Comey appointed as special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald, who ended up convicting “Scooter” Libby, a top aide to then Vice President Dick Cheney, of perjury and obstruction of justice. The charge affirmed the accusations of Plame and her former ambassador husband, Joe Wilson – both partisan supporters of Bill and Hillary Clinton – that Libby outed her as a CIA agent.
New York Times reporter Judith Miller’s 2015 memoir strongly suggests Fitzgerald improperly manipulated testimony and withheld crucial evidence in obtaining a conviction against Libby in his 2007 trial.
Prosecutor in Berger case
As deputy attorney general, Comey was involved in the investigation of Berger, as Fox News reported in 2004
Berger at that time was under criminal investigation by the Justice Department for removing from the National Archives various classified documents that should have been turned over to the independent commission investigating the 9/11 terror attacks and for removing handwritten notes he made while reviewing the documents.
The New York Times reported in 2005 that Republican leaders speculated Berger removed the documents from the National Archives because he was trying to conceal material that could be damaging to the Clinton administration.
There is no evidence Comey’s investigation for the Justice Department made any attempt to determine if anyone affiliated with the Clinton White House prompted Berger or coordinated with him in the decision to remove the classified documents.
Various statements Comey made about Berger’s mishandling of classified documents bear comparison to his comments regarding Hillary Clinton’s email server.
In 2004, Fox News noted Comey told reporters he could not comment on the Berger investigation but did address the general issue of mishandling classified documents.
“As a general matter, we take issues of classified information very seriously,” Comey said in response to a reporter’s question.
He added that the department had prosecuted and sought administrative sanctions against people for mishandling classified information.
“It’s our lifeblood, those secrets,” Comey continued. “It’s against the law for anyone to intentionally mishandle classified documents either by taking it to give to somebody else or by mishandling it in a way that is outside the government regulations.”
On April 1, 2005, Berger pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of intentionally removing documents from the National Archives and destroying some of them. He was fined $50,000, sentenced to 100 hours of community service and two years probation. Also, his national security license was stripped for two years.
Messages found stored on Clinton’s private email server show that Berger – a convicted thief of classified documents – had been advising Clinton while she served as secretary of state and had access to emails containing classified information.
For example, in an email dated Sept. 22, 2009, Berger advised Clinton advised how she could leverage information to make Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu more cooperative in discussions with the Obama administration over a settlement freeze.
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Law firm ties Berger, Lynch, Mills
Berger worked as a partner in the Washington law firm Hogan & Hartson from 1973 to 1977, before taking a position as the deputy director of policy planning at the State Department in the Carter administration.
When Carter lost his re-election bid, Berger returned to Hogan & Hartson, where he worked until he took leave in 1988 to act as foreign policy adviser in Gov. Michael Dukakis’ presidential campaign.
When Dukakis was defeated, Berger returned to Hogan & Hartson until he became foreign policy adviser for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign in 1992.
On March 28, WND reported Lynch was a litigation partner for eight years at Hogan & Hartson, from March 2002 through April 2010.
Mills also worked at Hogan & Hartson, for two years, starting in 1990, before she joined then President-elect Bill Clinton’s transition team, on her way to securing a position as White House deputy counsel in the Clinton administration.
According to documents Hillary Clinton’s first presidential campaign made public in 2008, Hogan & Hartson’s New York-based partner Howard Topaz was the tax lawyer who filed income tax returns for Bill and Hillary Clinton beginning in 2004.
In addition, Hogan & Hartson in Virginia filed a patent trademark request on May 19, 2004, for Denver-based MX Logic Inc., the computer software firm that developed the email encryption system used to manage Clinton’s private email server beginning in July 2013. A tech expert has observed that employees of MX Logic could have had access to all the emails that went through her account.
In 1999, President Bill Clinton nominated Lynch for the first of her two terms as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, a position she held until she joined Hogan & Hartson in March 2002 to become a partner in the firm’s Litigation Practice Group.
She left Hogan & Hartson in 2010, after being nominated by President Obama for her second term as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, a position she held until Obama nominated her to serve in her current position as attorney general.
A report published April 8, 2008, by The American Lawyer noted Hogan & Hartson was among Hillary Clinton’s biggest financial supporters in the legal industry during her first presidential campaign.
“Firm lawyers and staff have donated nearly $123,400 to her campaign so far, according to campaign contribution data from the Center for Responsive Politics,” Nate Raymond observed in The American Lawyer article. “Christine Varney, a partner in Hogan’s Washington, D.C., office, served as chief counsel to the Clinton-Gore Campaign in 1992.”
While there is no evidence that Lynch played a direct role either in the tax work done by the firm for the Clintons or in linking Hillary’s private email server to MX Logic, the ethics of the legal profession hold all partners jointly liable for the actions of other partners in a business.
“If Hogan and Hartson previously represented the Clintons on tax matters, it is incumbent upon U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to [disclose] what, if any, role she had in such tax matters,” said Tom Fitton, president of Washington-based Judicial Watch.
When Lynch’s nomination as attorney general was considered by the Senate one year ago, as WND reported, the Senate Judiciary Committee examined her role in the Obama administration’s decision not to prosecute the banking giant HSBC for laundering funds for Mexican drug cartels and Middle Eastern terrorists.
WND was first to report in a series of articles beginning in 2012 money-laundering charges brought by John Cruz, a former HSBC vice president and relationship manager, based on his more than 1,000 pages of evidence and secret audio recordings.
The staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee focused on Cruz’s allegations that Lynch, acting then in her capacity as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, engaged in a Department of Justice cover-up. Obama’s attorney general nominee allowed HSBC in December 2011 to enter into a “deferred prosecution” settlement in which the bank agreed to pay a $1.9 billion fine and admit “willful criminal conduct” in exchange for dropping criminal investigations and prosecutions of HSBC directors or employees.
Cruz called the $1.92 billion fine the U.S. government imposed on HSBC “a joke” and filed a $10 million lawsuit for “retaliation and wrongful termination.”
From 2002 to 2003, Comey held the position of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the same position held by Lynch.
On March 4, 2013, he joined the HSBC board of directors, agreeing to serve as an independent non-executive director and a member of the bank’s Financial System Vulnerabilities Committee, positions he held until he resigned on Aug. 3, 2013, to become head of the FBI.
Comey, Fitzgerald and Valerie Plame
On Jan. 1, 2004, the Washington Post reported that after Attorney General John Aschroft recused himself and his staff from any involvement in the investigation of who leaked the name of CIA employee Valerie Plame after journalist Robert Novak named her in print as a CIA operative, Comey assumed the role of acting attorney general for the purposes of the investigation.
Comey appointed Patrick J. Fitzgerald, a U.S. attorney in Chicago, to act as special counsel in conducting the inquiry into what became known as “Plamegate.”
At the time Comey made the appointment, Fitzgerald was already godfather to one of Comey’s children.
On April 13, 2015, co-authoring a USA Today op-ed piece, Plame and her husband, retired ambassador Joseph Wilson, made public their support for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, openly acknowledging their political closeness to both Hillary and Bill Clinton.
The first two paragraphs of the editorial read:
We have known Hillary Clinton both professionally and personally for close to 20 years, dating back to before President Bill Clinton’s first trip to Africa in 1998 — a trip that they both acknowledge changed their lives, and gave considerable meaning to their post-White House years and to the activities of the Clinton Foundation. Joe, serving as the National Security Council Senior Director for African Affairs, was instrumental in arranging that historic visit.
Our history became entwined with Hillary further after Valerie’s identity as a CIA officer was deliberately exposed. That criminal act was taken in retribution for Joe’s article in The New York Times in which he explained he had discovered no basis for the Bush administration’s justification for the Iraq War that Saddam Hussein was seeking yellowcake uranium to develop a nuclear weapon.
In January 2016, Chuck Ross in the Daily Caller reported that Hillary Clinton emails made public made clear that one of her “most frequent favor-seekers when she was secretary of state was former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, a longtime Clinton friend, an endorser of Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, and an Africa expert with deep business ties on the continent.”
Ross noted that Wilson emailed Clinton on Dec. 22, 2009, seeking help for Symbion Power, an American engineering contractor for whom Wilson consulted, in the company’s bid to pursue a U.S. Agency of International Development contract for work in Afghanistan.
In the case of the Afghanistan project, Ross noted, Clinton vouched for Wilson and Symbion as she forwarded the request to Jack Lew, who served then as deputy secretary of state for management and resources.
Ross further reported Wilson’s request might also have been discussed with President Obama, as one email indicates.
In 2005, Fitzgerald prosecuted Libby, a prominent adviser to then Vice President Dick Cheney, in the Plame investigation, charging him with two counts of perjury, two counts of making false statements to federal prosecutors and one count of obstruction of justice.
On March 6, 2007, Libby was convicted of four of the five counts, and on June 5, 2007, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton to two and a half years in federal prison.
On April 6, 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported the publication of New York Times reporter Judith Miller’s memoir “The Story: A Reporter’s Journey” exposed “unscrupulous conduct” by Fitzgerald in the 2007 trial of Libby.
WSJ reporter Peter Berkowitz noted Miller “writes that Mr. Fitzgerald induced her to give what she now realizes was false testimony.”
“By withholding critical information and manipulating her memory as he prepared her to testify, Ms. Miller relates, Mr. Fitzgerald ‘steered’ her ‘in the wrong direction.’”