On July 5, 2016 former FBI Director James Comey delivered a nationally televised announcement in which he exonerated Hillary Clinton of any illegal behavior regarding the handling of classified information on her private email server and mobile devices.
The FBI’s official transcript of Comey’s statement can be seen here: www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/statement-by-fbi-director-james-b-comey-on-the-investigation-of-secretary-hillary-clinton2019s-use-of-a-personal-e-mail-system
Let’s take a fresh look at excerpts from Comey’s statement in light of recent reports that he had prepared drafts of his statement as early as March 2016 before witnesses, including Clinton, were interviewed by the FBI.
After each excerpt (in quotes) is a satirical translation (in italics) to indicate how a skeptic might interpret Comey’s words in retrospect.
“First, I am going to include more detail about our process than I ordinarily would, because I think the American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest.”
First, I am going to provide a sketchy overview of a tiny portion of what FBI investigators found during their probe in the Clinton matter. Detailed evidentiary records will be withheld from the public in perpetuity and any attempt to seek this information will be stonewalled in the finest Nixonian tradition.
“Second, I have not coordinated or reviewed this statement in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government. They do not know what I am about to say.”
Second, I would be lying if I said I did not coordinate this statement months ago with my superiors in the Department of Justice and the White House as well as trusted associates within the Bureau. This precaution on my part should forestall any and all groundless accusations that the outcome of the investigation was a foregone conclusion or that I and my colleagues conspired to obstruct justice, even if it appears that way.
“I want to start by thanking the FBI employees who did remarkable work in this case.”
I hope FBI rank-and-file agents will forgive me for rendering the fruits of their hard work unrecognizable and drawing a conclusion that is unsupported by mounds of incriminating evidence they uncovered. Fortunately, our agents know that there is a political component to their work and that it is necessary at times to gloss over inconvenient facts. They also understand that certain powerful politicians must be afforded a wide degree of latitude in the application of the law. In other words, hard evidence alone is insufficient when dealing with the politicians who run our government. The concept of equal justice under the law is malleable in this regard. Hence, I trust that FBI agents, in their professional wisdom, will abide the delicate elasticity I am applying to the Clinton matter.
“Consistent with our counterintelligence responsibilities, we have also investigated to determine whether there is evidence of computer intrusion in connection with the personal e-mail server by any foreign power, or other hostile actors.”
We investigated whether Secretary Clinton’s personal email server may have been breached by a foreign power or other hostile actors and couldn’t completely rule out that possibility. At the same time, we did not consider the destruction of evidence by Secretary Clinton or her associates in the form of bleach-bit cleansing or hammer blows to be a violent breach and obliteration of subpoenaed evidence.
“The lawyers doing the sorting for Secretary Clinton in 2014 did not individually read the content of all of her e-mails, as we did for those available to us; instead, they relied on header information and used search terms to try to find all work-related e-mails among the reportedly more than 60,000 total e-mails remaining on Secretary Clinton’s personal system in 2014. It is highly likely their search terms missed some work-related e-mails, and that we later found them, for example, in the mailboxes of other officials or in the slack space of a server.”
Secretary Clinton and her associates failed to preserve subpoenaed files and records, all of which are considered official government records; instead, they deliberately destroyed approximately 30,000 emails, claiming the files were personal and unrelated to government business. Who can fault Secretary Clinton and her friends for taking such measures to ensure her privacy? By all accounts, emails relating to government business were carefully and honestly identified and furnished to law enforcement authorities. Except for a few minor irregularities, there is no reason to suspect that any of the deleted emails were anything other than personal in nature.
“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were grossly negligent in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.
“Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
Almost any prosecutor who can fog a mirror would bring charges in this case based on the overwhelming evidence uncovered by FBI investigators, but that prosecutor would be politically tone-deaf if he did so.
“In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts.”
Although there are a number of individuals that have been charged, convicted and incarcerated for much less, those individuals do not have Secretary Clinton’s political power and connections. It’s that simple. Extenuating circumstances dictate that Secretary Clinton be absolved of any wrongdoing that could possibly have legal consequences. To do otherwise would be tantamount to political malpractice on my part.
“What I can assure the American people is that this investigation was done competently, honestly, and independently. No outside influence of any kind was brought to bear.”
What I can assure the American people is that this investigation is over, as far as I’m concerned. I am relieved that the intense political pressure to clear Secretary Clinton is now behind me. I apologize to Secretary Clinton for the baseless accusations that were unfairly lodged against her. Our exhaustive probe into this matter not only exonerates Secretary Clinton but confirms her reputation as a selfless public servant of unassailable integrity.
You be the judge. Does the revised version of Comey’s remarks appear closer to the truth? If so, what does that say about our justice system and law enforcement officials, who are sworn to uphold the Constitution?