Comey Began Drafting EmailGate 'Exoneration Statement' Before Interviewing 17 Key Witnesses, Including Clinton
Former FBI Director James Comey began drafting a statement announcing his decision not to refer then Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton for prosecution in the investigation into her private email use long before interviewing key witnesses, including Clinton herself, according to new transcripts released by the Senate Judiciary Committee Thursday afternoon. His mind was made up months before the FBI's "immunity agreements" with top Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, as well.
Via Fox News:
“Conclusion first, fact-gathering second—that’s no way to run an investigation,” Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham wrote in a letter this week to the FBI. “The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a matter of such great public interest and controversy.”
Grassley and Graham said they learned about Comey’s draft "exoneration statement" after reviewing transcripts of interviews with top Comey aides.
“According to the unredacted portions of the transcripts, it appears that in April or early May of 2016, Mr. Comey had already decided he would issue a statement exonerating Secretary Clinton,” the senators said.
They added, “That was long before FBI agents finished their work. Mr. Comey even circulated an early draft statement to select members of senior FBI leadership. The outcome of an investigation should not be prejudged while FBI agents are still hard at work trying to gather the facts.”
Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee in 2016, was investigated by the FBI for using a private email address and server to handle classified information while serving as secretary of state.
The letter continues: "It is unclear whether the FBI agents actually investigating the case were aware that Mr. Comey had already decided on the investigation’s outcome while their work was ongoing. However, it appears that the answer to that question may be underneath some of the extensive redactions that the Department made to the transcripts."
In his now-famous press conference on July 5, 2016, Comey laid out all of Clinton’s email infractions, calling her “extremely careless” but stopping short of recommending criminal charges -- citing a lack of intent on her part.
The language Comey used at the time to exonerate Clinton was stunningly similar to then-president Obama's phrasing on Fox News a few months before. "Hillary Clinton was an outstanding secretary of state. She would never intentionally put America in any kind of jeopardy," Obama told Fox News anchor Chris Wallace on April 10, 2016.
The "lack of intent" argument was always puzzling because the pertinent statute in the Espionage Act makes it a felony to mishandle classified information “through gross negligence” (or with “extreme carelessness,” as Comey put it.) Proof of intent is not a requirement, but nevertheless there was a mountain of evidence to support the argument that she knew exactly what she was doing, was aware of State Department rules regarding the handling of classified information, and fully intended to violate them.
Senators Grassley and Graham also said in a news release Thursday that Comey began drafting the statement in April or May of 2016, which was before the FBI interviewed 17 key witnesses and other top aides.
The statement even preceded the FBI's sham immunity deals with top Clinton aides Mills and Samuelson. In the bizarre agreements, the FBI agreed to destroy their laptops. Even more troubling, the immunity deals weren't even necessary because, as Fox News reported last October, "once classified government records are found on a computer, that computer is considered government property." As there was classified material on the laptops of both Mills and Samuelson, they were already technically government property.
It is now abundantly clear that the fix was always in for the "extremely careless," unindicted email conspirator, Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton joined Tucker Carlson on Fox News Thursday night to discuss this latest development, tying it into the FBI's alleged financial support for the infamous Trump dossier.
The FBI has been stonewalling Judicial Watch's efforts to get information on the dossier.
Via Byron York at the Washington Examiner:
On March 8, Judicial Watch filed a FOIA request for documents regarding the bureau's contacts with Christopher Steele, the former British spy who dug for dirt in Russia on candidate Donald Trump in the months before the 2016 presidential election. Steele's effort was commissioned by the oppo research firm Fusion GPS, which at the time was being paid by still-unidentified Democrats who supported Hillary Clinton.
Just weeks before the election, the FBI reportedly agreed to support Steele's oppo project — an extraordinary action in the midst of a campaign which Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said raised "questions about the FBI's independence from politics."
"They [the FBI] started paying the expert [Christopher Steele] behind the dodgy dossier," Fitton said.
"During the campaign?" Tucker asked.
"Right, during the campaign," Fitton answered.
"The FBI helped pay for oppo research on Hillary's opponent?" pressed Tucker.
"That's right," Fitton responded.
Fitton added that whoever is running the FBI is certainly "not someone with the interests of the American people in terms of getting some transparency about the misconduct of the FBI during the Obama administration as they were working to really nail Trump through this really awkward and ... conspiratorial relationship with the authors of the Trump dossier."