FBI director James Comey released his long awaited report on TV today concerning the results of his yearlong Investigation into Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Use of a Personal E-Mail System. In it he meticulously listed in detail every false statement, lie and serious crime Ms. Clinton committed with regard to her private e-mail scheme during her tenure in office.
Then he looked straight into the camera and concluded with a straight face that he would not be recommending to the Department of Justice that Clinton be prosecuted. Previously, his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, promised the nation after her private meeting with Clinton’s husband, Bill, that she would accept Comey’s recommendation.
In short, director Comey told us today that Hillary’s criminal problems have finally been resolved, eliminated -- fixed. She’s guilty as sin but the fix is in.
Here in relevant part is how it all went down:
“… What I would like to do today is tell you three things: what we did; what we found; and what we are recommending to the Department of Justice…”
“… Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.
By his own admission, Comey confirms that the only intent or gross negligence required under the law is to improperly store or transmit classified material. (18 U.S. Code § 793). That is precisely what Ms.Clinton did. She wanted total control of her work related communications even if it meant improperly storing and transmitting the material. She knew exactly what she was doing at all times. And there is no question whatever that she knowingly removed classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities, i.e., State Department facilities.
“… Secretary Clinton used several different servers and administrators of those servers during her four years at the State Department, and used numerous mobile devices to view and send e-mail on that personal domain…”
“… From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were “up-classified” to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent...”
“… The FBI also discovered several thousand work-related e-mails that were not in the group of 30,000 that were returned by Secretary Clinton to State in 2014…”
“… With respect to the thousands of e-mails we found that were not among those produced to State, agencies have concluded that three of those were classified at the time they were sent or received, one at the Secret level and two at the Confidential level…”
“… Because she was not using a government account—or even a commercial account like Gmail—there was no archiving at all of her e-mails...”
This by itself is a serious violation of the law.
“…Last, we have done extensive work to understand what indications there might be of compromise by hostile actors in connection with the personal e-mail operation…”
“… 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.
Extremely careless equals gross negligence.
For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation. In addition to this highly sensitive information, we also found information that was properly classified as Secret by the U.S. Intelligence Community at the time it was discussed on e-mail (that is, excluding the later “up-classified” e-mails)
This is clear evidence of intent.
None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government — or even with a commercial service like Gmail.
Separately, it is important to say something about the marking of classified information. Only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information. But even if information is not marked “classified” in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.
Clinton absolutely knew that the information was classified and that she was handling it improperly in violation of the law.
While not the focus of our investigation, we also developed evidence that the security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to use of unclassified e-mail systems in particular, was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.
With respect to potential computer intrusion by hostile actors, we did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked. But, given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence. We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.
This is tantamount to an admission that Ms. Clinton’s servers were probably hacked by hostile actors.
So that’s what we found. Finally, with respect to our recommendation to the Department of Justice:
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…”
Comey candidly admits that he has the evidence; he has plenty of evidence that Hillary Clinton violated the law. She committed a felony. And I can find several “reasonable prosecutor’s” who would prosecute her in a heartbeat, including former U.S. Attorney General’s.
“… 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. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.
He doesn’t need a case directly on point. He has the federal statute – the law – and under that law Hillary Clinton should be prosecuted. Her conduct was unprecedented in the history of the United States of America. That’s the flimsy reason Comey comes up with to let her off the hook.
To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.
As a result, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case…”