The Obama-era Department of Justice set an “unusually high threshold” for filing charges against Hillary Clinton for mishandling of classified information on her email server, essentially killing the investigation into the 2016 frontrunner before it even began, according to a report Monday based on previously non-public testimony in the case.
“In order for Clinton to be prosecuted, the DOJ required the FBI to establish evidence of intent — even though the gross negligence statute explicitly does not require this,” the article by the New York-based Epoch Times reports.
“This meant that the FBI would have needed to find a smoking gun, such as an email or an admission made during FBI questioning, revealing Clinton or her aides knowingly set up the private email server to send classified information.
“Hillary Clinton was famously exonerated by FBI Director James Comey in a July 5, 2016, press conference, which immediately became the subject of controversy,” the report continues.
“Notably, Comey had been convinced to remove the term ‘gross negligence’ to describe Clinton’s actions from his prepared statement by, among others, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, FBI agent Peter Strzok, senior legal counsel Trisha Anderson, and FBI analyst Jonathan Moffa.”
The decision to eliminate gross negligence as a reason to pursue charges had also been reached by then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
This, in other words, is the unholy triumvirate of swampiness when it came to the Clinton case: Lynch, Strzok and Page.
Lynch, you’ll probably remember, famously met with Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac in Phoenix just before Comey cleared Clinton in the email case.
As for Strzok and Page, well, you can also probably remember their text message history and just what they thought of both Clinton and our current president.
And then there was James Comey, whose announcement regarding the Clinton case was the beginning of a comedy of errors that ended up costing him his job.
“Because of Comey’s statement, many have mistakenly concluded that the FBI acted independently from DOJ influence in their investigation of Clinton. Congressional testimonies by high ranking FBI officials involved in the investigation reveal, however, that this was not the case,” the Epoch Times report reads.
We’re just beginning to go down the rabbit-hole, however — because it turns out the closed-door testimony that the Epoch Times got ahold of is damning in its own right.
The most damning part may have come from communications by Bill Priestap, the assistant director of counterintelligence for the FBI.
“Priestap was shown an email sent from an unknown individual in the FBI general counsel’s office to Priestap’s former boss, Michael Steinbach, which contained a chart of ‘available statutes for prosecuting the former Secretary of State.’ Gross Negligence was specifically excluded from the chargeable statutes available to the FBI. Priestap, who had not previously seen the document, expressed concerns that this might have hindered the work of FBI investigators,” the Epoch Times reported.
“Priestap said that it was his understanding that the gross negligence standard had not been met — as opposed to not pursued — in the Clinton case. As Priestap noted, ‘if I understood from the department that they would never charge a particular statute, I would want to know that before I’m going to dedicate resources to a particular topic. I didn’t know that.'”
Lisa Page, however, testified that that idea had been shot down. She said that there was no reason to pursue gross negligence to begin with.
“Let’s assume things are going swimmingly and, in fact, all 17 of those witnesses admit, ‘We did it, it was on purpose, we totally wanted to mishandle classified information,’ gross negligence would still have been off the table because of the department’s assessment that it was vague,” she told Congress.
“We would have other crimes to now charge, but gross negligence would not have been among them.”
When Rep. John Ratcliffe, a Texas Republican, told Page it seemed like, “you all just blew over gross negligence,” she issued a bit of a non-denial denial.
“We did not blow over gross negligence. We, in fact — and, in fact, the Director — because on its face, it did seem like, well, maybe there’s a potential here for this to be the charge. And we had multiple conversations, multiple conversations with the Justice Department about charging gross negligence,” she said.
However, she added that due to “constitutional vagueness,” a charge of gross negligence couldn’t be pursued without proof of intent. Which was interesting, because gross negligence was what the bureau used to get a warrant on Anthony Weiner’s laptop.
“Okay. So let me if I can, I know I’m testing your memory, but when you say advice you got from the Department, you’re making it sound like it was the Department that told you: ‘You’re not going to charge gross negligence because we’re the prosecutors and we’re telling you we’re not going to–‘” Ratcliffe asked Page during the hearing.
“That is correct.”
“–bring a case based on that.”
And this wasn’t just the FBI: “Everybody talks about this as if this was the FBI investigation, and the truth of the matter is there was not a single step, other than the July 5th statement, there was not a single investigative step that we did not do in consultation with or at the direction of the Justice Department,” Page said.
According to the Epoch Times report, Ryan Breitenbach, House Majority Counsel at the time, had an interesting reaction to this idea of what constituted gross negligence and why it mattered: ““I think there might be many who would question whether people in this room would still be in this room if we had hit 1,300 (classified) emails on our personal Gmail service.”
But no. Even though the statute had nothing to do with intent, the Department of Justice decided to limit to crimes of intent. And while there was some evidence that pointed toward some level of intent, it was clear the DOJ had set an impossibly bar.
Clinton wasn’t charged, although she ended up getting the ultimate October surprise from James Comey.
Even still, there were questions as to whether she should have even been in the field at that point. There was enough evidence, given the classified emails on her private server, for charges to be made under the statute. What the DOJ did instead is informally change the statute, making it almost impossible to prosecute Hillary Clinton.
No, Hillary Clinton won’t be locked up at this point. However, it’s fun to look back and realize, as Barack Obama claims his administration was scandal-free, that’s far from the truth.
Don’t expect the mainstream media to report on it.
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