Thursday’s report on the Hillary Clinton email investigation by Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz was, as Canadian pop-punk degenerates Sum 41 might have put it, “All killer, no filler.” There were so many jaw-dropping moments of, “No, wait — FBI employees can’t do that, can they?” that it transformed an actual government report into a veritable page-turner.
Within all of that, some small moments of irony and significance were bound to get lost in the shuffle. It’s perfectly easy to overlook minor gems in the report when you’ve got a new text message from Peter Strzok promising to “stop” Donald Trump and another FBI agent passing on information to Clinton campaign head John Podesta at the same time he was trying to get his son a job with the Clinton campaign.
One of those minor gems, however, comes when you find out why the FBI didn’t investigate the Blackberries and other email devices of Hillary Clinton’s inner circle.
I know what you’re thinking. First, yes, apparently they still used Blackberries. I know they’re secure and the government was among the last users of the superannuated mobile platform, but given Clinton’s tendency toward antiquated technology, I’m halfway surprised her office computer wasn’t a Commodore Amiga. (“Huma! Can you help me for a sec? My 2400 baud modem isn’t connecting to State Department system.”)
Second, wait, the FBI didn’t check the email devices of Clinton’s inner circle? Why on earth wouldn’t you do that, especially since they likely interacted with Hillary’s server with great frequency — if, in fact, their email accounts weren’t on it in the first place.
The rationale the IG gave — or one particular part of it, at least — was pure gold.
“We found that the FBI team and the prosecutors decided together to generally limit the devices they sought to those that either belonged to Clinton or were used to back-up or cull Clinton’s emails,” the report states on page 153.
“The team provided, among others, the following reasons for placing this limitation on the scope of the investigation: (1) the culture of mishandling classified information at the State Department which made the quantity of potential sources of evidence particularly vast; (2) the belief that Clinton’s own devices and the laptops used to cull her emails were the most likely places to find the complete collection of her emails from her tenure as Secretary of State; and (3) the belief that the State Department was the better entity to conduct a ‘spill investigation.'”
Now, leaving behind the part about “belief that the State Department was the better entity to conduct a ‘spill investigation'” (why is it that when it comes to the Obama administration and its tendrils, everyone assumes that there’s absolutely no conflict of interest in letting an entity investigate itself? Isn’t that why the Carter administration signed the legislation establishing the office of the inspector general in the first place?) the point that is highlighted should tell you everything you need to know about the Obama-era State Department — and, in particular, officials that hung around Hillary Clinton.
Tom Rogan at the Washington Examiner encapsulated it best: “Put another way, the agents thought that they might find so much classified information on unauthorized servers and systems that they would become lost in the maze. Horowitz, in what can only be described as a generous admonition, counters by noting ‘that (this excuse) fails to acknowledge that the team was not required to take an all-or-nothing approach. For example, a middle ground existed where those devices belonging to Clinton’s three top aides — which the team determined accounted for approximately 68 percent of Clinton’s email exchanges — would have been reviewed, but devices belonging to other State Department employees would not.'”
A very generous admonition, I think you’ll agree.
A culture of laxity at the State Department is hardly a surprise (I mean, what do you think started this whole mess?) but the tacit admission that they would simply find too many crimes on other devices ought to be a wake-up call of dramatic proportions.
In other words, it wasn’t just Hillary Clinton being a doddering old lady, claiming that she didn’t know what a (C) in parentheses meant. (It means classified, in case you were wondering.) It was a whole army of people around her who were almost certainly breaking the law by mishandling classified information. The IG report admits as such, even as it notes that those tasked with conducting an independent investigation didn’t out of fear of finding people around Clinton guilty.
This fact alone ought to be reason to fire every person involved with the investigation, up to and including James Comey. (I think Trump may have gotten there already, however.) However, there’s a more important thing to take away from this abdication of responsibility, and it goes to media narrative.
The general media take from the IG report is that that it didn’t make either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump look bad. This is in spite of the fact that nearly everything we’ve seen from this has been irregularities involving Clinton and/or her campaign. Yet they don’t even report that the IG report notes the FBI refused to look into her friends’ devices because they thought they’d find worse crimes on there.
On the other hand, it does raise the question: If even the FBI won’t touch it out of fear it’s too much for them to handle, how bad could the violations be? Let the speculation begin.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.