The original draft of former FBI Director James Comey’s statement announcing former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would not be prosecuted for her use of a private, unsecured email server was released to the public on Thursday.
Among the numerous edits to the document — written on May 2, 2016 — was the removal of five references describing her actions as “grossly negligent,” which legal experts have noted is significant because that is the legal standard found in the relevant statute regarding the mishandling of classified material.
One particularly damning portion that was struck from Comey’s statement, which he delivered to the press on July 5, 2016, read: “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statute proscribing gross negligence in the handling of classified information and of the statute proscribing misdemeanor mishandling, my judgement is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
When news of Clinton’s use of the server first broke in March 2015, Clinton stated at a news conference that the server contained no classified information. That summer, she said none of the emails were classified at the time they were sent. When both of those statements proved to be false, the former secretary of state said there were no emails marked classified at the time they were sent. That representation was also false, according to Comey’s testimony before Congress in July 2016.
USA Today reported that more than 2,000 of the approximately 30,000 work-related emails Clinton turned over to the State Department nearly two years after leaving office, after the documents were the subject congressional subpoenas and FOIA lawsuits, contained classified information.
Senate Homeland and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., recently sent a letter to FBI director Christopher Wray demanding to know why significant edits were made to Comey’s draft and whether the changes were made to politically protect Clinton, The Hill reported.
“The edits to Director Comey’s public statement, made months prior to the conclusion of the FBI’s investigation of Secretary Clinton’s conduct, had a significant impact on the FBI’s public evaluation of the implications of her actions,” Johnson wrote. He also referenced recently released text messages by FBI investigator Peter Strzok, who was involved in the Clinton investigation.
According to Fox News, Strzok was the person who changed the language from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless.”
Text messages released by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General showed Strzok had a strong anti-Trump bias.
In the texts, Strzok described Trump during the 2016 campaign as a “loathsome human” and an “idiot,” and found the prospect of him being president “terrifying.”
Strzok’s alleged mistress, FBI attorney Lisa Page, texted him, “There is no way he gets elected,” to which he replied, “I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy’s office …that there’s no way he gets elected — but I’m afraid we can’t take that risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.”
Andy apparently referred to then-Deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, who served under Comey. Following the release of the text messages, McCabe, 49, reportedly indicated he will be retiring early this year.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted that there is a double-standard in the government’s treatment of Clinton and her former top aide Huma Abedin versus those guilty of far lesser offenses in the military, including Navy sailor Kristian Saucier.
Saucier “pleaded guilty to unlawfully retaining national defense information by taking the six photos inside the USS Alexandria (submarine) with his cellphone in 2009, when he was 22 years old and working as a machinist mate in Connecticut,” The Washington Examiner reported.
The sailor, who served 11 years in the military, said the pictures were an innocent keepsake. One of the pictures was of the submarine’s nuclear reactor.
The photos were deemed “confidential” after they surfaced, when someone found Saucier’s phone in the trash.
Though prosecutors presented no evidence that national security was harmed due to his actions, Saucier was sentenced to a year in prison and dishonorably discharged from the Navy.
The former sailor told the Examiner, “I made an innocent mistake as a kid, it wasn’t planned like Hillary Clinton and them blatantly flouting the law.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., grilled Comey on this very point days after he announced Clinton would not be prosecuted in July 2016.
Gowdy contended there is a “double-tracked justice system” being exercised by the FBI in what Comey ultimately described as Clinton’s “extremely careless” handling of “very sensitive, highly classified information.”
He observed, “If you are a private in the Army and you email yourself classified information, you will be kicked out. But if you are Hillary Clinton and you seek a promotion to commander-in-chief, you will not be.”
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