Former FBI general counsel James Baker was reportedly “appalled” at the “highly classified” information contained on Hillary Clinton’s unsecured email server and believed she needed to be criminally prosecuted for her conduct.
In October, Baker testified before congressional committees that he and others within the FBI argued “I think, up until the end,” about whether charges against Clinton should be recommended by the bureau, Fox News reported.
“(T)he nature and scope of the classified information that, to me, initially, when I looked at it, I thought these folks should know that this stuff is classified, that it was alarming what they were talking about, especially some of the most highly classified stuff,” Baker told lawmakers.
After the story about Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state broke in March 2015, she told reporters her server contained no classified information. She later changed her story, saying nothing was classified at the time it was sent or received, which she later amended to say there was nothing marked classified. All these statements proved to be false.
In fact, the server contained classified materials from Special Access Programs, or SAP, which is considered the most closely held U.S. government secrets, according to Fox.
Nonetheless, former FBI Director James Comey announced in July 2016 he was not recommending charges be brought against Clinton.
“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 said. “Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent.”
He added, “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.”
Fox News noted the federal law does not require criminal intent for the prosecution of mishandling of classified information; rather the standard is “gross negligence.”
Comey’s characterization of “extremely careless” would appear to meet that threshold.
Baker confirmed during his testimony that he initially thought Clinton should be charged.
“I have reason to believe that you originally believed it was appropriate to charge Hillary Clinton with regard to violations of law — various laws with regard to the mishandling of classified information,” GOP Rep. John Ratcliffe of Texas asked Baker, according to the transcript. “Is that accurate?”
“Yes,” Baker replied.
He further testified that high-level officials at the bureau convinced him that Clinton did not have the necessary “knowledge or criminal intent,” and therefore should not be charged.
Pressed on when he changed his mind, Baker responded, “Sorry. Pretty late in the process, because we were arguing about it, I think, up until the end.”
During an appearance on Fox News’ “Hannity” Wednesday night, investigative reporter Sara Carter said Comey was among the people Baker was battling with over whether to recommend charges against Clinton, based on congressional testimony she reviewed.
The Hill’s John Solomon added, “For a long time, the FBI said everyone was in unanimity about not charging Hillary Clinton. Now we find out to the very last minute James Baker was fighting and disagreeing with that decision.”
Host Sean Hannity argued that Clinton “got away with stuff no other American citizen could ever get away with.”
Baker resigned from the FBI last May and is under criminal investigation for leaking information to the media, Fox News reported.
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