FBI Director James Comey’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private, unsecured email server does not mark the first time that he has investigated the presidential candidate for alleged wrongdoing.
Time reports that 20 years ago, Comey was a deputy special counsel on the Senate Whitewater Committee, looking into the conduct of then President Bill Clinton and the first lady. The inquiry focused on whether Bill had used his political position as governor of Arkansas in the 1980s to push through an illegal loan to benefit the couple’s business partner in the Whitewater [real estate] Development Corporation.
Several people involved with the Whitewater corporation (including Clinton’s successor as governor) ultimately went to jail, but the Clintons never faced criminal prosecution. The issue of their involvement none-the-less lingered as Bill Clinton ran and was elected president.
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The alleged wrongdoing directed at Hillary Clinton was akin to her current email scandal: mishandling of documents related to a criminal investigation. The New York Times reports that when Clinton’s former law partner Vince Foster met an untimely death at 48 (reportedly by suicide), the first lady had Whitewater papers that he had in his law office taken to the White House, where they were locked away.
Comey found Hillary Clinton’s conduct unacceptable. Time reports:
In 1996, after months of work, Comey came to some damning conclusions: Hillary Clinton was personally involved in mishandling documents and had ordered others to block investigators as they pursued their case. Worse, her behavior fit into a pattern of concealment: she and her husband had tried to hide their roles in two other matters under investigation by law enforcement.
Taken together, the interference by White House officials, which included destruction of documents, amounted to “far more than just aggressive lawyering or political naiveté,” Comey and his fellow investigators concluded. It constituted “a highly improper pattern of deliberate misconduct.”
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Comey told Congress in February, “I want to ensure [the Clinton email investigation] is done in the ways the FBI does all its work: professionally, with integrity, promptly, and without any interference whatsoever.”
Comey cannot be accused of being partisan. In 2007, after he had left his position as deputy attorney general under George W. Bush to work in the private sector, he agreed to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Comey’s testimony ultimately led to the discovery that Gonzales had improperly stored classified information, which in turn led to his resignation.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the investigation into the former secretary of state’s emails is entering a new phase as the FBI sets up interviews with Clinton’s current and former closest aides. The presidential candidate herself may soon follow.
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