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Yes... the Fix was in

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1 Yes... the Fix was in on 5/20/2018, 12:04 pm

These columns have repeatedly pointed out that the decision whether to indict Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information was not the FBI’s call. It was up to the Obama Justice Department, which was in the tank for Mrs. Clinton and was taking direction from President Obama. In April 2016, Obama publicly stated that he did not want his party’s inevitable nominee charged with a crime.

In making that assertion, Obama distorted the Espionage Act, falsely implying that it required proof of intent to harm the United States before someone could be convicted of mishandling classified information. To the contrary, the law holds that a person is guilty (1) if she willfully causes the unauthorized transmission of classified information — meaning if she understands the wrongfulness of the action and intentionally performs it anyway — or (2) if through “gross negligence” she permits the information to be removed from its proper place or to be otherwise mishandled (see Section 793(d), (e), and (f) of Title 18, U.S. Code). The Justice Department adopted Obama’s erroneous intent standard, as, ultimately, did Comey.

The former director’s statements in the Brett Baier interview firmly establish that the decision not to indict Mrs. Clinton was based on Obama Justice Department standards, not on the terms of the statute.

For example, when asked why he was confident, long before Clinton was even interviewed, that she would not be charged, Comey said the investigators working the case told him, “Look boss, on the current course and speed, it looks like it’s not gonna get to a place where the prosecutors would bring it.” It was not that the evidence was insufficient under the law; it was that the Justice Department would not indict.

Baier then played a now-familiar recording of Comey, under questioning by Representative Trey Gowdy (R., S.C.), conceding that Clinton had made various false claims about her emails (no emails “marked ‘classified,’” no classified emails sent or stored, all work-related emails returned to the State Department). Baier then asked why, despite this pattern, Comey had made his decision against charges even before Clinton was questioned. While denying that he had made a final decision at that point, he said he had a “general sense” that the evidence was “unlikely to get us to a place where they would prosecute at the Justice Department.”

Comey is trying to have it both ways: He wants you to accept that he made the decision not to prosecute on his own, out of fear that the Justice Department was tainted by bias in Clinton’s favor. Yet, when dismissing critics’ claims that the proof was more than adequate under the applicable law, he shrugs his shoulders and says, in effect, “What could I do? I was constrained by the Justice Department’s interpretation of the law.” That is, his hand was forced by the same pro-Clinton bias that he was supposedly thwarting.

This became excruciatingly apparent when Baier pointed out the care Comey took to describe Clinton’s conduct as “extremely careless” rather than “grossly negligent” — the state of mind criminalized by the Espionage Act. Though these terms are substantively indistinguishable, this semantic ploy enabled Comey to obscure the inconvenience that Clinton was guilty under the statute as written. Comey’s retort was telling:

I was struggling with the fact that we thought it was not mere sloppiness but didn’t rise to the level of criminal misconduct that the Justice Department would prosecute. So, how do you describe that? I probably should have said “really sloppy.” I wanted to be honest and say, “It’s above ‘sloppy.’ It doesn’t add up to what the 1917 statute meant when it said, “‘Grossly negligent’ is a felony.”

No, to be honest, the FBI just has to describe what she did. If what she did was extremely careless, then that does add up to “grossly negligent” under the 1917 statute — but it is for the Justice Department to connect those legal dots. If Obama’s Justice officials fail to do so, that’s politics, not law enforcement, so why let the non-partisan FBI get dragged into it? It is not the FBI’s job to make pronouncements on the law. It is not the FBI’s burden to pull out the thesaurus and don Mrs. Clinton’s misconduct in just the right lexical finery until it finally fits the Obama Justice Department’s misinterpretation of a clear criminal statute.

It was not the FBI’s task to manage Mrs. Clinton’s risks or defend the Obama Justice Department’s politicized enforcement standards.
Again, Comey would have us see him, simultaneously, as the stalwart check on potential Justice Department corruption and the helpless slave of Justice Department direction. But he can’t be both. The simple fact is: Nothing obliged him to exercise prosecutorial discretion in the emails investigation. The FBI’s job was to investigate, not to decide whether the evidence was sufficient to support an indictment. If he was worried that Attorney General Loretta Lynch was conflicted, the upright move was to advise her to step aside — and to do it not at the end but at an earlier point, when it might have helped the FBI get out from under the irregular constraints her Justice Department was imposing on investigators. And a prosecutor’s conflict is not a basis for the FBI to appropriate her authority — Lynch had a deputy and other subordinates who could have acted as attorney general if her recusal was warranted.

More to the point, there was no need to say anything. There is no requirement that the FBI or the Justice Department ever announce that an investigation has been closed. The former director keeps asking, “What was I to do” under these difficult circumstances? The answer is: nothing. The government speaks in court, when a person is formally accused of a crime and has the full pallet of due-process rights to defend herself. Unless and until that happens, no one is entitled to know whether an investigation exists or what its status may be.

The public did not have the right to know what was happening in the Clinton investigation. In fact, we recently learned in connection with the inspector-general’s report on Comey’s deputy, Andrew McCabe, that Comey had quite properly tried to conceal the existence of an ongoing investigation of the Clinton Foundation. It was not Comey’s fault that the Democrats nominated someone under criminal suspicion, but neither was it Comey’s duty to remove the suspicion. Indeed, Comey repeatedly told Trump that the FBI could not publicly say Trump was not a suspect: If new evidence ever emerged that turned Trump into a suspect, Comey explained, he would be obliged to correct the misimpression.

So why not the same rules for Clinton? After all, those are the rules. When the Democrats nominated Clinton, they were knowingly running the risk that the investigation might explode her candidacy. If the country had elected her, we would have been running the risk (however minimal) that a Clinton Justice Department might someday indict her. It was not the FBI’s task to manage Mrs. Clinton’s risks or defend the Obama Justice Department’s politicized enforcement standards.

Director Comey took it upon himself to do both. It was not possible simultaneously to do that and to protect the FBI from the fallout.

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2 Re: Yes... the Fix was in on 5/20/2018, 12:51 pm

I agree that Comey, given the high-profile political nature of the Hillary e-mail investigation, the decision should have been kicked up DOJ for presentation to a Grand Jury or a declination.

That said, I've worked good cases that never went forward to the USAO because we determined we just didn't have enough to be sure of a conviction at trial. (fyi: Federal Agents and US Attorneys don't like to have acquittals on their win/lose record ... not good for one's career.) It's not uncommon at all. In other cases we might go ahead and send it forward, knowing we would get a declination ... but just to please higher ups that had an interest in the case, usually due to some media interest. It's a CYA sort of thing. Comey should have CYA'd it by sending it forward.

Still .... nothing preventing Trump/Sessions/et al from presenting the case for indictment. Why haven't they? Whatever happened to "lock her up, lock her up"? Or was that was just so much red campaign-meat to toss to a bunch of gullible voters?

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3 Re: Yes... the Fix was in on 5/20/2018, 1:19 pm

Yes... the fbi (law enforcement) should've handed it to a special prosecutor to present to a grand jury.

Much as Russian collusion is being handled. But there were many other irregularities. From seazure of evidence to all of the immunities handed out. This was a sham of an "investigation". But Obama told us early how it would end. There's an ig report coming out soon. I won't hold my breath for justice tho.

There are obviously several different categories of culpability and accountability.

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4 Re: Yes... the Fix was in on 5/20/2018, 2:42 pm

Yes, it was red meat for a bunch of gullible voters.

If Comey "fixed" things, then why did he make the statement a week before the election that there was still a material investigation? Why did he criticize Hillary? Why didn't he disclose that the Drumpf campaign was also under investigation? Why did Jeff Sessions (!) refuse to proceed with an indictment against Hillary Clinton?

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5 Re: Yes... the Fix was in on 5/20/2018, 2:55 pm

Because they found classified DOS emails on that perv Weiner's computer. Further proof of guilt.

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6 Re: Yes... the Fix was in on 5/20/2018, 5:49 pm

Floridatexan wrote:

If Comey "fixed" things,  

I don't think Comey "fixed" things .... I think he was trying to be fair and ethical vis-a-vis the political nature of both the Hillary e-mail and the investigation of the Trump campaign and Russians (which was also going on at the same time) and ended up making the the wrong decision in doing so.

But hindsight's 20/20.  Who knows which choice any other FBI Director might have made instead (without the benefit of the hindsight we all have today)  Supposing he had publicly revealed the extent of the Russian investigation and it's nexus with persons in the Trump campaign during the latter days of the election.  Hillary likely would have won (not with any help from me, of course  I still think she's a witch ... and Trump is a turd!  Very Happy )

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