Note: This is primarily an update of an earlier post. I thought Comey was too political, and had to go, for a long time.
In 2013 James Comey was nominated by Obama as FBI Director for the next ten years.
By mid-2016 it was obvious Comey was the the most political FBI Director in history.
He led a faux-investigation of Lois Lerner at the Internal Revenue designed to let her off.
He led a faux-investigation of Hillary Clinton at the State Department designed to let her off.
Both "investigations" were sub-standard to make sure Lois Lerner at the IRS, and Hillary Clinton at the State Department, would not even receive a slap on the wrist for their obvious crimes.
Comey also seized power from his boss, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, after she embarrassed herself by attending a June 27, 2016 private meeting with Bill Clinton, on her private plane, when he was supposed to be under investigation by the FBI for charity fraud (but apparently never was) and his wife Hillary was under investigation for espionage.
Lynch should have recused herself from the Clinton investigation and handed it over to a subordinate, following the existing Justice department policy.
But James Comey didn't let that happen.
He took over!
An FBI Director is a person almost no one should know. His organization should conduct secret investigations, and quietly hand off the results to the Justice Department, whose attorneys should decide whether or not to prosecute.
I suppose if the Justice Department buried an FBI investigation and refused to prosecute when an alleged criminal was obviously guilty, a moral FBI Director might risk losing his job leaking a summary of the investigation to the press.
Following is a list of what has Comey done that was wrong, unprecedented, and/or had the effect of hindering the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton:
(A) Comey went on TV July 5, 2016, without even informing the Attorney General or Deputy Attorney General that he was doing so, to tell the public what Hillary Clinton did wrong.
It was unprecedented for an FBI Director to comment about any investigation -- or even admit there was an investigation -- and certainly unprecedented to take over a Justice Department responsibility (to talk about an FBI investigation and explain why they were not prosecuting) .
(B) Explained that Hillary Clinton violated all the laws Republicans claimed she did, and more, yet recommended no punishment.
The lack of any punishment for Hillary Clinton was not logical, and many FBI investigators leaked that they were unhappy.
It was also unprecedented for Comey to make a decision on whether to prosecute -- that's the job of an attorney at "Main Justice" in Washington, or an attorney at one of the 93 US Attorney's Offices.
(C) Hurt Hillary Clinton's reputation by describing her law breaking in detail, in spite of not recommending any punishment . (I suppose some people had no idea Hillary has been a serial liar for decades).
(D) Comey may have changed the results of a Presidential election by announcing the FBI was "reopening" the Hillary Clinton investigation just 11 days before the election ... and further infuriating Democrats by later announcing 'never mind we didn't find anything'
This was also unprecedented -- it was Comey's job to do investigations, and never talk about them outside the Justice Department -- especially just before an election!
(E) Handicapped the one-year $20 million Hillary Clinton "investigation":
See (1) through (27)
FBI Director James Comey led an "investigation" whose outcome appears to have been determined in advance -- the Obama Justice Department was not going to undermine Hillary Clinton's bid to become President (especially after Donald Trump was nominated).
I assume Attorney General Loretta Lynch and James Comey were promised they would keep their jobs in a Hillary Clinton Administration.
Specific problems with the Hillary Clinton FBI Interview are (1) through (7):
FBI Director Comey did not attend, or give questions to his interviewers, or even observe Hillary on a video feed to his office as she was questioned by FBI agents for several hours.
Comey did not talk with all the FBI agents who were present.
Hillary Clinton was not under oath.
There was no video of the FBI interview.
There was no transcript of the FBI interview.
FBI agent notes were not shared with Comey.
FBI agents who questioned Clinton were forced to sign a highly unusual confidentiality agreement -- they could be forced to take a random lie FBI detector test to make sure they had kept silent. ( I'm not sure if the signed confidentiality agreement applied to every FBI agent involved in the Hillary Clinton investigation, or just the Clinton interview.)
The FBI didn't care that Hillary Clinton got a Congressional subpoena to preserve all her communications in early 2015, and then just a few weeks later she had ALL email electronic files on her server permanently deleted (or so we were told), after making hard copies of less than half of them (or so we were told).
The FBI didn't care that Hillary self-determined which emails she felt like returning to the State Department, in spite of the fact that all of them were government property.
The FBI didn't care that Hillary Clinton failed to return thousands of her work-related emails to the State Department, as she had been ordered to do by a federal judge, and lied about this at least three times to Congress while under oath.
The FBI didn't care about lots of evidence of espionage, obstruction of justice, tampering with evidence, perjury, misleading Congress, all followed by a suspiciously large number (dozens) of "I don't recall" answers to FBI questions from Hillary.
Those "I don't recalls" were deja vu all over again !
Hillary avoided indictment for perjury and obstruction of justice during the 1990s Ken Starr investigation by repeating, “I do not recall,” “I have no recollection,” and “I don’t know”, a total of 56 times while under oath.
A HUGE impropriety was Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton meeting in private on the Attorney General’s airplane, at a time when both Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton were subjects of FBI criminal investigations.
That inappropriate Lynch - Clinton meeting allowed Comey to seize power and have the final say about prosecution, rather than a Justice Department attorney.
No FBI subpoenas were ever issued.
No FBI search warrants were ever served.
The FBI had the Justice Department give at least five people immunity for no reason.
The normal prerequisite for immunity is the need to get truthful testimony before a grand jury.
But there was no grand jury!
Members of Congress demanded to see all FBI files in the case, but were only given the same redacted (censored) files the FBI had released to the public late on a Friday before the Labor Day weekend.
The FBI illegally refused to surrender all its files to Congress.
An FBI agent sent to testify about the "secret" files to Congress was served a subpoena by the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee WHILE he was testifying, on live nationally broadcast television.
On the Senate side, in response to a request from the Senate Judiciary Committee, the FBI sent both classified and unclassified materials to the Senate safe room.
Sen. Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the FBI violated federal law by commingling classified and unclassified materials in the safe room -- because any materials seen in that safe room must be kept private -- the FBI's trick made it unlawful for Senators to discuss the unclassified materials they had seen in the safe room.
Sen. Grassley said if he could reveal those FBI unclassified materials he saw in the safe room, they would be of great interest to American voters.
The Chair of the House Oversight Committee, Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), said:
"This is beyond explanation. The FBI was handing out immunity agreements like candy” ...
“I've lost confidence in this investigation and I question the genuine effort in which it was carried out."
"Immunity deals should not be a requirement for cooperating with the FBI."
I am aware of five unnecessary immunity deals offered to people directly involved in the Hillary email scandal:
- Cheryl Mills - Clinton's top aide
- Heather Samuelson - Clinton aide
- John Bentel - Director of the State Department's Office
of Information Resources Management
- Bryan Pagliano - Clinton technology aide
- Paul Combetta - Platte River Networks
Shortly after providing the initial set of Hillary's emails to the State Department, in "December 2014 or January 2015," both Heather Samuelson and Cheryl Mills requested that all emails be removed from their computers using "a program called BleachBit to delete the e-mail-related files so they could not be recovered."
Mills was also the Clinton aide who instructed Paul Combetta, of Platte River Networks, to "modify [Hillary's] e-mail retention policy" to only 60 days ... in other words, to delete everything older than 60 days. (Platte River Networks provided Hillary Clinton with server support.)
Despite Hillary ordering the destruction of 3 Blackberry phones with hammers, "losing" 11 other phones, and "losing" one computer, Comey told a Congressional Committee there was no evidence that Hillary obstructed justice or hid evidence.
Comey was shown new evidence, including a Reddit post from July 2014 authored by Platte River Networks specialist Paul Combetta, seeking information on how to delete a “VIP” email address. He did not seem to care.
Five (that I know of) immunity agreements limited FBI agents' search only to documents authored before January 2015.
That prevented finding potential proof of the destruction of evidence that occurred after that date (we know, for example, that Hillary's email files were deleted in late March 2015).
Comey repeatedly claimed espionage required "intent", but in fact the law clearly DOES NOT REQUIRE INTENT.
A recently released letter from the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte (R - Virginia), to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, questioned why the FBI struck "side agreements" with both Cheryl Mills an Heather Samuelson to "destroy" their "laptops after concluding its search."
Goodlatte questioned why the destruction of the laptops used to sort Clinton's emails was included in immunity deals that already protected Mills and Samuelson from prosecution based on the records recovered from their computers.
Republican Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte said, “This clearly demonstrates an action to destroy evidence by people operating Clinton’s private server and her staff.”
***** Below are some of the key excerpts from the Goodlatte letter*****:
Please provide a written response to the below questions and make DOJ staff available for a briefing on this matter no later than October 10, 2016.
1. Why did the FBI agree to destroy both Cheryl Mills' and Heather Samuelson's laptops after concluding its search?
2. Doesn't the willingness of Ms. Mills and Ms. Samuelson to have their laptops destroyed by the FBI contradict their claim that the laptops could have been withheld because they contained non-relevant, privileged information? If so, doesn't that undermine the claim that the side agreements were necessary?
7. Please explain why DOJ agreed to limit their search of the Mills and Samuelson laptops to a date no later than January 31, 2015 and therefore give up any opportunity to find evidence related to the destruction of evidence or obstruction of justice related to Secretary Clinton's unauthorized use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State.
8. Why was this time limit necessary when Ms. Mills and Ms. Samuelson were granted immunity for any potential destruction of evidence charges?
9. Please confirm whether a grand jury was convened to investigate Secretary Clinton's unauthorized use of a private email server. Disclosure is authorized under Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e)(3)(A)(i) and (e)(3)(D).
Jason Chaffetz, Chair of the House Oversight Committee, sent a letter to the FBI requesting additional information.
He also blasted the FBI for unnecessary agreements to destroy the laptop computers of two Hillary Clinton aides.
The FBI knew the contents of those computers were the subject of Congressional subpoenas and data preservation letters.
Unnecessary "side agreements" followed unnecessary immunity deals with Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson.
The side agreements prevented the FBI from investigating the "intent" of those aides to obstruct justice and/or destroy evidence subject to a Congressional subpoena.
-- The side agreements allowed the FBI to only review emails between June 1, 2014 and February 1, 2015 ... and only those emails sent/received by one of Clinton's four email addresses used while she was Secretary of State.
-- The FBI agreed to the side agreements in June 2016.
-- But in June 2016 the FBI already knew Paul Combetta of Platte River Systems had deleted Hillary's emails using Bleachbit on March 31, 2015.
-- The email deletions followed a conference call with Cheryl Mills and Hillary Clinton's attorney, David Kendall.
-- The side agreements prevented the FBI from reviewing Cheryl Mills' emails from February 1, 2015 through the Clinton email destruction date of March 31, 2015.
That two month period was very important.
The two months before the emails were destroyed was most likely to contain Cheryl Mills' communications proving her intent to destroy Hillary's emails demanded by a Congressional subpoena.