I may be alone in saying this, but when the proverbial dust settles, James Comey may have hurt Hillary Clinton more than he helped her in his statement Tuesday concerning the Grand Email Controversy. He may have let her off the hook legally, but personally he has left the putative Democratic candidate scarred almost beyond recognition.
By getting out in front of the Justice Department, the FBI director, speaking publicly in an admittedly unusual fashion, was able to frame the case in a manner that Attorney General Loretta Lynch in all probability never would have.
Read this portion of Comey’s transcript and ask yourself how this person (Clinton) could ever serve successfully as president of the United States:
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. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent. Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.
In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.
To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.
Look at that last paragraph again, because, if the Republicans have any brains at all, they will be quoting it ad infinitum. “To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions.” What Comey is clearly saying (and leaving for us to “decide now”) is that–whether you agree with his decision not to indict or no (I don’t)—in a normal, real-world situation Clinton would face consequences, quite probably be demoted or even fired, certainly not promoted to the presidency of the United States, for what she did.
Which brings us back to why Comey made this speech. Yes, I suppose he owed it to the public, as he indicated. But I wonder if the greater motivation was fear that Clinton would be completely exonerated, that she would skate away free once he passed the FBI decision on to the Justice Department. It’s hard to imagine Lynch speaking in public about how Clinton and her aides were “extremely careless” about national security, obvious though that was, or the high probability that the Clinton’s server, not to mention her cell phone (!), was hacked by foreign powers. There were also several new revelations, such as the surprising fact that there were actually multiple personal servers, not just one. This was prevarication of a high and deliberate order. (Remember how Hillary claimed Powell and Rice did the same thing? What complete and utter horse hockey.) And that her lawyers never actually read her emails before deleting them, relying on the subject lines (how to keep yourself out of trouble).
The proximity of Comey’s statement to the Bill Clinton/Loretta Lynch meeting on Lynch’s plane should also be noted and is potential grist for the mill for historians in the years to come.
My purpose here is not to exonerate Comey. In all probability he was a more than a bit of a coward, looking for a way out. But that way out may prove to have powerful ramifications. A Hillary indictment, in all likelihood, would have meant a new and more scandal-free Democratic candidate, a Joe Biden perhaps, far more potent than the seriously wounded Clinton who now has even more explaining to do. It’s an endless case of be-careful-what-you-wish-for. And if we are to believe Judicial Watch (and I do), it’s only just begun:
FBI Director James Comey detailed Hillary Clinton’s massive destruction of government records and grossly negligent handling of classified information. Frankly, there’s a disconnect between Comey’s devastating findings and his weak recommendation not to prosecute Hillary Clinton. Federal prosecutors, independent of politics, need to consider whether to pursue the potential violations of law confirmed by the FBI.