Hillary’s James Comey Nightmare Likely Continues

Updated:
Posted in: Politics

Unless you have been in hibernation, you are not likely totally ignorant of the flack flying regarding the investigations of Hillary Clinton’s emails. If you are unaware, please proceed to someone else’s Verdict column for there are any number of excellent choices to bring yourself up to speed.

Nonetheless, let me briefly recap the activities of FBI Director James Comey, and where he appears to be headed next. (He has some 2,000 days remaining in office, and with another FBI investigation will likely determine who will be the next President of the United States.)

A little over a year ago the FBI entered this partisan fray initiated by Republicans in the House of Representatives when investigating anything and everything about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Indeed, GOP leader Kevin McCarthy acknowledged they are trying to bring down her presidential bid, and they have effectively lowered her poll numbers–and are still pursuing her. The putative non-partisan FBI enthusiastically joined this partisan undertaking based on a referral from the Intelligence Community Inspector General (IC IG), an officer who is accountable to the Congress, which is, of course, controlled by Republicans.

It was the IC IG who sent the matter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the FBI. While it was not a criminal referral, the FBI clearly decided from the outset to make it a MAJOR criminal investigation. This had to be a decision of FBI Director Comey, who sent the Bureau into a criminal investigation that in the end was a bust. Now the director is busy doing what not even his infamous predecessor J. Edgar Hoover personally did during his troubled tenure (Hoover had others do such dirty deeds, usually through leaks): Comey is politically and publicly taking part in an unprecedented partisan attack campaign on Hillary Clinton. I cannot imagine other post-Hoover directors, say Clarence Kelly or Bill Webster, ever thrusting themselves and the FBI into a presidential campaign in this fashion.

Donald Trump is wrong. The system is not rigged to protect Hillary. Rather, it appears that the FBI was very disappointed they found no criminal case against Hillary. If Trump thinks that no one in the FBI or the Justice Department would be screaming and threatening resignation and leaking like a sieve to the media if there had been a criminal case, he is woefully too ignorant of Washington’s ways to be running for president. But the fact that there was no criminal case has not ended the matter for the FBI, which usually shares this information privately with the Justice Department.

First, Comey read a statement about the FBI’s email investigation of Hillary that was misleading, distorted, incomplete, and (according to the State Department, as noted by the Clinton campaign) even had false statements during his nationally televised press briefing on July 5, 2016. Then he volunteered to testify on July 7, 2016 before the House Oversight Committee–the source of most of the Hillary witch-hunting investigations–where he cleared up some of the confusion in his earlier statement, but added new muddle by providing the committee with new grounds for further investigations.

Comey’s July 5th Public Statement On the Hillary Investigation

Director Comey’s press briefing on the investigation of Hillary’s email was staged for television cameras and to place the FBI in the spotlight. Comey announced he would explain the nature of the FBI’s investigation, what they found, and then their recommendation. The media and public really only wanted to know one thing: Did they find Hillary had committed a crime, and were they recommending prosecution? Comey made clear he would take no questions; rather he simply read his two thousand-plus word statement, advising that he had not informed the Justice Department, for whom he works, of this information.

According to Comey’s statement, the FBI focused on only two statutes, or as the director stated it: “Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on [Secretary Clinton’s] personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.” Comey did not further identify the statutes but they are 18 USC 793(f) and 18 USC 1924. In fact, the statement is remarkably silent on details.

The broad brush with which Comey explained what the FBI looked at, as well as what they found, gave the impression while being read that he was holding back because the FBI would recommend that the former Secretary of State, and a number of her staff members, would be indicted and prosecuted. Accordingly, it seemed he was giving just enough general information to establish the solid basis for criminal proceedings but not disclosing information that could prejudice the case.

But as he concluded his findings, he stated: “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.” In addressing the recommendation, he added, “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.” [Emphasis added.]

While this was undoubtedly good news for Hillary and her staff, given the vague nature of the charges Comey was making, without clarifying who had done what, it was a statement that Republicans found greatly disappointing and confusing. In fact, it was not clear what Hillary actually did vis-à-vis her staff. It was unclear how many emails were classified before the investigation, and unclear if Hillary or her attorneys decided which emails were personal and should be deleted. While Comey speculated this email system could have been hacked, it was not clear if that had or had not actually happened. Nor was it clear why he was not recommending prosecution, other than saying no reasonable prosecutor would do so.

Within hours of making his statement Comey was on the telephone with the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who was seeking clarifications and asking Comey to testify before his committee ASAP. Comey agreed to appear less than 48 hours later.

Comey’s July 7th Appearance Before the House Oversight Committee

Director Comey appeared before the House Oversight Committee on July 7, 2016, which provided an opportunity to clarify some of the fuzzy information in his statement, and probably most importantly, explain that the FBI did not fix the case for political reasons. While many Republicans, who only days before had been Comey’s biggest fans, expressed dismay at his bad judgment in not recommending indictment of Hillary and her staff, they had no information with which they could challenge his judgment.

Comey explained, case by case, why Hillary’s situation was different from both high-profile and no-profile people who had been charged and convicted under 18 USC 793(f) and 18 USC 1924, putting to rest the claims of Republicans that others had done less and been criminally charged. But he did not bring any factual details with him, so the committee has requested all such information the FBI will provide. He has provided information in the past, so he will have to provide something, which will result in new leaks from the committee in the coming weeks and months of the presidential campaign.

Because only a few members of Congressional committees are good at asking questions, and they are limited to five minutes to ask their questions—as well as the fact that Republicans want to score political points by attacking Comey and Hillary or elicit additional negative information about Hillary, while Democrats wanted to bolster the Director’s decision not to prosecute and try to clarify that Hillary had not done all the terrible things Republicans were claiming—the hearings were a total hodgepodge of information. Suffice it to say both the Trump Campaign and the Clinton Campaign will find video clips of Jim Comey they can use in the coming months.

So where does this leave Hillary? And what, if anything, does it mean for Trump?

This is not good for Hillary. While she was not prosecutable, the FBI’s investigation is being spread on the public record. This is unprecedented, except for Watergate, when Assistant FBI Director Mark Felt–the disgruntled want-to-be director when Hoover died–leaked information about the Watergate investigation to the news media, and Congress later sought much of the FBI’s investigation, which they made public. Comey has provided new material for the Republican efforts to “Nixonize” Hillary, notwithstanding they can only do this by inventing scandals for their base and the gullible.

The biggest new thing that Comey’s July 5th statement and his July 7th appearance before the House Oversight Committee has provided the GOP is the new question: Did Hillary lie about her use of a private email service, either while campaigning or when testifying before the House Benghazi Committee?

Comey could not, or did not wish to, put this question to rest. Rather, he was not clear what Hillary had been asked during her three hour-plus FBI interview and he said the FBI would have no jurisdiction to investigate what she had said while campaigning. But the director all but invited the House of Representatives to send him a referral if they wanted the FBI to investigate whether or not Hillary had committed perjury during her sworn testimony before the Benghazi Committee. It is in the works as I write. It will be shocking if the Republican controlled House does not follow up and send a request for another Hillary investigation, which means Donald Trump will take the investigation to mean Hillary is guilty of perjury, so she is unqualified to be president. Comey also hinted that the Clinton Foundation might be under investigation. And the State Department has reopened its investigation of Hillary’s emails, although they can prosecute no one.

A perjury investigation, if undertaken, will again hang heavy over Hillary’s campaign. If Hillary Clinton is not the next President of the United States it will not be because Donald Trump proved himself a great candidate, for clearly that is not the case. Rather, it will be because James Comey, Director of the FBI, has become Hillary’s Inspector Javert, a modern day character out of Les Miserables. He has been investigating the Clintons since “Whitewater” and the Marc Rich pardon. Comey may not have had a prosecutable case against her regarding her private email activity as Secretary of State, and he does not likely have a perjury case against her regarding her Congressional testimony, for they are both very difficult to prove, but he does have another investigation–which could likely last until after the November election. Between Election Day and her inauguration, Comey may be issuing another statement about his latest Hillary investigation. And if he waits until after January 20, 2017, when she is president and Republicans still control the House, we could have another Clinton impeachment.

Republicans have given Hillary a James Comey nightmare.

  • KathyClaytor

    She should step down and let Bernie run against Trump. He has long polled better against Trump and is wildly popular with Independents. Please Hillary, do the right thing for the country, and step down.

  • vickie whatley

    Sad. Sordid. Unbecoming of America. Innuendo Limbo is the dance and we let it continue. I am sorry Hilary for the bastion of freedoms inability to join the world with a woman at its helm.

  • Brett

    What a poorly written, extremely biased article! Mr. Dean has apparently not read 18 U.S.C. Section 793(f), in light of the comments provided by Mr. Comey as to the serious transgressions of Ms. Clinton. For heaven’s sake, she ran rough-shod with extremely sensitive information that exposed the security of America, and the security of American citizens such as spies!!! All this for selfish reasons, and she would now like to be President. This is extremely serious and every American should be very, very, very concerned about this, politics aside! Mr. Dean surprisingly fails to mention this. As to Mr. Dean’s claim that Republicans need to make up scandals about Ms. Clinton, he apparently is not familiar with her self-made scandals such as the millions accepted by the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments while she was Secretary of State, the lie about the cause of the Benghazi attack (caused by a video after she told her daughter and the President of Egypt it was a terrorist attack), or her false statements about her personal email server (no emails marked classified, only one device used, her lawyers had security clearance, etc.) as several examples. Kudos to those in Congress who are attempting to bring the truth to light, and uphold the rule of law especially as it applies to the highest levels of government where we should expect the utmost in legal fortitude, regarding such serious matters, despite the machinations of partisan authors.

  • Ron Gorrie

    Hilary gave herself the nightmare by lying to the American people multiple times, endangering their security, breaching her oath of office multiple times. The extraordinary flawed process of the last few days (i.e., Bill Clinton’s surreptitious visit to Loretta Lynch on her plane at Sky Harbor Airport, the ‘interview’ of Hillary Clinton on the Saturday before the 4th of July where she was not placed under oath and not transcript or recording was made, Guccifer’s purported suicide by hanging himself in his Federal jail cell on July 5th – he reportedly hacked into Hillary’s personal email and could have provided devastating evidence against Hilary, and James Comey’s public statement on the July 6th inexplicably telling the American people that ‘no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute this case’) is direct evidence of corruption throughout the current administration. How Hilary can still possibly be a candidate for President defies explanation. This does not even begin to look at the large cash contributions from foreign nation states to the Clinton Foundation and possible purchase of access to the White House.

    Mr. Dean’s statement that if Donald Trump becomes President it will not be because he is a great candidate misses the point completely and exposes him as a complete and total political hack. At best, Hilary Clinton is not for America and, at worst, she very well could be a traitor.

  • Frank Willa

    Thank you Mr. Dean for your rapid response and analysis of the unusual and partisan actions that have been taken and will likely be taken. In my view, these “investigations” that began with the “Whitewater” matter – a fairly simple real estate transaction – and are continuing through this year are an illustration of the essence of innuendo. Which is to cast aspersion over a long enough period of time, without a factual basis, and do damage to the reputation and therefore the character of the person so defamed. My recollection of the 1990’s was that it was stated that because the investigation was ongoing for so long that the allegations, which much latter proved to be baseless, generated “smoke”, and was surely evidence that there must be “fire”, for how else could the investigation last so long. Again, I think that your authoritarian types are at it again. Anyone who are not also authoritarian are inherently bad and must be stopped; no matter the means.

  • J.E. Tarrant

    Clearly the author has never had access to classified information. I don’t know what the “any reasonable prosecutor,” comment means, however, I suspect it means Hillary is special and no one will take it. Removing security classifications, and dissemination of classified materials over an unsecured network is cause for prosecution. It is so absurdly easy to prosecute (again, for anyone who isn’t Hillary Clinton) to be ridiculous.

  • G.N.M.

    So all of this is the republicans’ fault. I see, that explains Hillary’s private server. Nice try, John.

  • Paul R. Jones

    After reading Mr. Comey’s news conference and reading excerpts from his Congressional testimony, it is my opinion the FBI/DOJ engaged in a classical example of WILFULL BLINDNESS. There appears to be a huge foggy cloud regarding the issue of Hillary’s un-secure un-authorized server/storage unit being ‘hacked’ to whit the Mr. Comey said they didn’t find anything but, given the capabilities of hostile agencies, could not rule a ‘hack’ out of the question…no one has asked Mr. Comey or anyone that the media has published whether any of this Republic’s 17-INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY AGENCIES (specifically, the NSA, DIA, CIA) determined by forensics whether Hillary’s sever was ‘hacked.’ Given the capabilities of these three named INTEL folks’ ability to run PRISM, XKeyscore, FASCIA, Boundless Informant, and Dishfire for starters, for any federal agency to ‘pitch’ the notion to We, the People, that no federal forensic team from any known and unknown fed INTEL was not able to determine whether Hillary’s server had been ‘hacked? That is absolutely frightening! That, folks, is an example of WILFULL BLINDNESS.

  • Paul R. Jones

    The media has exhibited an exceptionally deplorable lack of curiosity in not asking what happened to the TOP SECRET-SPECIAL ACCESS PROGRAMS the IGs for State and INTEL noted in their referral. Come to thing of it, Mr. Comey didn’t provide an answer either…how did T.S./S.A.P. email migrate from State’s secure system to Hillary’s un-secure system and not one is held accountable?

  • James T. McGuiness

    The stakes in this election are like none other. Setting aside the concerns about what craziness Trump might bring, a Republican victory would give this gang permanent contol over the entire country, whereas an Democratic victory would merely keep veto power and court appointments in the hands of the last defense against a new totalitarian state of crack pot group-think they call “conservatism”. This is not your father’s conservatism, not your father Republican party. This is not even the same media reality that most “baby boomers”–the people most in high office now–experienced throughout their lives. I used the word “gang” and I meant it literally. One opportunist figured out a way to defeat Democrats in spite of democracy, not though it. And this scheme has been going on since the mid 1990s. Some GOP members have become so comfortable with right wing partisan media that they actually forget that they are not addressing their own partisan cameras. Kevin McCarthy is probably the most obvious example but Dick Morris, Reince Preibus, Mitt Romney and others were shocked when they didn’t oust Obama in 2012–they were completely compartmentalized by media that spun everything to pander to the right. One wonders if Mitch McConnell made the same mistake in boasting about his number one priority.

    Democrats have failed to see the rise of partisan media as a national identity crisis which makes all “national conversations” pipe dreams. People don’t have the same take on reality. A goodly portion go home listening to Limbaugh or Levin or Ingram on the radio and getting nothing both a sustained tirade that the POTUS is an incompetent over-reaching imbecile. Then they watch TV that adds another level of validation to this negativity and they go to work and talk among their cliques and add more negativity. The right wing partisan media are an industrialized complex which need to grow new followers to keep showing growth and positive economic indicators for shareholders. This is not America anymore–you really can’t have what appears to many to be their mainstream media spending all their time between elections vilifying the winners of elections. It makes for a double standard that effects everything. Yet Democrats run campaigns as if they can still penetrate the right wing bubble with balancing reason. They can’t. Right wing media consumers have been misled into rejecting every bit of information that doesn’t come through their own filter–i.e. fulfilling the narrative that has been constant since way before the name Obama made it into popularity.

    Most significantly though is that the existence of a media complex that serves the far right makes for a way for someone on the right to create a wedge issue among competing Republicans where if office-seekers refuse to get in line with an extremist form of conservatism, they can be destroyed in the right wing media as a RINO. At the same time the Republican voter is given a choice of lesser candidates–sell-outs who will sign anything to get to be in the gang. This has cleansed the GOP of moderates. It is the brainchild of one Grover Norquist, and the so-called “anti-tax pledge” which Norquist assures “is not a pledge to him but a pledge to the voters”. In truth it is a pledge to the gang which has slowly replaced the Republican party over the last 20 years. There aren’t many senior Republicans still in Congress unless they will never break ranks and join in every obstruction effort without question. It has been a godsend to this band of crackpot conservative ideologues that the first Democratic POTUS it has had to face has been African American. The main stream media along with many mainstream pundits and notables have chalked all obstruction off to racism–which permit inaction and the ability to keep getting away with it.

    Does it not seem unlikely that in this day and age the House of well over 200 Congress-persons and the Senate majority of over 50 are all 100% racists? I never believed this was possible. And it isn’t. What has been happening is symptoms of a “take-over” which has no precedent and no one understands. After getting a war wrong, having a financial collapse on their watch the GOP should by logic be on the wane, but it is that Democratic power is receding. And the reason is that obstruction has been working. Gerrymandering has been working. Partisan media has been working. Norquist has been filling Congress and State Houses with dullards caught in their own conflict of interest between loyalty to the “pack” and loyalty to the oath of office. They choose the pack because they will be destroyed and shunned if they don’t join in turning their backs on legitimate American democratic proceedings. The term I use for what they offer is “groverment”. And we need governmnent, not groverment because groverment is a totalitarian scheme to bring the entire country under one crackpot brand of conservative “group think”. Connect the dots for yourself. They add up. America is on a knife’s edge and we need honest Republicans to help us restore American democracy by using existing law to end the tyranny of the Norquist pledge scheme to steal America in plain sight of eyes and minds of bygone eras.

    • soupson52

      Thank you. I am amazed at how easy it has been to dumb down America as Murdock said he could do a few years ago. When did people quit absorbing information from reliable sources and just get on the slogan bandwagon? You know, I think about my small home town and remember there was ignorance aplenty; the difference is few of those ignorant folks voted. Boy, has that changed. Well, thanks anyway for an intelligent piece.

    • Brett

      Wow, the only media outlet that has “right wing” information is Fox News in the opinion-based programs, not in their news. All of the others, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, NPR are liberal outlets. Turn on your tv, James.

  • Brett

    What a poorly written, extremely biased article! For heaven’s sake, Ms. Clinton ran rough-shod with information that exposed the security of America, and put individuals in serious danger (such as spies)! All because of her selfish reasons (a desire to hide any fodder against her in her subsequent run for President, perhaps?). Mr. Dean apparently has not read 18 U.S.C. Section 793(f), which does not require intent but gross negligence in the handling of classified material, and Mr. Comey set forth conduct that certainly fits within that statutory section (and Ms. Clinton’s husband met privately with the Attorney General a mere eight days prior to Mr. Comey’s announcement of the investigation’s findings). This should cause every American grave concern. We must hold government employees, especially those in positions such as Secretary of State who have access to classified material, to a high standard. Those who take issue with Mr. Comey’s findings and the lack of a referral for an indictment against Ms. Clinton obviously have concerns for the rule of law. And what scandals regarding Ms. Clinton have Republicans created? Mr. Dean must not be aware of the following, for instance: the lie told by Ms. Clinton to the public that the reason for the Benghazi terrorist attack which resulted in four dead Americans was a video (after telling her daughter and the President of Egypt that the reason for the attack was terrorism); the acceptance of millions of dollars by the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments while Ms. Clinton was Secretary of State; and of course the use of the private email server, to name a few. Kudos to those in Congress for attempting to get to the facts behind such an important investigation, and for advocating the upholding of the rule of law for all Americans, especially those whom we should expect to be the most compliant.

  • Brett

    What a poorly written, extremely biased article! For heaven’s sake, Ms. Clinton ran rough-shod with information that exposed the security of America, and put individuals in serious danger (such as spies)! All because of her selfish reasons (a desire to hide any fodder against her in her subsequent run for President, perhaps?). Mr. Dean apparently has not read 18 U.S.C. Section 793(f), which does not require intent but gross negligence in the handling of classified material, and Mr. Comey set forth conduct that certainly fits within that statutory section (and Ms. Clinton’s husband met privately with the Attorney General a mere eight days prior to Mr. Comey’s announcement of the investigation’s findings). This should cause every American grave concern. We must hold government employees, especially those in positions such as Secretary of State who have access to classified material, to a high standard. Those who take issue with Mr. Comey’s findings and the lack of a referral for an indictment against Ms. Clinton obviously have concerns for the rule of law, as frankly should all Americans. And what scandals regarding Ms. Clinton have Republicans created? Mr. Dean must not be aware of the following, for instance: the lie told by Ms. Clinton to the public that the reason for the Benghazi terrorist attack which resulted in four dead Americans was a video (after telling her daughter and the President of Egypt that the reason for the attack was terrorism); the acceptance of millions of dollars by the Clinton Foundation from foreign governments while Ms. Clinton was Secretary of State; and of course the use of the private email server, to name a few. Kudos to those in Congress for attempting to get to the facts behind such an important investigation, and for advocating the upholding of the rule of law for all Americans, especially those whom we should expect to be the most compliant.

  • Brett

    Just the facts, Renfield. I posted the same response twice because after I posted the first time it was not displayed two days later, so I re-posted. Sorry that offended you.

  • Brett

    Yes, Renfield, more Clinton nefarious conduct. Thank you.