FBI Director James Comey has been called to testify Thursday morning before the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to explain his decision not to prosecute former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. On Tuesday, Director Comey said Mrs. Clinton, despite the FBI finding she was “extremely careless” in mishandling top secret and classified information on a private email server, would not face criminal charges.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said the decision not prosecute Mrs. Clinton “defies explanation” and “sets a terrible precedent.”
“While I respect the law enforcement professionals at the FBI, this announcement defies explanation,” Speaker Ryan said in a statement. “No one should be above the law. But based upon the director’s own statement, it appears damage is being done to the rule of law. Declining to prosecute Secretary Clinton for recklessly mishandling and transmitting national security information will set a terrible precedent.”
“The findings of this investigation also make clear that Secretary Clinton misled the American people when she was confronted with her criminal actions. While we need more information about how the Bureau came to this recommendation, the American people will reject this troubling pattern of dishonesty and poor judgment.”
The presence of the emails on her private server–whether it be intended or negligence–is alone a crime, despite the Bureau’s announcement.Rudy Giuliani, who spent 15 years at the Justice Department, said he would not only have brought charges in this case but would’ve easily got a conviction from a jury.
While Director Comey uncharacteristically did not take questions after the announcement or mention the separate investigation into possible public corruption relating to the Clinton Foundation, he will have to answer lawmakers’ questions. In the very same press conference when he made the bombshell announcement, Mr. Comey laid out a strong case that Mrs. Clinton committed multiple felonies by violating multiple federal statutes.
That led to key lawmakers, including Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., scratching their heads and assuming the worst. Director Comey, as some have suggested in the wake of the decision, applied an “intent” standard that is not necessary to bring charges, assuming that Mrs. Clinton did not have intent behind her motive. Sen. Johnson, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Director Comey hours after he held his 13-minute news conference.
As Sen. Johnson pointed out in the letter, the FBI director said the Bureau had concluded Mrs. Clinton was “extremely careless” in handling sensitive government emails, which they assume was hacked by “hostile actors.” The legal definition of gross negligence, the standard in the statute, is “extreme carelessness.” While Mr. Comey said the Bureau could not be sure the presumptive Democratic nominee’s server was hacked, they are operating under the assumption it was. In normal instances, an individual would see their security clearances revoked by government agencies, let alone be eligible to serve as president.
“If the evidence that the FBI collected about Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email account and server did not constitute gross negligence, what set of facts would cause the FBI to recommend criminal charges under the gross negligence standard?” Johnson wrote.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Loretta Lynch was already scheduled to testify next Tuesday at a House Oversight Committee hearing where she will be questioned about the email investigation, as well as her secret meeting with former President Bill Clinton just days before her department dropped the email case against the former first lady.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, met with Director Comey following the press conference Tuesday at FBI headquarters. Obviously, he didn’t get an adequate answer to dispel everyone’s suspicions.
“The FBI’s recommendation is surprising and confusing,” Chairman Chaffetz said in a statement. “The fact pattern presented by Director Comey makes clear Secretary Clinton violated the law. Individuals who intentionally skirt the law must be held accountable. Congress and the American people have a right to understand the depth and breadth of the FBI’s investigation.”