Over the past week, the facade of the “impartial investigation” that was supposedly conducted into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server has utterly collapsed. The news has been whizzing by like classified information through cyberspace, so let’s take some space to review.
First, Catherine Herridge, the national security reporter at Fox News, revealed a likely “quid pro quo” between State Department Undersecretary of Management Patrick Kennedy and the FBI. Kennedy reportedly tried to arrange a deal whereby one of the emails on the server would have its classified marking lowered so as to not implicate Clinton. According to FBI notes obtained by Herridge, “[Redacted] advised that in exchange for marking the email unclassified, STATE would reciprocate by allowing the FBI to place more Agents in countries where they are presently forbidden.”
Meanwhile, State Department employees charged with the thankless task of sifting through Clinton’s emails said they felt “immense pressure” not to mark any of them as classified, according to Bloomberg News, which obtained hitherto undisclosed notes from a State Department official.
And Kerry Picket at the Daily Caller reports on the unease within the FBI over Director James Comey’s decision not to press charges against Clinton:
“This is a textbook case where a grand jury should have convened but was not. That is appalling,” an FBI special agent who has worked public corruption and criminal cases said of the decision. “We talk about it in the office and don’t know how Comey can keep going.”
The agent goes on to say he was shocked that the bureau didn’t search Clinton’s house during the investigation, which is supposed to be standard procedure. “That the FBI did not seize devices is unbelievable,” he said. “The FBI even seizes devices that have been set on fire.”
So drip-drip-drip goes the faucet. Comey’s choice not to prosecute Clinton was always a surprising one, since she so transparently broke the law and subsequently showed contempt for the bureau by repeatedly lying to them. Comey’s defense was the legal standard of willfulness – he couldn’t prove that Clinton had willfully mishandled the information, and so thought it best not to recommend charges. Really? Could Hillary have been so daft as to not realize she was violating the law? Then again, charges aren’t brought against likely criminals all the time, so, oh well, she avoids restitution yet again. Now we know there was deep dissension within the FBI about Comey’s decision and plenty of possible justice obstruction at the State Department.
Let’s assume that Comey really did go against the wishes of his underlings and decline to bring what should have been slam-dunk charges. My final question is: why would he do that? He’s a Republican-turned-independent, a Bush appointee who famously stood firm against Alberto Gonzalez and Andy Card when they were trying to ram through promiscuous wiretapping powers for the NSA. He seemed, until recently, the very model of an impartial public servant. What happened to turn him into the John Roberts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation?
Whatever the answer to that question, those “lock her up” chants are going to have fresh resonance going forward.