FBI Director Comey’s Testimony Proved Exactly Why Hillary Clinton is Unfit to Serve
FBI Director James Comey was called to testify before Congress on Thursday in a much anticipated hearing about the decision to not recommend charges against Hillary Clinton. At the hearing before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Director Comey provided a great deal of insight into the FBI’s decision to not recommend prosecution in this case and it did not paint a pretty picture of Hillary Clinton. In fact, the FBI Director made it clear that two things saved Clinton from criminal prosecution: (1) concern at the Department of Justice (DOJ) that a relevant portion of the Espionage Act is unconstitutional; and (2) an extremely generous determination by the FBI that Clinton lacked the sophistication to understand the classification system. This devasting assessment proves Clinton has no business serving in government ever again.
Director Comey cut right to the chase and addressed much of the confusion surrounding the application of 18 U.S.C §793(f), which states, in part:
(f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing … or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, …
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
There has been a lot of confusion and discussion surrounding the “gross negligence” standard and Director Comey’s description of Clinton’s actions as “extremely careless.”
The FBI Director addressed this concern during his opening statement and further clarified the matter throughout his testimony. In so doing, he explained the statute was passed nearly one hundred years ago, but has only been used once (that he knows of) by the Department of Justice to prosecute someone. Comey then said the reason the statute has been used so sparingly is because there is concern at DOJ that a “gross negligence” standard is inappropriate and possibly even unconstitutional for prosecuting an individual for mishandling classified information. He explained, any time the DOJ has prosecuted “a criminal case involving the mishandling of classified information” over the past 100-years they look at whether the person knew they were doing something unlawful.
As a result, Comey said there is no reason to differentiate between the two standards “gross negligence” and “extremely careless” conduct because that is not relevant to any determination in this case. The key question in this case, according to Director Comey, was, “Did [Clinton] know [she was] doing something that was unlawful?”
This is where things get interesting. One might think that someone who touts their government “experience” as much as Hillary Clinton does on the campaign trail would at least have a basic understanding of the classification system. That is not the case with Hillary Clinton, at least according to Director Comey’s testimony.
FBI Director Comey’s testimony confirmed his previous statement that “any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position … should have known that an unclassified system was no place” to discuss classified material. Despite this finding, however, the FBI Director said he could not establish that Hillary Clinton actually knew what she was doing was against the law. Thus, he did not believe she could be prosecuted for her conduct.
In an effort to clarify this point, Director Comey said, “The protection we have as Americans is that the government, in general, … has to prove … that we did this thing that is forbidden by the law and when we did it … we knew we were doing something that was unlawful.”
He further added, “[Y]ou have to prove criminal intent, both by law … and practice … the Department of Justice has reserved [a statute] for people who clearly knew they were breaking the law and that’s the challenge…. You must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they knew they were engaged in something that was unlawful.”
A reasonable interpretation of that testimony leads to the conclusion it was Clinton’s “lack of technical sophistication” about the classification system that saved her from prosecution. In other words, Clinton’s claim of ignorance about classified material, possibly combined with some forgetfulness, is what prevented Director Comey from recommending charges in this case.
There is no getting around that determination, and what an utterly devastating assessment of a Hillary Clinton’s fitness to serve as President of the United States it is. The FBI Director may not have been able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Clinton knew she was breaking the law, but he made it clear that any one watching that she is not qualified to ever serve in government again.
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