(National Sentinel) Scandal: Agents with the CIA described emails that were discovered on then-Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s private server as “problematic” and damaging to the intelligence agence, according reviews of interviews these officials gave to the FBI in May and June of 2016.
The timing is important because those briefings fell within a 39-day window in which top FBI officials, who included then-Director James Comey, edited language in a memo that fed into a statement he gave to the media following the conclusion of the bureau’s criminal investigation of Clinton’s handling of classified email.
As The Daily Caller notes:
A May 2, 2016 memo sent by Comey to three top bureau officials referred to Clinton’s use of a private email server to send and receive classified information as “grossly negligent.”
But according to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the memo was changed on or around June 10 to refer to Clinton’s actions as merely “extremely careless.”
The distinction between “grossly negligent” and “extremely careless” is significant because the former is considered a federal crime while the latter term has no legal weight.
This week Grassley sent a letter to current FBI Director Christopher Wray requesting information regarding edits to the draft memo. The Iowa Republican wants to know why top FBI officials appeared to clear Clinton of any wrongdoing a full month before the investigation was wrapped up.
The Daily Caller:
A review of summaries of 19 FBI interviews conducted during the 39 day window between May 2 and June 10, 2016 shows little in the way of new information that would seem to justify exonerating Clinton, a former secretary of state. And in three interviews during that period, CIA officials described emails found on Clinton’s server as “problematic” and damaging to the agency.
Comey sent his initial draft to FBI general counsel James Baker, chief of staff James Rybicki, and deputy director Andrew McCabe, The Hill reported earlier this week.
In his intial memo, Comey wrote that “there is evidence to support a conclusion that Secretary Clinton, and others, used the private email server in a manner that was grossly negligent with respect to the handling of classified material.”
Yet when he gave his July 5 press briefing, Comey downplayed the finding, saying, “[A]lthough 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.”
He added that “no reasonable prosecutor” in the Justice Department would have brought a case against Clinton, though critics of his finding say that decision is not up to the FBI director to decide.
Furthermore, Comey critics note that other Americans have been prosecuted under national security statutes for far less than what Clinton did.
The FBI conducted at least 19 interviews betweeen May and June 2016. During a June 10 interview, one CIA official presented a number of emails apparently taken from Clinton’s server. The official said that they were not bothered by two of the emails presented by FBI agents.
The official said that the agency was not bothered by two of the emails presented by FBI agents, but a third email was described as “problematic.”
In a May interview, another CIA official said that the State Department was “not very careful” in sending emails to Clinton via unsecured channels, which “hurt” the agency.
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