(National Sentinel) Clinton/Comey Scandal: Newly released documents by Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., on Thursday indicate that fired FBI Director James Comey made more edits to his statement exonerating Hillary Clinton over her email scandal than previously known, and in ways that appeared to significantly downplay the seriousness of her alleged crimes.
According to the documents, one of the more shocking changes that Comey made included comments that her private email server, through which classified information passed, was very likely hacked by “hostile forces,” Fox News reported.
Johnson, who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee, sent a letter to the FBI on Thursday that shows there were multiple edits to Comey’s July 5, 2016, statement, which was heavily scrutinized at the time.
In an early draft, the former FBI director noted that it was “reasonably likely” that “hostile actors” gained access to Clinton’s private email account at the time she was secretary of state.
Later, that claim was changed to say the scenario was only “possible.”
An additional edit featured language that was changed to describe the actions of Clinton and her aides and colleagues as “extremely careless” rather than “grossly negligent,” which is a key legal distinction.
In writing about his concerns Thursday in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Johnson said that the original draft “could be read as a finding of criminality in Secretary Clinton’s handling of classified information.”
He noted further, “The edited statement deleted the reference to gross negligence – a legal threshold for mishandling classified material – and instead replaced it with an exculpatory sentence.”
In addition, the final edits indicated that references to specific violations of statutes regarding “gross negligence” in the handling of classified information and “misdemeanor handling” were removed as well.
Also, the final statement also removed a reference to the “sheer volume” of classified information discussed on email.
“While the precise dates of the edits and identities of the editors are not apparent from the documents, the edits appear to change the tone and substance of Director Comey’s statement in at least three respects,” Johnson wrote.
Johnson said there were “repeated edits to reduce Secretary Clinton’s culpability in mishandling classified information.”
“In summary, the edits to Director Comey’s public statement, made months prior to the conclusion of the FBI’s investigation of Secretary Clinton’s conduct, had a significant impact on the FBI’s public evaluation of the implications of her actions,” he concluded.
Earlier reports noted that FBI counterintelligence agent Peter Strzok changed the portion of the statement dealing with “extremely careless” to “grossly negligent.”
“This effort, seen in light of the personal animus toward then-candidate Trump by senior FBI agents leading the Clinton investigation and their apparent desire to create an ‘insurance policy’ against Mr. Trump’s election, raise profound questions about the FBI’s role and possible interference in the 2016 presidential election and the role of the same agents in Special Counsel Mueller’s investigation by President Trump,” Johnson said.
The senator has said that Comey emailed a draft of the statement to senior FBI officials in May 2016 that cleared Clinton of any criminality, two months before he made his public statement exonerating her.
The May date is also well before FBI agents interviewed Clinton herself, which occurred just days before Comey’s statement.
“I’ve been trying to imagine what it would look like if I decided to do an FBI only press event to close out our work and hand the matter to the DOJ,” Comey wrote at the top of the draft. “To help shape out discussions of whether that, or something different, makes sense, I have spent some time crafting what I would say, which follows. In my imagination, I don’t see me taking any questions. Here is what it might look like.”
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