By Jon Dougherty
Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, one of the central “Spygate” figures who appeared to conspire with fired agent and one-time paramour Peter Strzok against President Donald Trump’s candidacy, says the Obama Justice Department blocked the FBI from charging then-Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton with “gross negligence.”
In testimony last year before Congress, Page said FBI officials including then-Director James Comey talked about charging Clinton under the Espionage Act for her criminal mishandling of classified emails, but Obama’s politicized Justice Department said no.
According to the Washington Examiner, newly released transcripts from Page’s private testimony in front of a joint task force of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees in July 2018 provide new details regarding those internal discussions stemming from the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s emails.
Specifically, Page was referencing the bureau’s probe dubbed “Midyear Exam,” in which the bureau was attempting to determine whether Clinton violated the law when she sent classified emails over her private, unsecured email server when she was secretary of state.
Comey eventually cleared Clinton of all charges during an odd press conference in July 2016 after a short interview with Clinton just a few days earlier.
Although 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.
In her testimony, Page said that the FBI “did not blow over gross negligence.” In response to a question from Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), Page testified the FBI, including Comey, believed Clinton may have committed gross negligence.
“We, in fact — and, in fact, the Director — because, on its face, it did seem like, well, maybe there’s a potential here for this to be the charge. And we had multiple conversations, multiple conversations with the Justice Department about charging gross negligence,” she said.
But Obama’s Justice Department, then led by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, said nope.
“The Justice Department’s assessment was that it was both constitutionally vague so that they did not actually feel that they could permissibly bring that charge,” Page testified.
The specific statute being referenced, 18 U.S. Code § 793, deals in part with “gross negligence” in the handling of national defense information, which Clinton came under scrutiny for possibly violating, the Washington Examiner reported.
“We had multiple conversations with the Justice Department about bringing a gross negligence charge. And that’s, as I said, the advice that we got from the Department was that they did not think — that it was constitutionally vague and not sustainable,” Page said, noting that Comey and other FBI officials had a number of conversations with DoJ about charging Clinton.
Ratcliffe asked Page if the DoJ ordered Clinton not to be charged.
“When you say advice you got from the Department, you’re making it sound like it was the Department that told you: ‘You’re not going to charge gross negligence because we’re the prosecutors and we’re telling you we’re not going to,’” he said.
— Let’s not forget that Comey had decided months before his infamous July 2016 press conference exonerating Clinton that he would do so — even before she was even interviewed.
— Also, Strzok was responsible for changing terminology in Comey’s July 5, 2016, statement describing Clinton’s actions from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless,” a legally meaningless phrase that is not actionable.
— As reported by PJ Media’s Debra Heine, according to documents that were turned over to the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee last year, Lynch was already aware of Comey’s plan to clear Clinton when she announced just days before she would ‘accept whatever the FBI decided.’
Page makes it sound like Comey was trying to ‘do the right thing’ by pushing for her to be indicted; Heine’s findings say Comey was in on exonerating Clinton, along with Lynch (and no doubt at Obama’s behest).
— The FBI’s former top lawyer, James Baker, told a House committee during closed-door testimony that former secretary of state and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton most definitely should have been indicted for mishandling classified information.
“I had a jaundiced eye about everything, yes. I had skepticism about all this stuff. I was concerned about all of this. This whole situation was horrible, and it was novel and we were trying to figure out what to do, and it was highly unusual,” Baker told lawmakers, according to a transcript of his testimony.
But did he really?
The Washington Examiner further emphasized the disparity in testimony and known facts:
Page’s testimony raises further questions related to the decision not to charge Clinton with any crimes, including gross negligence, following a lengthy FBI investigation into her email practices that potentially put classified information at risk. After the revelation that then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with former President Bill Clinton on a Phoenix tarmac in June 2016, while Hillary Clinton was running for president, Lynch refused to recuse herself from the case while also saying she would accept Comey’s decision on what charges to bring against Clinton. But Page’s testimony indicates that DOJ had shut the door on gross negligence.
At the time, the National Review’s Andy McCarthy wrote, “According to Director James Comey, Hillary Clinton checked every box required for a felony violation of Section 793(f) of the federal penal code … and, in essence, in order to give Mrs. Clinton a pass, the FBI rewrote the statute.”
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10