By Jon Dougherty
Fired FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe admitted in testimony before the House Judiciary Committee in a closed-door session in December 2018 that a draft letter then-FBI Director James Comey wrote in May 2016 exonerating Hillary Clinton for her gross violations of the Espionage Act was not “normal” protocol.
By now, it’s been well-established that Comey drafted an exoneration letter in May 2016 in the bureau’s “Midyear Exam” investigation into Hillary’s criminal mishandling of classified emails.
That draft, by the way, was written and vetted within the department a full two months before agents even bothered to interview Clinton herself, a weekend affair that in and of itself was corrupt. Comey would later testify before the House that Hillary “was not sworn in and that the interview was not recorded.”
After Comey had written the first draft, he sent an email to several colleagues to test the language. The recipients included then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, then-FBI General Counsel James Baker and then-Chief of Staff and Senior Counselor James Rybicki.
Recently-released transcripts of McCabe’s December 2018 closed-door testimony noted that then-House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) read the email Comey drafted.
“The penultimate paragraph of the May 2 draft reads as follows: Accordingly, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters such as this, I am completing the investigation by expressing to Justice my view that no charges are appropriate in this case,” said the email, as read by Goodlatte.
The chairman noted further, “This paragraph is virtually identical to what Director Comey eventually said more than two months later on July 25, 2016, in recommending no charges against Secretary Clinton. It seems to confirm that the FBI, including the Director, had made up its mind not to charge Secretary Clinton before interviewing her.”
McCabe answered, “It may seem that way reading it now. But I know that Director Comey had not made up his mind at that time.”
The then-FBI deputy director was asked if Comey’s email was aimed at testing the language of a statement that may have been used in case charges were recommended against Hillary, and McCabe said no.
Then he was questioned by House Freedom Caucus chair Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), and here is that exchange:
Meadows: So is this common practice, in normal investigations of every type, to do a memo 2 months ahead of time to lay out what you’re going to say with a conclusion? So let’s take it outside of this particular person. How many other times does that happen?
McCabe: No, sir, it’s not common.
Meadows: So this is a unique situation where he did it this one time?
McCabe: This is the only time I am aware of, sir…
Meadows: Is this case so unique that you would have a prepared document 2 months ahead of interviewing the witness? Is that normal protocol within the FBI?
McCabe: It is not normal protocol within the FBI to release a statement about a case —
Meadows: That’s not the question I asked, Mr. McCabe.
McCabe: We believed we were going to —
Meadows: Is it normal protocol — is it normal protocol to draft a letter by the FBI 2 months before you interviewed the witness to draw a conclusion? Is that normal protocol?
McCabe: I have not seen that before, sir.
Meadows: So your answer is no, it’s not normal protocol?
McCabe: I’m not aware of that protocol. I’ve never seen that. I haven’t been through an experience like this in the pendency of my career. So, no, I’ve never seen that before.
Meadows: I yield back.
So, it certainly seems as if the answer is ‘no,’ it wasn’t normal for Comey to do what he did.
As for Meadows, he spoke on Sunday with Fox Business‘ Maria Bartiromo and noted that there would be a delay in DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz’ report because there has been new information which came to his attention.
But then he also said he expected criminal referrals from the IG.
- Follow Jon Dougherty on Twitter at @JonDougherty10