What is James Comey’s obsession with “intent?” If I fail to pay taxes, the IRS doesn’t give a damn whether I *meant* to or not. The State Trooper doesn’t care that I didn’t mean to speed on the interstate. The ref doesn’t care that LeBron didn’t want to hack Steph Curry during a three-pointer.
The FBI Director appeared before a Senate panel today for an update on the investigation surrounding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server. He also addressed the October 27th letter he sent to Congress updating them on new developments in the probe. Those “new developments” were cited by Clinton this week in a CNN interview as one of the main reasons she lost to Donald Trump.
Comey said he was basically in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation when some of Clinton’s e-mails were found on the laptop of Anthony Wiener…the husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. If he said nothing, and the information was uncovered much later (presumably with Hillary in the White House), it would have looked like the FBI was covering for her. If he updated Congress less than two weeks before the election, there was a chance he would be perceived as trying to influence the election. He made his choice. The rest is history.
But Comey’s information today on the tie-ins between the Wiener probe and the e-mail investigation revealed startling new information. Abedin emailed classified information to Anthony Weiner — allegedly so he could print it out and deliver it to Clinton. And she did this quite often. That is a no-no. And anyone with high-level security clearance like Abedin knows it.
For 15 minutes last summer, Comey laid out a brutal case against Clinton’s e-mail practices. It read like a damning opening statement from the prosecution. With every sentence, he undermined the myriad of talking points that Hillary had been tossing around like confetti for more than a year. Comey said, she ‘sent or received’ e-mails that were classified at the time…not to mention many more than were later upgraded to classified. Comey also said Clinton had used not one but several private e-mail servers and devices. That destroys the main explanation she gave for having a private server installed:—that she wished to use only a single device for “convenience.” Comey also said Clinton’s lawyers never actually read the 30,000 of her e-mails they deleted after she left State. Thousands turned out to be work-related — despite her assertions otherwise.
That’s why it was so stunning when Comey then announced that “no reasonable prosecutor” would pursue criminal charges in the case. After laying the groundwork detailing a cavalier disregard for security, forthrightness, and following the law; Comey then told us none of that mattered.
He re-iterated that perplexing conclusion today for both Clinton and Abedin.
“Really the central problem we had with the whole email investigation was proving that people knew, the secretary and others knew, that they were communicating about classified information in a way that they shouldn’t be,” Comey responded. “…proving that they had some sense that they were doing something unlawful.”
This is horsesqueeze. A first-year prosecutor could have proven “intent” in this case. Why would you go through the pain and expense of setting up a homebrew server to handle all of your communications as Secretary of State if you didn’t INTEND to use it to transfer classified information? The only way there could be no *intent* is if you somehow believed that, during the course of your serving as the top diplomat of the most powerful nation on Earth, you would NEVER receive classified information via e-mail. And that is to say nothing about destruction of evidence, destroyed emails, devices crushed with a hammer, a conveniently “lost” laptop, etc. Comey had all that evidence which screamed “intent,” and said it wasn’t quite enough.
Even today, Comey renewed the word-parsing he employed last summer, carefully saying that Clinton and Abedin were “extremely careless” with handing the information…and not “grossly negligent.” That’s because the latter phrase is actually part of US code for dealing with classified material.
We are left to wonder why Comey doggedly clings to this threshold. Maybe he truly wanted the voters to make up their own mind about Clinton’s culpability. I’d say they did. Still, a crime was committed and there was most certainly intent. It does little to dissuade the notion many have that laws are “for the little people.”
David French with National Review has a career of prosecuting cases of mishandled classified information in the military. Today he re-visited his assertion from last year:
“…if a soldier had sent classified documents to his wife “to print out” his best legal outcome would be a one-way ticket to a dishonorable discharge. His worst outcome would be jail.”
Instead of going to jail, Clinton’s sentence will be to spend the rest of her life living off of the vast proceeds she somehow amassed as a humble public servant. Of course, she will live with the knowledge that her name is forever embossed alongside catastrophic failures like Dukakis, the Edsel, New Coke and the ’64 Phillies. I guess that will have to suffice for me.