FBI Director James Comey was summoned before Congress today, and he had some strong words — but also admitted that many of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s public claims regarding her private email server were untrue.
Under oath, Comey on Thursday strongly defended the decision to not prosecute Clinton over her negligent email setup. He said there was no evidence that she or any of her aides knew that anything they were doing was against the law or had lied to federal investigators.
Comey’s appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee marked his first public statements since an FBI announcement that removed the threat of criminal charges against the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee but also revived public scrutiny of her handling of classified information.
It was the most detailed explanation to date about why the Justice Department concluded without charges a yearlong investigation that had dogged Clinton’s presidential campaign and raised questions for voters about her trustworthiness.
“Our folks did it in an apolitical and a professional way,” Comey said of the FBI’s handling of the investigation.
Republicans said they were infuriated with the FBI’s decision and confused by the way it was presented. Comey on Tuesday gave a scathing assessment of Clinton’s email practices, followed by his conclusion that “no reasonable prosecutor” would charge her with a crime.
On Thursday, Comey said the legal decision came down to a simple lack of a criminal intent.
When agents investigate allegations of criminal wrongdoing, they look for evidence not only that a statute was violated but also that a person knew that what he was doing was wrong. That evidence did not exist in this case, Comey said.
Although there is a law that allows for felony prosecution for mishandling classified information due to gross negligence, that law has been used only once in the 99 years since it was enacted — and that was in a case involving espionage, Comey said.
“They have grave concerns about whether it’s appropriate to prosecute someone for gross negligence,” he said of department officials.
Committee chairman, Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, told Comey that the FBI’s decision showed a “double standard” for powerful people. Had the “average Joe” done what she had done, he said, he would go to prison.
“If your name isn’t Clinton, or you’re not part of the powerful elite, then Lady Justice will act differently,” Chaffetz said, adding that the FBI had set a “dangerous precedent” in letting her off the hook.
Comey specifically rebutted a litany of GOP charges including that the FBI had been biased, ignored the law, applied it unjustly or coordinated the decision with Clinton’s campaign. “We try very hard to apply the same standard whether you are rich or poor, white or black, old or young, famous or not known at all,” he said.
The committee’s top Democrat, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, accused Republicans of politicizing the investigation. But he suggested that Comey had contributed to that by leaving “a perceived gap” between his public criticism of Clinton and his conclusion not to prosecute.
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Wednesday that she accepted the recommendations and findings of Comey and of her career prosecutors and would not file charges against Clinton. Lynch is likely to face questions of her own next week at a separate oversight hearing of the House Judiciary Committee.
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has said “there are a lot more questions that need to be answered” and, in a letter to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, requested that Clinton be barred from receiving classified briefings for the rest of the campaign — a move that “certainly constitutes appropriate sanctions.” Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump complained that the system was “rigged.”
The hearing served as a means to energize a conservative base that might be disillusioned with Trump, as Republicans are working to hold onto their majority in Congress. But privately, some Republicans question the decision to pick a fight with Comey, a Republican from the Bush Justice Department with a reputation for independence.
On Tuesday, in a stinging assessment of her email practices as secretary of state, Comey rebuked Clinton and her aides for being “extremely careless” in their handling of classified information and contradicted many of the defenses and explanations she’s put forward for months. But he also said there was no evidence anyone willfully or intentionally mishandled classified information and that “no reasonable prosecutor” would pursue such a case.
Comey, who served as deputy attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, was appointed in 2013 to a 10-year term as FBI director by President Barack Obama.
The Associated Press contributed to this article
Ignorance is no excuse for violating the law. She is an attorney and she knows better. She just felt that she was above he law. And who would catch her. Arrogant woman. Her attitude and impatience with the hired help help show us that she has a habit of having things done her way.
hENRY VERA says
OPEN YOUR EYES AMERICA..DO NOT ACT LIKE A IGNORANT
IT WILL COST YOU DEARLY….
jerry duer says
Obviously she like uncle bill the predator are above the law as long as the blacks and their Jewish shepherds will vote 99.9 % for a democrat no matter what they may have done or will do. Since the days of reagan there has been the browning of America and it all over for the white male. Thanks to JFK since 1962 the amount of legal immigrants from Northern Europe is restricted to 150,000 a year . Under the Obama millions of illegals can come and go as they please. Start learning Spanish and Arabic if you are under 45.
cecil cohea says
Anyone else would be under the jail, we need a new chief of the FBI, you are corrupt to the core.
Sign a petition to indict the witch here:
Swabbie Johnston, SR. says
How in the world can 300 Million people scream INDICT! Yet 2 people, in the entire NATION, have the authority to say,”WE won’t convict!”, & that is the WAY it is handled?? Evidently WE THE PEOPLE, have no SAY in proceedings, that involve PROMINENT, Political figure’s in the USA! The entire Political super structure of Governmental proceeding’s has been influenced by the incompetence of the persons responsible for seeing that Judicial Judgement be delivered, have greatly performed an Injustice, not only to the people of the USA, but also sense of in propriety, leveled upon themselves, by committing, or allowing to be permitted, this gross miscarriage of justice! All persons involved, should be relieved of office, immediately accused, & accuser’s, for Dereliction of D!!uty
Main Street says
Why are folks so surprised at the corruption? Comey is a bum kisser with a big title. They serve themselves. In a just world where skills, honesty and qualifications matter, Comey wouldn’t even be an FBI man.
Dr. Belman says
President of the USA offered to Chief of FBI position, this is why he did not state that P. Obama knew and himself used this system. If HRC PERSECUTED , P.OBAMA must too .A former P. Clinton the same way got of a prison and even elected as a President of Nino case with drugs in AR, which involve Bush- father.They all connected. Yes, Laura Bush wants to vote for Hillary, a crook, corrupted, liar, deceitful person.
Main Street says
Translated: Laws and rules are what OTHER people obey. They may have titles, but they still are sleazy. They think that the lies they say are gospel and above reproach.
jerry duer says
Had she been indicted dems would vote for her while she was in a cell ( never happen ) or after an obammy pardon . and an all black or majority black DC jury would never convict her no matter how strong the evidence, a video of her giving Putin her codes and passwords ,a signed confession and all the bribes and secret information Russian , iranian, chinese, north Korean etc hackers could produce from her server. On January 20 2017 you can expect the chinese, russians, north koreans, and iranians to be on the move. Get ready for the end of times.
Standing For God! says
As much as I hate to say it I so believe you are right. The end of time is very near! The Bible says that America will fall due to a leader from the North. If you go straight North from the USA where do you end up! Russia! People we better wake up!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes I have not stated things from the Bible exactly like it reads but believe me it was on purpose and I very well know God’s Word.
hENRY VERA says
I want to get this right.
IF SHE LIED TO THE FBI AND LIED TO CONGRESS. THAT IS A CRIME.
WHY SHE IS NOT CHARGE WITH A CRIME.
ANY OTHER PEOPLE THAT LIED TO THE FBI IS CHARGE WITH A FEDERAL CRIME
***BUT NOT HILLARY****
ANY PEOPLE THAT LIED TO CONGRESS, IS CHARGE WITH A FEDERAL CRIME.
****BUT NOT HILLARY..*****
AND THE FBI KNOW SHE LIED AND LET HER GET AWAY WITH THESE CRIMES.
*****SOME KIND OF FAVORS ARE PROMISE HERE.*****
THERE IS NO JUSTICE AND WILL BE NO PEACE UNTIL SHE GET CHARGE WITH
ALL THESE CRIMES…..
HOW CAN WE THRUST HILLARY NOW.
hENRY VERA says
*******FBI boss admits: Clinton lied*****
AND HE HELP HER……
HE NEED TO QUIT HIS JOB….NOW…..