The FBI edits to the Clinton exoneration allegedly go far beyond what was previously known. It is alleged that former FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe are implicated, and not just Peter Strzok.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee has discovered that edits made to former FBI Director James Comey’s statement exonerating Hillary Clinton for transmitting classified info over an unsecured, private email server went far beyond what was previously known, as detailed in a Thursday letter from committee chairman Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
The letter reveals specific edits made by senior FBI agents when Deputy Director Andrew McCabe exchanged drafts of Comey’s statement with senior FBI officials, including Peter Strzok, Strzok’s direct supervisor, E.W. “Bill” Priestap, Jonathan Moffa, and an unnamed employee from the Office of General Counsel (identified by Newsweek as DOJ Deputy General Counsel Trisha Anderson) – in what was a coordinated conspiracy among top FBI brass to decriminalize Clinton’s conduct by changing legal terms and phrases, omitting key information, and minimizing the role of the Intelligence Community in the email investigation. Doing so virtually assured that then-candidate Hillary Clinton would not be prosecuted.
Also mentioned in the letter are the immunity agreements granted by the FBI in June 2016 to top Obama advisor Cheryl Mills and aide Heather Samuelson – who helped decide which Clinton emails were destroyed before turning over the remaining 30,000 records to the State Department. Of note, the FBI agreed to destroy evidence on devices owned by Mills and Samuelson which were turned over in the investigation.
According to documents produced by the FBI, FBI employees exchanged proposed edits to the draft statement. On May 6, Deputy Director McCabe forwarded the draft statement to other senior FBI employees, including Peter Strzok, E.W. Priestap, Jonathan Moffa, and an employee on the Office of General Counsel whose name has been redacted. 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.
It was already known that Strzok – who was demoted to the FBI’s HR department after anti-Trump text messages to his mistress were uncovered by an internal FBI watchdog – was responsible for downgrading the language regarding Clinton’s conduct from the criminal charge of “gross negligence” to “extremely careless.”
“Gross negligence” is a legal term of art in criminal law often associated with recklessness. According to Black’s Law Dictionary, gross negligence is “A severe degree of negligence taken as reckless disregard,” and “Blatant indifference to one’s legal duty, other’s safety, or their rights.” “Extremely careless,” on the other hand, is not a legal term of art.
According to an Attorney briefed on the matter, “extremely careless” is in fact a defense to “gross negligence”: “What my client did was ‘careless’, maybe even ‘extremely careless,’ but it was not ‘gross negligence’ your honor.” The FBI would have no option but to recommend prosecution if the phrase “gross negligence” had been left in.
18 U.S. Code § 793 “Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information” specifically uses the phrase “gross negligence.” Had Comey used the phrase, he would have essentially declared that Hillary had broken the law.