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.
Comey, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok
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
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.
Samuelson and Heather Mills
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
Johnson's letter reads:
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
edits appear to change the tone and substance of Director Comey's
statement in at least three respects.
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."
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,"
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.
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.
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.
U.S. Code § 793
addition to Strzok's "gross negligence" --> "extremely careless"
edit, McCabe's damage control team removed a key justification for
elevating Clinton's actions to the standard of "gross negligence" -
that being the "sheer
volume" of classified material on Clinton's
server. In the original draft, the "sheer volume" of material
"supports an inference that the participants were grossly
negligent in their handling of that
removed from Comey's statement were all
references to the Intelligence Community's involvement in
investigating Clinton's private email server.
Comey's original statement acknowledged the FBI had worked with its
partners in the Intelligence Community to assess potential damage from
Secretary Clinton's use of a private email server. The original
have done extensive work with
the assistance of our colleagues elsewhere in the Intelligence
Community to understand what
indications there might be of compromise by hostile actors in
connection with the private email operation.
edited version removed the references to the intelligence
have done extensive work [removed] to
understand what indications there might be of compromise by hostile
actors in connection with the personal e-mail operation.
the FBI edited Comey's statement to downgrade
the probability that Clinton's server was hacked by hostile actors,
changing their language from "reasonably likely" to "possible" - an
edit which eliminated yet another justification for the phrase
"Gross negligence." To put it another way, "reasonably likely" means
the probability of a hack due to Clinton's negligence is above 50
percent, whereas the hack simply being "possible" is any probability
also possible that the FBI, which was not allowed to inspect the DNC
servers, was uncomfortable standing behind the conclusion of Russian
hacking reached by cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike.
original draft read:
the combination of factors, we assess it
is reasonably likely that hostile
actors gained access to Secretary Clinton's private email
edited version from Director Comey's July 5 statement read:
that combination of factors, we assess it
is possible that hostile actors gained access to
Secretary Clinton's personal e-mail account.
letter also questions an "insurance
policy" referenced in a text message sent by demoted
FBI investigator Peter Strzok to his mistress, FBI attorney Lisa Page,
which read "I
want to believe the path you threw out to consideration in Andy's
office -- that there's no way he gets elected -- but I'm afraid we
can't take that risk." It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely
event you die before you're 40...."
wonders if the "insurance policy" Strzok sent to Page on August
15, 2016 was in reference to the original
counterintelligence operation launched against Trump of which Strzok
became the lead investigator in "late July" 2016? Of note, Strzok
reported directly to Bill
Priestap - the director of
Counterintelligence, who told James Comey not to
inform congress that the FBI had launched a counterintelligence
operation against then-candidate Trump, per Comey's March 20th
testimony to the House Intelligence Committee. (h/t @TheLastRefuge2)
James Comey Testimony to House Intel Committee, March 20, 2016
letter from the Senate Committee concludes; "the edits to Director
Comey's public statement, made months prior to the conclusion of the
FBI's investigation of Secretary Clinton's conduct, had
a significant impact on the FBI's public evaluation of the
implications of her actions. This effort, seen
in the light of the personal animus toward then-candidate Trump by
senior FBI agents leading the Clinton investigation and their
apparent desire to create an "insurance policy" against Mr. Trump's
election, raise profound questions about the FBI's role and possible
interference in the 2016y presidential election and the role of the
same agents in Special Counsel Mueller's investigation of President
then asks the FBI to answer six questions:
- Please provide
the names of the Department of Justice (DOJ) employees who
comprised the "mid-year review team" during
the FBI's investigation of Secretary Clinton's use of a private
- Please identify
all FBI, DOJ, or other federal employees who edited or reviewed
Director Comey's July 5, 2016 statement. Please identify
which individual made the marked changes in the documents produced
to the Committee.
- Please identify
which FBI employee repeatedly changed the language in the final
draft statement that described Secretary Clinton's behavior as
"grossly negligent" to "extremely careless." What
evidence supported these changes?
- Please identify
which FBI employee edited the draft statement to remove the
reference to the Intelligence Community. On what basis
was this change made?
FBI employee edited the draft statement to downgrade the FBI's
assessment that it was "reasonably likely" that hostile actors had
gained access to Secretary Clinton's private email account to
merely that than [sic] intrusion was "possible." What
evidence supported these changes?
- Please provide
unredacted copies of the drafts of Director Comey's statement,
including comment bubbles, and explain the basis for the
redactions produced to date.
are increasingly faced with the fact that the FBI's top ranks have
been filled with political ideologues who helped Hillary Clinton while
pursuing the Russian influence narrative against Trump (perhaps as the
"insurance" Strzok spoke of). Meanwhile, "hands off" recused Attorney
General Jeff Sessions and assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein
don't seem very excited to explore the issues with a second Special
Counsel. As such, we are now almost entirely reliant on the various
Committees of congress to pursue justice in this matter. Perhaps when
their investigations have concluded, President Trump will feel he has
the political and legal ammunition to truly clean house at the
nation's swampiest agencies.