Report: Senior officials at Justice set high bar for FBI charges against Clinton

by WorldTribune Staff, February 27, 2019

The Obama administration Department of Justice closely coordinated with the FBI in setting an “unusually high threshold” for the agency’s prosecution of Hillary Clinton on charges of mishandling classified information on her private email server, a report said.

In order for Clinton to be prosecuted, the DOJ under then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch “required the FBI to establish evidence of intent – even though the gross negligence statute explicitly does not require this,” The Epoch Times noted in a Feb. 27 report.

‘Absent a slip-up on her part, Clinton was effectively in the clear from the outset of the FBI investigation due to the DOJ’s decision to require intent.’ / Reuters / Kevin Lamarque

“This meant that the FBI would have needed to find a smoking gun, such as an email or an admission made during FBI questioning, revealing Clinton or her aides knowingly set up the private email server to send classified information,” the report said.

An early draft of then-FBI Director James Comey’s July 5, 2016 statement which closed the case against Clinton contained the term “gross negligence.” The term was removed and replaced with “extremely careless.”

Federal law states that gross negligence in handling the nation’s intelligence can be punished criminally with prison time or fines.

Some observers contend that Comey’s statement concluded that the FBI acted independently from DOJ influence in its investigation of Clinton. The Epoch Times noted that “Congressional testimonies by high ranking FBI officials involved in the investigation reveal, however, that this was not the case.”

FBI lawyer Lisa Page, who served as special counsel to Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe during the time of the Clinton investigation, testified on July 13, 2018, saying:

“Everybody talks about this as if this was the FBI investigation, and the truth of the matter is there was not a single step, other than the July 5th statement, there was not a single investigative step that we did not do in consultation with or at the direction of the Justice Department.”

Testimony from this and other closed-door sessions have not been publicly released, but were reviewed for the Epoch Times’ report.

Closed-door testimony last year featuring Bill Priestap, who served as assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, revealed that a chart disseminated within the FBI excluded “gross negligence” from a list of statutes by which Clinton could be prosecuted for using the private email server.

Ryan Breitenbach, the House majority counsel at the time, pressed Priestap about the chart and asked why gross negligence, or the federal statute of 18 U.S.C. 793(f), was excluded.

Priestap said he didn’t know who sent the email or why they used the language, “DOJ not willing to charge this.” However, he did say his “attitude is that if there is a Federal criminal statute still on the books, then, you know – and we think there may or might be a violation of that, we still have to work to uncover whether, in fact, there was.”

Breitenbach said that “the Department of Justice made a decision that intent was required, even though we have a statute on the books that does not require intent that [only] requires gross negligence.”

The report noted that “Gross negligence is different than willfulness and intentional conduct. But with the decision to require evidence of intent on the part of Clinton in order to prosecute, the DOJ managed to circumvent and in effect neutralize the entire FBI investigation from the outset.

“This could have been why Comey and the hierarchy of the FBI felt comfortable in drawing up an exoneration statement in advance of Clinton’s actual interview. No actual evidence of intent, such as an email where Clinton overtly admitted she established her knowingly unsecure server for the purpose of sending classified information for convenience, had been found. Clinton was almost certain not to admit to this during her own FBI interview.”

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