In early 2013 upon leaving her post as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was required by law to turn over all work-related emails to the State Department to assure she and the department, complied with public records laws and could appropriately respond to any Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests.
Mrs. Clinton did not turn over any emails. It wasn’t until nearly two years later that Mrs. Clinton was forced into releasing them. In December 2014, her legal team went through her emails to determine which were public and which might be private. According to the FBI, the lawyers did not individually read the content of all of her emails, as the FBI did for those available to them. Instead, they relied on header information and used search terms to try to find all work-related emails among the reportedly more than 60,000 total emails remaining on Mrs. Clinton’s personal system in 2014. They ultimately deleted more than half and turned over the remaining emails, not electronically, but in printed format, on more than 55,000 sheets of paper.
In March 2015, Mrs. Clinton appeared before the media at the United Nations and assured the public she was hiding nothing, that she set up a server in her basement only as a matter of convenience and only used one device during her time as secretary of state. She also famously claimed there was no classified content in her emails. None proved true.
Hillary’s press conference raised more questions than it answered and it wasn’t long before the public grew familiar with the name James Comey. Mr. Comey is the director of the FBI. He was appointed to the position in 2013 by President Obama for a 10-year term. Mr. Comey reports to the Attorney General and the Justice Department.
The FBI began to investigate Hillary, her emails, the disappearance of more than half of them and a wide variety of convoluted and confusing side stories. As the process unfolded legal minds and political pundits kept predicting the FBI would have a direction and announcement on what they found. First it was predicted an announcement would be before the end of 2015. Then it was early 2016 prior to the primary season. Finally, the predictions just stopped. The primaries came and went, and there was no word from the FBI. Mr. Comey’s only public comment was that it would take as long as it took and politics would play no role in the investigation.
News agencies were careful to point out that with more than 30,000 emails to review, there could be no rush. That volume of content meant it could take an extremely long time. Privately, my sources assured me that James Comey was a top-notch professional and politics wouldn’t possibly effect him. I was told by one former U.S. Attorney that he thought Mr. Comey would sooner resign than compromise the integrity of the office.
Finally in July 2016, after nearly 18 months of FBI investigation, Mr. Comey stepped to the microphone in front of an anxious media and American public. What he said wasn’t particularly complimentary of Hillary Clinton. It turned out that thousands of her emails did indeed contain classified material. The FBI investigation found poor security on her personal server and considered it extremely likely that Hillary’s server had been breeched by foreign interests.
Specifically speaking about Mrs. Clinton and her staff Mr. Comey said “…there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” None of this could bode well for a presidential candidate.
Except it did. After pointing out in detail how Mrs. Clinton’s ignorance and arrogance had compromised American security and classified information, Mr. Comey stunned everyone who heard the details he had just revealed by closing with “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information…” the FBI would not recommend prosecution. Apparently the rules didn’t apply to Hillary.
Team Clinton proclaimed victory. They ignored the part about violation of statutes and national security and instead twisted Mr. Comey’s words to suggest she had been cleared on every question. Democrats were overjoyed, Republicans were furious and the public was just plain bewildered. Depending on your affiliation, Mr. Comey became a hero or a goat.
Mr. Comey’s 15 minutes of fame had just begun to fade in late October when he burst back on the scene. With just 11 days to go until the election, Mr. Comey sent a letter to Congress announcing that an FBI investigation into pervert Anthony Weiner’s sexting to an underage girl had oddly enough turned up 650,000 emails that appeared to be related to the Clinton investigation. The Hillary investigation was reopened.
This time it was the Democrats outraged at Mr. Comey. How could he possibly raise the issue so close to Election Day? Was he playing politics? Republican nominee Donald Trump himself said it was a chance for Mr. Comey and company at the FBI to get it right this time, to right their previous wrong.
The same pundits who had been surprised at how long the review of the initial 30,000 emails had taken wouldn’t even fathom a guess at how long it would take to go through 650,000. They needn’t have worried. Magically, 20 times the number of emails of the original inquiry took only nine days to exhaustively review. Do the math and that’s slightly more than one email per second 24/7 for nine nonstop days.
What? You read that right. Nine days after his letter to Congress announcing the 650,000 emails, Mr. Comey closed the book again. Forty-eight hours before the election, America has been told that in just nine days the FBI was able to determine there was nothing to see in those 650,000.
Either Mr. Comey delayed the initial investigation, rushed the more recent glance or is just making it up as he goes along. What is for certain is that he has incredibly bad political instincts and far more importantly, has jettisoned any credibility the Federal Bureau of Investigation had left under his leadership.
A nation of laws requires competent leadership at its top law enforcement investigative agency. Mr. Comey has demonstrated he doesn’t have that to offer. Regardless of of which candidate becomes the 45th president, Mr. Comey must go.
I am told he is an honorable man. If he is, he will resign before Thanksgiving. At this point, it’s his only honorable path.
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