I Don’t Get It

by Jonah Goldberg

I’m on vacation but I had to watch FBI Director Comey’s statement. I was not surprised that he opted not to recommend prosecution. I was surprised by his explanation. He said at the outset:

Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.

He then proceeded to explain, at least to my ear, that Clinton improperly stored and transmitted classified information both intentionally and in a grossly negligent way. 

So I honestly don’t get it. I listened when he said the following:

Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent. Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.

In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.

To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.

He began by saying intent didn’t matter under the law. But even so, do we believe that she didn’t intend to set up the server? Do we believe that she didn’t intend to put her privacy and political security above national security? She’d been warned about the server and did it anyway. I’m obviously no lawyer but that looks like intentionality and willfulness to me. As for the strength of the evidence . . . what more evidence do you need? There were not one but apparently several unsecured servers set up and paid for by Mrs. Clinton to house and transmit classified information. Comey said she was “extremely careless.” Is that just a tick below “gross negligence”? What am I missing? 

I don’t think she was disloyal to the United States, I just think she was more loyal to herself – and she got away with it. Comey strongly suggests that if she’d been some staffer at the State Department she’d probably be fired or otherwise sanctioned. But that’s not an option now. Instead, she gets the green light for her party’s nomination for president of the United States. You can be sure that in a future Clinton administration she would impose such sanctions on the peons who worked for her. Comey has played his part in putting Clinton above the law. Maybe he had no choice for reasons I don’t completely understand. But that doesn’t mean this whole spectacle isn’t disgusting.

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