Law & the Courts

James Comey Deserved to Be Fired

(Reuters photo: Aaron P. Bernstein)
From start to finish, Comey botched his investigation of Hillary Clinton

Although President Donald J. Trump fired former FBI director James Comey this week, Obama should have sacked him last July. Comey’s behavior in the E-mailgate investigation suggests either staggering incompetence or a clumsy effort to whitewash Hillary Clinton’s crimes.

• During Hillary Clinton’s July 2 interrogation at FBI headquarters, she was not under oath. How could the FBI possibly reach “the last step of a year-long investigation” — as Comey described it at a July 7 House Government Oversight Committee hearing  — with the focus of that probe answering questions without a potential perjury conviction hanging over her head? Especially given Hillary’s peanut-allergy-like aversion to the truth, not swearing her in confirmed either the FBI’s grotesque ineptness or a deliberate loophole through which Hillary could slither away.

Clinton’s defenders say that, had she lied, she still could have been prosecuted for making false statements to federal officials. If so, why bother to put any American under oath?

Making Hillary raise her right hand and swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help her God, would have reminded her of her solemn duty to come clean. This also would have exposed her to possible prosecution under both the perjury and false-statements statutes. But Team Comey could not be bothered with any of this. Perhaps they couldn’t handle the truth.

• Former State Department chief of staff Cheryl Mills participated in this session as one of Hillary’s nine attorneys, even though she is deeply implicated in many of Hillary’s misdeeds. Thus, a potential witness or even co-conspirator in Hillary’s possible prosecution offered legal aid as the FBI quizzed her. None of Comey’s people considered this a problem?

• Comey steered clear of Hillary’s three-and-a-half hour interview. Given the unusual and enormous stakes, he should have faced her or, at least, supervised nearby. From an adjacent room, he could have offered guidance, monitored Hillary for inconsistencies, and instructed his staffers to ask pointed follow-up questions.

Hillary’s maid, Marina Santos, had regular access to Hillary’s classified documents, via secured communications equipment in her Washington, D.C., mansion. Santos reportedly printed records for the former secretary of state to read at home, apparently including Obama’s Presidential Daily Brief. Regardless, Paul Sperry reported in the New York Post, “It also appears the FBI did not formally interview Santos as a key witness in its investigation.” How could Comey possibly have let Santos go uninterrogated?

• The FBI agreed to destroy the laptops of Cheryl Mills and Clinton campaign aide Heather Samuels. This extraordinary promise was part of Mills’ and Samuels’ immunity deals.

However, veteran Washington attorney Joseph DiGenova told Sirius XM host David Webb that FBI agents refused to destroy these computers, in hopes that congressional investigators would subpoena them. DiGenova said in October that when he learned that these laptops still existed, “I could not believe that the Republicans had not gotten their hands on them even yet.”

Wherever the laptops of these top Clinton henchwomen are today, why on Earth would the FBI even agree to junk evidence in this case — be it damning or exculpatory? If any of the judges involved in this case asked for those laptops, what did the FBI expect to say? “Sorry, your honor. We planned to throw them into a furnace.”

Also, classified material appeared on Mills’ laptop, where it did not belong.

• Comey breezily described Hillary aide Huma Abedin’s “regular practice” of forwarding “hundreds and thousands” of e-mails from Hillary’s computer, through her own, and then onto that of her perverted, estranged husband, Anthony Weiner. “My understanding is that his role would be to print them out as a matter of convenience,” Comey said.

The FBI later corrected Comey’s statement and indicated that only 10 e-mail chains with classified data were on Weiner’s computer, thanks to “backup activity,” while Abedin deliberately forwarded only two classified e-mails to Weiner’s laptop.

So what?

Why was even one classified e-mail on Weiner’s computer? Would the FBI let YOU have “a small number” of classified e-mails on your laptop?

Why was even one classified e-mail on Weiner’s computer? Would the FBI let you have “a small number” of classified e-mails on your laptop?

• Despite this abundant skullduggery, Comey insisted that Hillary Clinton practiced no “clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information.” This is utterly irrelevant to the Espionage Act, under which federal prosecutors still should lock her up.

As Comey should know, the Federal Espionage Act — 18 U.S. Code § 793 — merely requires evidence of “gross negligence” in order to secure convictions. Black’s Law Dictionary considers “negligence” and “carelessness” synonymous.

According to Comey’s July 5 statement, Hillary and her colleagues “were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”

Thus, Clinton and her associates were “extremely careless.” Extremely careless means grossly negligent. Gross negligence is the black-letter standard for conviction under the Federal Espionage Act. James Comey is neither Congress nor the Supreme Court. He did not have the authority to rewrite or reinterpret that legal standard. Yet he did so anyway and set Hillary free at his July 5 press conference.

Justice Department veterans Jamie Gorelick (a Clinton appointee) and Larry Thompson (a G. W. Bush appointee) condemned Comey’s media event as “a kind of reality TV of federal criminal investigation.”

In his May 9 memo about Comey to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, recently confirmed by the Senate 94–6, explained that, “we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation.” Rosenstein added: “The Director laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without a trial. It is a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.”

Comey’s press conference enraged Republicans who cherish equal justice and the rule of law. Comey’s October 28 letter to Congress indicating that he had reopened Hillary’s e-mail inquiry may have been an attempt to re-ingratiate himself with the Right.

But then, his November 6 letter re-exonerating Clinton two days before the general election may have been a bid to regain favor with the woman who nearly every expert thought was poised to win the presidency. Comey’s intentions may have been pristine throughout all of this. But they look shifty, at best, and thoroughly corrupt, at worst.

Will anyone on Team Clinton pay any price whatsoever for Hillary’s abuse of America’s state secrets and the Clinton Foundation’s auction house for government favors? Alas, it seems, the Duchess of Chappaqua and her royal court enjoy the immunity that flows from her orb and scepter.

Where is the outrage? Where are the indictments? Why are Hillary, Huma, and Anthony not in handcuffs right now?

Crooked Hillary should have been jailed decades ago, and she still should be behind bars. Here is a key reason why she still roams free, shirks responsibility for her dreadful campaign, and — last week — launched Onward Together, yet another political slush fund: Comey blew it. His half-hearted probe has let Hillary and her entire circle off the hook, state secrets and public integrity be damned. For this alone, James Comey earned his pink slip, fair and square.

Deroy Murdock — Deroy Murdock is a Manhattan-based Fox News contributor and a contributing editor of National Review Online.

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