FBI director James Comey testified in the Senate Judiciary Committee today on the FBI’s annual oversight hearing. Democrats were quick to question Comey’s rationale for announcing eleven days before the presidential election that the FBI was re-opening its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified emails as secretary of state.
Comey confirmed that even in retrospect, he believes that he made the right decision. It was a choice “between really bad and catastrophic,” he said, and “concealment in my view would have been catastrophic.”
The FBI found that Clinton’s assistant Huma Abedin sent classified emails to her then-husband, Anthony Weiner, but the data collected in the investigation was not enough to recommend criminal charges for either Clinton or Abedin. Indeed, they were both “extremely careless.”
“Somehow, [Huma Abedin’s] emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information,” Comey said. Weiner’s “then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him to print out for her so she could deliver them to the secretary of state.”
Because the FBI could not prove “criminal intent,” Comey and the FBI chose not to recommend criminal charges to the Department of Justice. Texas senator Ted Cruz later in the hearing questioned Comey’s decision, citing which statutes Abedin had violated — regardless of whether she had criminal intent.
The FBI for “generations,” Comey retorted, has always required a “general sense of criminal intent” for recommending prosecution.
“I can’t find a case that’s been brought in the last 50 years based on negligence without some showing or indicia of intent.”