Two days ago, the White House said it would neither “defend nor criticize” FBI Director James Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton emails investigation. Today, after what must have been enormous pressure, President Barack Obama has come to the defense of the beleaguered Hillary campaign, accusing the FBI of ignoring norms and operating through “innuendo” in email investigation. Which is misleading. But then the president went even further, framing the FBI’s investigation in the most disingenuous way imaginable.
“I do think that there is a norm that, when there are investigations, we don’t operate on incomplete information and we don’t operate on leaks,” Obama says in an interview taped yesterday.
The Comey letter, the one that set off the widespread panic and anger aimed at the FBI director, wasn’t a leak, and it certainly wasn’t innuendo. Not only was it judiciously worded, Comey had an ethical obligation to send it to Congress.
Broadly speaking, it was necessitated by Clinton’s attempts to destroy and hide emails from her private server during an ongoing federal investigation. Specifically speaking, it was precipitated by the fact that Clinton’s top aide, Huma Abedin, who had been immunized during the FBI investigation, might have lied under oath when she claimed that she had no other device containing State Department emails. Or, worse, Abedin had allowed her now-estranged husband, a former Democratic congressman being investigated for sexting an under-aged girl, access to around 650,000 of her emails — potentially thousands among them from Hillary’s server. This is why careless handling of classified information is illegal, not merely the intent to do something shady with those documents.
If these events are unnerving for Democrats, they have only one person to blame. The cache might end up proving nothing, but it wouldn’t have mattered at all had Hillary’s camp not tried to hide it. Democrats who are argue that Comey should have suppressed the news of this discovery, as Attorney General Loretta Lynch had reportedly pushed Comey to do even though she had promised not to get involved in the investigation, are contending that the FBI should make political decisions rather than ethical ones.
This is what they demand from judges and the media, so it’s not exactly surprising.
The leaks from the FBI started after Democrats began their misleading stories about the discovery (quickly debunked by a Wall Street Journal piece) and concerted attacks on Comey’s alleged partisan actions on behalf of Donald Trump, which, as it turned out, was also untrue.
The president went on:
We operate based on concrete decisions that are made. When this was investigated thoroughly last time the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations was she had made some mistakes but that there wasn’t anything there that was procecutable.
No, this was not the conclusion. The FBI did not find that Hillary “had made some mistakes,” which implies that the secretary of State had dropped her phone in a tub or inadvertently sent an email from a Yahoo! account. She maintained her own clandestine communication infrastructure to avoid transparency while working for the “most transparent administration ever.” It’s also worth mentioning that it sure seems like the president misled the American people about his knowledge of Hillary’s server, as well.
After a thorough investigation, the FBI found that Hillary and her aides had acted “extremely careless” in handling “very sensitive, highly classified information.” The problem was that investigators could “not find evidence sufficient to establish that she knew she was sending classified information beyond a reasonable doubt to meet the intent standard,” Comey explained.
Now, one might speculate that the “intent standard” was a new thing Comey used to avoid blowing up an election by prosecuting a corrupt candidate. As Comey had warned in his initial statement, don’t count on it in the future:
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.
It is, of course, true that Clinton has not yet been found guilty of any crime. That’s certainly shouldn’t inhibit rational people from having an opinion about her actions. Richard Nixon was never found guilty of a crime, either. We have an abundance of evidence regarding her emails and foundation that point to corruption. Most of us don’t have the power to right what we believe are injustices.
The president, however, does. And if he truly believes that the FBI operates through innuendo and leaks rather than evidence, doesn’t he have an obligation to fire the person in charge? If he truly believes the FBI is compromised and partisan in its investigation of Hillary Clinton — which is still open and ongoing — doesn’t he have an obligation to call for a special prosecutor to make sure Hillary is given a fair shake?
I look forward to someone with access asking him these questions, because it would be a dereliction of the president’s duty to allow the nation’s top law enforcement agencies to undermine justice.