Predictably, Hillary Clinton blames FBI Director James Comey for her loss in the 2016 presidential election. She asserts that Comey’s July and October comments and letters to certain Congressional oversight committee chairmen and minority ranking members caused some of her supporters to vote for Trump or at least not vote for her.
Assume she’s correct about the influence Comey’s letters may have had on some voters.
The real question, then, is whether Comey acted with malice or favoritism toward either nominee. Did he intend to influence the outcome of the election?
OpenCdA doesn’t think he did. An equally strong and even more plausible argument is that Comey was performing the duties required and expected of the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Hillary Clinton’s illegal storage and retention of national security information on her unsecured private email server and her illegally allowing unauthorized persons (e.g., her housekeeper) to handle and view that information elevated the severity of her actions. More than just violating statutes and administrative orders, Clinton maliciously jeopardized the national security. As Secretary of State, Clinton was required to know and understand the various national security regulations and laws to not only conform her own conduct but also to ensure her employees complied with those regulations and laws as well. By virtue of her position, she knew using the private email server to traffic in national security information was wrong. She cannot claim ignorance as a defense.
As we’ve pointed out in several preceding OpenCdA posts, the FBI has multiple responsibilities. Not all of them will or should end in an arrest, prosecution, and trial. Protecting the United States against foreign intelligence operations and espionage is frequently at the top of that list.
Whether the Clintons want to admit it or not, their knowingly allowing her server to be used to exchange national security information seriously jeopardized the national security. Using BleachBit overwrite software, Clinton intentionally tried to hide evidence of her culpability from the Intelligence Community. The effect was that she obstructed the Intelligence Community’s effort to assess the damage done to national security. She made it difficult and maybe impossible to conclusively itemize what national security information was actually compromised and by whom.
If the Clinton private email server had not been used to traffic in national security information, it would likely not have been of even passing interest to Congress. But once the FBI determined the server had been used to unlawfully store national security information, it had a duty to investigate and keep Congress informed about the threat to national security. To do otherwise is to make it difficult or impossible for Congress to exercise its responsibility to oversee Executive Branch departments and agencies.
FBI Director James Comey was between the dog and the fire hydrant, but it was Hillary Clinton who pumped the dog full of diuretics when she created her illegal email server and used it to illegally traffic in national security information.
FBI Director James Comey did not conceive, build, and use the backchannel unsecured email system. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did.