By Andrea Noble - The Washington Times - Thursday, August 31, 2017
Two Republican senators say they’ve reviewed evidence that indicates former FBI Director James B. Comey began drafting a statement to announce the closure of the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server months before key witnesses, including the former Democratic presidential candidate, were interviewed.
Sen. Chuck Grassley and Sen. Lindsey Graham wrote to FBI Director Christopher Wray asking for information related to Mr. Comey’s announcement, saying they’ve reviewed partially redacted interview transcripts that indicate Mr. Comey was drafting a statement on the closure of the case months before the July 5, 2016, announcement.
In a departure from typical federal law enforcement protocol, Mr. Comey announced that no criminal charges would be sought against Mrs. Clinton because — although she had been “extremely careless” in her handling of sensitive national security information — investigators couldn’t prove that it was intentional.
The transcripts cited by the Republican lawmakers indicate that a draft statement about the conclusion of the investigation was being circulated among a select group of FBI officials as early as April 2016. The senators said that was before as many as 17 key witnesses were interviewed by the FBI. Mrs. Clinton was interviewed on July 2.
“Conclusion first, fact-gathering second — that’s no way to run an investigation,” the senators wrote in a letter sent Thursday to Mr. Wray. “The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a matter of such great public interest and controversy.”
The interview transcripts are from an investigation the Office of Special Counsel was conducting that looked into whether Mr. Comey’s actions were a violation of the Hatch Act, which prohibits government employees from using their positions to influence an election.
The investigation was closed after President Trump fired Mr. Comey in May. But partially redacted transcripts of interviews with James Rybicki, Mr. Comey’s chief of staff, and Trisha Anderson, the FBI’s principal deputy general counsel of national security and cyberlaw, were turned over to to Mr. Grassley after he requested the information.
Mr. Comey announced the closure of the Clinton probe last July and publicly described why the FBI opted not to bring charges against Mrs. Clinton or any of her State Department aides. The FBI director testified before he was fired this year that he took the unusual step because he believed that a June 2016 airport tarmac meeting between Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Mrs. Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, had undermined the Justice Department’s credibility to independently investigate the case.
However the transcripts, which were so heavily redacted that lawmakers couldn’t tell which transcript was from which of the two FBI employees, appear to show that Mr. Comey was trying to formulate a statement on the outcome of the investigation as early as April.
Asked about how the idea of a statement came about, the employee believed to be Mr. Rybicki responded that Mr. Comey emailed several FBI officials in the spring of 2016 “to say, you know, again knowing sort of where — knowing the direction the investigation is headed, right, what would be the most forward-leaning thing we could do, right, information that we could put out about it.”
According to the transcript, Mr. Comey then “sent a draft around” of what that statement might look like.
The interview transcript believed to be with Ms. Anderson, collaborated that account.
“I’m not entirely sure exactly when the idea of the public statement um first emerged. Um it was, I just, I can’t put a precise timeframe on it um but [redaction]. And then I believe it was in early May of 2016 that the Director himself wrote a draft of that statement,” the transcript states.
The petition on the White House website is a response to the FBI’s rejection of an open-records request by a lawyer seeking to have the former secretary of state punished for perjury. The FBI claims it doesn’t need to release all of the details because of “a lack of public interest.”
The petition states points out that FBI records section chief David M. Hardy told investigator Ty Clevenger that he did not sufficiently demonstrate that the public’s interest in disclosing Clinton’s FBI records “outweighed her personal privacy interests.”
“This petition will show the executive branch that there is sufficient public interest in releasing all FBI records pertaining to this case,” it states.
“Hillary Clinton was shielded by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey during the email ‘investigation’. Hillary has continued to echo Russian interference in the 2016 election and releasing these records should help clear the air on this matter,” it continues. “President Trump should compel the FBI to release to the public all records related to this investigation.”
URGENT! ........PLEASE SIGN:
Compel The F.B.I. To Release All Records Pertaining To Hillary Clinton's Personal Secret Server Email Investigation
Created by R.D. on August 29, 2017
Congressman Makes Genius Move to Stop Mueller Once And for All
Special counsel Robert Mueller has made several ominous moves in his investigation of President Donald Trump and his associates, and one congressman is tired of the witch hunt.
Congressman Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., introduced an amendment earlier this week to restrict Mueller’s ambiguous and wide open investigation into Trump’s unproven connections to Russia.
DeSantis’ bold provision would terminate funding for Mueller’s probe six months after the amendment was passed, forcing Mueller to show what he has rather than stalling for years.
The provision would also limit the scope of Mueller’s probe, meaning the special counselor would not be allowed to investigate any matters that occurred prior to June of 2015, which is when Trump announced his candidacy for president. The amendment is very serious, and could be voted on in the House when members of Congress return next week following the August recess.
The House Rules Committee will determine whether the amendment will be tossed out or can move forward for a vote on the House floor. DeSantis released a statement arguing Mueller’s appointment as special counsel “didn’t identify a crime to be investigated and practically invites a fishing expedition.”
“Congress should use its spending power to clarify the scope and limit the duration of this investigation,” DeSantis said. “[Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein has said that the DOJ doesn’t conduct fishing expeditions; the corollary to this admonition should be that Congress will not fund a fishing expedition.”
Coming as a surprise to no one, establishment Republicans like House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have indicated they believe Mueller should be left alone and Trump should refrain from firing him.
“I think the best advice is to let Robert Mueller do his job,” Ryan said in June.
Blocking Mueller’s witch hunt from wasting more taxpayer money and dragging this out for years should be an important issue for all Americans, especially given that Democrats have failed to prove Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.
Tangible evidence supports collusion between former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, yet Democrats are sweeping the “tarmac meeting” under the rug.
Former FBI Director James Comey testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in May that the bureau determined there was no evidence of collusion between Trump campaign members and Russia officials.
Are we to believe Mueller is a better investigator than the entire FBI? With a majority of Mueller’s investigative team being comprised of Obama and Clinton donors, it’s likely they could pin something frivolous on Trump if this investigation is allowed to continue, which would require the president to expend time and energy to combat it — energy that would be better spent elsewhere.
Mueller should investigate collusion between Clinton and Lynch, not continue his witch hunt against Trump who won the 2016 election fair and square.