For most of the past three years, the FBI has tried to portray its top leadership as united behind ex-Director James Comey’s decision not to pursue criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for transmitting classified information over her insecure, private email server.
Although in the end that may have been the case, we now are learning that Comey’s top lawyer, then-FBI General Counsel James Baker, initially believed Clinton deserved to face criminal charges, but was talked out of it “pretty late in the process.”
The revelation is contained in testimony Baker gave to House investigators last year. His testimony has not been publicly released, but I was permitted to review a transcript.
During questioning by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), Baker was unequivocal about his early view that Clinton should face criminal charges.
“I have reason to believe that you originally believed it was appropriate to charge Hillary Clinton with regard to violations of law — various laws, with regard to mishandling of classified information. Is that accurate?” Ratcliffe, a former federal prosecutor, asked Baker.
Baker paused to gain his lawyer’s permission to respond, and then answered, “Yes.”
He later explained why he came to that conclusion, and how his mind was changed:
“So, I had that belief initially after reviewing, you know, a large binder of her emails that had classified information in them,” he said. “And I discussed it internally with a number of different folks, and eventually became persuaded that charging her was not appropriate because we could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that — we, the government, could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that — she had the intent necessary to violate (the law).”
Asked when he was persuaded to change his mind, Baker said: “Pretty late in the process, because we were arguing about it, I think, up until the end.”
Baker made clear that he did not like the activity Clinton had engaged in: “My original belief after — well, after having conducted the investigation and towards the end of it, then sitting down and reading a binder of her materials — I thought that it was alarming, appalling, whatever words I said, and argued with others about why they thought she shouldn’t be charged.”
His boss, Comey, announced on July 5, 2016, that he would not recommend criminal charges. He did so without consulting the Department of Justice, a decision the department’s inspector general (IG) later concluded was misguided and likely usurped the power of the attorney general to make prosecutorial decisions. Comey has said, in retrospect, he accepts that finding but took the actions he did because he thought “they were in the country’s best interest.”
Baker acknowledged that during the weeks leading up to the announcement, Comey “would throw things out like that to get people to start talking and thinking about it and test his conclusions.”
Baker said that if he had been more convinced there was evidence that Clinton intended to violate the law, “I would have argued that vociferously with him [Comey] and maybe changed his view.”
He portrayed his former boss as someone who was open to changing his mind once he heard from his senior staff, even after drafting his announcement statement. “I think he would have been receptive to changing his view even after he wrote that thing,” Baker said.
Baker’s account also shed light on revelations I first reported more than a year ago that the original draft of Comey’s announcement concluded Clinton had been “grossly negligent” in handling her classified emails. That is the term in espionage statutes for criminality, but the language later was softened.
Republicans have seized on the change as evidence that Comey and the FBI treated Clinton with favoritism. The IG, while criticizing Comey’s actions, concluded, however, there was no political bias involved in the decision.
Though criminal intent is not a criteria, I wonder what Hillary intended when she had a secret, private, unsecured server set up at her home to run all her emails, even classified, through? She HAD been briefed on the proper way to handle classified information and what the penalties for mishandling classified information was, so what was her intention of sending, receiving and storing classified information illegally on a non-government, non-authorized server?
I would hazard a guess that THOUSANDS of prosecutors would have JUMPED at the opportunity to take on this case.
So Comey told us no prosecutor would have prosecuted her but the top lawyer at the FBI stated otherwise. Another lie by Jimmy boy.
The statute says “gross negligence” which as the article states was changed by the corrupt FBI in their report. Over two thousand classified emails on an unsecured server and he couldn’t establish gross negligence? Either Baker is lying or he is grossly incompetent. Actually, with that many emails he should have easily been able to establish intent especially when Hillary instructed others to use a work around to send classified material over unclassified servers. Yet, Baker couldn’t establish intent? Again, he’s either lying or grossly incompetent.
Baker and McCabe ducking for cover, its all being exposed, layed out in its ugliness.
We know they ignored or broke procedure. All of them CIA, FBI, DOJ.
Why, exactly, was Baker the “top lawyer” if he can be “talked out” of a legal opinion? He was there to BE the legal opinion, not help others craft an opinion based on politics.
@Deplorable Me: Lynch and or terrible accidents
Why not dig up EVERY dead and long-buried corpse of candidates who lost an election? Hillary’s political career is over. Lock her up why? To spend more taxpayer money on incarceration expenses?
@George Wells: Lock her up because she caused grievous damage to our security through her gross abuse of State Department classified information. In addition, she has committed perjury numerous times, and the investigation into Uranium One has yet to be adjudicated.
As far as I am aware, just because someone gets away with a crime does not make them innocent of it and there is such a thing as justice. Especially when liberals have taken such an intense new interest in justice.
Fine. If you have sufficient evidence to prosecute, then prosecute. YOU are a citizen who can be harmed by damage to our national security, so YOU have ‘standing.” Find a sympathetic judge who will rule in your favor and be done with it. THAT’S how you lock someone up, not by shouting “Lock Her UP!” at a campaign rally.
Sure there is. So pursue it. There are laws concerning “Double Jeopardy” that will prevent you from trying over and over until you get it right, so do it right the first time. If you fail, man up and admit defeat, and then move on.
Ah. There you go. Why does a judge have to be “sympathetic”? Baker himself thought she should have been charged until the POLITICAL voices overruled him. If there has been enough evidence to “investigate” Trump, there was MORE than enough evidence to charge Hillary with perjury and gross negligence and then see what a jury says. That she was a Presidential candidate should not have been a consideration; that was the DNC’s mistake.
The public is sick and tired of the dual justice systems that exist in America. The one and only reason she wasn’t indicted was because she was Hillary. How is that justice?
Is “assassinate Trump” a better chant than “lock her up”?
“The one and only reason she wasn’t indicted was because she was Hillary.”
BS. She wasn’t indicted because there wasn’t a case. There are Republican prosecutors and Republican judges and a country full of potential plaintives, and not ONE of them willing to prosecute? Even when Trump had the whole government behind him? Is he THAT not in control that his OWN DOJ is ham-strung by one liberal loser?
Chanting “Lock her up” is a waste of your time if you are NOT willing to actually take the first step toward doing just that.
@George Wells: WTF are you babbling about no case? Only because this case if you can call it that was not forwarded to a prosecutor at all, under the OBAMA administration. Comey took it upon himself to change the law to do so. (Operation midterm exam)
1 top secret information transmitted to and from the White house through a non government server non secure.(it was all being read by china in real time)
2 Lets add “intent” to the statute.
4 I find intent, she intentionally used a private server and did not forward them to a government server as required by FOIA and government record keeping laws.
3. When do the police have the power to decide if intent is part of a law?(manslaughter requires no intent)
4 You are so poorly informed on the issue maybe from now on you should at least google(it will give you a nice biased opinion) before making yourself look totally ignorant again and again.
Look up double jeopardy, ya doofus.
NO CASE? THOUSANDS of classified emails, along with 33,000 that were obliterated after they had been requested by the State Department? Clear suspicion at the time, later definitively proved, that hostile powers had access to her emails? PERJURY on video? Baker said there was a case. NO CASE?? Damn, unbelievable!!
It’s a vocal protest. Same as any other chant for some sort of social justice. Faith in our justice system has been severely damaged, irreparably if this case is never adjudicated.
Look what DOES get prosecuted; General Flynn is asked questions about transcripts the FBI has and, though the interviewing agents declare he did not lie, minor mistakes made in his remembrance is prosecuted and he is bankrupted into confessing to lying. If that strict standard was applied to Hillary, who said she had NO classified documents on her secret, private, unsecured server though there were THOUSANDS, said she didn’t know what “C” meant on a document, denied she deleted any classified documents though it was shown she deleted hundreds, do you think anyone would be having to CHANT “Lock Her Up”? Come on… let’s treat each other like sensible adults.
And, what @kitt: said.
Is it insufficient that Donald Trump won an election that he lost by nearly 3 million popular votes with the documented assistance of a foreign intelligence service? Does he really look like he needed a jumbo order of fries with his Big Mac?
@Greg: Go wipe your eyes an blow your nose. The electoral college means 2 states both that are totally screwed up wont make the decisions for the rest of the country they just didnt fix the election quite good enough.
@Greg: Undoubtedly those 3 million and more were fraudulent votes. The Democrats have proven themselves willing to lie, cheat and steal elections.
@kitt: Perhaps the Electoral College was put in place so that when Democrats commit widespread fraud in states like California and NY, the candidate the people really want can still win.
@Deplorable Me: It was put in place to control large concentrated populations morons from ruling everyone.
What “documented assistance of a foreign intelligence service?”
I’ve always liked the E.C and will give Pa., Wi and Mi. to Biden and a 2020 win over D.T.
Kitt—“control morons” LOL
@Richard Wheeler: Evers is giving the people of Wisconsin a good dose of Democrat, dont count any chickens here.
A 15 dollar an hour minimum wage hike will spell doom for small farmers and other businesses. Over double in 1 swoop nice….
The veto comes just weeks after the state reported a budget surplus of $588 million. Evers’ key campaign pledge was to cut middle class taxes so he vetoed the middle class tax cut nice….
Sure he has his eye on the rainy day fund and Walker paying off a billion in debt, thats most likely not to be a trend anymore.
His push for a higher gas tax among other fun things.
Read the intelligence community’s assessment.
Or maybe this:
December 17, 2018 — Senate reports find millions of social media posts by Russians aimed at helping Trump, GOP
@Greg: Though Hillary had a 150 million pieces of proof of Russian collusion.
So, Putin made up Hillay’s email, Benghazi and pay-for-play and turned her into a generally despicable, sodden, stumbling drunk?
Best to take that with a grain of “they were also involved in the coup”.
@deplorable Me #12:
So you are still grousing about Hillary? Why?
Yes, I know what she did with her emails, and yes, she lied about it. We agree on that, so you needn’t repeat yourself. So what’s next? You plan to demand reparations 150 years from now?
No no no. REALLY! What is your end-game with this Hillary nonsense?
Since you evidently are 100% convinced that there isn’t a lawyer or prosecutor or judge in the entire United States who has enough courage to even ATTEMPT to “lock-her-up,” why are you wasting anyone’s time asking for it to happen.
Over and over and over again, as if on the one billionth time hearing it, anything different will happen. It is, after all, completely insane to expect otherwise.
@Deplorable Me: Imagine if Mueller ever finds those Russian nesting dolls from DT’s toy box when he was 4.
No doubt, but not near the damage that cable opinion shows did keeping him in the lime light and Hillary only coming out of her coffin, er coughing occasionally then insulting people. Thank Comey for the last nail in her coughing er coffin.
Up until Hillary lost the election, there was thought to be a concerted effort to hide her visits to these covens they did a really baaad job, remember all the Hillary as the wicked witch memes, good way to haul in normal people, or get those bible belt votes. Talk of sacrificing chickens and spirit cooking in wikileaks.
She did a fine job on her own really she did.
LOCK HER UP!!!
I guess George doesn’t understand the concept of “equal justice under the law.” Never mind that Hillary committed Federal offences and that required the DOJ to bring charges against her. With so many Clinton/Obama holdovers still in the DOJ, who would have recommended that? Comey? McCabe? Strzok? Page?
Why? Because it is context. Hillary was the Democrat Presidential candidate and she committed REAL violations of laws and rules of handling classified information. Most likely took a bribe to approve the sale of uranium to Russia as well. Yet, Greg goes on and on and on about “Trump lies”, blah, blah, blah though there is NOTHING to support any such outrage, especially since he whole-heartedly supported the lying, corrupt, incompetent criminal Hillary.
I’m not sure where I implied I believed that, but I don’t. What is required is an AG and FBI director that is not on the Soros payroll or so embedded in the liberal ideology that they ignore the necessity to apply justice blindly.
So, if we shouldn’t worry about what Hillary did, why worry about what Trump may have done? Anything Trump is accused of is already two years old… get over it. Since if one can delay justice for a year or so, they have run out the clock on enforcement, so forget about it. Right? That is the sure formula to assure our political leaders are the best we can get and they will honor and respect all laws, rules and the Constitution, isn’t it?
Glad you asked! Hillary is moot. You know what that means, right? She has no real power. She’s politically dead (even if she thinks otherwise) and her ONLY influence is with people who prefer to cling to her rather than support anyone else – not a large enough group to matter. She is passé.
Trump is a different matter. As president, he represents every American, not just those who voted for him (though you might not know it from his behavior.) He sets an example for our children, he signs or vetoes our legislative initiatives, and he fills judicial and administrative appointments with candidates of his choice. He has IMMENSE power to do good OR bad, and his capacity to do either effectively is of paramount interest to every American. His judgement, his temperament and his intelligence are of the utmost importance to our national security. Maybe there is a wee bit of difference here?
Your explanation of why Hillary HASN’T been prosecuted save in the right-wing media rings hollow. Only the most spineless cowards would be intimidated by Her. True patriots would sacrifice themselves (if necessary) for the good of the country if the case against Hillary were as compelling as you suggest. Where are they? The fact that they are nowhere to be found is solid proof that she isn’t the issue you’d like her to be.
@George Wells: Hillary broke laws and justice matters. If you aren’t going to pursue that, then pursuing Trump, especially on such weak “evidence”, is nothing but political hypocrisy. Or, you simply believe people with power and influence should get away with crimes.
Indeed, were Comey a patriot he would have referred the case for prosecution. At least we agree on that .
You went a step further than I did. I don’t have access to whatever evidence Comey had, so I presume nothing. You make plenty of statements as if you HAVE the evidence, but I doubt that. You have other people’s statements of what even other people have said, but that is just so much hear-say.
People who keep insisting that there IS “collusion” in Trump’s case – unless they have hard evidence, that’s hogwash. Mueller has given us plenty of puzzle pieces by way of the indictments of Trump’s cohorts that HAVE been made public, but those haven’t exactly pinned the tail on the donkey. The dots that everyone is rushing to connect point to Russia clearly enough but not directly to Trump. Yes, where there is smoke, there often is fire, but that argument carries very little weight in court, and that’s all that matters.
I think that if there was a taped conversation in which Trump could be heard asking one of his minions to get Russia’s help in exchange for XYZ, there would be a tight case for collusion. (Never mind his asking Russia to look for Hillary’s missing emails – that was showmanship… there’s a difference.) Even then, it wouldn’t get him removed from office. It would be a mortal embarrassment, and maybe he’d not run in 2020 because of it.
Trump is stupid, I am convinced, but not stupid enough to have let that sort of thing to exist. Whatever he knew about and whatever he asked for, it was cloaked in enough layers of protective family and friends that Trump can’t be criminally connected to what happened. In that, he was smarter than Nixon, who could have easily enough simply disappeared that fateful tape and in doing so ultimately avoid resigning.
So you still have a problem with your depending on Comey to prosecute. First choice, yes, but by no means the only choice. Look at how many states have jumped into the fray over Trump’s emergency declaration. They found ways to argue standing, and so could similar ways be found to prosecute Hillary IF THE EVIDENCE WAS THERE. Just because we are talking about national figures, that doesn’t mean that the FBI Director and the Attorney General are the only agents who can prosecute, and they needn’t both agree. So you found a DOJ lawyer who wanted to prosecute. I imagine so! If he was a true patriot and had the strength of his convictions behind him, he’d have done whatever he had to do to get the case prosecuted. Nobody did. Either they are ALL a bunch of selfish wimps afraid of losing their precious jobs, or there was no case.
If you do t, then you choose to ignore it. Comey himself said there were thousands of classified documents on her server. She SWORE there wasn’t, so that is perjury. Comey himself said he cut her slack because she was the Presidential candidate; that’s WRONG.
The circumstances around Uranium One are far more suspicious than anything Trump or any of his associates were involved in, yet NO investigation, NO surveillance, NO storming of homes.
Trump never asked Russia to look for Hillary’s emails; he said they probably already have them and COULD find them, which was a joke at the time but was most certainly true.
If Trump were involved in ANYTHING, we would know it by now. He was under surveillance since he announced his candidacy.
So hire yourself a lawyer. They’ll do anything for money. Just look at Cohen…
Like I said…