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James Comey says there’s ‘zero chance’ Hillary Clinton will be prosecuted over email scandal
Former FBI director James Comey said Monday that there’s “zero chance” that Hillary Clinton will ever be prosecuted for her misuse of a private email server.
The Trump foe was speaking at a town hall in Sarasota, FL, where he said that the FBI under his lead had no bias in favor of Clinton, the facts simply didn’t support charges against her.
“There is zero chance, zero chance, on the facts in the Clinton case, that she would be prosecuted,” Comey said.
Trump allies have long criticized Comey’s handling of the Clinton email case over his apparently biased and premature decision to exonerate Clinton. Comey authored a draft memo clearing Clinton that pre-dates his July 2016 interview with the former presidential candidate.
Moreover, at least two agents on the case, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, exchanged vicious anti-Trump text messages that critics say showed bias which may have tainted the probe. But Comey claimed at the Monday town hall event that there was nothing untoward about the bureau’s decision-making under his wing.
“You are out of your mind if you don’t think the FBI wanted to make a case if we could,” Comey said. “The facts weren’t there. Period. Full stop.”
However, Comey’s original draft memo listed evidence of possible felony mishandling of classified information. References to possible criminal wrongdoing were scrubbed by subordinates and the memo was updated to lessen the characterization of the severity of the allegations against Clinton from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless.”
Despite that finding, Comey ended up publicly exonerating Clinton of any statutory wrongdoing in July 2016, even as he admitted that “this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences.” Comey later made a stunning about-face when his agents discovered another batch of Clinton emails on the laptop of disgraced former New York representative Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.
Comey briefly reopened the investigation into Clinton’s emails two weeks before election day only to close the inquiry again days before voters went to the polls. Clinton has since blamed Comey, along with Russian trolls and miscellaneous causes, for her election upset.
Trump and his allies have accused the Justice Department under Comey of rigging its investigations into Clinton and Trump in favor of the Democrat. While there was apparently nothing unusual about the FBI and DOJ’s decision to not prosecute Clinton, the agencies sought warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to spy on an unassuming Trump campaign worker, Carter Page, on the basis of an unverified Russian dossier paid for by the Clinton campaign.
Trump has often attacked the Justice Department for not prosecuting Clinton aggressively while going after him and his associates with a political “Witch Hunt” investigation. In August, Trump threatened that he “may have to get involved!” after a report emerged that the FBI glossed over tens of thousands of Clinton’s emails because of a glitch.
Trump has also often attacked Clinton, to whom he has referred as “Crooked Hillary” or even simply “Crooked,” over the email controversy and threatened to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate her at one of their presidential debates. Although Comey said there’s “zero chance” of Clinton facing charges, watchdog groups like Judicial Watch have continued the pursuit and a federal judge recently ruled that Clinton has more questions to answer about the scandal, the Daily Caller reported.
Lamenting his “celebrity”
Trump fired Comey in May 2017, triggering the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller to oversee the investigation of alleged collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. Comey has claimed that Trump pressured him to make a pledge of loyalty to him, a story he repeated at the town hall.
“An effective leader never asks for loyalty,” Comey said.
The former FBI director — who is known for his petty tweets and pompous, grandiose rhetoric about public service — has been hitting the anti-Trump media circuit for months to trash Trump and promote a memoir about his life, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership. Indeed, Comey has made it a personal mission to criticize Trump, and even told his audience that his former boss is “one of the worst listeners as a leader that I’ve ever seen.”
Comey also made his transformation into a political celebrity sound like something he didn’t really want on Monday. Though he’s not exactly known for keeping his views to himself, Comey said that he would have rather stayed out of the media spotlight, but that he had to answer the call of duty to speak out against Trump in glossy studios and on book tour stops.
“I thought the easiest thing for me to do would be to be quiet,” he said. “I don’t love my life as a semi-employed celebrity, but I would be a coward if I didn’t speak. I’m really worried about the impact this president has on our values that we all have in common.”
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