Comey Claims that Clinton Emails and Trump–Russia were Treated ‘just the same’

by Mark Sumner –

In a public hearing Wednesday morning, Senator Dianne Feinstein confronted FBI Director James Comey over his decision to issue a letter that ‘almost certainly’ changed the outcome of the election.

Comey claimed that while the FBI had not read any emails on the laptop belonging to Andrew Weiner, they had looked at metadata which indicated that the laptop contained “thousands” of emails forwarded from Hillary Clinton, including early emails that originated from Clinton’s blackberry, which were not found on her private server. Comey claimed that the agents that approached him concerning the emails assured him that examining the emails could not be completed before the election.

This, said Comey, left him in a position where “taking no action” was not possible. Instead, he could only “speak or conceal.” That, according to Comey, left him with no choice but to issue a letter to the Senate committee just 11 days before the election.

Feinstein: “You took a gamble that there was something there that would invalidate her candidacy. There wasn’t.”

Comey: “I couldn’t consider for a second whose political fortunes could be affected.”

Comey also says that one of his team warned him that his actions “risked getting Donald Trump elected” but said, proudly, that he could not consider that as part of his decision. However, despite maintaining that the election couldn’t affect his decision, Comey used the claim that the team could not complete their task before the election to explain why he could not wait in issuing his letter. In fact, the investigation was completed before the election.

The inherit contradiction wasn’t lost on Feinstein, who pointed out that Comey, even if he felt the Senate had to be notified, could have done so by calling the committee into a classified session rather than issue a letter which, she noted, became public within hours of its issue.

Later, Senator Patrick Leahy challenged Comey over his decision to make an open statement on the Clinton investigation while not disclosing the investigation into collusion between the Trump election team and the Russian government. This solicited Comey’s most incredible response of the morning.

Comey: “I treated both investigations under the same principles … people forget we would not confirm the Hillary Clinton email investigation existed for the first three months.”

Even though Comey acknowledged that the timing of the election affected his decision to issue a letter on the Clinton email investigation, he then insisted that the two investigations had been treated in the same way, though the impending election wasn’t allowed to force any disclosure of the Trump–Russia investigation. The response clearly frustrated Leahy, who interrupted a lengthy reply to insist that Comey’s actions definitely affected the election.

Leahy: “Historians can debate what kind of effect it was, but you did do it.”

Leahy followed up, noting that in October, at the same time that the FBI was investigating Trump–Russia, it failed to make any mention, but felt it necessary to issue a letter to the Senate on Clinton’s emails. Leahy pointed out that one investigation was closed, but Comey felt required to talk about it. The other investigation had not been revealed, but Comey felt no pressure to mention it.

Comey: “I commented on Hillary because we said that we were done.”

Somehow the fact that the Clinton email investigation was closed rather than secret meant that the decision there was “speak or conceal,” while Comey felt silence on the Trump–Russia side was “treating it the same.”

In further questioning, Comey denied knowing if any former agents had slipped information to Rudy Giuliani, and confirmed a “high confidence” that Russia was responsible for hacking DNC, despite continued statements from Donald Trump that no one knows who carried out the hacks.

Comey refused to say whether the FBI was conducting any investigation related to leaks within the FBI, but did state that he personally had not acted as an anonymous source for any story.

Republican John Cornyn used his question time to vilify Hillary Clinton and Loretta Lynch, saying that Comey was “not the one who made the decision to keep the State Department’s emails on the server of someone suspected of child pornography.”

Lindsey Graham spent half his time on this same topic, insisting that “someone should be prosecuting for letting Anthony Weiner have access to classified information.” Comey noted there was “no Anthony Weiner statute.”

 

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos