By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 12, 2016
Since FBI Director James Comey’s press conference on July 5 and his House Oversight Committee testimony two days later, Hillary Clinton has come under withering attack for gross misrepresentations to the American people about her handling of classified material while she served as Secretary of State. Now, new questions are arising over what role her attorney, David Kendall of law firm Williams & Connolly, played in misleading Congressional investigators. There are also questions as to whether Comey himself has come clean about the full extent of Clinton’s negligence.
The FBI has declined to provide Wall Street On Parade with the official FBI report on the matter, even though the investigation is now closed. Comey has indicated that Clinton was not put under oath nor did she have her testimony recorded when she was interviewed by FBI agents who were conducting a criminal investigation into the matter.
Over the past week, multiple newspaper opinion writers have weighed in on FBI Director James Comey’s failure to recommend criminal charges in Hillary Clinton’s blatant violations of the Federal Records Act and egregious mishandling of above Top Secret government records. While serving as Secretary of State, and without State Department approval, Clinton outsourced the transmittal and storage of the classified records from the safety of U.S. government control to a private server in the basement of her New York home, and later to a private firm, Platte River Networks, which was overseen by people lacking the proper security clearance. Clinton’s private server was also backed up by a madcap group of lip-syncing 20-somethings at Datto, Inc., who also lacked the requisite security clearances.
Comey testified to the House Oversight committee that “more than two, less than 10” people without security clearance had access to Clinton’s server. Based on Platte River employing approximately 30 people and Datto, Inc. employing approximately 15 employees (based on the video linked above), there would appear to be far more than ten people who might have gained access to the records. That doesn’t include the secretaries, attorneys and photocopy room staff who may have had access to the documents at the law firm Williams & Connelly after Clinton handed over 60,000 emails on a tiny thumb drive to her lawyers there. Comey testified under oath at the House Oversight hearing (see video below) that these lawyers did not have the proper security clearances to view the documents.
How dangerous was the classified material contained in the emails that Clinton outsourced from government hands to private, non-secure hands? On June 8 of this year, the Associated Press reported that when the State Department released batches of Clinton’s emails to the public with notations to explain why some material was redacted, “at least 47 of the emails contain the notation ‘B3 CIA PERS/ORG,’ which indicates the material referred to CIA personnel or matters related to the agency.” This designation strongly suggests that Clinton may have revealed CIA assets and identities over a non-secure server.
Despite Hillary Clinton’s repeated public statements that none of her emails contained classified material at the time they were sent or received, Comey announced at his press conference on July 5 that among the 30,000 emails that David Kendall had turned over to the State Department, eight email chains “contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time.”
Writing at USA Today, James Robbins noted:
“…in the view of the FBI, Hillary Clinton is a blundering fool who compromised national security but not a provable arch-criminal. This is not what the country needs in a president. ‘Dangerously negligent but never indicted’ is an extremely low bar to set for the leadership of the free world. And it kills Hillary’s argument that she would be a highly skilled chief executive.”
George Parry, a criminal defense attorney, wrote at the Philadelphia Inquirer that Comey had used a “cheap, pettifogging lawyer trick”:
“Confronted by an insurmountable mountain of proof of Clinton’s grossly negligent and therefore felonious mishandling of classified information, the G-man didn’t flinch. Instead, with a straight face and without apparent embarrassment, he smoothly raised a totally irrelevant nonissue (lack of clear proof of intent) to give Clinton a pass. In doing so, Comey employed a time-honored rhetorical device used by criminal lawyers every day in courtrooms across America, i.e., raising an utter irrelevancy to divert, distract, confound, and confuse the jury.”
The harshest assessment came from columnist Maureen Dowd, who penned a column last Sunday in the New York Times, the very newspaper that endorsed Hillary Clinton, calling her “one of the most broadly and deeply qualified presidential candidates in modern history.”
“And that’s the corkscrew way things go with the Clintons, who are staying true to their reputation as the Tom and Daisy Buchanan of American politics. Their vast carelessness drags down everyone around them, but they persevere, and even thrive.
“In a mere 11 days, arrogant, selfish actions by the Clintons contaminated three of the purest brands in Washington – Barack Obama, James Comey and Loretta Lynch – and jeopardized the futures of Hillary’s most loyal aides.”
While we’re agnostic on just how pure those brands really are, we are fully prepared to concede they have been tainted by the Clintons.
Dowd’s reference to Obama and Lynch likely refer to the fact that Obama was chauffeuring Clinton around to a campaign stop on Air Force One the same day that Comey was holding his press conference on her “extremely careless” handling of state secrets. Lynch, a week prior, had hosted Bill Clinton to a private meeting aboard her plane in Phoenix, at a time when the FBI had an active criminal investigation of his wife in progress.
The other “brand” contaminated by this process is the brand of the white shoe law firm, Williams & Connolly, where Hillary Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, has worked for 38 years. Kendall has represented the Clintons since 1993 through serial scandals like the Whitewater Development Company, the Independent Counsel investigation, the Monica Lewinsky affair and Bill Clinton impeachment proceedings.
Now Kendall’s own assertions to the Senate Judiciary Committee and House Select Committee on Benghazi are raising questions. In Comey’s press conference of July 5, he stated that the FBI had discovered “several thousand work-related emails” that were not among the 30,000 that Clinton’s attorneys had turned over to the State Department in 2014. But Kendall had written to Congress, repeatedly assuring investigators that Clinton’s personal attorneys had reviewed “every sent and received” email from Hillary Clinton’s personal email account, turned all relevant ones over to the State Department and thus the State Department was “in possession of all of Secretary Clinton’s work-related e-mails from the email@example.com account.”
Not only did Kendall not turn over “several thousand work-related emails” but according to Comey’s statement released on July 5, Clinton’s attorneys scrubbed their computer devices to make complete forensic recovery impossible. Comey said in his statement:
“It is also likely that there are other work-related e-mails that they did not produce to State and that we did not find elsewhere, and that are now gone because they deleted all e-mails they did not return to State, and the lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery.”
Comey’s statement contradicts what David Kendall told Congressman Trey Gowdy, then Chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi. In Kendall’s letter of March 27, 2015, he wrote the following to Gowdy:
“On December 5, 2014, in response to an October 28, 2014 letter request from the Department of State for assistance in ensuring its records were as complete as possible, personal attorneys for Secretary Clinton delivered to the Honorable Patrick F. Kennedy, the Under Secretary of State for Management, all e-mails from the firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail account that were related or potentially related to Secretary Clinton’s work as Secretary of State. The Secretary’s personal attorneys had reviewed every sent and received (whether as “to,” “cc,” or “bcc”) e-mail from the email@example.com account during her tenure as Secretary (62,320 e-mails in total) and identified all work-related and potentially work-related e-mails (30,490 e-mails, approximately 55,000 pages) – which were provided to the State Department on December 5, 2014. The Department of State is therefore in possession of all of Secretary Clinton’s work-related e-mails from the firstname.lastname@example.org account.”
On August 14, 2015, Senator Chuck Grassley, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Kendall outlining how both Clinton and Williams & Connelly had potentially put Top Secret material at risk. Grassley wrote:
“Recent news reports indicate that as Secretary Clinton’s attorney you had a security clearance that was used to possess her official emails. In fact, according to a Washington Post report, the Department of State allegedly instructed you on ‘appropriate measures for physically securing’ her classified emails. However, since that report, the Intelligence Community Inspector General (IC IG) notified the Judiciary Committee that at least two emails on Secretary Clinton’s server were – and are – classified at the Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI) level. Importantly, according to the IC IG and Department of State Inspector General, the emails were classified at that level when created.
“In light of that particular classification, which generally requires advanced protocols such as a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) and other similar arrangements to possess and view, it appears the FBI has determined that your clearance is not sufficient to allow you to maintain custody of the emails. Consistent with that determination, the FBI is now in custody of not only the thumb drives previously in your possession that allegedly contain all of Secretary Clinton’s emails, but also Secretary Clinton’s personal server that was used to maintain the top secret emails outside of a government facility.
“Further reporting indicates that Secretary Clinton may have provided you copies of her emails in December 2014 and that government officials realized that the emails contained classified information in May 2015 yet the Department of State did not deliver a safe to store the thumb drives until July 2015. Thus, since at least May 2015 and possibly December 2014, it appears that in addition to not having an adequate security clearance, you did not have the appropriate tools in place to secure the thumb drives. Even with the safe, there are questions as to whether it was an adequate mechanism to secure TS/SCI material.”
According to official documents, 55,000 hard copy pages containing 30,490 emails were turned over to the State Department. Are we to believe that David Kendall stood by a copy machine as all 55,000 pages were printed? Or did a low level person in the copy room further handle Top Secret documents?
When FBI Director Comey testified under oath on July 7 to the House Oversight Committee, he was asked pointedly by the Chair of the Committee, Jason Chaffetz, about Hillary Clinton’s attorneys security clearances and their handling of the Top Secret documents. The exchange follows and can also be seen on the video below:
Chaffetz: “Did Secretary Clinton’s attorneys have the security clearances needed?”
Comey: “They did not.”
Chaffetz: “Is there any consequence to an attorney rifling through Secretary Clinton’s, Hillary Clinton’s, emails without a security clearance?”
Comey: “Well not criminal consequences but there’s a great deal of concern about an uncleared person not subject to the requirements we talked about in the read in documents potentially having access. That’s why — very, very important for us to recover everything we can back from attorneys.”
Chaffetz: “So what is the consequence? I mean, here Hillary Clinton gave direction to her attorneys without a security clearance to go through documents that were classified.”
Comey: “I think that’s what happened in fact. Whether that was a direction is a question I can’t answer sitting here.”
Chaffetz: “…What’s the consequence? They don’t work for the government. We can’t fire them. Is there no criminal prosecution of those attorneys? Should they lose their bar license? What’s the consequence to them?”
Comey: “Well if they acted with criminal intent or acted with some malintent.”
Chaffetz: “What you’re telling us is it doesn’t matter if you have a security clearance or not.”
Comey subsequently stated to Chaffetz that he doesn’t know what consequence Chaffetz has in mind and Chaffetz responds: “Prosecute ‘em.” Chaffetz also reminds Comey that they had earlier agreed that a reasonable person would assume that the Secretary of State of the United States would be regularly receiving classified information. “She’s not the head of Fish and Wildlife,” Chaffetz tells Comey, inferring that high level attorneys that had been providing counsel to Clinton for more than two decades should have assumed that a Secretary of State’s correspondence would likely contain classified material.
Yesterday, media outlets reported that the Washington Post and ABC News had conducted a poll that found that 56 percent of Americans disapprove of FBI Director Comey’s recommendation against bringing charges against Hillary Clinton. Only 35 percent approve.
Also yesterday, Chaffetz and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte sent a letter to the Justice Department’s U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia requesting an investigation into whether Hillary Clinton committed perjury and made false statements when testifying under oath before Congress. In Clinton’s Benghazi testimony, she swore under oath that her emails did not contain classified information. The FBI has now made clear that the emails contained the highest form of classified material at the time they were sent or received.
Editor’s Note: Wall Street On Parade has no control over advertising placed at the beginning of the video below nor do we endorse any such advertising. The hearing content has been verified by us to be accurate when compared to the official record of the hearing.