By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: July 8, 2016
Just 18 days before the Democratic National Convention is set to convene in Philadelphia, where delegates and superdelegates will select the presidential candidate in one of the most critical elections in U.S. history — coming amidst signs of slowing economic growth and financial stresses where a strong, trusted leader will be needed to steer the country through major headwinds — the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee delivered Hillary Clinton’s campaign a day from hell yesterday.
On hand to raise alarming questions about Clinton’s fitness to handle classified national security material was FBI Director James Comey, State Department Inspector General Steve Linick and Charles McCullough, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community.
Here’s a cursory rundown of statements from the hearing that you are likely to see very shortly popping up in PAC ads for Donald Trump: FBI Director Comey added the word “negligent” to his previous assessment of “extremely careless” in describing how Clinton handled Top Secret material. Comey also revealed that two to ten people with no security clearance at all were given access by Clinton to her private basement server in her New York home that stored the Top Secret material in a non secure manner.
When quizzed by Congressmen on how he would deal with an FBI agent who behaved in such a negligent manner, Comey said the matter would be adjudicated and could result in termination and/or a loss of security clearance.
Inspector General McCullough dropped his own bombshell during the hearing. McCullough revealed that Clinton or one of her aides placed tens of thousands of emails, some containing Top Secret material, on a thumb drive and handed it to Clinton’s attorneys to decide what emails should be turned over to the State Department. (Clinton left the State Department without turning over the government records for more than a year, in violation of the Federal Records Act and potentially obstructing Freedom of Information Act requests from being filled.) The tiny thumb drive, called that because it’s about the size of one’s thumb and thus easily stolen or lost, was then housed in Clinton’s attorneys’ office – which lacked government security features for holding classified material according to McCullough.
During the hearing, Comey also emphatically, and without hesitation, stated that Clinton’s attorneys did not have the requisite security clearance to handle and view the emails. Clinton’s campaign spokesman, Brian Fallon, told CNN yesterday that the attorneys did have security clearance.
The most devastating moment for Clinton came when Trey Gowdy, a Republican Congressman from South Carolina and a former Federal prosecutor himself, conducted a blistering examination of FBI Director Comey’s premise that no reasonable prosecutor would bring criminal charges against Clinton because there was not a showing of criminal intent. The Justice Department has now said it will accept Comey’s recommendation not to prosecute and has closed its investigation of the email matter.
After eliciting a long series of confirmations from Comey showing that Clinton had told a pattern of falsehoods about the email matter, Gowdy stated: “false exculpatory statements – they are used for what”? Comey indicated that he agreed that they can be used to show “evidence of intent in a criminal prosecution.” Gowdy responded: “Exactly. Intent and consciousness of guilt.” (See the full video clip of this segment of the hearing below.)
Following the devastating disclosures during the House Oversight hearing, the State Department announced that it was reopening its own investigation into the matter.
House Speaker Paul Ryan has sent a formal letter to James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, asking that he “refrain from providing any classified information to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the duration of her candidacy for President.” There are significant grounds for this action. On June 8 the Associated Press reported that when the State Department released portions of Clinton’s emails to the public with bracketed notes to explain why some material was redacted, “at least 47 of the emails contain the notation ‘B3 CIA PERS/ORG,’ indicating that the material referred to CIA personnel or matters related to the agency.” The designation overtly suggests that Clinton may have revealed CIA assets and identities over a non-secure server.
During Thursday’s House hearing, the Chair of the Committee, Jason Chaffetz, told FBI Director Comey that he would shortly be receiving a request from Congress for an FBI investigation into whether Hillary Clinton had lied to Congress in her sworn testimony about her emails.
A Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll conducted between June 19 to June 23 found that 69 percent of registered voters said that Hillary Clinton’s truthfulness was a serious enough issue to be a concern. That was before the widely respected Director of the FBI concluded after a year long investigation that Clinton’s handling of classified matters impacting national security was “extremely careless” and “negligent” and that her representations to the American people about the emails was mainly false.
Delegates at the upcoming Democratic National Convention would be doing their country a grave disservice to dismiss all of this as simply a Republican witch hunt that lacks substantive basis. Clearly, laws have been violated and the national security of the United States put at risk.