And the plot thickens.
According to an early draft of FBI Director James Comey’s speech that brought the Hillary Clinton email case to a close last summer, the controversial lawman originally intended to accuse the former secretary of state of being “grossly negligent” in how she handled classified information.
In memos newly revealed to Congress, Comey eventually softened that original language to say “extremely careless” when he delivered his speech in July.
Those phrases may seem virtually synonymous, but there may have been a very specific reason why Comey went with the latter instead of the former. To wit: Under federal law, “gross negligence” when handling national security secrets is a crime worthy of jail time. On the other hand, “extreme carelessness” is merely one man’s opinion and is not found in any relevant statute.
The Senate Judiciary Committee was given the early memos for perusal this weekend. The drafts had become items of considerable interest to congressional investigators after it was revealed that Comey had begun planning his speech exonerating Clinton more than two months before the FBI concluded its case against her – before, even, agents had even interviewed many of the principal figures, including Hillary herself. This led several members of the Senate to accuse Comey of rushing to judgement and forming a final opinion about the case before all of the facts were in.
In one of Comey’s early drafts – dated May 2, 2016 – he wrote: “There is evidence to support a conclusion that Secretary Clinton, and others, used the email server in a manner that was grossly negligent with respect to the handling of classified information.”
In his speech that summer, however, he said: “Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of the classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
Senators who looked at the drafts say there was a series of red-line edits that were added to the memo between the time of the first draft and the final speech. Now they want to know who recommended the changes and when they were made. In a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley asked for more information.
“Apparently, as of May 2016,” he wrote, “then-Director Comey and other FBI officials believed the facts fit that gross negligence standard until later edits were made.”
Perhaps until Attorney General Loretta Lynch had that meeting on the tarmac with Bill Clinton? Where they discussed Clinton’s golf game, old family recipes, their grandchildren, and the minor inconvenience of running for president while under federal indictment for mishandling classified information? And, perhaps, the possibility of making said indictment go away in exchange for a plum position in the new Clinton administration?
At the rate we’re learning about the lengths to which Hillary was willing to go to bring this election home, we wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.