Early draft of Comey statement accuses Clinton of gross negligence
“Gross negligence” is a common legal phase that meaning “obviously broke the law.”
The phrase appears in the Espionage Act, which deals with the mishandling of information related to national defense. Violations of this law are punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Documents received by the Senate confirm that Ex-FBI Director James Comey accused Clinton of gross negligence in an early copy of his final statement on the email investigation.
Comey used the phrase twice in the draft, which was dated May 2nd, 2016.
“There is evidence to support a conclusion that Secretary Clinton, and others, used the private email server in a manner that was grossly negligent with respect to the handling of classified material,” wrote Comey.
“The sheer volume of information that was properly classified as Secret at the time it was discussed on email…supports an inference that the participants were grossly negligent in their handling of that information.”
The first and final drafts both recommend against prosecution, but the initial document sure seems to imply that Hillary committed a federal crime.
“Apparently, as of May 2016, then-Director Comey and other FBI officials believed the facts fit that gross negligence standard until later edits were made,” writes Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senator Judiciary Committee.
Shortly after the draft surfaced, Grassley wrote a letter to the FBI demanding more information, including who changed the phrasing in Comey’s statement.
On Monday, Grassley wrote a letter to the FBI demanding more information about who was involved in editing the draft.
Comey has ignored requests for comment.
Comey’s decision to exonerate Clinton, announced on July 5th, 2016, was shocking and unprecedented. In his final statement, Comey admitted that Clinton and her aides had run afoul of certain laws regarding classified information, but that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring such a case given the lack of criminal intent.
What he really means is that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges against Hillary Clinton, because she’s Hillary Clinton.
Comey told Congress last year that he never considered prosecuting Clinton without proof of criminal intent, but the early draft of his statement suggests there may have been disagreement within the FBI about that decision.
If the judgment was this close, Comey should have passed the final decision to a judge and jury.
President Trump accused Comey of protecting Hillary during the investigation and fired him the following May.