FBI’s Comey – “Speak or Conceal,” the Catch-22 on Clinton Emails

FBI’s Comey – “Speak or Conceal,” the Catch-22 on Clinton Emails

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Screenshot from this morning’s hearing

The Senate Judiciary Committee, in their yearly oversight hearing, grilled FBI Director James Comey over what they perceive as a contradiction between the way he handled the Clinton Email investigation and the Russia-Trump Campaign investigation. He stated became a choice between “Speak or Conceal” in restarting the Clinton investigation 11 days before the election.

Clinton Emails

Comey answered directly that Anthony Weiner DID receive classified emails from Huma Abedin. When he was pressed about whether that was a violation of the law, he repeatedly answered, “possibly.” He stated that they were unable to establish a prosecutable case.

When he was pressed about the email reported by the New York Times which reportedly contained “assurances that AG Lynch would protect Clinton by not allowing the FBI investigation to go too far”…he begged off and told the Senator that he couldn’t talk about it in that setting. Actually he said that same thing numerous times during the hearing for nearly every question about open investigations into classified matters.

“That’s not a question I can answer in this forum, Mr. Chairman. Because it would call for a clarify classified response. I have briefed leadership of the intelligence committees on that particular issue. But I can’t talk about it here.” James Comey

Speak or Conceal

It was an intense exchange with Senator Dianne Feinstein, as Director Comey responded to her question:

“…Why was it necessary to announce 11 days before a presidential election that you were opening an investigation on a new computer without any knowledge of what was in that computer? Why didn’t you just do the investigation as you would normally with no public announcement?” Sen. Feinstein

Comey answered that his investigative team had found literally thousands of emails on Anthony Wiener’s laptop, many of which were classified, related to an investigation that had been publicly announced as completed.  He stated that he had two choices: “conceal or speak.” To speak was “very very bad,” but “conceal” would have been “catastrophic” down the road.  He said that if he had it to do again, he would do the same thing. He also mentioned that the idea of his actions influencing the election made him “mildly nauseous.”

He reminded her that he did not make a public announcement on that matter, it was sent via a private letter to Congress…which as we know was leaked just minutes after it was received.

“Senator Feinstein noted that Americans across the country have been confused and disappointed by your judgment in handling the investigation into Secretary Clinton’s e-mails. On a number of occasions, you chose to comment directly and extensively on that investigation. You even released internal FBI memos and interviewed — I may have missed this, but in my 42 years here, I have never seen anything like that. But you said actually nothing in regard to the investigation into the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia’s illegal efforts to help elect Donald Trump. Was it appropriate for you to comment on one investigation repeatedly, not say anything about the other?” Sen Leahy

Director Comey was adamant that he believed he did the right thing, irrespective of Russian involvement, or any other issue. The short term might have influenced the political fortunes of Hillary Clinton, but he figured the long term damage to the FBI would have been worse.

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