FBI direc­tor again de­fends in­tegrity of Clin­ton email probe

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Matthew Daly and Eric Tucker

WASH­ING­TON >> Repub­li­can law­mak­ers may ques­tion the de­ci­sion not to pros­e­cute Hil­lary Clin­ton for us­ing a pri­vate email server as sec­re­tary of state, but they should not ques­tion the in­ves­ti­ga­tion’s thor­ough­ness, FBI Direc­tor James Comey said Wed­nes­day.

“You can call us wrong. You can call me a fool. You can­not call us weasels,” Comey said un­der hours of ques­tion­ing at a House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee hear­ing.

Repub­li­cans grilled Comey on the FBI’s year-long in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the po­ten­tial mis­han­dling of clas­si­fied email, which con­cluded in July when the FBI rec­om­mended against prose­cu­tion and the Jus­tice Depart­ment closed the case.

They de­manded to know why mul­ti­ple key wit­nesses had been granted some kind of im­mu­nity, ques­tioned him on his in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the key felony statute at is­sue and ar­gued that the out­come re­vealed a dou­ble stan­dard in the treat­ment of pow­er­ful pub­lic fig­ures.

But Comey, who has re­peat­edly FBI Direc­tor James Comey tes­ti­fies on Capi­tol Hill in Wash­ing­ton, Wed­nes­day, be­fore the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee hear­ing on ‘Over­sight of the Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion.’ sought to ex­plain the FBI’s de­ci­sion mak­ing, again said that the case was not a close call and in­sisted that no one else would have been pros­e­cuted for the same acts — even if they might have got­ten into trou­ble with their em­ployer.

“To pros­e­cute on these facts would be a dou­ble stan­dard be­cause Jane and Joe Smith would not be pros­e­cuted on these facts,” Comey said.

Repub­li­cans were not as­suaged, claim­ing that Clin­ton, the Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee, il­le­gally mis­han­dled clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion. Com­mit­tee chair­man Bob Good­latte of Vir­ginia said it “de­fies logic and the law that she faces no con­se­quences for jeop­ar­diz­ing na­tional se­cu­rity.”

GOP panel mem­bers re­peat­edly pressed Comey on his ac­knowl­edg­ment that five wit­nesses, in­clud­ing the tech ex­pert who set up Clin­ton’s pri­vate server and her former chief of staff, had been granted some form of im­mu­nity. They also voiced con­cern with the num­ber of peo­ple who had been in the room with Clin­ton dur­ing her July FBI in­ter­view.

Comey said agents granted im­mu­nity to Ch­eryl Mills, Clin­ton’s former chief of staff, be­cause they wanted to in­spect her lap­top as part of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The im­mu­nity deal was limited to in­for­ma­tion con­tained on her lap­top, Comey said.

Rep. John Rat­cliffe, RTexas, in­sisted that the fix was in from the start, as­sert­ing that the de­ci­sion not to pros­e­cute was made even be­fore Clin­ton was in­ter­viewed in early July — a claim Comey vig­or­ously de­nied.

Rat­cliffe ac­cused Mills and other Clin­ton as­so­ciates of ob­struct­ing jus­tice, adding, “Maybe the de­ci­sion was made a long time ago not to pros­e­cute.”

PABLO MARTINEZ MONSIVAIS - THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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