This one involves a classified Russian intelligence document that played a central role in providing Comey with an excuse not to pursue criminal charges against Hillary Clinton for the crimes she knowingly committed by using an illegal server to send classified government information.
Comey allegedly used his lawyer to hand off the document, which was the central information in a Washington Post and New York Times story in 2017.
The National Review reported:
Per the Times, the investigation is centered around two 2017 articles from the Times and the Washington Post describing the Russian document, which played a key role in Comey’s unilateral decision to announce in July 2016 that the FBI would not pursue charges against Clinton for using a private email server to conduct official business during her time as secretary of state.
The document, which Dutch intelligence shared with the U.S., includes an analysis of an email exchange between Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.), who was then chairing the Democratic National Committee, and Leonard Bernardo, an official with the Soros-backed non-profit Open Society Foundations.
Wasserman Schultz assures Bernardo in the email that then–attorney general Loretta Lynch would make sure Clinton wasn’t charged in the email probe.
Both Bernardo and Wasserman Schultz have denied ever having the exchange, and the FBI’s assessment claimed that the document was a fake and part of a Russian disinformation campaign.
Department of Justice inspector general Michael Horowitz said in a review of Comey’s actions over the Clinton probe — and its subsequent reopening in October 2016 — that the former FBI director had a “troubling lack of any direct, substantive communication” with Lynch over his decisions.
Both 2017 articles cite Comey’s private concern that if Lynch had announced no charges for Clinton, the Russians could have released the document to cast doubt on whether the investigation was ethical. They also cite Comey’s decision not to tell Lynch that he was declining to charge Clinton as a way of protecting the FBI’s political independence.
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Investigators are examining whether Comey’s personal lawyer, Daniel Richman, gave the Russian document to reporters. Richman played a key role in a different, confirmed leak that Comey orchestrated to hand over memos of his private encounters with President Trump in the early days of the Trump administration.
“I asked a friend of mine to share the content of the memo with a reporter,” Comey testified to Congress in June 2017. “I thought that might prompt the appointment of a special counsel.”
In August, Horowitz found that Comey violated policy and set a “dangerous example” for the rank-and-file by retaining and leaking the memos. Horowitz referred Comey for potential prosecution over the matter, but the DOJ declined to prosecute.
In his memoir, A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership, Comey said “unverified” information discovered by the U.S. government in 2016 from a classified source “would undoubtedly have been used by political opponents to cast serious doubt on the attorney general’s independence in connection with the Clinton investigation.”
Also weighing on his mind when holding the press conference, according to Comey, was how Lynch asked him to call the investigation a “matter” and the controversial June 27, 2016, tarmac meeting Lynch had with Bill Clinton.
In an April 2018 statement responding to Comey’s book, Lynch denied ever coordinating with Democrats on a message for the emails investigation and, in a not-too-subtle jab at Comey, said she “followed the Department’s long-standing policy of neither confirming nor denying the fact of an ongoing investigation.”
Comey stirred controversy again when he announced to Congress the FBI was reopening the Clinton emails investigation less than two weeks before the 2016 election. He again closed the investigation, citing no changes in the FBI’s view on the matter, a couple days before the Nov. 8 election, but Clinton and her allies have long blamed the optics of what Comey did for contributing to her loss to candidate Trump.
Of course, it’s difficult to get a grasp on the level of criminal conduct, corruption and collusion that occurred under Obama and Clinton, and this is just another scandal that will help muddy the waters. Another decision by the Justice Department not to prosecute Comey would be another slap in the face to American citizens, many people agree.