A bombshell report from The Hill has revealed that an early draft of former FBI Director James Comey’s final statement on the Hillary Clinton email case accused Clinton of being “grossly negligent” in handling classified information. However, the language was changed to “extremely careless” when Comey made his July 2016 announcement that they would not pursue charges against the former Secretary of State.
This is a crucial new detail. According to federal law, gross negligence in handling national intelligence is criminally punishable with a fine and up to 10 years in prison. By contrast, “extreme carelessness” does not.
In other words, at one point in time there was a legitimate written case to pursue criminal charges against Clinton. But someone changed the wording of the statement in order to protect her.
The draft statement, from May 2, 2016 – months before Comey’s announcement – reads, “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.” According to anonymous sources who have seen the draft, it was subsequently changed in red-line edits on or around June 10 to say that Clinton and her aides were instead “extremely careless.”
It’s unclear who recommended the wording changes.
Memos indicate that at least three top FBI officials were involved in helping Comey craft the statement, including Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, General Counsel James Baker, and chief of staff Jim Rybicki. On Monday, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent a letter to current FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding the FBI identify who made the changes and why.
According to the anonymous sources, there might have been dissent within the FBI about the decision to use the term “grossly negligent.” “The red-line history clearly shows the original statement was designed to allege Clinton committed gross negligence and then someone changed it to extreme carelessness,” one source said. “Clearly there was a difference of opinion on the term derived right from the statute.”
Again: This new information is huge. And you better believe that Republicans in Congress are going to get to the bottom of it.
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