James Comey, the executive director of the FBI, has just released a statement in which he announced that the FBI recommends that there should be no criminal charges against presidential candidate and former Secretary Of State Hillary Clinton. As we all know, she was under investigation for transmitting thousands of emails, 110 of which turned out to be classified, on numerous private e-mail accounts and servers.
“Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information… We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.” – James Comey, FBI Director, July 5th 2016
Now, I personally am not surprised at this decision, for two reasons: as Hillary Clinton is a current presidential candidate and a likely winner of a current presidential race, it’s going to take clear-cut evidence of willful espionage in order for her to be indicted.
And, secondly: She’s a Clinton. Hillary and Bill have gotten away with a hell of a lot in the past four decades, and the sending of classified emails over Yahoo or Gmail truly pales in comparison to some of the other things that they have done.
In response to the FBI’s statement, the other presidential front-runner Donald Trump tweeted that “the system is rigged”. Of course it is, Captain Obvious. It’s as rigged as the blackjack table at the Trump Taj Mahal, which is currently understaffed due to worker strikes.
Here are two examples of similar cases with dissimilar punishments:
In 2015, Bryan Nishimura, a Navy reservist from California, was sentenced to two years’ probation and a $7,500 fine after he pleaded guilty to removing classified material and downloading it to a personal electronic device. The FBI found no evidence he planned to distribute the material.
And in 2014, Bronze Star recipient and combat veteran Chief Petty Officer Lyle White pled guilty to storing classified documents on a nonsecure hard drive in Virginia. He received a suspended 60-day sentence and a suspended $10,000 fine in return for the plea. White said the information was for training purposes to study and that he had no intent to communicate with anyone.
“And with the rule of law as our guiding principle, we also believe that no one in this country should be beyond the law.” – Amy Hess, Executive Assistant Director, Science and Technology Branch, FBI, April 29th 2015
Sure you do, Ms. Hess.