This was just your average FBI investigation, you see, in which the same woman was: (1) a subject of the probe, (2) a key witness in the probe, (3) a dubious immunity recipient, and (4) a lawyer to the primary subject -- who was allowed to sit in on her quasi-client's interview with investigators. And if that wasn't enough, the FBI reportedly agreed to permanently destroy two pieces of evidence after reviewing them. I'll defer to law enforcement experts as to whether or not this sort of thing is remotely standard practice, but to a layperson, it seems like yet another peculiarity surrounding this case. Via Fox News' Catherine Herridge:
BREAKING from Catherine Herridge: FBI made side deals with 2 HRC associates to "destroy" their laptops after inspecting them— Shannon Bream (@ShannonBream) October 3, 2016
Republican lawmakers are already asking questions:
Remember, James Comey told Congress that there was no case for criminal charges against Cheryl Mills. If that's the case, what did she need immunity for? And why would she want her laptop nuked? Perhaps it's because she improperly stored classified material on her personal computer, in violation of the law. Apparently the egregious mishandling of US secrets isn't all that bad. David Harsanyi's recent column entitled "Nothing James Comey Says About The Hillary Clinton Investigation Makes Any Sense" feels even more apt today. Read the whole thing. Meanwhile, former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy -- who calls himself "hard-wired" to defend the integrity of the FBI -- writes that investigators' treatment and accommodation of Mills is so bizarre as to beggar belief:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Justice Department permitted Hillary Clinton’s aide Cheryl Mills — the subject of a criminal investigation, who had been given immunity from prosecution despite strong evidence that she had lied to investigators — to participate as a lawyer for Clinton, the principal subject of the same criminal investigation. This unheard-of accommodation was made in violation not only of rudimentary investigative protocols and attorney-ethics rules, but also of the federal criminal law. Yet, the FBI and the Justice Department, the nation’s chief enforcers of the federal criminal law, tell us they were powerless to object. Seriously?... Just as Director Comey rightly objects to being regarded as a weasel, I don’t much like being regarded as an idiot -- which is what I’d have to be to swallow some of this stuff. The FBI absolutely has control over who may be present at an interview with a subject of an investigation. There are a variety of reasons for this, but the most basic one is that an interview never has to happen unless the FBI consents to it.
In his testimony, Comey kept stressing that Mrs. Clinton’s interview was “voluntary” — contending that since she was not required to submit to it, she could impose any conditions on her agreement to do so. That is nonsense. The interview was voluntary on both sides. The FBI is never required to indulge conditions that make a mockery of its serious business. In this regard, Comey is like a guy who ties his own hands behind his back and then says he was powerless to defend himself...Regarding this highly irregular dereliction, there appears to have been no FBI pushback. In fact, Director Comey told the committee that it is often easier in a complex case to acquire evidence by striking informal agreements with defense lawyers. That is certainly true . . . but there is nothing inconsistent about impaneling a grand jury while concurrently negotiating such deals. Indeed, this is how it is generally done, precisely because it makes defense lawyers a whole lot more agreeable.
Was the evident DOJ's unwillingness to impanel a grand jury a decision rooted in politics? Who made that determination, which tied the FBI's hands? Click through to read McCarthy's three reasons why Mills' inexplicable presence during Mrs. Clinton's FBI interview is "a very big deal." Team Clinton has now "misplaced," dishonestly withheld and actively destroyed relevant evidence in this case. Against that backdrop, it's remarkable that the feds gave away the store to a woman who ordered email deletions and who was anything but cooperative with the production of her own computer. Not only that, they agreed to lend a hand in the destroying. I'll leave you with this: Comey completed another round of Congressional testimony last week, in which he again claimed that he couldn't prove any intent -- which, although not required for prosecution under the statute, was a prerequisite by precedent. South Carolina's Trey Gowdy, a former US attorney himself, dismantled that assertion in a famous July exchange. In case you missed it, here's round two of that dance, from this past Wednesday. Skip ahead to (3:30) if you're pressed for time:
Gowdy lays out a string of "false exculpatory statements" from Clinton (which Comey excruciatingly confirmed as false in his previous round of testimony), then asks why all of that wasn't enough to demonstrate intent. Comey responds that law enforcement has to be able to prove that the person understood they were doing something wrong. Gowdy's reply: "The way to prove that is whether or not someone took steps to conceal or destroy what they've done. That is the best evidence you have that they knew it was wrong. That they lied about it" Comey somewhat concedes the point, saying, "it's very good evidence." Okay, so why was this and this and this and this and this and this not good enough evidence to bring a criminal case, based on mens rea?