I put "rigged" in the headline because that was the gut-level reaction of many conservatives, including yours truly, upon hearing this answer from the FBI director. Watch, then read on for some important context, as well as even more questions about the ramifications from today's testimony and Hillary's past claims:
Comey says Hillary Clinton's "voluntary" interview with the FBI was not recorded or transcribed, and the conversation was not conducted under oath. We now know that Hillary has lied to Congress quite a few times during sworn testimony, but Ed Morrissey explains why that reality is unlikely to go anywhere from a legal perspective. But lying to the FBI is a more serious matter; just ask Martha Stewart or Scooter Libby. So is this yet another example of egregious special treatment for America's sweetheart, further confirming that the whole system is rigged? Not so fast. Comey rightly points out that the "under oath" issue isn't a big deal because lying to the feds under any circumstances is a crime. And Allahpundit notes that not recording these sorts of interviews is standard practice:
It’s longstanding FBI policy not to record interviews. Normal practice is for agents to jot notes during an interrogation and then summarize what was said in a Form 302, which you’ll hear John Mica mention here. Why would a federal agency eschew recordings in an age when A/V equipment is ubiquitous? Good question. A lot of civil libertarians have been asking that for a long time. The unhappy truth is that the feds don’t want an objective record of what was said so that, when the case goes to court, it’s the agent’s word against the suspect’s. That reality was so obnoxious that Eric Holder reversed the policy two years ago and permitted agents to begin recording interviews — of suspects who are in custody. Hillary was never in custody. She sat for her interview voluntarily.
Given the possible ambiguity and the stakes of the interview, Emily Zanotti speculates -- not unreasonably -- that "no recording" was a precondition for Hillary even showing up. That'd be a good question for Comey. (Relatedly, you may also recall that she and her top aides refused to cooperate with the State Department Inspector General's investigation, which produced scathing conclusions). So we're left waiting to see if the FBI will hand over this form 302, the notes and report prepared by agents who conducted the interview. Did Hillary Clinton repeat the same falsehoods that she's peddled to the press, to voters and to Congress (no classified material at the time, one device, etc.) to the FBI? If so, that's a prosecutable criminal act. But if she told them the truth on these points, that's ironclad evidence that she was deliberately lying under other circumstances -- which reminds me to re-up this post from earlier about her lies and the issue of willful intent. It is a dark irony, given the circumstances of this scandal, that the scope of Clinton's truthfulness during an FBI interview may never be known due to an incomplete public record.
I'll leave you with another question: Remember when Hillary attested to a federal judge under penalty of perjury that she'd turned over all work related emails to the State Department? The FBI probe determined that she and her lawyers withheld thousands of work emails, three of which were actually classified. She also claimed that her attorneys personally reviewed "every single email" before deleting "personal" ones, which the FBI also found to be untrue. If you swear to an assertion to a federal judge that turns out to be wrong thousands of times over -- having lied publicly about the relevant process -- does that have any consequences? Or does nothing matter with this woman? The Clinton campaign is also pushing back against Comey's statement that the lawyers who reviewed, or didn't review, her emails lacked the requisite security clearances to do so. Their counterpoint is that the team who unilaterally deleted and withheld thousands of work emails in violation of a court order did have the proper clearances to view classified material...that should never, ever have been on her unsecure server in the first place. What a relief. As for Team Hillary's trumpeting the "no direct evidence" line about breaches and hacks of that unsecure server, here's the New York Times' reporting on that issue, as well as Comey's remarks on the matter:
When the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said on Tuesday that his investigators had no “direct evidence” that Hillary Clinton’s email account had been “successfully hacked,” both private experts and federal investigators immediately understood his meaning: It very likely had been breached, but the intruders were far too skilled to leave evidence of their work. Mr. Comey described, in fairly blistering terms, a set of email practices that left Mrs. Clinton’s systems wide open to Russian and Chinese hackers, and an array of others. She had no full-time cybersecurity professional monitoring her system. She took her BlackBerry everywhere she went, “sending and receiving work-related emails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries.” Her use of “a personal email domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent.” In the end, the risks created by Mrs. Clinton’s insistence on keeping her communications on a private server may prove to be a larger issue than the relatively small amount of classified data investigators said they found on her system. But the central mystery — who got into the system, if anyone — may never be resolved.
This means: "Yeah, we can't directly prove it, but you can be pretty sure it happened." pic.twitter.com/RS719HZSge— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) July 5, 2016