South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy held FBI Director James Comey’s feet to the fire during a House panel interrogation today concerning the agency’s investigation into former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server during her time at the State Department.
Specifically, Gowdy highlighted Comey’s comments that the FBI was unable to prove criminal intent, despite an overwhelming amount of evidence showing Clinton attempted to conceal information from the public eye.
Transcript via CNBC:
Gowdy: Good morning, Director Comey. Secretary Clinton said she never sent or received any classified information over her private e-mail, was that true?
Comey: Our investigation found that there was classified information sent.
Gowdy: It was not true?
Comey: That’s what I said.
Gowdy: OK. Well, I’m looking for a shorter answer so you and I are not here quite as long. Secretary Clinton said there was nothing marked classified on her e-mails sent or received. Was that true?
Comey: That’s not true. There were a small number of portion markings on I think three of the documents.
Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said “I did not e-mail any classified information to anyone on my e-mail there was no classified material.” That is true?
Comey: There was classified information emailed.
Gowdy: Secretary Clinton used one device, was that true?
Comey: She used multiple devices during the four years of her term as Secretary of State.
Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said all work related emails were returned to the State Department. Was that true?
Comey: No. We found work related email, thousands, that were not returned.
Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said neither she or anyone else deleted work related emails from her personal account.
Comey: That’s a harder one to answer. We found traces of work related emails in — on devices or in space. Whether they were deleted or when a server was changed out something happened to them, there’s no doubt that the work related emails that were removed electronically from the email system.
Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said her lawyers read every one of the emails and were overly inclusive. Did her lawyers read the email content individually?
Gowdy: Well, in the interest of time and because I have a plane to catch tomorrow afternoon, I’m not going to go through any more of the false statements but I am going to ask you to put on your old hat. Faults exculpatory statements are used for what?
Comey: Well, either for a substantive prosecution or evidence of intent in a criminal prosecution.
Gowdy: Exactly. Intent and consciousness of guilt, right?
Comey: That is right?
Gowdy: Consciousness of guilt and intent? In your old job you would prove intent as you referenced by showing the jury evidence of a complex scheme that was designed for the very purpose of concealing the public record and you would be arguing in addition to concealment the destruction that you and i just talked about or certainly the failure to preserve.
You would argue all of that under the heading of content. You would also — intent. You would also be arguing the pervasiveness of the scheme when it started, when it ended and the number of emails whether they were originally classified or of classified under the heading of intent. You would also, probably, under common scheme or plan, argue the burn bags of daily calendar entries or the missing daily calendar entries as a common scheme or plan to conceal.
Two days ago, Director, you said a reasonable person in her position should have known a private email was no place to send and receive classified information. You’re right. An average person does know not to do that.
This is no average person. This is a former First Lady, a former United States senator, and a former Secretary of State that the president now contends is the most competent, qualified person to be president since Jefferson. He didn’t say that in ’08 but says it now.
She affirmatively rejected efforts to give her a state.gov account, kept the private emails for almost two years and only turned them over to Congress because we found out she had a private email account.
So you have a rogue email system set up before she took the oath of office, thousands of what we now know to be classified emails, some of which were classified at the time. One of her more frequent email comrades was hacked and you don’t know whether or not she was.
And this scheme took place over a long period of time and resulted in the destruction of public records and yet you say there is insufficient evidence of intent. You say she was extremely careless, but not intentionally so.
You and I both know intent is really difficult to prove. Very rarely do defendants announce “On this date I intend to break this criminal code section. Just to put everyone on notice, I am going to break the law on this date.”
It never happens that way. You have to do it with circumstantial evidence or if you’re Congress and you realize how difficult it is to prove, specific intent, you will form lathe a statute that allows for gross negligence.
My time is out but this is really important. You mentioned there’s no precedent for criminal prosecution. My fear is there still isn’t. There’s nothing to keep a future Secretary of State or President from this exact same email scheme or their staff.
And my real fear is this, what the chairman touched upon, this double track justice system that is rightly or wrongly perceived in this country. That if you are a private in the Army and email yourself classified information you will be kicked out. But if you are Hillary Clinton, and you seek a promotion to Commander in Chief, you will not be. So what I hope you can do today is help the average person, the reasonable person you made reference to, the reasonable person understand why she appears to be treated differently than the rest of us would be. With that I would yield back.