Attorney General Loretta Lynch listens at left as FBI Director James Comey blithely lies through his teeth to the American people. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
I posted a bit earlier on the FBI using the “dog ate my homework” excuse for five critical months of text messages from Peter Strzok, the number two guy in the FBI’s counterintelligence operation, and his colleague and bedmate, Lisa Page.
But per a recently released letter from Senator Ron Johnson, chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, there are other questions that need answered.
Strzok and Page are under pressure to clear Clinton after Cruz drops out of the race.
To fully appreciate what follows, this is the key timeline.
August 2015: FBI gets control of Hillary’s server and personal devices. Mostly.
November 2015. FBI investigation expands from storage of email to examining if Clinton jeopardized national security.
May 2016. James Comey begins circulating a draft of conclusions.
May 3, 2016. Ted Cruz drops out of GOP primary.
June 2016. Loretta Lynch meets with Bill Clinton.
July 1, 2016. Loretta Lynch says she will abide by any FBI recommendation.
July 2, 2016. Hillary Clinton interviewed by FBI.
July 5, 2016. Comey clears Clinton.
From Johnson’s letter:
The loss of records from this period is concerning because it is apparent from other records that Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page communicated frequently about the investigation. In February 2016, Ms. Page texted Mr. Strzok that then-candidate Trump “simply can not [Sic] be president.” On May 4, 2016–after then-Director Comey began drafting his July 5 statement
clearing Secretary Clinton–Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok communicated about “pressure” building to finish the investigation following candidate Trump’s likely nomination:
Ms. Page: And holy shit Cruz just dropped out of the race. It’s going to be a Clinton Trump race. Unbelievable.
Mr. Strzok: What?!?!??
Ms. Page: You heard it right my friend.
Mr. Strzok: I saw trump [sic] won, fgured it would be a bit
Mr. Strzok: Now the pressure really starts to finish MYE.
Ms. Page: It sure does. We need to talk about follow up call tomorrow. We still never have.
The reference to the MYE by Mr. Strzok refers to the “midyear exam,” the case name for the Clinton investigation.
This is sort of a strange statement if one doesn’t assume there was a “stop Trump” movement of some type, formal or informal, within the FBI. The implication of the statement is that they would have taken their good old time finishing the investigation if Ted Cruz had stayed in the race, that is a decision that would have hurt Clinton. That they felt pressure to wind up the Clinton investigation deserves some serious exploration.
James Comey concealed the extent of Hillary’s Stupidity from the public.
In addition, Mr. Strzok and Ms. Page discussed the drafting of Director Comey’s July 5 statement exonerating Secretary Clinton. On June 30, 2016, FBI personnel circulated a draft of Director Comey’s statement that noted that Secretary Clinton had emailed with President Obama from the private server while abroad in the “territory of sophisticated adversaries.” The passage read:
We also assess that Secretary Clinton?s use of a personal email domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, including from the territory of sophisticated adversaries. That use included an email exchange with the President while Secretary Clinton was on the territory of such an adversary. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton?s personal email account.
The same afternoon, after FBI officials edited the draft to replace “the President” with “another senior government official,” Mr. Strzok sent a text message to Ms. Page notifying her of the
change. The exchange read:
Mr. Strzok: K. Rybicki just sent another version.
Ms. Page: Bill just popped his head in, hopefully to talk to him. [Note: I believe Bill is Bill Priestap, FBI director for counterintelligence and Strzok’s boss.]
Mr. Strzok: Hope so. Just left Bill. Talked about the speech, the [redacted] stuff relating to the case, and what I told you about earlier.
Mr. Strzok: He changed President to “another senior government official”
Director Comey’s statement as ultimately delivered on July 5 omitted a reference to either President Obama or “another senior government official.”
This would have had a significant impact on the Clinton campaign. The central theme of her spinmeisters was that none of the emails she sent was particularly important. It is kind of hard to argue this when the recipient is the president. The fact that Comey obscured this fact is nothing more than a lie by omission.
Loretta Lynch knew a week before Comey’s announcement and a day before Hillary Clinton was interviewed that Hillary Clinton would be cleared.
On July 1, 2016–the same day as Attorney General Lynch’s announcement, but before the FBI had interviewed Secretary Clinton and before Director Comey had announced his recommendation–Ms. Page and Mr. Strzok exchanged the following messages:
Mr. Strzok: Holy cow. . . .nyt breaking Apuzzo, [sic] will accept whatever rec D and career prosecutors make. No political appointee input.
Mr. Strzok: Timing not great, but whatever. Wonder if that’s why the no coordination language added.
Ms. Page: No way. This is a purposeful leak following the airplane snafu.
Mr. Strzok: Timing looks like hell. Will appear to be choreographed. All major news networks literally leading with “AG to accept FBI D’s recommendation.”
Ms. Page: Yeah, that is awful timing. Nothing we can do about it.
Mr. Strzok: What I meant was, did DOJ tell us yesterday they were doing this, so added that language.
Mr. Strzok: Yep. I told Bill the same thing. Delaying just makes it worse.
Ms. Page: And yes. I think we had some warning of it. I know they sent some statement to rybicki, be he called andy. [Note: rybicki is FBI chief of staff Jim Rybicki and andy is, of course, deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe.]
Ms. Page: And yeah, it’s a real profile in couragw [sic], since she knows no charges will be brought.
The fact that Comey had made a decision to clear Clinton months in advance was known. The fact that DOJ knew and seemingly inserted “not coordinated” into the statement. Though the fact that DOJ knew of the results and provided input into Comey’s memo seems a helluva lot like coordination.
We can argue motives and motivations on this until the cows come home but, to me, there are three salient points:
The FBI was energized to clear Hillary by Cruz dropping out of the race, while they seemed sort of nonchalant about Cruz staying in the race.
Comey concealed the significance of the likely compromise of Hillary Clinton’s email from the public.
DOJ and the FBI worked together on Comey’s statement clearing Clinton.
None of this looks good and all of it needs investigation.