A new report alleges that an early draft of former FBI director James Comey’s statement on the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails accused her of “gross negligence” in her handling of classified information on her undisclosed, unsecured private server.
That language would have meant accusing her of breaking federal law.
The Hill reports:
An early draft of former FBI Director James Comey’s statement closing out the Hillary Clinton email case accused the former secretary of State of having been “grossly negligent” in handling classified information, newly reported memos to Congress show.
The tough language was changed to the much softer accusation that Clinton had been “extremely careless” in her handling of classified information when Comey announced in July 2016 there would be no charges against her.
The change is significant, since federal law states that gross negligence in handling the nation’s intelligence can be punished criminally with prison time or fines.
In his infamous press conference of July 5, 2016, Comey acknowledged the relevant federal statute (emphasis added):
Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities.
He later said that he would not recommend Clinton be prosecuted because he did not believe she had the requisite intent to commit a crime.
However, intent was not necessary for a crime to have been committed, according to the letter of the law.
Now, it appears that the FBI may have believed that Clinton had met the “gross negligence” standard — before editing Comey’s memo to stop short of accusing her of a crime.