Copies of former FBI Director James Comey’s original memo on Hillary Clinton’s private email server case show editing by FBI staffers that could have lead to felony and misdemeanor charges against the former secretary of state.
Five separate references to terms like “grossly negligent” were altered from the memo to less objectionable ones like “extremely careless,” and mentions of felony and misdemeanor-inducing evidence of activities by Clinton were also deleted, The Hill reported.
While Comey’s original document stated it was “reasonably likely” that hostile entities accessed or hacked Clinton’s private server even though there was no evidence to prove that, the wording was changed to a weaker “possible” in the edited memo.
This most detailed version of Comey’s original draft along with all the edits were released Thursday on the website of Senate Homeland and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson, R-Wis.
Comey’s original memo in May 2016 concluded that Clinton was “grossly negligent” in using her non-secure server to transmit emails containing classified information but subordinates appear to have edited the term to “extremely careless,” thereby avoiding the felony charges that would follow the original statutory term.
Comey accepted the edits made by staffers before his July 2016 announcement that he would not pursue criminal charges against Hillary Clinton, the FBI told Congress according to the Hill.
“The edits to Director Comey’s public statement, made months prior to the conclusion of the FBI’s investigation of Secretary Clinton’s conduct, had a significant impact on the FBI’s public evaluation of the implications of her actions,” Johnson wrote in a letter to new FBI Director Christopher Wray, questioning whether there was an effort to politically protect Clinton.
“This effort, seen in light of the personal animus toward then-candidate Trump by senior agents leading the Clinton investigation and their apparent desire to create an ‘insurance policy’ against Mr. Trump’s election, raise profound questions about the FBI’s role and possible interference in the 2016 presidential election,” Johnson wrote.
The original memo by Comey also indicated that he had coordinated with other intelligence agencies to determine if national security matters were affected by Clinton’s private email server.
“We have done extensive work with the assistance of our colleagues elsewhere in the Intelligence Community to understand what indications there might be of compromise by hostile actors in connection with the private email operation,” Comey wrote in the original.
This was, however, deleted from the final, official memo.
Johnson questioned whether other intelligence agencies had different or differed or more negative assessments than those by the FBI, the Hill reported. He also requested the redacted “editing comments” in the margins of the memo so as to better understand the intention of the changes that were made.