WASHINGTON – Congress will request an investigation into whether Hillary Clinton lied under oath – not the FBI, but to the House Benghazi committee.
During testimony before Congress on Thursday, FBI Director James Comey revealed Clinton wasn’t put under oath when the bureau interviewed her about the private email server she used as secretary of state. The interview wasn’t even recorded and there’s no transcript of it.
However, Comey said it would still be a crime if she lied to the FBI.
He admitted he did not personally interview Clinton and did not speak with the “five or six” investigators who did. But he did read the FBI’s summary of the interview.
Comey was summoned to Capitol Hill to explain why he recommended the Justice Department not press charges against Clinton in her email scandal.
The major revelation that Congress will seek to have Clinton investigated for perjury during her Congressional testimony came in the opening moments of the hearing.
“Did Hillary Clinton lie?” bluntly asked House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.
“To the FBI? We have no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI,” replied Comey.
As the dramatic back and forth continued, Chaffetz asked whether the FBI had investigated key statements Clinton made to Congress while under oath, including when she asserted, “There was nothing marked classified on my emails, either sent or received.”
“Not to my knowledge. I don’t think there’s been a referral from Congress,” said Comey.
“Do you need a referral from Congress to investigate her statements under oath?” asked the chairman.
“We sure do,” said the director.
“You’ll have one,” promised Chaffetz, smiling and shaking his head for emphasis.
“You’ll have one in the next few hours.”
The means Congress may yet make use of the FBI’s investigative work by exploring whether Clinton committed perjury when she made statements under oath to the Benghazi committee last October that the bureau has since found were not true.
Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., who chaired that committee, led Comey through a series of questions demonstrating that key claims made by Clinton about her email system were false.
The congressman asked whether it was true, as Clinton had maintained, that she had not sent or received any classified information over her private email system?
“That is not true,” replied Comey. “There were a small number of portion markings on, I think, three of the documents.”
Gowdy then asked if Clinton’s testimony that she did not email “any classified material to anyone on my email” was true?
Comey confirmed it was not, saying,”There was classified material emailed.”
“Secretary Clinton said she used just one device. Was that true?” asked Gowdy.
“She used multiple devices during the four years of her term as secretary of state,” said Comey.
The congressman asked whether Clinton had returned all work-related emails to the State Department, as she had claimed.
“No,” Comey replied, adding, “We found work-related emails, thousands that were not returned.”
And when Gowdy asked if Clinton’s lawyers read every one of her emails, as she had claimed, the FBI director stated, “No.”
In his opening statement, Chaffetz said, “We’re mystified and confused by the facts you laid out and the conclusions you reached.”
In his opening statement, Comey defended himself against criticism that Clinton should have been indicted, no matter her intent, based on a federal statue that simply forbids gross negligence in mishandling classified material.
The FBI director said that law was not applicable because, “as best I can tell, the Justice Department has used statute once in 99 years since it was passed,” and that was in an espionage case.
He continued to claim her intent was crucial, and that the standard in such cases has to be, “Did they know they were doing something unlawful?”
Comey testified the FBI found no intent by Clinton to obstruct justice by deleting tens-of-thousands of emails. “No evil intent,” he claimed.
During his questioning, Gowdy, a former prosecutor, pointed out, “No one ever announces their intent” before breaking the law.”
“You always have to use circumstantial evidence,” complained the visibly frustrated lawmaker.
Later, Comey admitted that up to ten people had access to her emails containing classified information, including her attorneys and server technicians.
Chaffetz asked if that did not show she intended to do something that she should have known was illegal?
The director said he did not think she had criminal intent.
“You said there’s no precedent. My fear is there still isn’t,” Gowdy said during his questioning, explaining he feared Comey’s decision meant there is “nothing to stop someone doing this in the future.”
Rep. William Hurd, R-Texas, later asked why Clinton didn’t face consequences, even if there was no precedent for someone doing what she did?
“The reason is that’s just not fair,” replied Comey. “We treat people fairly.”
What wasn’t fair, according to Gowdy, was that Comey’s decision revealed a clear double standard.
The congressman maintained an ordinary service member would have been kicked out of the armed forces for doing what Clinton did. But, the person who wants to be commander in chief will not be punished.
In his opening statement, Comey claimed the decision not to recommend charges was “made by people who didn’t give a hoot about politics.”
When asked if the Clinton Foundation was under investigation and whether it was part of the just concluded investigation, the FBI director did not comment.
In addition to Comey’s revelation that when the FBI interview Clinton last weekend she was not put under oath, he also said the interview was not recorded and there was no transcript of it, although an analysis was compiled. The FBI director also revealed he did not personally interview Clinton, or speak with those who did.
Chaffetz began the hearing by saying, “It seems there are like two standards for dealing with classified info,” and that it “seem like the average Joe would be in handcuffs” for doing what Clinton did.
“I think there is a legitimate concern there is a double standard,” he emphasized. “If your name isn’t Clinton or you are not part of the powerful elite, Lady Justice will act differently.”
Many were shocked when Comey announced on Tuesday he would not recommend pressing charges against the Democratic presidential candidate because he had also described so many ways in which she broke the law and not told the truth.
In a “fact check” the Associated Press spelled out the many ways in which Comey contradicted every claim key Clinton had made in her defense:
Clinton said she did not email any classified material to anyone on her email.
The FBI found at least 113 emails that went through her server that contained materials that were classified at the time they were sent, including some that were top secret.
“Any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position or in the position of those with whom she was corresponding about the matters should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation,” Comey said. Clinton and her aides, he added, “were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
Clinton said she never received or sent any material that was marked classified.
Her server did handle emails with markings indicating they contained classified information. “Even if information is not marked classified in an email, participants who know, or should know, that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it,” said Comey.
Clinton said she “responded right away and provided all my emails that could possibly be work related” to the State Department.
The FBI discovered that was not true. Comey said the FBI found on her server “several thousand work-related emails that were not in the group of 30,000” that had been returned by Clinton to the State Department.
Clinton said, “I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for personal emails instead of two.”
Comey said Clinton “used numerous mobile devices to view and send email” and that she used more than one private server.
Clinton said, “It was on property guarded by the Secret Service, and there were no security breaches. … The use of that server, which started with my husband, certainly proved to be effective and secure.” Her campaign website claimed, “There is no evidence there was ever a breach.”
Comey said, “We assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account.” He added, her server was “not even supported by full-time security staff like those found at agencies and departments of the United States government or even with a commercial email service like Gmail,” the director said.
Additionally, the State Department inspector general discovered there was no evidence Clinton ever even tried to get approval to use her private server.