WASHINGTON – U.S. House Speaker Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., spoke for many when he said, “What bothers me about this is the Clintons really are living above the law. They’re being held by a different set of standards.”
The decision by FBI Director James Comey not to recommend charges against Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information has left even former federal prosecutors wondering if there are two sets of laws: one her and one for everyone else.
The evidence suggests that may be the case.
Comey based his decision not to recommend prosecution largely on what he termed Clinton’s lack of intent to mishandle classified information.
In his announcement on Tuesday, Comey said, “Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent.”
But WND found four cases in which the Justice Department did pursue criminal charges against defendants for mishandling classified information without even considering their intent.
One was former President Bill Clinton’s CIA director.
Another was Clinton’s national security adviser.
The other two were members of the U.S. armed forces.
Comey said “no reasonable prosecutor” would pursue charges against Hillary Clinton based on “how similar situations have been handled in the past.”
But, based upon the four “similar situations” described below, that just is not true.
John M. Deutch
Appointed CIA director by President Bill Clinton in 1995, Deutch resigned in 1996 and was investigated for mishandling classified information.
The similarities between his case and Hillary Clinton’s are striking.
Both she and Deutch:
- Stored hundreds of classified documents on their unsecured home computers.
- Had information on those computers classified as top secret.
- Used computers considered vulnerable to hackers.
The one big difference was the Justice Department prepared criminal charges against Deutch, while the FBI has recommended no such action against the Democrat’s presumptive presidential nominee.
The government never claimed Deutch intended to mishandle the information.
But, the Justice Department reportedly was set to file criminal charges against him until the president intervened.
On Jan. 24, 2001, the Washington Post reported Deutch had struck a plea bargain to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of mishandling government secrets, which would have spared him a prison sentence.
But, on his last day in office in 2001, President Clinton pardoned Deutch.
CIA Director George Tenet had stripped Deutch of his security clearance in 1999. The State Department has refused to say whether Hillary Clinton still has her security clearance.
President Clinton’s former national security adviser pleaded guilty in 2005 to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material documents from the National Archives, by stuffing them in his clothes.
According to the Washington Post, his attorney, Lanny Breuer, said, “the Justice Department affirmed that Berger had no intent to hide the contents.”
The paper said a government report showed “Berger’s main motive was to prepare himself for testifying before a commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, it makes clear that he not only sought to study the documents but also destroyed some copies and – when initially confronted – denied he had done so.”
Berger paid a $10,000 fine and had his security clearance revoked for three years.
Three years later, he became a foreign-policy adviser to Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign.
Naval Reservist and Regional Engineer Bryan Nishimura was prosecuted by the Justice Department in 2015 for mishandling classified information while serving in Afghanistan from 2007-2008.
As was the case with Hillary Clinton, “The investigation did not reveal evidence that [he] intended to distribute classified information to unauthorized personnel.”
And, like Clinton, Nishimura stored classified material on his personal devices.
Also like Clinton, he destroyed “a large quantity of classified materials.”
Unlike Clinton, however, he was prosecuted, sentenced to two years’ probation, fined $7,500 and had his security clearance permanently revoked.
Petty Officer 1st Class Kristian Saucier is facing up to 10 years in prison for mishandling classified information.
The Department of Defense could have handled the sailor’s case, but the Justice Department decided to pursue felony criminal charges.
Saucier pleaded guilty in May to a felony count of unlawful retention of national defense information after the Navy mechanic took photos inside the classified engine room of a nuclear submarine, then destroyed the evidence after he learned he was under investigation.
His intent was never a factor in the case because, as Politico reported, “no public suggestion has been made that he ever planned to disclose the photos to anyone outside the Navy.”
“Clearly, a double standard [exists],” Saucier’s attorney Derrick Hogan of Tully Rinckey PLLC told the website Hotair after Comey’s statement on Tuesday. “To me, there’s really nothing that Mrs. Clinton did that was any different than what Mr. Saucier did.”
“I believe that she was held to a standard that no one else would be held to,” said former New York mayor and federal prosecutor Rudy Giuliani. “I’m certain in my heart of hearts that if I did that, I would have been indicted six months ago.”
Indeed, Comey explicitly confirmed a double standard, when he stated, “To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions.”
Why the double standard?
Because there is more than one federal statute covering the mishandling of classified information.
And, according to a top legal expert, Comey simply, but misguidedly, chose to apply laws Clinton may have not violated rather than the one she clearly did.
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In his article analyzing the Comey decision, former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy noted there are “statutes that criminalize unlawfully removing and transmitting highly classified information with intent to harm the United States.”
However, he explained, those were not the laws in question.
McCarthy said there was no doubt Clinton violated the one statute that mattered: the one in which her intent was irrelevant.
“Hillary Clinton checked every box required for a felony violation of Section 793(f) of the federal penal code (Title 18): With lawful access to highly classified information she acted with gross negligence in removing and causing it to be removed it from its proper place of custody, and she transmitted it and caused it to be transmitted to others not authorized to have it, in patent violation of her trust.”
McCarthy accused Comey of essentially rewriting the relevant statute by “inserting an intent element that Congress did not require.”
The former federal prosecutor explained that was a misreading of the law because, “The lack of intent to harm our country is irrelevant. People never intend the bad things that happen due to gross negligence.”
McCarthy concluded, “The point of having a statute that criminalizes gross negligence is to underscore that government officials have a special obligation to safeguard national defense secrets; when they fail to carry out that obligation due to gross negligence, they are guilty of serious wrongdoing.”