A former top FBI lawyer’s fear that Hillary Clinton would be indicted right after potentially winning the 2016 election led the bureau to share with Congress its decision to reopen the investigation into Clinton’s emails days before voters hit the polls, the Washington Examiner reported Friday.
According to the Examiner, James Baker, who left the FBI in 2018, said he thought it was likely that more evidence of wrongdoing by Clinton would be discovered in the 600,000 to one million new Clinton-related emails discovered on a laptop of disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) just weeks before the election.
Baker theorized that indicting Clinton right after the election would not be good for the country, according to the new book, In Deep: The FBI, the CIA, and the Truth about America’s “Deep State,” by David Rhode.
The former official also thought it could damage the FBI’s credibility if the bureau didn’t inform Congress about its findings, and then-director James Comey agreed, Rhodes said in the book, according to the Examiner.
“A hundred-mile-an-hour fastball”
The new account explains why the national media was able to break the news of the new investigation just 11 days before the presidential election — an action Clinton has blamed for her loss, the Examiner noted.
Until now, it has been something of a mystery why Comey would have announced the investigation when he knew it could hurt Clinton’s chances, and after he decided in July 2016 not to indict her for her illegal use of a private email server when she served as Barack Obama’s secretary of State.
The new investigation was closed days before the election, but the damage may have been done in voters’ minds, many of which were never convinced that she should have escaped punishment for having the email server in the first place.
Baker described his feelings about finding the emails to Rhode as being like the “fates had thrown him a hundred-mile-an-hour fastball,” the Examiner reported.
“Alarming” and “appalling”
In testimony to House investigator John Ratcliffe (R-TX) last year, Baker said that he believed Clinton’s earlier emails were “alarming” and “appalling” because they contained classified information but were not kept classified when she placed them on her private server, John Solomon reported for The Hill at the time.
Baker further testified that he was “persuaded” by Comey and others that Clinton should not be prosecuted because they couldn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she had “intended” to break the law, Solomon reported.
Of course, when Comey announced in July 2016 that Clinton would not be charged, he did so without consulting the Justice Department, which was itself a violation of procedure and a potential abuse of his power.
If the same standards applied to Clinton were applied to President Donald Trump during the impeachment proceedings against him, the House would not have passed articles of impeachment that later had to be dismissed by the Senate. Just something to keep in mind.