A new analysis from former assistant U.S. attorney Andy McCarthy thoroughly explains how former President Barack Obama made sure that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was not indicted in the criminal investigation into her use of a private email server.
In his most recent column, National Review’s McCarthy argues that the decision not to indict Clinton was Obama’s call — not the FBI’s and not the Department of Justice’s — as Obama used a pseudonymous email account to communicate with Clinton on her non-secure email account.
Before getting into detail, key points to keep in mind include:
- The email exchanges between Obama and Clinton most certainly contained classified information due to the nature of the relationship between a president and a secretary of state, and because the Obama administration refused to disclose the emails.
- If classified information was criminally mishandled by Clinton, it would have been mishandled on the other end by Obama.
- If Clinton was charged, Obama’s involvement in the scandal would be glaringly obvious.
- Text messages from anti-Trump and pro-Clinton FBI employees Peter Strzok and Lisa Page reinforce McCarthy’s argument.
Two days after The New York Times broke the scandal about Clinton in March 2015, John Podesta — who was an advisor to the president and head of Clinton’s campaign — emailed Clinton confidant and top State Department aide Cheryl Mills to tell her that the email exchanges between Obama and Clinton should not be disclosed, but “held” because of executive privilege.
Three days after Podesta’s email, Obama lied on national television during an interview with CBS about the email scandal, saying that he learned about it “the same time everybody else learned it through news reports.”
Obama’s lie, unbeknownst to the public at the time, set off a series of panic-based reactions among his and Clinton’s aides:
- Clinton campaign secretary Josh Scherwin emailed former White House Director of Communications Jennifer Palmieri: “Jen you probably have more on this but it looks like POTUS just said he found out HRC was using her personal email when he saw it on the news.”
- Scherwin’s email was forwarded to Mills.
- Mills emailed Podesta: “We need to clean this up — he has emails from her — they do not say state.gov.”
As McCarthy explains, Obama, through a stroke of malevolence, was able to assist in the clean-up:
Obama had his email communications with Clinton sealed. He did this by invoking a dubious presidential-records privilege. The White House insisted that the matter had nothing to do with the contents of the emails, of course; rather, it was intended to vindicate the principle of confidentiality in presidential communications with close advisers. With the media content to play along, this had a twofold benefit: Obama was able (1) to sidestep disclosure without acknowledging that the emails contained classified information, and (2) to avoid using the term “executive privilege” — with all its dark Watergate connotations — even though that was precisely what he was invoking.
Note that claims of executive privilege must yield to demands for disclosure of relevant evidence in criminal prosecutions. But of course, that’s not a problem if there will be no prosecution.
The following April, Obama again appeared in an interview, this time with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, where he made it clear that he did not want Clinton to be criminally indicted. As McCarthy explains:
His rationale was a legally frivolous straw man: Clinton had not intended to harm national security.
No matter: Obama’s analysis was the stated view of the chief executive. If, as was sure to happen, his subordinates in the executive law-enforcement agencies conformed their decisions to his stated view, there would be no prosecution.
Only a few weeks later, with the investigation far from being over and with key interviews yet to be conducted, Comey began drafting an exoneration of Clinton. In August 2017, a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray from Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), also a member of the committee, said the following:
According to the unredacted portions of the transcripts, it appears that in April or early May of 2016, Mr. Comey had already decided he would issue a statement exonerating Secretary Clinton. That was long before FBI agents finished their work. Mr. Comey even circulated an early draft statement to select members of senior FBI leadership. The outcome of an investigation should not be prejudged while FBI agents are still hard at work trying to gather the facts.
During this time, Lynch had instructed Comey to use the word “matter” rather than “investigation” when characterizing the criminal investigation into Clinton in order to downplay its seriousness. As McCarthy again notes, this ensured that the messaging from the White House matched Clinton’s campaign rhetoric: there would be no prosecution because there was no investigation.
A few weeks later on June 27, former President Bill Clinton met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on a tarmac in Phoenix, Arizona, for a private meeting. McCarthy adds:
On July 1, amid intense public criticism of her meeting with Bill Clinton, Attorney General Lynch piously announced that she would accept whatever recommendation the FBI director and career prosecutors made about charging Clinton.
Page texted Strzok that day: “This is a purposeful leak following the airplane snafu,” since Lynch already “knows no charges will be brought.”
The next day, on July 2, Clinton sat through an FBI interview with Strzok.
Three days later on July 5, 2016, Comey held a press conference that he started by saying, “I have not coordinated or reviewed this statement in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government. They do not know what I am about to say.” McCarthy notes that line from Comey was added after Lynch and Clinton met on the Tarmac. Strzok acknowledged this in a text to Page on July 1: “Lynch. Timing not great, but whatever. Wonder if that’s why the coordination language added.”
During Comey’s press conference, he described criminal conduct committed by Clinton but said that he did not recommend prosecution because she did not intend to break the law — matching what Obama said in his nationally televised interview just a couple months before.
McCarthy further notes that a letter from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) from this last weekend regarding the missing text FBI text messages between Strzok and Page addressed revisions made in Comey’s draft on Clinton, which contained a passage that referred to an email exchange between Obama and Clinton. The draft, dated June 30, stated:
We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, including from the territory of sophisticated adversaries. That use included an email exchange with the President while Secretary Clinton was on the territory of such an adversary. [Emphasis added.] Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account.
On the same day, according to a Strzok–Page text, a revised draft of Comey’s remarks was circulated by his chief of staff, Jim Rybicki. It replaced “the President” with “another senior government official.”
This effort to obscure Obama’s involvement had an obvious flaw: It would practically have begged congressional investigators and enterprising journalists to press for the identification of the “senior government official” with whom Clinton had exchanged emails. That was not going to work.
However, by the time Comey gave his statement on Clinton, all references to Obama had been removed:
We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. [Emphasis added.] Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.
McCarthy notes that the corrupt scheme concocted by the Obama administration “worked like a charm” since there was “no indictment, meaning no prosecution, meaning no disclosure of Clinton–Obama emails,” and they would have gotten away with it, except . . .
November 8, 2016, did not go as planned.