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Lengel: Why FBI Director Comey Was Right Not to Recommend Charges Against Hillary Clinton

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

Fox News reported on Thursday that FBI agents and federal prosecutors are upset that FBI Director James Comey recommended no criminal charges against presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton  for the mishandling of classified information– and that Attorney General Loretta Lynch ultimately concurred.

“It is safe to say the vast majority felt she should be prosecuted,” the senior FBI official told Fox News.

I’ve spoken to agents, current and retired, in the past several weeks who have expressed disappointment, and in some cases, embarrassment that the bureau didn’t pull the trigger.

Granted, charges could have been filed. No question. Comey, a former federal prosecutor himself, said as much.

“Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” Comey said in July in his statement.  “Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent. Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.”

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton

It’s not unusual for agents and prosecutors to push for charges, and it would certainly be understandable in this case.  But this is a special case.  In this instance,  it was best to err on the side of caution. An air tight case is one thing. A case that might crumble, is another, particularly under these extraordinary circumstances.

Imagine if you will, that the Justice Department, at the recommendation of the FBI, decided to indict. Unquestionably, the Democratic Party would have pressured Clinton to step aside in the middle of the campaign.

Then let’s just say, after the November election, after Trump or Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden got elected, Clinton went to trial and was acquitted.

Would the FBI and the Justice Department have really wanted to be credited with derailing a presidential candidate, who would later declare that her prosecution was politically motivated, and that she was wrongfully charged?

I think the answer is No.

Some folks will strongly disagree.

But I think ultimately, it’s best for the American people to decide this one.

 


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