“Gross negligence” to “extremely careless.”
This past summer, Special Counsel Robert Mueller removed an FBI agent from his investigation into possible collusion between Russia and President Donald Trump’s campaign due to anti-Trump messages he sent. The news was only made public over the weekend.
This agent, Peter Strzok, is also the man who changed former FBI Head James Comey’s description of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information on her private server when she served as secretary of state.
Strzok also served as the No. 2 official in the counterintelligence division and led the investigation into her server.
The shift from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless,” which may appear pedestrian at first glance, reflected a decision by the FBI that could have had potentially significant legal implications, as the federal law governing the mishandling of classified material establishes criminal penalties for “gross negligence.”
CNN has also learned that Strzok was the FBI official who signed the document officially opening an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, according to sources familiar with the matter. As the No. 2 official in counterintelligence, Strzok was considered to be one of the bureau’s top experts on Russia.
But the news of Strzok’s direct role in the statement that ultimately cleared the former Democratic presidential candidate of criminal wrongdoing, now combined with the fact that he was dismissed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s team after exchanging private messages with an FBI lawyer that could be seen as favoring Clinton politically, may give ammunition to those seeking ways to discredit Mueller’s Russia investigation.
YIKES! This is the definition of gross negligence:
A lack of care that demonstrates reckless disregard for the safety or lives of others, which is so great it appears to be a conscious violation of other people’s rights to safety. It is more than simple inadvertence, and can affect the amount of damages.
The changes to the statement came out in August when Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) wrote a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray to inform him that the committee found in unredacted parts in transcripts that Comey decided to write a statement to exonerate Hillary before the FBI finished its investigation. Grassley released this statement:
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is seeking more details on the formulation of former FBI director James Comey’s July 2016 remarks announcing that the FBI would not seek criminal charges following its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server and mishandling of classified information while serving as Secretary of State. Early drafts of the remarks include phrases indicating a violation of federal statute. Those terms were later eliminated in revised drafts of the same statement.
“Although Director Comey’s original version of his statement acknowledged that Secretary Clinton had violated the statute prohibiting gross negligence in the handling of classified information, he nonetheless exonerated her in that early, May 2nd draft statement anyway, arguing that this part of the statute should not be enforced,” Grassley said in a letter today to FBI Director Christopher Wray.
The statute governing the mishandling of classified material establishes criminal penalties for “gross negligence.” Comey’s May 2, 2016, draft stated that Clinton had been grossly negligent in handling classified information. However, a later version of those remarks, dated June 10, 2016, deleted that legal language, and instead refers to Clinton and her associates as “extremely careless.”
In November, a source close to the ultimate decision told CNN that Comey and his colleagues played “with language” during the process since they felt “they needed to condemn Clinton’s handling of classified information while asserting they would not bring charges.”
A source familiar with the decision-making process at the FBI at the time tells CNN that “the Bureau and Jim were trying to see what a statement of declamation might look like — and they were playing with the language throughout. The one thing that’s a constant is that they thought what they had seen so far, subject to change, was that charges would not be appropriate but that the conduct was worthy of criticism. It was a matter of how to explain both.”
“They wanted to get a sense of what this statement might look like,” the source said. “They hadn’t stopped investigating and they were continuing to seek access to all sorts of things from Hillary that she was fighting to have to turn over. But they also wanted internally to discuss what an end game might look like.”
Comey used the word ‘negligent’ to describe Clinton during a House Oversight hearing.
Circa reporter Sara Carter wrote that Strzok interviewed former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who recently pled guilty to lying to the FBI, at the White House:
According to another source, with direct knowledge of the Jan. 24 interview, McCabe had contacted Flynn by phone directly at the White House. White House officials had spent the “earlier part of the week with the FBI overseeing training and security measures associated with their new roles so it was no surprise to Flynn that McCabe had called,” the source said.
McCabe told Flynn “some agents were heading over (to the White House) but Flynn thought it was part of the routine work the FBI had been doing and said they would be cleared at the gate,” the source said.
“It wasn’t until after they were already in (Flynn’s) office that he realized he was being formally interviewed. He didn’t have an attorney with him,” they added.
A former U.S. intelligence official told Carter that the “interview as a whole should be reviewed and called into question.” He suggested that those in charge “call the other FBI Special Agent present during Flynn’s interview before the Grand Jury to recount his version.”DONATE
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