Republican Questioning of FBI’s Comey Turns Into Embarrassing Disaster for the GOP

The Republican witch hunt against Hillary Clinton for using a private email server is far from over (they did stretch the Benghazi nonsense out for nearly four years), but things have not gone how they had hoped they would after the the FBI announced that it would not recommend criminal charges against the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.

Well, on Thursday, Republicans decided they’d hold a blatant political stunt hoping for a “gotcha” moment bring FBI Director James Comey in front of Congress for questioning.

While they did get Comey to say a few things negatively about Clinton, when they asked most of their blatantly leading questions, the answers he provided typically did nothing but debunk a lot of the propaganda Republicans have been pushing about this entire situation for over a year.

Let me run through a few of the “lowlights” for Republicans.

1. When Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) asked if the classified emails that Clinton received were properly marked, Comey said they were not. He stated that they should have had headers and banners indicating they were classified. He even went on to say that it would be a “reasonable inference” to assume that, with the absence of these banners and headers, Clinton could have easily assumed the email was not classified.

This means that while some were marked classified (which is a contradiction to what Clinton has been saying this whole time), none of the ones found on her server were properly marked and he believes it was “reasonable” for Clinton to then assume that those emails were not, in fact, classified.

2. When Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) asked if Clinton lied to the FBI, Comey said, “We have no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI.” 

In other words, what she told the FBI lined up with the rest of their extensive investigation.

3. When Chaffetz asked, “Did Hillary Clinton break the law,” in reference to her setting up this private email server, Comey said that based on his experience as a lawyer and in law enforcement that it was his “judgment that she did not.” 

Yes, that’s the Director of the FBI saying that Hillary Clinton did not break the law when she used the server. This is huge considering the whole basis for most of the GOP’s propaganda about this situation is their belief that she should be indicted because she broke the law — even though the Director of the FBI just told Congress that she didn’t.

4. When Republicans tried to compare what Clinton did with former CIA Director David Petraeus, Comey slammed the door on that really quickly by pointing out the huge differences between the two situations: 

In that case, you had vast quantities of highly classified information … not only shared with someone without authority to have it, but we found it in a search warrant, hidden under the insulation in his attic, and then he lied to us about it during the investigation. So you have obstruction of justice. You have intentional misconduct. And a vast quantity of classified information. He admitted it was the wrong thing to do.

“The Petraeus case, to my mind, illustrates perfectly the kind of cases the Department of Justice is willing to prosecute,” Comey said.

He also said what Petraeus did was “far worse” than anything Clinton did by using her server.

5. Republicans tried to bring up the case of former CIA Director John M. Deutch who pled guilty in 2001 to mishandling classified documents, only for Comey to instantly shut that comparison down just as quickly as he did their attempt to compare what Petraeus did by pointing out that the two situations are much different:

He [Deutch] took a huge amount of documents, attempted to destroy some of them when he got caught, admitted: “I knew I wasn’t suppose to be doing this.” Those are the kinds of cases that get prosecuted.

This whole thing was asinine. Unless you’re someone who simply dislikes Clinton, I’m pretty sure most rational people watching what went on Thursday could clearly tell that this whole thing wasn’t about questioning FBI Director Comey to find out why the investigation concluded the way it did — it was just Republicans asking leading questions, trying to get him to feed into attacks they want to use against her.

To call what happened Thursday a farce wouldn’t even do it justice — it was an absolute joke. Instead of getting their “gotcha” moments that they were obviously hoping for, Republicans got Comey to:

  • Admit that, even though classified emails did pass through her server, none of those emails were properly marked and it was “reasonable” for her to have assumed they weren’t classified.
  • Say that she didn’t lie to the FBI.
  • Debunk the biggest lie Republicans have been pushing this whole time that she broke the law by flat-out saying that she didn’t break any laws.
  • Destroy all these Republicans who’ve been claiming that Clinton was getting “special treatment” since two individuals (Deutch and Petraeus) were convicted of crimes for similar behavior by pointing out that, not only was what Clinton did not remotely similar to the behavior of those two men, but the crimes they were convicted of were much worse. That actually proves just how little these Republicans trying to compare these situations actually understand about what Clinton was investigated for and the crimes for which Deutch and Petraeus were convicted.

Unfortunately, this is far from over. Republicans are going to stretch this out for months, if not years, doing everything they possibly can to make this into a bigger deal than it really is. Trust me, if there’s some sort of political stunt or rule they can use to try to go after Clinton over this, they’re going to use it.

And just like Benghazi, no matter what the truth ultimately is, all they’re going to do is waste time (and probably millions of taxpayer dollars) on nothing but a political stunt aimed at trying to slander the reputation of a political rival.

It won’t matter one bit that a director of the FBI — who worked for George W. Bush — went in front of hostile congressional Republicans and essentially shut down most of their biggest arguments against Hillary Clinton, because he didn’t tell them what they wanted to hear – even though everything he said was the truth.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


Facebook comments

  • fel121

    The best thing the GOP could do is arrest her, then Bernie will get the nomination and go on to beat Drumpf in the general.
    Or better still Biden will change his mind and run and then its game over GOP, so please lock her up, we are begging you, LOL!

    • William Norton

      Well you need some evidence of a crime , then some charges. AFter 7Million dollars over a year of investigations by the GOP and the FBI. They have neither.

      • Don Loco

        But a poor person gets busted with a joint and they also get intent to sell added to the possession charge. How is intent not factored here? Oh yeah, she’s rich…

  • Eg Kbbs

    Of course, Ryan has already called for a “Republican Investigation” (not Congressional, but Republican) and other Congress Critters are calling for a Congressional investigation of the FBI (strange call from the party of law and order ).

    If I take the Presidential TARDIS a century into the future, will they still be running non-stop investigations ?

    • Progressive Republican

      Which raises the question of will it be taxpayer-funded again or will the GOP pony up the funds themselveBAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!

      I just couldn’t get through it with a straight face.

  • Eg Kbbs

    I don’t understand the furor over the law making the distinction between whether the action was intentional or not.

    I’m in a very gun-loving, hunting-loving rural area (with the all the accidental firearms accidents that go with that). Folks here clearly draw a distinction with the default being that a shooting was an accident to excuse it. They clearly know that the law draws a distinction for negligence. Law also draws distinction between manslaughter and the levels of murder based on the intent of the shooter.

    So why is it such a problem here (other than intentionally invincible ignorance so that they can beat their drum).

    • strayaway

      Because the law says nothing about intent. Director Comey suggested it did and acted on his suggestion. It does recognize negligence in the handling of certain government material however as being a felony. Director Comey did not use the word negligence. He called Hillary’s handling of top secret emails as being “extremely careless”. I’m not sure what the difference is between being negligent and extremely careless.

      • Don Loco

        Yet a black man can be charged with ‘intent to sell’ if he has a joint in his pocket and that is okay? Where do you draw the line with you kind of thinking?

      • strayaway

        I was referencing the wording of 18 Code US 793 – Gathering, Transmitting, or Losing Defense Information. It has nothing to do with joints.

        “(f)Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.”

        There is nothing in the law about intent. I think it fair to say that Hillary exhibited “gross negligence” which Comey referenced as “excessive carelessness”. Any lower ranking government official who did what she did would be fired if not jailed.

      • Don Loco

        Intent is intent. The definition doesn’t change just because it makes you uncomfortable. If it is a political puke or a ass hat on the street intent is what you mean to do and unlike in politics you can be arrested and go to jail for intent. So there is no damn reason she should have gotten off other than wealth and the corruption within the system.

      • strayaway

        I just showed you one relevant law. The word and or concept of intent is not included. The law, unlike the examples you cited, is specific to “Gathering, Transmitting, or Losing Defense Information”. I agree that she shouldn’t have gotten off. Are you sure you are reading my posts correctly? I’m saying intent should never have been an issue.

      • Eg Kbbs

        Well you certainly show a continued talent at picking and choosing, quoting out of context, and forgetting that the law is a combination of what is printed and how it is interpreted by prior court cases. Especially forgetting the law excerpt you cited out of context of 18 Code 73.

        If you have access to a real set of legal research tools, you will find for almost any of the laws an extremely long, voluminous set of cross references, footnotes, etc. If you prepare a court document and don’t pay attention to these, expect to loose the case.

      • strayaway

        Yeah, I’m more for what the law and Constitution say as printed and not so much for interpretations and other legal pharisee crap. Why does the US need 20x as many lawyers. per capita, as Japan? I realize that lawyers can be purchased to say that laws and the Constitution mean about the opposite of what they say and that laws can be picked though and ignored if not desired by the 1% like in Hillary’s case. I object to becoming just another banana republic.

  • strayaway

    FBI Director Comey cites five and a half of Hillary’s lies in his conversation with Rep. Gowdy as found on a CNBC transcript:
    Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said there was nothing marked classified on her e-mails sent or received. Was that true?
    Comey: That’s not true. There were a small number of portion markings on I think three of the documents.
    Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said “I did not e-mail any classified information to anyone on my e-mail there was no classified material.” That is true?
    Comey: There was classified information emailed.
    Gowdy: Secretary Clinton used one device, was that true?
    Comey: She used multiple devices during the four years of her term as Secretary of State.
    Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said all work related emails were returned to the State Department. Was that true?
    Comey: No. We found work related email, thousands, that were not returned.
    Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said neither she or anyone else deleted work related emails from her personal account.
    Comey: That’s a harder one to answer. We found traces of work related emails in — on devices or in space. Whether they were deleted or when a server was changed out something happened to them, there’s no doubt that the work related emails that were removed electronically from the email system.
    Gowdy: Secretary Clinton said her lawyers read every one of the emails and were overly inclusive. Did her lawyers read the email content individually?
    Comey: No.

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