FBI Director James Comey is not having a good week. On Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee put the FBI director on the spot as to why he gave immunity to so many people involved in Hillary Clinton’s private email server investigation.
As Comey fidgeted in his hot seat, it was obvious to the casual observer that he was not being completely honest. He knew he was caught in a multitude of lies that he could not talk himself out of.
Rep. Darrell Issa of California hammered Comey about why he gave immunity to several people close to Clinton regarding the missing emails. He reiterated the requirements to provide immunity to people involved in an investigation. Issa asked him if the Department of Justice could grant immunity without consulting with federal law enforcement officials.
Comey stuttered and explained that he was not sure if that would be the case. Issa then corrected him.
“For your records, yes, the Department of Justice does not grant immunity without checking with federal law enforcement to see whether it will impact any ongoing investigation … When the reverse was occurring, you were granting — handing out like candy according to some.”
When asked if he had consulted any of the Judiciary Committee chairpersons — Chaffetz, Smith, or Goodlatte — Comey answered, “Not to my knowledge.”
When Comey feigned ignorance about the type of immunity he gave to Combetta, Issa firmly reminded him that he had given him “immunity against destruction,” meaning Combetta wouldn’t be prosecuted for destroying the emails.
When Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan questioned Comey, he essentially forced the FBI Director to admit that he knew about the cover up and granted immunity anyway. Jordan reminded the committee that Bill Clinton met with U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch just three days before Hillary was questioned by the FBI.
Just days before Hillary Clinton was to be interviewed by the FBI, her husband, Bill Clinton just so happened to run into Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the tarmac in Phoenix. This occurred about three days prior to the interview, as reported by Inquisitr in June.
One day later, Lynch then did something she has never done before: She announced that she would follow whatever recommendations came from the FBI concerning Clinton and a possible indictment. The New York Times reports that Lynch had already made the decision to defer to the FBI in the spring, long before her meeting with Bill.
When Clinton was interviewed in early July, the FBI allowed nine people to sit in the room with her, presumably to prevent her from saying anything that could incriminate herself.
Rep. Jordan then pointed out that one of those people in the room was Cheryl Mills, who was also a subject of the investigation, and one of the five people to whom Comey granted immunity.
Jordan then showed the Reddit thread that blew this all up: the thread in which Paul Combetta asked how to strip out an email address from an already-sent message.
“Director, when I hear the term ‘strip out email address,’ I think of somebody [who] is hiding something, somebody’s trying to cover up something.”
Jordan then asked Comey if he believes that the Reddit user u/stonetear was in fact Combetta and if the VIP who needed the email address stripped was Hillary Clinton.
“Director Comey, is it likely the VIP retraction… the very, very important person, according to Mr. Combetta, is it likely that person is Secretary Clinton?”
Comey is probably right now regretting he did not miss a beat when he answered.
Earlier last week, this reporter wrote about Combetta’s 2014 Reddit post, in which he explained what he needed to do.
“Hello all — I may be facing a very interesting situation where I need to strip out a VIP’s (VERY VIP) email address from a bunch of archived email that I have both in a live Exchange mailbox, as well as a PST file. Basically, they don’t want the VIP’s email address exposed to anyone, and want to be able to either strip out or replace the email address in the to/from fields in all of the emails we want to send out.”
Rep. Jordan pointed out to Comey that Combetta posted his question on Reddit on July 24, 2014, just one day after meeting with Cheryl Mills about the document disclosure. Jordan also read back a report where Comey’s agency noted that Paul Combetta had exchanged emails with Cheryl Mills and Brian Pagliano where concerns were expressed that Clinton’s email address “would be disclosed publicly.”
“So it sure looks to me like it’s Secretary Clinton, as you said, but also that it’s Cheryl Mills and Brian Pagliano who are urging Mr. Combetta to cover this stuff up.”
FBI Director Comey agreed and stated that, to him, it sounded like they were trying to strip Clinton’s address from archived emails.
Combetta ultimately deleted the emails using BleachBit, a program that completely wipes a computer’s hard drive and erases every last trace of information from it.
After the Reddit post became public knowledge in September, 2016, Combetta went back to his account and deleted every one of his posts, one by one. He failed to scramble his posts, which would make it more difficult to discover the contents of them later on, but the mere act of him trying to delete everything shows an intent (again) to obstruct justice and to bury evidence. Reddit moderators also actively deleted threads which highlighted the connection between Combetta’s account and Clinton’s FBI investigation.
When Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz got his turn, he reiterated much of what was already known. He then forced Comey to answer a difficult question.
“How is this not an conscious effort to alter public records?”
Comey simply could not answer that, and since there was a federal order to preserve these records, the willful destruction of them cannot be ignored as anything but an attempt to destroy evidence in a public investigation.
FBI Director Comey should be forced to resign, indicted on charges of obstructing justice, and the investigation re-opened into Hillary Clinton, Paul Combetta’s destruction of her emails, along with her improper and possibly illegal use of a private, unsecured email server.
[Featured Image by Scott Applewhite/AP Images]