Why the FBI’s Reputation May be Damaged Beyond Repair

…at least insofar as the public trust is concerned.

From recent reporting on Congressional investigations into the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email debacle (all emphases added unless otherwise noted):

[Uncovered] evidence includes passages in FBI documents stating the ”sheer volume” of classified information that flowed through Clinton’s insecure [sic] emails was proof of criminality as well as an admission of false statements by one key witness in the case.

[The witness] belatedly admitted he had permanently erased an archive of her messages in 2015 after they had been subpoenaed by Congress.

…the FBI began drafting a statement exonerating Clinton of any crimes while evidence responsive to subpoenas was still outstanding and before agents had interviewed more than a dozen key witnesses.  Those witnesses included Clinton and the computer firm employee who permanently erased her email archives just days after the emails were subpoenaed by Congress.

Lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee who attended a Dec. 21 closed-door briefing by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe say the bureau official confirmed that the investigation and charging decisions were controlled by a small group in Washington headquarters rather than the normal process of allowing field offices to investigate possible criminality in their localities.

Former FBI Director James Comey has testified he made the decision not to seek criminal charges against Clinton – with no Justice Department input – because he feared any involvement from the department might taint the findings after then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with former President Bill Clinton on a tarmac during the closing days of the probe in June 2016.

The Hill first reported in November that Comey’s original May 2, 2016, draft included the words “grossly negligent” – the language supporting a criminal charge for mishandling classified information – but it was later changed to the softer “extremely careless.”

“The sheer volume of information that was properly classified as Secret at the time it was discussed on email (that is, excluding the “up classified” emails) supports an inference that the participants were grossly negligent in their handling of that information,” the FBI’s original draft read.

The FBI also confirmed that a key witness… originally lied to the FBI during his interviews, memos show.  …  His admission of false statements came one day after the Comey statement was already being drafted.

Lying to the FBI is a federal felony, a crime that former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn recently pleaded guilty to.  But the FBI decided not to pursue criminal charges against the witness, and instead gave the technician an immunity deal so he could correct his story.

“You have a conference call with Secretary Clinton’s attorneys on March 31, 2015, and on that very same day her emails are deleted by someone who was on that conference call using special BleachBit software,” Grassley said. “The emails were State Department records under subpoena by Congress.  “What did the FBI do to investigate this apparent obstruction?” Grassley asked.  “According to affidavits filed in federal court — absolutely nothing. The FBI focused only on the handling of classified information.”

And yet still no charges – for anyone.

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