According to the recently discovered transcripts from last summers closed-door testimony, Lisa Page, a former lawyer for the FBI, admitted while being questioned by Rep. John Ratcliffe from Texas that “the FBI was ordered by the Obama DOJ not to consider charging Hillary Clinton for gross negligence in the handling of classified information.” During the time leading up to the 2016 presidential election, Page and former FBI Special Agent Peter Strozk, who were once involved romantically, exchanged several anti-Trump text messages, and since then, Republicans have accused the FBI of being politically biased. According to Ratcliffe, thanks to Page’s testimony, there is plenty of evidence that proves that the Justice Department inappropriately interfered with the FBI’s conclusions of Hillary’s criminal responsibility.
According to a transcript excerpt that Radcliffe posted on Twitter, he started questioning Page under oath by saying: “So let me if I can, I know I’m testing your memory. But when you say advice you got from the Department, you’re making it sound like it was the Department that told you: You’re not going to charge gross negligence because we’re the prosecutors and we’re telling you we’re not going to —” Radcliffe was then interrupted by Page who said: “That is correct,” while Ratcliffe finished his sentence, ” — bring a case based on that.” The House Judiciary Committee Republicans dropped the document during a release of hundreds of pages of transcripts from Page’s closed-door interview from last year. The document drop revealed plenty of new details about the FBI’s controversial discussions about an “insurance policy” against Donald Trump, who was a presidential candidate at the time.
When Trump found out about the release of the transcripts, he posted on Twiter: “The just revealed FBI Agent Lisa Page transcripts make the Obama Justice Department look exactly like it was, a broken and corrupt machine. Hopefully, justice will finally be served. Much more to come!”
Page also claimed that the FBI and the DOJ had “multiple conversations … about charging gross negligence.” The DOJ also determined that the term was “constitutionally vague” and “had either never been done or had only been done once like 99 years ago,” and so “they did not feel they could sustain a charge.”
In July of 2016, the FBI director at the time, James Comey, made an announcement during a press conference that Hillary Clinton had been “extremely careless” while handling information that was classified, but he asserted that “no reasonable prosecutor” would even attempt to bring a case against her. According to federal law, if a person uses “gross negligence” while handling the country’s intelligence, then they can be criminally prosecuted and sentenced with fines or prison time, and there’s no definition on whether the act needs to be intentionally or recklessly.
In a draft dated May 2, 2016, Comey originally accused Clinton of being “grossly negligent” while handling classified information, but that all changed in a draft dated June 10, 2016, where it said that Clinton had simply been “extremely careless.” Comey also stated that “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. “Adding that “prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges,” including “the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent.”
Comey decided to announce the FBI’s supposed independent conclusions during a press conference when it was found out that Loretta Lynch, the Attorney General during the Obama administration, met in secret with former President Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac to probe into Hillary Clinton. The conclusion that Comey came to that “no reasonable prosecutor” would ever bring a case against Hillary Clinton has become a hot topic of debate in the past few weeks. Last month, it was discovered that the FBI’s top lawyer in 2016, Former FBI general counsel James Baker, believed that Hillary and her team should have immediately realized that they weren’t properly handling “highly classified” information because of the fact that the emails sent through her private server were obviously extremely sensitive in nature. According to Baker, Hillary should have been prosecuted until “pretty late” into the investigation.
Page and Strzok were a part of the FBI’s initial investigation into Russian meddling and potential collusion with the associates on Trump’s campaign in the 2016 election, and they also served on Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team. In July of 2018, while she was being interviewed by the Judiciary Committee, Page was questioned about the texts between herself and Strzok at great length, especially the ones regarding the “insurance policy.” During the interview, Page basically confirmed that the texts referred to the investigation of Russia, while at the same time, explaining that the officials on the case were being cautious out of concern for the implications of the case and not wanting to move forward at “total breakneck speed,” which could burn sources, even though they believed Trump wasn’t going to be elected at the time. She also confirmed that the investigators only had a small amount of evidence in the beginning. Last December, Comey also acknowledged that when the FBI began the Russia investigation they “didn’t know whether we had anything” and that “in fact, when I was fired as director [in May 2017], I still didn’t know whether there was anything to it.”
At the time, then-Rep. Trey Growdy began questioning Page by asking about the text that Strzok sent to Page in August of 2016, which read: “I want to believe the path you threw out in Andy’s [McCabe’s] office—that there’s no way he gets elected—but I’m afraid we can’t take the risk. It’s like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you’re 40.” Page then explained how the FBI was attempting to find a balance with the investigation and Trump’s campaign, which agents referred to as “Crossfire Hurricane.” Page then said, “So, upon the opening of the Crossfire Hurricane investigation, we had a number of discussions up through and including the Director regularly in which we were trying to find an answer to the question, right, which is, is there someone associated with the [Trump] campaign who is working with the Russians in order to obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton. And given that it is August, we were very aware of the speed and sensitivity that we needed to operate under.” She continued by saying “if the answer is this is a guy just being puffery at a meeting with other people, great, then we don’t need to worry about this, and we can all move on with our lives; if this is, in fact, the Russians have co-opted an individual with, you know, maybe wittingly or unwittingly, that’s incredibly grave, and we need to know that as quickly as possible
“[W]e don’t need to go at a total breakneck speed because so long as he doesn’t become President, there isn’t the same threat to national security, right? But if he becomes president, that totally changes the game because now he is the President of the United States. He’s going to immediately start receiving classified briefings. He’s going to be exposed to the most sensitive secrets imaginable. And if there is somebody on his team who wittingly or unwittingly is working with the Russians, that is super serious,” explained Page to lawmakers.