The full draft of former FBI Director James Comey’s original statement, produced at the conclusion of the probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, was released on the website of Senate Homeland and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) on Thursday. The release gives the public insight into Comey’s initial report, and the subsequent edits.
According to the statement, which was later edited by subordinates to remove language related to felony and misdemeanor violations, Comey originally concluded that it was “reasonably likely” that Clinton’s nonsecure private server was accessed or hacked by hostile actors. That passage was also changed, the less incriminating word “possible” inserted, the memos show.
The released document shows that on five separate occasions, references to terms like “grossly negligent” were removed. The twice-failed presidential candidate and her aides transmitted 110 emails containing classified information through her non-secure server, which was originally termed “grossly negligent”- the statutory term used to support felony mishandling of classified information. However Comey’s subordinates edited the term, preferring “extremely careless” instead.
“The full draft, with edits, leaves little doubt that Comey originally wrote on May 2, 2016, that there was evidence that Clinton and top aides may have violated both felony and misdemeanor statutes, though he did not believe he could prove intent before a jury,” The Hill reports.
In Comey’s own words, from the original statement: “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statute proscribing gross negligence in the handling of classified information and of the statute proscribing misdemeanor mishandling, my judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
According to statements made by the FBI to Congress, Comey accepted his subordinates’ edits before he made his final announcement July 5, 2016, saying the FBI would not pursue criminal charges against Clinton.
Johnson is seeking answers as to why such significant edits were made to Comey’s draft, questioning if they were part of an effort to politically protect Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.
“The edits to Director Comey’s public statement, made months prior to the conclusion of the FBI’s investigation of Secretary Clinton’s conduct, had a significant impact on the FBI’s public evaluation of the implications of her actions,” Johnson wrote in a recent letter to new FBI Director Christopher Wray.
“This effort, seen in light of the personal animus toward then-candidate Trump by senior agents leading the Clinton investigation and their apparent desire to create an ‘insurance policy’ against Mr. Trump’s election, raise profound questions about the FBI’s role and possible interference in the 2016 presidential election,” Johnson wrote, in part in reference to recently released text messages between FBI agents connected to the special investigation into President Donald J. Trump’s campaign team. The text messages displayed clear bias for Clinton, and an extreme distaste for Trump.
Read Comey’s original draft as released by Johnson below.