‘FBI’s failure to prosecute Clinton is essentially a political coup’

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. © Chris Bergin
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has basically said the upcoming presidential election belongs to Hillary Clinton, and we really needn’t do much more than wait out the clock until November, former State Department official Peter Van Buren told RT.

The FBI recommended on Tuesday no charges be brought against Hillary Clinton, despite the confirmation the e-mails she used via an insecure server contained classified data. However, FBI Director James Comey called the Democratic presidential hopeful "extremely careless" for the way she handled confidential information.

RT: The FBI calls it 'extreme carelessness' on Hillary Clinton's part: 110 e-mails contained classified information at the time they were sent or received. Why is the FBI not recommending charges against Hillary Clinton?

Peter Van Buren: This is the question that is now on the minds and the lips of pretty much all American citizens. This decision by the FBI is without precedent. Hillary Clinton, by the FBI’s statement, transmitted 110 classified emails over an unclassified system. The system was created by her for her own purposes. Those 110 emails could not have been moved electronically to her system from a classified system and thus had to be retyped by someone. This is obvious intent, this is obvious transmission of classified materials, it is obviously in violation of national security laws. Yet, the FBI recommends no prosecution. The FBI has prosecuted a number of government officials for far lesser infractions and leaves us literally speechless here in the US about how this could possibly be justified.

RT: What’s behind the FBI’s decision then, in your opinion?

PVB: The only conclusion a rational person could make is that this is politics. We are seeing an election stolen even before the votes are cast. The only thing that really significantly stood between Hillary Clinton and the White House was this email scandal… Donald Trump is a candidate who is running hard against her, but does not enjoy very wide support. Many Americans are frightened by the possibility of his presidency. Clinton had one shadow and one shadow only. By the FBI announcing that there will be no criminal prosecution of her, they have basically said the election is hers now, and we really needn’t do much other than wait out the clock until November. This is the equivalent of a coup.

RT: Last week, Bill Clinton met Justice Department Head and Attorney General Loretta Lynch privately, but they claim the e-mail scandal was not discussed. How do you view that?

PVB: It is difficult to accept that. But even if we do take them at their word that they only talked about grandchildren – what kind of level of judgment does that indicate for Attorney General Lynch – that she would do something which had such an extreme appearance of impropriety.

Let’s take a quick look at the timeline, which is very important. Former [US] President Bill Clinton meets with Loretta Lynch for their grandchildren conversation. Soon after that the FBI interviews Hillary Clinton for three and a half hours. The New York Times then reports that Hillary Clinton is considering Lynch stay on as Attorney General in Hillary’s first term. Soon after that - in less than two days - the FBI processes whatever it learned from Clinton and instantly concludes that she is not indictable. The same day that the FBI makes that announcement, Hillary Clinton and President Obama travel on Air Force One to their very first joint campaign appearance. You cannot say that that can all be reconciled with questions of propriety, with questions of open government. We can’t talk about conspiracy theories, and it is not we don’t need to talk about conspiracy theories. The images alone raise questions that must be answered. 

'FBI is creating a double-standard for Hillary Clinton'

Coleen Rowley, former FBI agent, whistleblower

RT: Why is the FBI is not recommending charges for Hillary Clinton?

Coleen Rowley: I think James Comey is splitting hairs when he tries to distinguish reckless, negligent and careless – these are all variations of intent. It is easy to say she didn’t have deliberate intent to be a spy or commit espionage or to willingly allow her e-mail to be hacked into – that is true enough. But the difference between negligence and foreseeable carelessness and recklessness is very much splitting hairs. 

Comey is trying to create a double standard for Clinton because she is so powerful and all likely is ready to be elected president.  He is going to go on into that next administration – his term goes for 10 years - and he is a political guy.

RT: Clinton aside that sets a precedent, doesn’t it?

CR: Yes, and that is another reason why he had to split hairs. He does want to reserve the option of prosecuting whistleblowers in the future. People who do far less than General [David] Petraeus or Hillary Clinton. A person like Tom Drake, for instance, were found to have not even leaked classified information, and was facing 35 years in prison.

What he is trying to do is to distinguish not only past cases where they have prosecuted, but also trying distinguish future cases where they will prosecute people for telling the truth for having good public benefit and intent, and actually far less dangerous than what Hillary Clinton has already done. 

RT: It was almost 2015 when it became publically known that Clinton had used private e-mail for official communications when she was a Secretary of State. Why do you think it has taken so long for the FBI to finally interview Hillary Clinton? 

CR: I worked in the FBI for 24 years and I don’t think this has taken too much time. Actually Comey was rushed. At the tail end he rushed to finish it only three days after going through the motions of interviewing Hillary Clinton, and the reason he rushed it in three days – not just to put behind the Clinton scandal, but he wanted to put the Loretta Lynch – Bill Clinton leading scandal behind him. So I think it was the opposite, especially at the end – they rushed to put their conclusions out.

RT: That is unlikely to go away, isn’t it? This meeting that Bill Clinton had with the head of the Justice Department.

CR: Honestly Donald Trump is going to try – obviously that is one of the political tactics he has. I think it is unfortunate that the general public doesn’t pay more attention to the double standard generally. Allowing this powerful elite, connected to banks and corporations, to engage in a legalized form of corruption – that is really the bigger issue here than just this one case…

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.