Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey accused James Comey of exonerating 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton after former President Barack Obama warned the then-FBI director to “let her off” the hook.
Comey, whom President Donald Trump fired in May 2017, led the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct official business as secretary of state. During an interview Friday on Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle,” Mukasey said Obama wanted Comey to let Clinton “off” the hook because Obama believed, “If you wind up accusing her, you wind up accusing me.”
“President Obama was sending messages and receiving messages on Hillary Clinton’s private email server,” Mukasey said. “Jim Comey knew that, and when President Obama went on television and said, ‘There’s no issue here, she didn’t really intend to cause harm,’ what he was really saying in essence is, ‘You’d better let her off, because if you wind up accusing her, you wind up accusing me.'”
“Comey followed that lead. And the notion that this was somehow something that he had to do for the welfare of the country, there’s a lot of disingenuous claptrap,” Mukasey continued, calling Comey’s handling of the Clinton probe “outrageous.”
The Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Office of Inspector General (OIG) is now investigating whether Comey gave one of his friends memos regarding his conversations with Trump that included information he knew was classified, a “source familiar with the probe” confirmed to Fox News.
Steven Mulroy, a former federal prosecutor, told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that Comey did not leak classified information to his friend.
“We won’t know for sure until the inspector general has concluded his investigation about what all the facts are for sure. But The Wall Street Journal has reported that there were only two memos that Comey gave to his friend that had any classified information,” said Mulroy (shown above, far right).
“In one of them, [Comey] went through and redacted out the classified information. And the other one wasn’t classified at the time. It was only classified later on,” Mulroy claimed. “So it seems like his course of conduct here was fairly … inoffensive. You can’t very well blame him if the document wasn’t classified until a later point in time.”
But Mukasey refuted those claims, telling Ingraham, “I think we ought to put to rest something that one of your last guests said on the last segment about how, ‘Well, the memos weren’t marked classified at the time.'”
“They were classified as soon as [Comey] wrote them,” Mukasey said. “And those weren’t Mr. Comey’s memos. They were the government’s memos. And the information in them, if it was classified, was classified as soon as he put it down on paper.”
“Personal thoughts and reflections are fine, but if they are personal thoughts and reflections about classified information, then they are classified personal thoughts and reflections,” Mukasey continued. “You can’t simply take them out and leak them.”
Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Thomas H. Dupree Jr. (shown above, far left) told Ingraham that even Comey’s “defenders” must admit “he’s walking a very fine line here” in defending his leaking during his press circuit promoting his new book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership.”
“If the difference between criminal jeopardy and innocence is where you draw the line … I mean, my goodness — I wouldn’t want to be in Jim Comey’s shoes if the IG is digging into these memos line by line trying to see if he might have left something in that shouldn’t have gone out the door,” Dupree said.
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, told Ingraham that “it’s important to point out that was malicious leaking of government documents” on Comey’s part.
“I asked [FBI Director] Christopher Wray under oath, ‘Is it appropriate for FBI agents to leak their work product to the press?’ And he said, ‘Absolutely not,'” said DeSantis (above, second from right). “I do think [Comey’s] facing exposure because some of that stuff very well may have been classified.”
“The damage is enormous because the head of the organization becomes the figurehead that everybody looks to judge how the organization performs.”
“But at the end of the day, this is a guy who took those documents, [and] he wanted to generate a special counsel” to investigate allegations of Trump-Russia collusion, DeSantis said. “This thing smells very badly, and I think he’s going to have to answer more questions about that.”
Dupree said that “one of the many tragedies” in this saga is that Comey’s behavior during and after his tenure as FBI director “undercuts” the FBI’s historical image as a “nonpartisan, independent law enforcement agency.”
Mukasey concurred, saying, “Regrettably, I think the damage is enormous because the head of the organization becomes the figurehead that everybody looks to judge how the organization performs.”