Trump’s self-serving comparison to the 2016 Hillary Clinton classified email scandal

Trump’s self-serving comparison to the 2016 Hillary Clinton classified email scandal

Lawyer explains: why did they impeach Trump and not Clinton or Biden? 2:36

(News) — Former US President Donald Trump has repeatedly and inaccurately compared his federal impeachment to the Hillary Clinton email investigation that ended without charges, alleging unfair treatment.

Trump last invoked Clinton on Tuesday night during a fundraiser full of lies at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, hours after his arraignment in federal court. This deceptive line of attack is a common refrain at her public events, and also for some of her opponents in the 2024 Republican presidential primaries.

The facts first: This is an inaccurate and selfish comparison. To be sure, investigators found problems with the way both Trump and Clinton handled classified material, and both misled the public about their conduct. But there are several important differences that lean in Clinton’s favor. Trump mishandled much more classified material. And prosecutors have presented evidence that he knowingly broke the law and obstructed the investigation, while the FBI concluded that Clinton did not act with criminal intent.

This Tuesday night, Trump baselessly claimed that “Hillary Clinton broke the law and was not charged” because “the FBI and the Department of Justice protected her.” But a comprehensive 2018 report The Justice Department’s inspector general concluded that investigators made the right decision not to indict Clinton and that their decision-making was not motivated by political bias.

Trump also claimed that Clinton had “deliberate intent” to violate record retention laws when she used a private email server to conduct government business as US Secretary of State. He also said that “there has never been more serious obstruction” than the one Clinton did to prevent the FBI from investigating her emails. Both of Trump’s claims here are belied by the FBI’s findings in the case.

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe who supervised Clinton email investigation in 2015-2016 and is now a News contributor, told News’s Dana Bash on Monday that the Clinton investigation was “very, very different” from the Trump case.

“Should it have happened? No,” McCabe said of Clinton’s private email server. “But what we didn’t have was evidence that Hillary Clinton had intentionally traded or concealed classified information.”

Check out a breakdown of some of the key differences between the Clinton and Trump situations here.

Charges against Trump may affect his presidential candidacy 2:57

The classified material itself from Hillary Clinton and Trump

The FBI reviewed tens of thousands of emails from Clinton’s private server. Investigators found 52 email chains that contained references to information “later deemed classified,” McCabe said. Only eight of those networks contained “top secret” material, the highest level of classification.

Almost none of the email chains had marks or “seals” that would have indicated at the time the material was classified, McCabe said.

Compare that to Trump, who took over 325 classified records to Mar-a-Lago after leaving the White House, including at least 60 “top secret” files, according to prosecutors in the case. The indictment says these documents contained foreign intelligence from the CIA, military plans from the Pentagon, intercepts from the National Security Agency, nuclear secrets from the Department of Energy and more.

These were documents complete with “headers and footers” and cover pages that “explicitly stated that they were some of the most classified material that we have,” McCabe said. A image that federal prosecutors included in a court filing shows some of the papers found at Mar-a-Lago with clear classification markings in large, bold type, reading “TOP SECRET” or “SECRET.”

The then director of the FBI, James Comey, announced in July 2016 that Clinton would not be impeached. She said that “no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case” because there was insufficient evidence that she Clinton “intended to break the law,” even though she had been “extremely careless” with classified information.

In the Trump investigation, special counsel Jack Smith had enough evidence for a federal jury to indict Trump on 37 criminal counts, including 31 counts of willful withholding of national defense information. The former president pleaded not guilty.

obstruction of justice

There are also significant differences on obstruction of justice that undermine Trump’s narrative.

Prosecutors say Trump conspired to defy a grand jury subpoena demanding the return of all classified documents, misleading his lawyers who were trying to comply with the subpoena.

In the indictment, prosecutors also cite a recorded conversation in 2021 in which Trump admitted to possessing a document containing “secret information” about US military plans that he “could have declassified” as president, but did not.

For this and other conduct, six of his 37 global charges are related to possible obstruction.

Despite Trump’s repeated claims to the contrary, prosecutors never charged Clinton with obstructing the investigation into his emails. The FBI ultimately concluded that there was “no clear evidence” that Clinton “intended to violate the laws”, and that the charges were not justified in this situation without any evidence of obstruction.

In addition, Clinton gave a voluntary interview to the FBI and could have been prosecuted if she had made false statements. After closing the investigation, Comey later told lawmakers that “we have no basis to conclude that she lied to the FBI” or she was “untrue to us.”

Two of the 37 charges against Trump use that same false statements statute.

I deceive the public

From the moment the Trump documents scandal became public last year, he has responded with a steady stream of lies, recycled falsehoods and anti-government conspiracy theories.

Clinton’s public dishonesty about her emails was not as frequent or egregious as Trump’s dishonesty about investigating classified documents. However, some of Clinton’s own public defenses, which she offered to voters during the 2016 campaign season, turned out to be false.

For example, while under investigation by the FBI, Clinton publicly said that she “never sent or received any classified material,” and also said that she “did not email any classified material to anyone.” In another case, she offered an unequivocal denial, saying there are “no classified materials” on her private server.

These claims were deemed false or misleading by fact checkers after Comey revealed after the investigation that classified material was found on Clinton’s server, albeit in less than 1% of the more than 30,000 emails reviewed by the FBI.

Some of Clinton’s public denials included a warning that she never broadcast anything with visible rating “marks.” Comey later testified before Congress that only three emails reviewed by the FBI contained a classification mark.

Regarding Trump’s claim that biased FBI and Justice Department officials “protected” Clinton in 2016, in his view, they actually cost her the presidency. She publicly blamed her election loss on Comey’s bombshell announcement in late October 2016 that she was reopening the email investigation, only to clear her again on Election Day eve.

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