President Obama tried to downplay the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server for handling some of the government’s most sensitive information, but a former top Justice Department official says Obama’s comments ignore the law and are an obvious attempt to convince the FBI not to recommend charges against Clinton.
On Fox News Sunday, anchor Chris Wallace asked Obama if he was convinced that national security was not compromised by Clinton’s handling of sensitive information.
“Here’s what I know: Hillary Clinton was an outstanding secretary of state. She would never intentionally put America in any kind of jeopardy,” Obama said.
Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Victoria Toensing is appalled by that explanation.
“Doesn’t this former constitutional law professor know the law?” she asked.
Beyond trying to downplay Clinton’s actions, Toensing believes Obama’s comments are meant as a message to the FBI. She compared it to the impact of Obama scolding the Supreme Court at a State of the Union address over its ruling in the Citizens United v. FEC decision.
“He wanted to get rid of what he called the benefactors of that opinion. The IRS heard that message, and they started a war against conservative groups, not letting them get their tax-exempt status,” Toensing told WND and Radio America. “[Obama’s statement on Hillary Clinton] was a message to the FBI and to the Department of Justice.”
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Toensing said “intent” works against Clinton in two different ways. She said the first federal statute in question is 18 U.S.C 1924.
“The only conduct one has to intend in that statute is to take classified information and put it in an ‘unauthorized location.’ Those are the exact words of the statute,” Toensing said. “She had to intend to have classified information in an unauthorized location, and the statute doesn’t say diddly squat about whether the information had to be marked classified.”
She said 18 U.S.C. 793(f) is even more dire for Clinton.
“In that statute, it talks about grossly negligently handling classified information. That’s a felony,” Toensing said. “There’s no intent in that. It just had to be grossly negligent.”
Obama then tried to reassure Americans that no top secret information was in danger of being compromised.
“There’s classified and then there’s classified. There’s stuff that is really top secret, and there is information that is being presented to the president or the secretary of state that you might not want on the transom or going out over the wire but is basically stuff you could get in open source,” said Obama to Fox News Sunday.
Toensing agrees that classified information comes on several different levels, and some is far more sensitive than other pieces. But she said that distinction doesn’t help Clinton, either.
“Hillary Clinton’s emails have been deemed in that very top category,” Toensing said. “This was not stuff that was just information from public sources. This was not the lowest level. She had the top, top level on her server. In fact, it’s so top level that, guess what, they won’t release it.”
Toensing is also livid at the mainstream media for failing to challenge erroneous assertions made by Clinton and her supporters.
“On George Stephanopoulos yesterday, Tony Podesta said, ‘Well, we now found out that Colin Powell did it. Condi Rice did it.’ No, neither one of them had a private server for all of their government business,” Toensing said.
She admits other officials may have sent or received private emails that contained classified information, but that is far different than what Clinton did.
“They didn’t purposefully have every single bit of government business in a personal server,” Toensing said.
Obama also told Fox News Sunday that he never discusses an active investigation with his attorney general but insisted that politics would never influence decisions over whether to bring charges against someone.
Toensing finds that absurd.
“Let’s go back to Lois Lerner,” she said. “Do you doubt for one second that she broke the law in what she did to conservative organizations by holding them up? And who at the Justice Department investigated Lois Lerner? Someone who had contributed $8,000 to the Obama campaign.”
She said that is another example of the media double standard.
“Can you imagine George Bush handing someone who had donated thousands of dollars to his campaign, putting them on an investigation of someone in his administration?” she asked. “The press would have gone crazy.”
Toensing said no one knows when or if the FBI will recommend charges, she but did note that FBI Director James Comey recently said there is no timetable for finishing the investigation.
“I guess that should worry you if you’re Hillary Clinton,” Toensing said.