Report: FBI General Counsel initially thought Hillary should face charges in email scandal

John Solomon at the Hill has seen a transcript of unreleased testimony which former FBI General Counsel James Baker gave to Congress last year. The testimony reveals that Baker initially believed Hillary Clinton should face charges over her email scandal but was eventually talked out of it:

During questioning by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas), Baker was unequivocal about his early view that Clinton should face criminal charges.

“I have reason to believe that you originally believed it was appropriate to charge Hillary Clinton with regard to violations of law — various laws, with regard to mishandling of classified information. Is that accurate?” Ratcliffe, a former federal prosecutor, asked Baker.

Baker paused to gain his lawyer’s permission to respond, and then answered, “Yes.”

He later explained why he came to that conclusion, and how his mind was changed:

“So, I had that belief initially after reviewing, you know, a large binder of her emails that had classified information in them,” he said. “And I discussed it internally with a number of different folks, and eventually became persuaded that charging her was not appropriate because we could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that — we, the government, could not establish beyond a reasonable doubt that — she had the intent necessary to violate (the law).”

Baker went on to say that he changed his mind shortly before the July 2016 announcement by then-Director Comey that Clinton had been irresponsible but not criminally negligent. Baker added that he would have argued “vociferously” with Comey if there had been more evidence Clinton had intended to skirt the law. He agreed her behavior was “alarming” and “appalling” even if it couldn’t be prosecuted.

What difference at this point does it make? Not much. This case is over and done and Hillary isn’t running for office again. Still, it’s revealing that there was at least one senior FBI official who thought she should face the music. But in the end here ‘wipe it with a cloth’ act seems to have worked.

I would still argue that her long delay in turning over federal records, her months of lying about what happened, and efforts by her State Dept. cronies to claim the emails were all classified after the fact (they were not, some were highly classified at the time they were sent or received) showed a pretty clear consciousness of legal exposure if not guilt. Comey didn’t seem interested in taking any of that into account. He’d already made up his mind before even interviewing Clinton and her top aides.

This is still the best summary of the case to prosecute Clinton based on circumstantial evidence.