Discredited Republican lawyer Joseph diGenova is baselessly claiming that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her staff will face criminal prosecution by the FBI over her use of private email as secretary of state, despite numerous media reports explaining that Clinton is not the target of the FBI's investigation, which is also not criminal in nature. DiGenova has been discredited as a result of unprofessional behavior while working for Republicans in the 1990s and false claims he has made about the September 2012 Benghazi attacks.
Citing FBI Probe, Joseph DiGenova Baselessly Claims Hillary Clinton Will Be Indicted Over Email Use Within “The Next 60 Days”
Joseph DiGenova: Hillary Clinton Will Not “Be Able To Complete Her Campaign” After Indictment For Committing “Numerous Federal Crimes” With Private Email Use. On the January 5 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show, host Laura Ingraham interviewed discredited Republican lawyer and longtime critic of the Clintons, Joseph diGenova, who claimed that Hillary Clinton and her staff “have committed numerous federal crimes involving the negligence and improper handling of classified information” through her use of a private email account and server. DiGenova asserted that the FBI is “not going to be able to walk away from this,” claiming that the evidence is “so overwhelming” and stating that the FBI would “revolt” and “intelligence community will not stand for” it if Clinton is not indicted. From the interview:
LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): Joining us now, one the greats in legal thinking, one of my favorite people, period, is Joe diGenova, former U.S. attorney, founding partner of diGenova & Toensing. He has really interesting information about Hillary's potential vulnerability as a candidate given the legality, illegality frankly of what's going on with these emails. He joins us now. Joe, it's great to talk to you, happy new year. So, she doesn't meet the threshold -- it's a court ordered threshold of the percentage of emails that had to be turned over. What they said at the end of the year, December 30th, they said, 'we've been working really hard and we did the best we could' basically. What's your reaction to this and what are your sources telling you?
JOSEPH DIGENOVA: Well I think the State Department production [of] documents is, of course -- was always going to be a problem because they have a person there who is trying to protect Hillary and has been from the very, very beginning, and that's Patrick Kennedy, the undersecretary for management. He has been the Maginot Line between governmental inquiries, against Freedom of Information Act requests, and his time is running out. He will be one of the people whose emails have finally been turned over to a House committee, I must say that it has taken this long for a House committee to get his emails is a disgrace to the investigative process in the House of Representatives, but those are comments for another show. Hillary Clinton's problem, by the way, does not, she's going to have problems because of what's in the emails, but also the classifications. Her biggest problem right now is the FBI. They're not going away, they have reached a critical mass in their investigation of the Secretary and all of her senior staff. And it's going to come to a head, I would suggest in the next 60 days. And I predict Hillary will not make it to the finish line. She is not going to be able to complete her campaign. This criminal investigation must, out of necessity focus on her and all the people around her. And if Jim Comey, the FBI director, is doing his job, which I expect him to do as an honorable man, she cannot be the nominee of the Democratic Party, she's going to have to be charged with a crime. It's going to be a very complex matter for the Department of Justice, but they're not going to be able to walk away from it. She and her staff have committed numerous federal crimes involving the negligence and improper handling of classified information. They are now at over 1,200 classified emails, and that's just for the ones we know about, from the State Department, that doesn't include the ones that the FBI is in fact recovering from her hard drives.
INGRAHAM: Do you have confidence that Loretta Lynch -- from what we saw with her handling of the Baltimore riots and all that -- is going to okay, greenlight an indictment of Hillary Clinton in an election year?
DIGENOVA: I believe that the evidence that the FBI is compiling will be so compelling, that unless she agrees to the charges, there will be a massive revolt inside the FBI, which she will not be able to survive as an attorney general. It will be like Watergate, it will be unbelievable. The evidence against the Clinton staff and the secretary is so overwhelming at this point, that if in fact, she chooses not to charge Hillary, they will never be able to charge another federal employee with the negligent handling of classified information. The intelligence community will not stand for that, they will fight for an indictment and they are already in the process of girding themselves to basically revolt against the attorney general if she refuses to bring charges.
INGRAHAM: How much of this, Joe, is related to the bad blood between the Clintons and the intelligence agencies? I mean, there is so much bad blood already, aside from the illegality. But a lot of these government employees work really hard in the intelligence gathering and at the Justice Department. These are people who believe in law and order. They didn't much like what happened under the Clinton administration when it comes to this and they didn't much like what happened during the Obama administration and how they've been thrown under the bus on issue after issue, including things like Benghazi, where --
DIGENOVA: Yes, well, I think you've hit on it, Laura. There is a massive breach between the intelligence community, the military community at the Department of State and the national security superstructure inside the intelligence community. There is vitriol of an intense amount developing. You can hear it in your conversations with people in the intelligence community. They will fight to the death if the attorney general attempts to bury this case. It's going to be very, very ugly for her and it's going to be an awful ending to the Obama administration, but one which they richly deserve. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 1/5/16]
Media Reports Have Repeatedly Confirmed That The FBI Probe Is Not Criminal In Nature And Is Not Targeting Hillary Clinton
Washington Post: FBI Probe Is “Focused On Ensuring The Proper Handling Of Classified Material.” Hillary Clinton “is not a target” of the FBI investigation, which is “focused on ensuring the proper handling of classified material.” From The Washington Post's August 11, 2015, report:
The inquiry by the FBI is considered preliminary and appears to be focused on ensuring the proper handling of classified material. Officials have said that Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, is not a target. [The Washington Post, 8/11/15]
NY Times: Hillary Clinton “Is Not A Target Of The Investigation.” In an August 14, 2015, article, The New York Times explained that Hillary Clinton is not a target of the FBI's investigation into her private email server. The Times wrote:
Law enforcement officials have said that Mrs. Clinton, who is seeking the 2016 Democratic nomination for president, is not a target of the investigation, and she has said there is no evidence that her account was hacked. There has also been no evidence that she broke the law, and many specialists believe the occasional appearance of classified information in her account was probably of marginal consequence. [The New York Times, 8/14/15]
CNN: Clinton “Has Not Personally Been Declared The Subject Of The Investigation Into Her Emails.” Recapping an August 19, 2015, interview between CNN host Chris Cuomo and Donald Trump, CNN.com noted that Clinton “has not personally been declared the subject of the investigation into her emails”:
Cuomo countered that Petraeus knew the information was classified and intentionally passed it along, but there has been no indication to date that the Justice Department believes Clinton intentionally shared information she knew was classified. She has not personally been declared the subject of the investigation into her emails. [CNN.com, 8/21/15]
Joseph DiGenova Is A Discredited Republican Activist Who Pushed False Benghazi Claims And Suffered Criticisms For Unprofessional Conduct
DiGenova Falsely Claimed Members Of The Military Were “Relieved Of Their Duty Because They Insisted That There Be A Military Response” To Benghazi Attacks. On October 28, 2013, diGenova claimed on WMAL that some members of the military were “relieved of their duty because they insisted that there be a military response” the night of the September 2012 Benghazi attacks, despite the fact that a military response was ordered by then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. These military forces included a Marine anti-terrorism team deployed from Spain and special operations forces that were stationed in Croatia and the United States, but they did not arrive until after the attacks were over. [Media Matters, 10/29/13; Media Matters, 10/28/13]
DiGenova Baselessly Alleged That Obama Administration Tried To Cover Up Theft Of Hundreds Of Surface-To-Air Missiles In Benghazi. In October 2013, diGenova claimed on WMAL that the Obama administration was trying to cover up the theft of 400 surface-to-air missiles that were somehow linked to the American presence in Benghazi. While diGenova told WMAL that he didn't whether the missiles were physically at the CIA annex the night of the attack, “it is clear that the annex was somehow involved in the process of the distribution of those missiles.” DiGenova did not name his sources for this claim, acknowledged that some of his information is not “verifiable,” and provided no evidence to back up the allegation. [Media Matters, 8/13/13; CNS News, 8/13/13]
DiGenova Has Been Criticized By Lawmaker For “Non-Stop Mugging” For The Press And For Lacking “Impartiality, Non-Partisanship, And Professionalism.” In 1998, Joseph DiGenova and his wife and legal partner Victoria Toensing, who were working as outside counsel for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, were criticized for their actions in connection with the Monica Lewinsky scandal. A February 5, 1998, Roll Call article “Rep. Bill Clay (D-Mo) launched a stinging attack on the two lead attorneys investigating the Teamsters campaign finance scandal yesterday, alleging that the attorneys have lost their objectivity because of their frequent television appearances and 'participation' in the scandal involving ex-White House intern Monica Lewinsky.” The article also reported:
Clay's rebuke of former independent counsel Joseph diGenova and his wife and law firm partner, Victoria Toensing, who were hired in November by a House Education and the Workforce subcommittee, came in a letter to Chairman Bill Goodling (R-Pa) yesterday.
“Sadly, Mr. diGenova and Ms. Toensing have become so closely aligned with the President's critics and so personally identified with the scandal itself as to have relinquished the air of impartiality, non-partisanship, and professionalism required of leaders of a serious congressional investigation,” wrote Clay, the ranking member of the Education and the Workforce Committee.
“Put more bluntly,” Clay added, “the couple's relentless self-promotion and non-stop mugging for the likes of Geraldo Rivera - however good for business and their egos - is unseemly, undignified, unworthy of this committee, and generally detrimental to important Congressional functions.”
Clay said in his letter that a LEXIS/NEXIS search found 166 citations of diGenova and Toensing commenting on the Lewinsky affair between Jan. 21 and Feb. 4. The letter came even as Republicans approved an additional $750,000 for the diGenova-Toensing investigation. [Roll Call, 2/5/98 via Nexis; Media Matters, 7/13/10]
DiGenova Was Criticized For Conflict Of Interest Over Dual Role In Separate DOJ Investigations. DiGenova and Toensing were criticized for serving as special counsel in the House Education and the Workforce Committee probe into Justice Department oversight of the Teamsters union while also representing Dan Burton, the committee's chairman at the time, in a separate Justice Department probe. A December 18, 1997, Roll Call article reported: “Rep. Bill Clay (Mo), the full committee's ranking Democrat, has raised questions about the fact that the two attorneys are also representing Burton in the Justice Department's investigation of charges that the Government Reform and Oversight chairman tried to extort campaign money from a lobbyist during the 1996 election cycle.” The article also reported:
Democrats believe this creates a conflict of interest because [Rep. Pete] Hoekstra's [R-MI] subcommittee plans to investigate the Justice Department's decade-long oversight of the Teamsters, specifically the agency's handling of the union's 1996 presidential election.
Clay says that diGenova and Toensing, a former chief counsel for the Senate Intelligence Committee and a deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan Administration, should not lead a Congressional investigation of the Justice Department while the department is conducting a criminal investigation of one of their outside clients. [Roll Call, 12/18/97 via Nexis; Media Matters, 7/13/10]
DiGenova Was Involved In Discredited And Retracted Article About President Clinton. DiGenova and Toensing were involved in a retracted Dallas Morning News article claiming that a Secret Service agent had witnessed President Clinton and Lewinsky in a “compromising situation.” From the February 27, 1998, report by The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz:
The melodrama began when Toensing was approached by an intermediary for a Secret Service agent who was said to be willing to testify that he saw Clinton and Lewinsky in a compromising situation. DiGenova passed this on to Morning News reporter David Jackson (“Joe and I exchanged a few words over that,” Toensing says), and the paper published the story in its Internet edition, attributing the account to an unnamed lawyer “familiar with the negotiations.” But by then the intermediary had told Toensing the agent was backing off.
Hours later, the Morning News retracted the report, saying the “longtime Washington lawyer” had said the information was “inaccurate.”
The couple now say that Toensing, taking a call from Jackson hours before deadline, told the reporter: “If Joe is your source, it's wrong.”
“The bottom line is, they were told not to print and they chose to print,” diGenova says. “I don't know how much more helpful you can be to a newspaper than to tell them not to print.”
Carl Leubsdorf, the paper's Washington bureau chief, says: “The reporter's recollection of that conversation is quite different. He was told that 'if Joe told you that, he shouldn't have.' If it had been the other way, the story of course would have been reassessed at that point.” [The Washington Post, 2/27/98]