After FBI Director James Comey announced that the FBI has concluded its investigation into the private email server Hillary Clinton used as secretary of state and recommended no criminal charges be filed, right-wing media figures and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump pushed baseless conspiracy theories, including suggesting that the timing of the event was linked to Clinton’s campaign appearance with President Obama later that day.
FBI Director Comey Recommends No Charges, Says He Did Not Coordinate With Any Part Of Government
James Comey: “I Have Not Coordinated Or Reviewed This Statement In Any Way With The Department Of Justice Or Any Other Part Of The Government … No Charges Are Appropriate In This Case.” FBI Director James Comey announced that he would not refer criminal charges to the Department of Justice relating to the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she served as secretary of state, saying that “no charges are appropriate in this case.” Comey said the investigation was done with “no outside influence of any kind” and noted that he has “not coordinated or reviewed this statement” with the Justice Department “or any other part of the government”:
This will be an unusual statement in at least a couple ways. First, I am going to include more detail about our process than I ordinarily would, because I think the American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest. Second, I have not coordinated or reviewed this statement in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government. They do not know what I am about to say.
[O]ur judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. Prosecutors necessarily weigh a number of factors before bringing charges. There are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent. Responsible decisions also consider the context of a person’s actions, and how similar situations have been handled in the past.
In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here. [Statement by FBI Director James B. Comey on the Investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Use of a Personal E-Mail System, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/16]
Trump Questions Timing Of FBI Referral, Calls It Proof Of A “Rigged System”
Donald Trump Issues Statement Calling FBI Referral Proof Of A “Rigged System,” Questions Timing Of Recommendations. Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump issued a July 5 statement blaming the FBI’s recommendation on a “rigged system that holds the American people to one standard and people like Hillary Clinton to another.” Trump then raised conspiracies about potential coordination between Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration:
Because of our rigged system that holds the American people to one standard and people like Hillary Clinton to another, it does not look like she will be facing the criminal charges that she deserves.
Bill Clinton didn’t accidentally run into the Attorney General on the airport tarmac last week in Phoenix. Hillary Clinton didn’t accidentally sneak into the FBI during one of the country’s biggest holiday weekends to testify on her illegal activities, something that wouldn’t be afforded to others under investigation (and on a Saturday of all days). It was no accident that charges were not recommended against Hillary the exact same day as President Obama campaigns with her for the first time.
Folks – the system is rigged. The normal punishment, in this case, would include losing authority to handle classified information, and that too disqualifies Hillary Clinton from being President. [DonaldJTrump.com, 7/5/16]
Trump: “It’s A Very Unusual Set Of Circumstances, And It Began With President Clinton Going Onto An Airplane.” Appearing on The O’Reilly Factor, Trump called it “extremely unusual” that Obama spoke with Clinton “two hours after the so-called exoneration.” Trump alleged that “it’s a very unusual set of circumstances” beginning with Bill Clinton’s meeting with Lynch, calling the timing “very strange”:
BILL O’REILLY (HOST): Do you believe the fix was in, and did President Obama have anything to do with it?
DONALD TRUMP: Well it was very strange, the timing, because I see him talking, making a speech a couple hours after this happened. Certainly it was very strange to be having your meeting with the FBI on one of the biggest holidays of the year, I mean certainly the Fourth of July weekend, and they’re having meetings on Saturday and then the speech and everybody knew she was going to be in North Carolina on Monday and then the semi-exoneration. I don’t even know if you would call it an exoneration because there were so many bad things said about what she did.
I think it’s extremely unusual that [President Obama] is speaking two hours after the so-called exoneration, that he’s speaking in North Carolina, where I’m heading right now by the way. I’m going to Raleigh, where we have a big crowd. But I think it’s a very unusual set of circumstances, and it began with President Clinton going onto an airplane just like, oh gee, hey, isn’t this wonderful? And a lot of people are saying, where was he before? Was he playing golf? Or did he just go there, see her, and then leave? Because some people are saying that’s what happened, nobody knows where he was. Did he fly in and fly right out? Because that’s a whole different circumstance, because he said he was just in North Carolina. A lot of people thought he was playing golf, but they haven’t been able to find out where he played golf. So, regardless, you have a set of circumstances which is absolutely a horrendous set of circumstances, as far as I’m concerned, and as far as a lot of great lawyers are concerned. [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 7/5/16]
Trump Accuses Clinton Of Offering Lynch “A Bribe” And Claims Obama Knew “That The FBI Was Going To Do This.” During a campaign speech in Raleigh, North Carolina, Trump suggested that Clinton bribed Lynch by announcing she may consider Lynch as attorney general under a Clinton administration. Trump repeatedly called it “a bribe” and “a disgrace,” later asserting that Obama “knew that the FBI was going to do this because it would have been very uncomfortable for him to campaign with her actually if they didn't take a pass on crooked Hillary”:
DONALD TRUMP: Let's talk about Hillary. Did you see today Hillary announced that she may consider the attorney general? I'm not casting aspersions on anybody other than Hillary, of course, but she may consider the attorney general who is ruling on her case now, now they're ruling on the case, to continue forward as attorney general. Now, how do you make that statement when they are going to rule? Because remember what happened, the FBI makes their recommendation and then still, it's up to the attorney general's office. So Hillary said today, at least according to what I saw on television, which you can't always believe. I actually found it hard to believe she'd say this, but she said today that we may consider the attorney general to go forward. That's like a bribe, isn't it? Isn't it sort of a bribe? I think it's a bribe. I mean that if she wins, she's going to consider extending the attorney general, and you know what? I'm not saying -- I'm not knocking the attorney general. What I'm saying is, how can you say that? It's a bribe!
I mean, the attorney general is sitting there saying, “If I get Hillary off the hook I'm going have four more years or eight more years, but if she loses, I'm out of a job.” It's a bribe! It's a disgrace! It's a disgrace! She is laughing at the stupidity of our system. She is laughing, and so is her husband Bill, laughing at what's going on, and they've been there before. You know it. They've been there between Whitewater and all of the others. They've been there. Look at her cattle futures. I mean, she did better with cattle proportionately than people that have been in the cattle business all their lives and have made millions in the cattle -- she did better than they did, and she never did it before. I wonder how that happened? OK. She's crooked Hillary, folks! And now with all of that you have Obama campaigning, and he’s campaigning, and this was set up a long time ago, and he knew that the FBI was going to do this because it would have been very uncomfortable for him to campaign with her actually if they didn't take a pass on crooked Hillary. So they take a pass, they announced they're not going to press charges. Lo and behold, a few hours later, let's have a press conference. Let's do a speech together. [Donald Trump Campaign Speech in Raleigh, North Carolina, 7/5/16]
Right-Wing Media Mirror Trump, Hype Baseless Conspiracy Of Coordination Between FBI And Administration
Fox’s Bret Baier: “The Timing Does Not Look Right Across The Board.” Fox Special Report host Bret Baier asserted that “the whole timing thing” of the FBI’s referral “does not look right.” Baier highlighted that the announcement came after former Bill Clinton met with Lynch and on the same day Obama began campaigning with Hillary Clinton:
EBONI WILLIAMS (CO-HOST): Let’s talk about the timeline. We know that she was just in there with the FBI on Saturday. Barely three days now after the fact, we already have a recommendation from the FBI. I can tell you from my legal experience, that’s highly out of order. Typically that takes much longer. You're in D.C. Can you tell me what your thoughts were about how quickly we heard from the FBI here?
BRET BAIER: Yes, I think it’s, the whole timing thing does not look great. Remember, this is days after the Loretta Lynch/Bill Clinton meeting on the tarmac. It is the same day the president is campaigning with Hillary Clinton, and it comes, as you mentioned, right after this interview with Hillary Clinton by the FBI. And so the timing does not look good across the board. I think what Comey did was lay out all the details, and if you go through that with a finetooth comb, you’ll see, other people would lose their security clearances at first, at least. And then you know, a lot of people would face criminal charges. She is not. It doesn't look like it. [Fox News, Outnumbered, 7/5/16]
Fox’s Eric Bolling: “They All Knew.” Fox host Eric Bolling claimed that “the fix was in,” calling the timing of the referral “insane”:
ERIC BOLLING (CO-HOST): The fix was in. Honestly, this was terrible. The timing, the timeline on this was insane. Bill meets Loretta Lynch on the tarmac eight days ago. Over the weekend, the FBI spends three hours with Hillary Clinton. Over the weekend President Obama conveniently decides he's going to start his campaigning with Hillary Clinton in North Carolina on Tuesday right after the holiday weekend, and what happens? The recommendation of no indictment comes down, and an hour later they're in Charlotte, North Carolina, together. Can you imagine if Comey said yes, we recommend an indictment? The most powerful man on the planet standing next to someone who should be indicted. They all knew, and if Obama knows, that's a big problem. [Fox News, The Five, 7/5/16]
Fox’s Jennifer Griffin: “You Really Have To Suspend Your Disbelief That There Was No Coordination.” Fox national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin suggested that “you really have to suspend your disbelief that there was no coordination in terms of the timing of the end of this investigation,” pointing to Clinton’s campaigning with Obama and Bill Clinton’s “chance meeting, if you believe that” with Lynch. Griffin continued, “It’s hard to believe that President Obama … would have agreed to allow her to fly on Air Force One” without some indication from the Department of Justice or FBI on their recommendation:
JENNIFER GRIFFIN: This news that Director Comey will be recommending that they not pursue charges against her in this case will be welcome news to the campaign. We have not received any statement from the Clinton campaign as of yet, but certainly there were indications as early as this weekend when she spoke to the FBI for 3.5 hours. There was an immediate leak after that meeting that they did not believe that charges would be brought. So when Director Comey comes out the morning after a holiday weekend in which Hillary Clinton met with the FBI and just hours before she is to meet and campaign with President Obama here in North Carolina, you really have to suspend your disbelief that there was no coordination in terms of the timing of the end of this investigation. It’s coming just a few weeks before the Democratic National Convention, which of course the campaign wanted this all wrapped up before that convention so that they could move forward. But it's hard to believe that President Obama, if he had any indication from his Justice Department or the FBI that there were possible charges, that he would have agreed to allow her to fly on Air Force One and come down here and campaign in North Carolina with her. So there is, this has to be viewed in the context of the past week, and certainly Bill Clinton's chance meeting, if you believe that, on the tarmac in Arizona with Attorney General Loretta Lynch certainly raised eyebrows, and there will be many questions about this. [Fox News, Happening Now, 7/5/16]
Radio Host Laura Ingraham Questions How Clinton And Obama Knew She Wouldn’t Be Indicted, Says “The Timing Is Interesting.” Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham claimed that “the timing is interesting” coming after Bill Clinton’s meeting with Lynch and while “Obama just so happened to be campaigning with Hillary”:
LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): The timing is interesting, though. I don't have reason to believe that Comey is lacking in professionalism, I don’t. I don’t know him, but people I know who do know them say he’s a consummate professional. So I want to say that right off the -- and if you aren’t in an investigation, you don't know exactly what they saw. You don’t know all the ins and outs of how it was conducted. So I'm not going to condemn the investigation. I’m just not going to do that. I will say this, the fact that Bill Clinton hopped on that plane just five days, six days ago, whatever it was, seven days ago, five days ago. When was it? Last, yeah, five days ago, last Wednesday. And the fact that Obama just so happened to be campaigning with Hillary during her “see, I didn't do anything wrong” lap. It’s not a victory lap, but it’s an “I told you, I told you I wasn’t going to be indicted.” Remember when she got out with [ABC host George] Stephanopoulos maybe a month ago and she said, “That’s never going to happen, that’s not going to happen.” She won’t be, no, she won’t be indicted. And I was like, how did she know? She said it with such confirmation. Even President Obama himself, he also indicated that he knew that it wasn’t going to, he wasn’t getting updates, but it seemed when you listened to Clinton, what was it on 60 Minutes, where he didn’t think she was going to be indicted. But look, I didn’t think she was going to be indicted. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 7/5/16]
Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton: The Timing Of Comey’s Announcement Was “A Political Favor To President Obama And Hillary Clinton.” Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said that the FBI’s decision “has a shadow over it” “in light of the meeting last week between Attorney General Lynch and Bill Clinton.” Fitton indicated that Comey’s timing was “a political favor to President Obama and Hillary Clinton” coming a few hours before their first campaign event together:
TOM FITTON: I tell you, in light of the meeting last week between Attorney General Lynch and Bill Clinton, the decision today has still a shadow over it. And I tell you, coming just a few hours before the event we just saw on TV here, boy, what a political favor to President Obama and Hillary Clinton was the FBI's director announcement, the timing of it. A lot of unanswered questions about what he found, and now we know records have been destroyed. All sorts of reasons to suggest that the Justice Department, which now has this case, should look at it independently and thoroughly, and we should expect and demand a better answer and a better accountability under the law. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 7/5/16]
Frequent Fox Guest Matt Schlapp: “The Timing Of This Can’t Be Coincidental … This Has Been Orchestrated For Weeks.” Frequent Fox guest and chairman of The American Conservative Union Matt Schlapp claimed that “the timing of this can’t be coincidental” and pushed the conspiracy that “this has been orchestrated for weeks.” Guest host Bill Hemmer called that “a strong charge with the FBI involved”:
MATT SCHLAPP: I think If were [the Trump campaign], I would bring up the idea that this is a corrupt bargain, that the fix was in, and the timing of this can't be coincidental. I mean, there's a meeting on an airplane, right? And then the next thing you know, Comey is now saying that there will be no charges brought. And now all of the sudden, right before Obama and Hillary are set to campaign together, there's no way this is a coincidence. This has been orchestrated for weeks. I think that the president and even Bill Clinton might have been --
BILL HEMMER (HOST): That’s a strong charge, a strong charge with the FBI involved. Continue.
SCHLAPP: Well hold on a second, here’s what I think we’re going to see, Bill. I think you're going to see more voices coming out of the FBI, they could be quiet voices, whistleblowers who say, if any other American had done what Director Comey said Hillary Clinton did, they’d be charged today. But for some reason because it's Hillary Clinton, she's allowed to just say, well I shouldn't have done it, and it’s OK. I don't think either you or I or any other American gets out of this if we’re in this situation.
HEMMER: Well, that may be the case, but do you know on record that FBI agents disagree with this decision?
SCHLAPP: No. I’m saying we should watch and listen in the days to come because I think we’re going to hear those voices. [Fox News, Shepard Smith Reporting, 7/5/16]