During his testimony before the House Oversight Committee on July 7, FBI Director James Comey dismissed the Republican talking point that former CIA Director David Petraeus was punished for doing far less than former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Comey explained that, in his view, Petraeus had gotten off easy after committing a far more egregious act than Clinton had when she chose to use a private email server while serving at the State Department, The Huffington Post reports.
On July 5, the FBI director announced that he would be recommending no charges against Clinton, although he did characterize her use of a private server as reckless.
“We did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information,” Comey said, according to The New York Times.
In contrast, the FBI had pursued felony charges against Petraeus, a former general, for having mishandled classified information. Former Attorney General Eric Holder ultimately charged Petraeus with a misdemeanor violation, resulting in two years probation and a fine.
“The system is rigged,” tweeted out presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump shortly after Comey’s announcement. “General Petraeus got in trouble for far less. Very very unfair! As usual, bad judgment.”
On July 7, Comey appeared before the House Oversight Committee to answer questions about the FBI investigation and why he had come to his decision to not recommend charges against Clinton.
During the hearing, Comey was asked if Petraeus had indeed been punished for an error comparable to Clinton’s email server. The FBI director adamantly disagreed with that assessment.
“The Petraeus case, to my mind, illustrates perfectly the kind of cases the Department of Justice is willing to prosecute,” Comey stated.
In 2012, it was discovered that Petraeus had given classified information to his biographer and mistress, journalist Paula Broadwell. The documents the former CIA director had intentionally handed over included war strategies and private conversations he had had with President Barack Obama.
While Comey asserts that Clinton was cooperative with the FBI during its investigation, Petraeus was caught lying.
“In that case, you had vast quantities of highly classified information ... not only shared with someone without authority to have it, but we found it in a search warrant ... and then he lied to us about it during the investigation,” Comey explained.
“So you have obstruction of justice,” the FBI director continued. “You have intentional misconduct. And a vast quantity of classified information. He admitted it was the wrong thing to do.”
Comey concluded that Petraeus’ conduct, when compared to Clinton’s use of a private server, was “far worse.”
When asked if he stood by the FBI’s decision to seek felony charges against Petraeus, Comey responded “Oh, yeah.”