FBI hands over Clinton email investigation docs to Congress

The FBI handed over hundreds of documents to Congress detailing how the bureau came to its conclusion not to prosecute Hillary Clinton in the personal email investigation. The documents should give us at least some insight into FBI deliberations, specifically why former director James Comey took the actions he did.

The Hill:

The sources said the Justice Department notified the Senate Judiciary Committee late Friday and the FBI began transmitting memos soon after to assist Congress in its review of former Director James Comey's handling of the Clinton email case. 

The memos detail how and when the bureau's leadership declined to pursue criminal charges against Clinton for transmitting classified information on her private email server as secretary of State, an investigation that has remained controversial since the 2016 presidential campaigns.

FBI officials declined to comment. "We don't have any information for you," spokeswoman Carol Cratty told The Hill.

The Senate committee has been seeking the memos for some time as it investigates whether Comey chose to absolve Clinton of criminal liability before the election-year probe was complete and before she was even interviewed. Comey ultimately concluded that while Clinton's handling of classified emails was careless, there was not enough evidence of intent to warrant criminal charges.

Comey had announced in July 2016 that the FBI was declining to pursue charges against Clinton for what it called the careless transmission of classified documents on her private email server. The FBI then re-opened the email case in late October 2016, shocking the political world because it was so close to Election Day, after a new trove of emails was found on an associate's computer.

Comey then announced a second time he did not plan to pursue criminal charges, a move that came just two days before Clinton lost to Trump in the election. The FBI's handling was roundly criticized by both Clinton and Trump, and was one of the reasons cited when Trump fired Comey as director earlier this year. Clinton has also blamed Comey in part for her loss in the election.

The original decision not to prosecute Clinton was inexplicable. But so was Comey's decision in late October to announce he was reopening the investigation. Law enforcement experts were aghast at what many of them saw was blatant interference in the election. Comey himself testifed that he knew the decision would be controversial but thought it was important enough to inform the American people.

Personally, I don't think Comey's decision in late October changed many votes. By that time, the polls had been frozen for weeks. Many voters were not happy with their decision to support either candidate, but the revelation about a reopened investigation failed to move the needle toward either candidate.

No doubt some of the documents will reflect Comey's discomfort at making a potentially game changing announcement. But I'm far more interested in the reasons for his decision not to prosecute Clinton in the first place. Was there opposition within the bureau heirarchy to his decision? Will any of the documents illuminate why he thought there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute her?

No doubt the leaks from Congress about what's in the documents will begin next week. It should prove interesting.