U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email use during her time as secretary of state and the agency’s decision not to recommend charges be filed against her.
As a result of the FBI’s investigation, during which FBI Director James Comey concluded Clinton acted extremely careless with classified information, Thune cosponsored legislation that would revoke Clinton’s security clearance and block her from accessing classified information in her capacity as a presidential candidate.
Remarks (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, this week FBI Director James Comey announced the results of his investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email use during her time as secretary of state.
“And what he discovered was this:
“As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence.
“Here’s what Director Comey had to say: ‘Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.’
“Let me repeat that, Mr. President.
“The FBI concluded that President Obama’s secretary of state, our nation’s chief diplomat – the person who was fourth in line for the presidency – displayed gross carelessness when handling information related to our national security.
“Mr. President, if Hillary Clinton can’t be trusted to safeguard national security information as secretary of state, she cannot be trusted to protect national security information as the Democratic nominee for president, and she certainly can’t be trusted as our commander in chief.
“There are some who would like to take the FBI director’s statement this week as vindication for Secretary Clinton, since the FBI director ultimately did not recommend prosecution.
“But the FBI director’s statement is no vindication.
“It’s an indictment.
“The secretary betrayed the trust the American people had placed in her.
“She repeatedly lied to the American people about the purpose of the server, what was on the server, and the threat it posed to our national security.
“Secretary Clinton repeatedly claimed there was no classified information on her server, but the FBI investigation found otherwise.
“According to Director Comey, Secretary Clinton sent or received at least 110 emails in 52 separate email chains containing classified information.
“Fifty-two separate classified conversations.
“And of those 52 classified email conversations, eight contained Top Secret information – the highest level of classification – and 36 contained Secret information.
“Mr. President, Secretary Clinton knew that she was placing national security information at risk.
“As the FBI director said when discussing the Top Secret emails transmitted over the secretary’s unclassified email system, ‘There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place’ for Top Secret communications.
“As a reasonable person, the secretary unquestionably knew that the proper place for classified information was on a classified server.
“But she decided to use her personal server anyway.
“Mr. President, Secretary Clinton has tried to argue that using a private server in violation of State Department rules did not jeopardize our national security.
“Even President Obama – in what was a highly suspect public comment on an ongoing FBI investigation – said her private server wasn’t a national security threat.
“But according to the FBI director, that certainly wasn’t the case.
“Director Comey explicitly stated that it was entirely possible that, and I quote, ‘hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton's personal e-mail account.’
“And he wasn’t just referring to ordinary hackers.
“No, the director noted that Secretary Clinton, quote, ‘used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries,’ and that that fact was one that led the FBI to the conclusion that her email account might have been compromised.
“In other words, Mr. President, it is entirely possible that our nation’s enemies gained access to Secretary Clinton’s emails thanks to her decision to use her personal account.
“Despite Secretary Clinton’s claim that the servers were protected, Director Comey went to great lengths to describe how the servers had substantially less protection than government servers, and even had less protection than common commercial services like Gmail.
“Mr. President, yesterday Senator Gardner introduced legislation, which I co-sponsored, that would remove the security clearance of Secretary Clinton and any of her staff members involved in the mishandling of classified information, and block Secretary Clinton from accessing classified information in her capacity as a presidential candidate.
“I think that’s the right call.
“Secretary Clinton has demonstrated that she has no respect for the security of classified information, and she should face the consequences.
“As the FBI director noted, most people who had done what the secretary did would face consequences for their actions.
“Other individuals found by the FBI to have engaged in such reckless handling of classified information would, at the very minimum, have their security clearance revoked, and would likely face termination.
“The rules shouldn’t be different for Secretary Clinton because she held a powerful position.
“In fact, those in a position of such great trust should be held to a higher standard, not a lower one.
“Do we really want to set the precedent that wielding political power places an individual above the law?
“Because that is exactly what is happening as a result of this decision.
“Mr. President, I look forward to hearing what Director Comey has to say in his testimony today before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
“I hope we’ll hear him discuss the reasoning behind his decision not to recommend prosecution when the secretary so clearly displayed, in the director’s own words, extreme carelessness in handling classified information.
“I also hope the FBI will release the transcript of Secretary Clinton’s FBI interview, and other documents requested by Senator Grassley, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“A secretary of state mishandling classified information is a very grave matter, and the American people deserve to know all the facts.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”