04:16 GMT +316 December 2018
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    FBI Director James Comey testifies before the House Intelligence Committee hearing into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. (File)

    Comey Could Be Disbarred for Lying to Congress, Potential Evidence Destruction

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    A crusading legal expert has filed a bar grievance against former FBI Director James Comey, claiming he lied to Congress and destroyed evidence in investigations into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The action could mean Comey loses his law license - and is opened up for criminal prosecution.

    ​The bar grievance was filed by a Texan lawyer Ty Clevenger in New York, where Comey was formerly an attorney and remains licensed to practice law. It states the former bureau chief "gave materially false testimony to Congress," and violated several New York Rules of Professional Conduct.

    Clinton's Secret Emails

    The charges relate to the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's secret email server.

    On September 28, 2017, Comey testified he had not predetermined the outcome of the probe before Clinton was interviewed by FBI agents. However, in an August 31 letter from Senator Charles Grassley to current FBI Director Christopher Wray, Grassley noted Comey's testimony was contradicted by the testimony of two other FBI officials.

    "Comey began drafting a statement to announce the conclusion of the Clinton email investigation in April or May of 2016, before the FBI interviewed up to 17 key witnesses, including former Secretary Clinton and several of her closest aides. The draft statement also came before the Department entered into immunity agreements with Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, where the Department agreed to a very limited review of Secretary Clinton's emails and to destroy their laptops after review.  In an extraordinary July announcement, Comey exonerated Clinton despite noting "there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information,' " Grassley noted.

    ​The two FBI officials testified that months before Clinton was interviewed by the FBI, Comey had begun circulating a draft statement exonerating her.

    "The FBI released a document that corroborated their testimony. Insofar as Comey gave materially false testimony to Congress, it appears he violated Rules 1.0(w), 3.3(a)(1), and 8.4 of the New York Rules of Professional Conduct," Clevenger writes.

    During an October 18 hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Attorney General Jeff Sessions commented on the seriousness of Comey's actions when he was asked about why the Trump administration fired Comey as FBI director.

    "I don't think it's been fully understood the significance of the error Comey made on the Clinton matter. [This is the first time I've seen] where the Department of Justice prosecutors were involved in an investigation, and the investigative agency announces the closure of the investigation" the senator said. 

    Sessions added that when Comey testified on that occasion, he'd said he thought he'd done "the right thing" and "would do it again." He  also said Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein referred to the handling of the Clinton investigation as "a usurpation of the position of the Department of Justice, the Attorney General's position, and that particularly we were concerned he reaffirmed that he would do it again."

    Further Actions

    Clevenger's grievance extends also to former Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and private attorney Beth Ann Wilkinson — he contends they too should be held responsible for their involvement in efforts to destroy evidence sought by Congress and private litigants.

    "Comey has testified he felt pressure from Lynch to downplay the significance of the Clinton email investigation. Given her level of involvement, it appears highly likely Lynch participated in the decision to destroy the laptops belonging to Mills and Samuelson. At the very least, Lynch should be asked to respond to my grievance and explain her role, if any, in the destruction of the laptops," Clevenger explained.

    One the same day of Clevenger's filing, President Donald Trump weighed in on the issue in a series of tweets. 

    Related:

    'He Changed History': Clinton Blames Comey for Election Loss, Trump Hits Back
    Comey Primed to Exonerate Hillary Clinton Before FBI Investigation Was Even Over
    Hillary Clinton’s New Book to Focus on How Russia, Comey Cost Her the Presidency
    Comey Knew No Wrongdoing by Attorney Lynch in Clinton Tarmac Meeting
    Tags:
    lying to Congress, Clinton emails, Perjury, investigation, scandal, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), US Senate, US Congress, Hillary Clinton, James Comey, United States
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