During his ongoing tour to promote his book -- A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership -- former FBI Director James Comey responded to a question on Wednesday from a Washington D.C. radio reporter that he said he had never before been asked: Is the “smashing of cell phones and destruction of thousands of emails” by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2016 “obstruction of justice?”
The query came from WTOP-FM morning co-host Joan Jones and Comey replied: “Now that’s a great question. That’s the first time I’ve been asked that.”
According to an article by Lifezette's Kathryn Blackhurst, Comey also stated: “You have raised the specter of obstruction of justice charges with the president of the United States."
Jones pressed the former federal official: "Some are asking, though: ‘Why wouldn’t smashing of cell phones and destruction of thousands of emails during an investigation clearly be obstruction of justice?’”
Blackhurst then noted:
Former 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton used a private email server to conduct official business while serving as secretary of state.
When the FBI released its report of its investigation into Clinton’s conduct in September 2016, it was revealed that her aides destroyed two mobile devices “by breaking them in half or hitting them with a hammer” and deleting emails using BleachBit.
“Comey has been asked whether he believed President Donald Trump committed ‘obstruction of justice’ by firing him in May 2017,” Blackhurst noted, “or by asking him about the investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.”
The former FBI director told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that he believed Trump “possibly” obstructed justice, arguing that “certainly” there was “some evidence of obstruction of justice.”
“Although mainstream media outlets, liberal pundits and lawmakers have been obsessing over possible obstruction of justice charges and anticipating impeachment for Trump as a result,” Blackhurst stated, “these same individuals showed a marked lack of interest in whether or not Clinton and her team obstructed justice.”
But on Wednesday, Comey responded: "And the answer is: It would depend upon what the intent of the people doing it was.”
The former FBI director continued: “It's the reason I can't say when people ask me, 'Did Donald Trump commit obstruction of justice?' My answer is: 'I don't know. It could be. It would depend upon: Is there evidence to establish that he took actions with corrupt intent?’”
"So if you smash a cell phone; lots of people smash their cell phones so they're not resold on the secondary market and your personal stuff ends up in somebody else's hands,” he noted.
"But if you smash your cell phone knowing that investigators want it and that they've got a subpoena for it, for example,” Comey added, “that is a different thing and can be obstruction of justice."
Jones then followed up by asking: "The law requires intent?"
Comey replied: “Yes, it requires not just intent, but the prosecutors demonstrate corrupt intent, which is a special kind of intent that you were taking actions with the intention of defeating and obstructing an investigation you knew was going on.”
As NewsBusters reported on April 11, ABC ran an advertisement for the network’s exclusive Sunday night interview with Comey that featured clips of Stephanopoulos touting Comey’s comparison of President Trump to a “mob boss” and asking the fired Bureau chief if the president should be impeached.
But one day later, even MSNBC's Hardball host Chris Matthews took issue with Comey’s “cheap stuff” of going after the President’s hand size, height and skin color.
However, after the three major network news outlets (plus Spanish-language network Univision) hyped excerpts from the book that “blasted” President Trump for being “unethical,” reporters for both ABC and CBS stated they were taken aback by the “petty” and “personal” way in which Comey went about “settling some scores.”
On the following morning, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace ripped into Comey for having written a “bitchy” book full of “opinions” and lacking bombshells that could do “more damage to his own reputation than he has to President Trump’s.”
In fact, it wasn’t long before Meghan McCain, the conservative co-host on ABC’s The View, mocked the idea that Comey is a pious, non-ideological truth teller by saying that the “highly political” ex-FBI director just wants to be a View co-host.
Of course, the notion that Comey -- who spent months investigating Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign -- never considered them to be obstructing justice is far-fetched, even if he has a book to sell.