Right-Wing Media Cite Discredited Republican Lawyer To Claim Hillary Clinton Committed "Numerous Federal Crimes"

››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & CRISTIANO LIMA

Right-wing media are reporting discredited Republican lawyer Joseph diGenova's baseless claim that Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton committed "numerous federal crimes" with her private email use, failing to note that Clinton is not the target of the FBI's investigation and that the probe is not criminal in nature.

Citing FBI Probe, Joseph DiGenova Baselessly Claims Hillary Clinton Will Be Indicted Over Email Use Within "The Next 60 Days"

Joseph DiGenova: Hillary Clinton Will Not "Be Able To Complete Her Campaign" After Indictment For Committing "Numerous Federal Crimes" With Private Email Use. On the January 5 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show, host Laura Ingraham interviewed discredited Republican lawyer and longtime critic of the Clintons, Joseph diGenova, who claimed that Hillary Clinton and her staff "have committed numerous federal crimes involving the negligence and improper handling of classified information" through her use of a private email account and server. DiGenova asserted that the FBI is "not going to be able to walk away from this," claiming that the evidence is "so overwhelming" and stating that the FBI would "revolt" and "intelligence community will not stand for" it if Clinton is not indicted:

JOSEPH DIGENOVA: Hillary Clinton's problem, by the way, does not, she's going to have problems because of what's in the emails, but also the classifications. Her biggest problem right now is the FBI. They're not going away, they have reached a critical mass in their investigation of the secretary and all of her senior staff. And it's going to come to a head, I would suggest, in the next 60 days. And I predict that Hillary will not make it to the finish line. She is not going to be able to complete her campaign. This criminal investigation must, out of necessity focus on her and all the people around her. And if Jim Comey, the FBI director, is doing his job, which I expect him to do as an honorable man, she cannot be the nominee of the Democratic Party, she's going to have to be charged with a crime. It's going to be a very complex matter for the Department of Justice, but they're not going to be able to walk away from it. She and her staff have committed numerous federal crimes involving the negligence and improper handling of classified information. They are now at over 1,200 classified emails, and that's just for the ones we know about, from the State Department, that doesn't include the ones that the FBI is in fact recovering from her hard drives.

[...]

LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): Do you have confidence that Loretta Lynch -- from what we saw with her handling of the Baltimore riots and all that -- is going to okay, greenlight an indictment of Hillary Clinton in an election year?

DIGENOVA: I believe that the evidence that the FBI is compiling will be so compelling, that unless she agrees to the charges, there will be a massive revolt inside the FBI, which she will not be able to survive as an attorney general. It will be like Watergate, it will be unbelievable. The evidence against the Clinton staff and the secretary is so overwhelming at this point, that if in fact she chooses not to charge Hillary, they will never be able to charge another federal employee with the negligent handling of classified information. The intelligence community will not stand for that, they will fight for an indictment and they are already in the process of girding themselves to basically revolt against the attorney general if she refuses to bring charges.

INGRAHAM: How much of this, Joe, is related to the bad blood between the Clintons and the intelligence agencies? I mean, there is so much bad blood already, aside from the illegality. But a lot of these government employees work really hard in the intelligence gathering and at the Justice Department. These are people who believe in law and order. They didn't much like what happened under the Clinton administration when it comes to this and they didn't much like what happened during the Obama administration and how they've been thrown under the bus on issue after issue, including things like Benghazi, where -

DIGENOVA: Yes, well, I think you've hit on it, Laura. There is a massive breach between the intelligence community, the military community at the Department of State and the national security superstructure inside the intelligence community. There is vitriol of an intense amount developing. You can hear it in your conversations with people in the intelligence community. They will fight to the death if the attorney general attempts to bury this case. It's going to be very, very ugly for her and it's going to be an awful ending to the Obama administration, but one which they richly deserve. [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show, 1/5/16]

Right-Wing Media Uncritically Report DiGenova's Baseless Claim Without Noting His History Of Misinformation And Unprofessional Conduct

Washington Examiner: "Former U.S. Attorney: Clinton Could Face Criminal Indictment." The Washington Examiner reported diGenova's claim that the FBI "have reached a critical mass in their investigation of the secretary" in a January 5 article. The piece cited diGenova's comment that "the decision to charge Clinton personally with a crime lies with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, putting the Obama administration in a difficult political position":

A former U.S. attorney thinks Hillary Clinton could face a criminal indictment from the FBI within the next 60 days.

Joe DiGenova, a Republican U.S. attorney appointed by President Reagan, said Clinton's "biggest problem right now" is the open FBI investigation into the contents of her private emails.

"They have reached a critical mass in their investigation of the secretary and all of her senior staff," DiGenova said Tuesday on the "Laura Ingraham Show" radio program. "And, it's going to come to a head, I would suggest, in the next 60 days."

[...]

The former U.S. attorney noted Clinton has yet to be interviewed by the FBI, a step he said will likely occur before agents make their findings public.

But DiGenova warned the decision to charge Clinton personally with a crime lies with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, putting the Obama administration in a difficult political position.

"I believe that the evidence that the FBI is compiling will be so compelling that, unless [Lynch] agrees to the charges, there will be a massive revolt inside the FBI, which she will not be able to survive as an attorney general. It will be like Watergate. It will be unbelievable," DiGenova said. [Washington Examiner, 1/5/15]

Rush Limbaugh: "If DiGenova Is Right That There's This Mountain Of Compelling Evidence ... And If There Are No Charges" "The Purpose Here Obviously Is To Protect The Democrat Party." On the January 6 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Rush Limbaugh read from the Washington Examiner's report on diGenova's claims, parroting the argument that "[i]f the Obama Department of Justice does not charge [Clinton], it's clear the reason will be so as to not destroy the Democrat Party's presidential prospects in November. Pure and simple":

RUSH LIMBAUGH (HOST): Story's in The Washington Examiner. "Former United States attorney thinks that Hillary Clinton could face a criminal indictment from the FBI within the next 60 days." Now I want to say at the outset, we've been hearing this for months now. And I'm not opining here. I'm just sharing with you the latest thought on this from someone who's actually been as close to this in a previous regime as you can be, Joe diGenova is the name. Republican U.S. attorney appointed by Ronaldus Magnus said that Hillary's biggest problem right now is the open FBI investigation into the contents of her private emails.

[...]

So, according to diGenova, we're going to read between the lines here, the FBI has compiled mountains of evidence that is deeply incriminating. And while this is happening that there are real doubts and concerns within the DOJ that there will be no charges for whatever political reasons. If there are no charges, by the way, the purpose here obviously is to protect the Democrat Party.I mean this is standard -- It wouldn't even require any in-depth analysis. If diGenova is right that there's this mountain of compelling evidence that is just conclusive as hell of her guilt. And if there are no charges, if the Obama Department of Justice does not charge her, it's clear the reason will be so as to not destroy the Democrat Party's presidential prospects in November. Pure and simple. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show, 1/6/16]

LifeZette.com: "The Mortal Threat To Hillary; Former Prosecutor Predicts Clinton 'Will Not Make It To The Finish Line' Because Of Email Scandal." In a January 2016 article on Laura Ingraham's website LifeZette Brendan Kirby reported diGenova's interview on The Laura Ingraham Show, highlighting his claim that if the FBI does not prosecute Clinton, "[i]t will be like Watergate." From the article, headlined "The Mortal Threat to Hillary":

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will not survive the email scandal swirling around her presidential campaign, a former federal prosecutor said Tuesday.

Joe DiGenova, founding partner of the Washington, D.C., law firm diGenova & Toensing, said on "The Laura Ingraham Show" that federal law enforcement investigators have amassed too much evidence of crimes not to act.

"Her biggest problem right now is the FBI," he said. "They're not going away. They have reached a critical mass in their investigation of the secretary and all of her senior staff."

[...]

DiGenova said he expects the situation to come to a head in the next 60 days.

"I predict that Hillary will not make it to the finish line," he said. "She's not going to be able to complete her campaign."

DiGenova pointed to reports that more than 1,200 emails turned over so far by the State Department contained classified information.

"And that's just the ones that we know about from the State Department," he said, pointing to deleted emails the FBI is trying to recover.

For Clinton to actually face criminal charges, though, it will take more than preferences of the FBI. It will require a green light from Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

"She has definitely made false statements under oath, both in interviews and on Capitol Hill," diGenova said. "There is no way (FBI agents) walk away from this. They're going to make a recommendation that people be charged. And then Loretta Lynch is going to have a decision of a lifetime."

And if Lynch takes a pass for political reasons? DiGenova said that would spark a "revolt" within the FBI that the attorney general could not survive.

"It will be like Watergate," he said. [LifeZette.com, January 2016]

Daily Mail: "Former Federal Prosecutor Says Hillary Could Be Indicted In The Next 60 Days." In a January 6 article, the Daily Mail reported diGenova's claims on The Laura Ingraham Show that the FBI "have reached a critical mass in their investigation of the secretary and all her senior staff":

A Republican former U.S. attorney believes Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton could be facing imminent indictment over her email scandal, possibly roiling the Iowa caucuses or the New Hampshire primary in February.

Joe DiGenova, a one-time federal prosecutor originally appointed by President Reagan, told conservative radio host Laura Ingraham Tuesday that the FBI's still-pending investigation of Clinton's email server seems to have reached 'a critical mass.'

[...]

'They have reached a critical mass in their investigation of the secretary and all of her senior staff," DiGenova said Tuesday on Ingraham's show. 'And, it's going to come to a head, I would suggest, in the next 60 days.'

FBI Director James Comey has resisted efforts to lay out a timeline for his agency's probe of the Clinton case, but if it is as imminent as DiGenova believes, it could devastate Clinton's campaign. The Iowa caucuses are on Feb. 1 and the New Hampshire primary is on Feb. 9.

'It's going to be a very complex matter for the Department of Justice, but they're not going to be able to walk away from it,' DiGenova said.

'They are now at over 1,200 classified emails. And, that's just for the ones we know about from the State Department. That does not include the ones that the FBI is, in fact, recovering from her hard drives.' [Daily Mail, 1/6/16]

Sean Hannity: "Joe DiGenova ... Believes That Hillary Clinton Is Facing Imminent Indictment." On the January 6 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Sean Hannity Show, Sean Hannity cited diGenova's claim that Clinton "is facing imminent indictment over the mishandling of classified intelligence" to argue that "the potential does exist for this" and that if Attorney General Lynch "chooses not to charge Hillary, they'll never be able to charge another federal employee with the negligent handling of classified information ever":

SEAN HANNITY (HOST): Former independent counsel -- very bright guy, he's been a guest on this program many times -- is now saying, Joe diGenova ... he believes that Hillary Clinton is facing imminent indictment over the mishandling of classified intelligence. Now I have thought that probably the evidence exists that would get us there. I have believe that. Whether or not that's going to happen is another thing, and he's warning she's likely to be indicted sometime in the next two months

[...]

The quote that he gave to the UK Daily Mail is they have reached a critical mass in their investigation of the secretary and all her senior staff, and he said it's going to come to a head and I would suggest in the next sixty days.

[...]

If it's an imminent as DiGenova believes, it would devastate obviously not only the Clinton campaign, the Iowa caucuses are on Febuary 1, New Hampshire's are on February 9. It would be complex in terms of a matter for the Department of Justice. But, you know, he says they're not going to be able to walk away from it. I disagree with him on that point. I think Loretta Lynch will do whatever Obama tells her to do. I think an Obama signal, oh it's not a big deal, oh she didn't compromise security -- you realize on that New Year's Eve latest document dump another 274 emails classified were found. "I never sent nor received classified information." Well 1,275 is the number of classified materials. Well they weren't classified at the time, is the mantra of the Clinton's. The problem is some of these things are born classified. In other words from the outset their classified. For example, on her emails we know that they found pictures of North Korea's nuclear sites, satellite imaging. You would know that that's classified. Anyway, he said I believe the evidence that the FBI is compelling will be so compelling unless Attorney General Loretta Lynch agrees to the charges there will be a massive revolt inside the FBI which she will not be able to survive as attorney general. "It will be like Watergate. It will be unbelievable," he said. The potential does exist for this. Whether or not it's going to happen, I can't tell you. But the evidence against Clinton and her staff is so overwhelming, I think, that if she chooses not to charge Hillary, they'll never be able to charge another federal employee with the negligent handling of classified information ever. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Sean Hannity Show, 1/6/15]

Joseph DiGenova Is A Discredited Republican Activist Who Pushed False Benghazi Claims And Suffered Criticism For Unprofessional Conduct

DiGenova Falsely Claimed Members Of The Military Were "Relieved Of Their Duty Because They Insisted That There Be A Military Response" To Benghazi Attacks. On October 28, 2013, diGenova claimed on WMAL that some members of the military were "relieved of their duty because they insisted that there be a military response" the night of the September 2012 Benghazi attacks, despite the fact that a military response was ordered by then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. These military forces included a Marine anti-terrorism team deployed from Spain and special operations forces that were stationed in Croatia and the United States, but they did not arrive until after the attacks were over. [Media Matters, 10/29/13; Media Matters, 10/28/13]

DiGenova Baselessly Alleged That Obama Administration Tried To Cover Up Theft Of Hundreds Of Surface-To-Air Missiles In Benghazi. In October 2013, diGenova claimed on WMAL that the Obama administration was trying to cover up the theft of 400 surface-to-air missiles that were somehow linked to the American presence in Benghazi. While diGenova told WMAL that he didn't whether the missiles were physically at the CIA annex the night of the attack, "it is clear that the annex was somehow involved in the process of the distribution of those missiles." DiGenova did not name his sources for this claim, acknowledged that some of his information is not "verifiable," and provided no evidence to back up the allegation. [Media Matters, 8/13/13; CNS News, 8/13/13]

DiGenova Has Been Criticized By Lawmaker For "Non-Stop Mugging" For The Press And For Lacking "Impartiality, Non-Partisanship, And Professionalism." In 1998, Joseph DiGenova and his wife and legal partner Victoria Toensing, who were working as outside counsel for the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, were criticized for their actions in connection with the Monica Lewinsky scandal. A February 5, 1998, Roll Call article "Rep. Bill Clay (D-Mo) launched a stinging attack on the two lead attorneys investigating the Teamsters campaign finance scandal yesterday, alleging that the attorneys have lost their objectivity because of their frequent television appearances and 'participation' in the scandal involving ex-White House intern Monica Lewinsky." The article also reported:

Clay's rebuke of former independent counsel Joseph diGenova and his wife and law firm partner, Victoria Toensing, who were hired in November by a House Education and the Workforce subcommittee, came in a letter to Chairman Bill Goodling (R-Pa) yesterday.

"Sadly, Mr. diGenova and Ms. Toensing have become so closely aligned with the President's critics and so personally identified with the scandal itself as to have relinquished the air of impartiality, non-partisanship, and professionalism required of leaders of a serious congressional investigation," wrote Clay, the ranking member of the Education and the Workforce Committee.

"Put more bluntly," Clay added, "the couple's relentless self-promotion and non-stop mugging for the likes of Geraldo Rivera - however good for business and their egos - is unseemly, undignified, unworthy of this committee, and generally detrimental to important Congressional functions."

Clay said in his letter that a LEXIS/NEXIS search found 166 citations of diGenova and Toensing commenting on the Lewinsky affair between Jan. 21 and Feb. 4. The letter came even as Republicans approved an additional $750,000 for the diGenova-Toensing investigation. [Roll Call, 2/5/98 via Nexis; Media Matters, 7/13/10]

DiGenova Was Criticized For Conflict Of Interest Over Dual Role In Separate DOJ Investigations. DiGenova and Toensing were criticized for serving as special counsel in the House Education and the Workforce Committee probe into Justice Department oversight of the Teamsters union while also representing Dan Burton, the committee's chairman at the time, in a separate Justice Department probe. A December 18, 1997, Roll Call article reported: "Rep. Bill Clay (Mo), the full committee's ranking Democrat, has raised questions about the fact that the two attorneys are also representing Burton in the Justice Department's investigation of charges that the Government Reform and Oversight chairman tried to extort campaign money from a lobbyist during the 1996 election cycle." The article also reported:

Democrats believe this creates a conflict of interest because [Rep. Pete] Hoekstra's [R-MI] subcommittee plans to investigate the Justice Department's decade-long oversight of the Teamsters, specifically the agency's handling of the union's 1996 presidential election.

Clay says that diGenova and Toensing, a former chief counsel for the Senate Intelligence Committee and a deputy assistant attorney general in the Reagan Administration, should not lead a Congressional investigation of the Justice Department while the department is conducting a criminal investigation of one of their outside clients. [Roll Call, 12/18/97 via Nexis; Media Matters7/13/10]

DiGenova Was Involved In Discredited And Retracted Article About President Clinton. DiGenova and Toensing were involved in a retracted Dallas Morning News article claiming that a Secret Service agent had witnessed President Clinton and Lewinsky in a "compromising situation." From the February 27, 1998, report byThe Washington Post's Howard Kurtz:

The melodrama began when Toensing was approached by an intermediary for a Secret Service agent who was said to be willing to testify that he saw Clinton and Lewinsky in a compromising situation. DiGenova passed this on to Morning News reporter David Jackson ("Joe and I exchanged a few words over that," Toensing says), and the paper published the story in its Internet edition, attributing the account to an unnamed lawyer "familiar with the negotiations." But by then the intermediary had told Toensing the agent was backing off.

Hours later, the Morning News retracted the report, saying the "longtime Washington lawyer" had said the information was "inaccurate."

The couple now say that Toensing, taking a call from Jackson hours before deadline, told the reporter: "If Joe is your source, it's wrong."

"The bottom line is, they were told not to print and they chose to print," diGenova says. "I don't know how much more helpful you can be to a newspaper than to tell them not to print."

Carl Leubsdorf, the paper's Washington bureau chief, says: "The reporter's recollection of that conversation is quite different. He was told that 'if Joe told you that, he shouldn't have.' If it had been the other way, the story of course would have been reassessed at that point." [The Washington Post, 2/27/98]

Clinton Is Not The Target Of The FBI's Investigation, Which Is Not Criminal In Nature

Joint Statement From The Two Inspectors General Of The Intelligence Community States That Only One Of Them Made A Referral And That It Was A Security, Not Criminal, Referral. In a joint statement released July 24, the Inspectors General of the Intelligence Community (IG IC) and the Department of State explained that the IG IC -- not both IGs -- had made "a security referral," not a criminal one:

IC IG made a referral detailing the potential compromise of classified information to security officials within the Executive Branch. The main purpose of the referral was to notify security officials that classified information may exist on at least one private server and thumb drive that are not in the government's possession. An important distinction is that the IC IG did not make a criminal referral- it was a security referral made for counterintelligence purposes. The IC IG is statutorily required to refer potential compromises of national security information to the appropriate IC security officials. [Statement from the Inspectors General of the Intelligence Community and the Department of State Regarding the Review of Former Secretary Clinton's Emails, 7/24/15]

Wash. Post: Officials Say Clinton "Is Not A Target" Of FBI Probe. The Washington Post reported that government officials said Clinton is "not a target" of the FBI's investigation:

Hillary Rodham Clinton's attorney has agreed to provide the FBI with the private server that housed her e-mail during her four years as secretary of state, Clinton's presidential campaign said Tuesday.

[...]

The inquiry by the FBI is considered preliminary and appears to be focused on ensuring the proper handling of classified material. Officials have said that Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, is not a target.

The FBI's efforts have included contacting the Denver-based technology firm that helped manage the Clintons' unusual private ­e-mail system. [The Washington Post, 8/11/15]

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