A former Justice Department senior official is questioning the double standard as federal investigations on Russia and Hillary Clinton’s emails have taken “radically different approaches.”
James Trusty, the former Chief of the Organized Crime Section at the Department of Justice, spoke to Fox News about the dual standard as not one of the many witnesses interviewed in Clinton’s FBI probe was ever charged with making false statements while indictments in Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation have almost all included false statement charges.
“Somebody needs to be resolving how they exercise discretion, because a whole bunch of people are facing jail time, or flipping in one probe, and the agents openly discussed how other people in the Clinton probe could have been charged with the same offense,” Trusty said.
Out of the six Trump campaign associates charged in Mueller’s long probe into alleged Russian collusion in the 2016 election campaign, five “have been charged with violating U.S.C. 1001 — making false statements to FBI agents,” Fox News reported.
Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz issued a report in June on how the FBI handled Clinton’s email investigation, noted that although witnesses lied to agents and prosecutors during interviews, no false statement charges were ever filed against them.
Fox News reported:
According to Justice Department policy, government attorneys should recommend federal prosecution if they believe that the person’s conduct constitutes a federal offense, and that the evidence would be sufficient to obtain a conviction unless “the prosecution would serve no federal interest; the person is subject to effective prosecution in another jurisdiction; or there exists an adequate non-criminal alternative to prosecution.”
“Saying it’s not a federal interest is pure fluff. It’s a circular argument,” Trusty said. “We as the feds don’t have a federal interest? They were in the middle of a high-profile federal investigation.”
Eventually, Horowitz concluded that “no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors were affected by bias or other improper considerations.”
Trusty, now with Ifrah Law as a white-collar criminal defense attorney, pushed back on the standard used to follow through on false statement charges.
“Why is there a ‘federal interest’ in Papadopoulos and Flynn and everyone associated with the Russia investigation, but nobody in the Hillary probe?” he asked. “It’s a very legitimate question at this point—why are they taking radically different approaches to the lower subjects in cases for one investigation versus another?”
Mueller’s office would not comment on charging decisions, Fox News reported.
The investigation has charged former associates of Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort—Alex van der Zwaan and Rick Gates; former White House national security adviser Michael Flynn; former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen – who recently pleaded guilty to making false statements to Congress.
But a guilty plea related to false statements “does not suggest a particularly successful investigation,” Trusty contends.
“It doesn’t suggest to me that they’re making a lot of headway on the substance of their investigation, which is Russian collusion,” he said. “As an ex-prosecutor, false statements are a very distant second place.”