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Donald Trump falsely claims Hillary Clinton lied to FBI
President Donald Trump claimed former rival Hillary Clinton and former top adviser Michael Flynn suffered vastly different consequences even though both "lied" to the FBI.
"Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI, nothing happened to her. Flynn lied and they've destroyed his life. I think it's a shame," Trump said Dec. 4 before boarding Marine One for a trip to Utah.
Trump recalled the summer of the 2016 presidential campaign, when the FBI probed Clinton’s use of private email while secretary of state. "Hillary Clinton, on the Fourth of July weekend, went to the FBI, not under oath. It was the most incredible thing anyone's ever seen. She lied many times, nothing happened to her. Flynn lied and it's like they ruined his life. It’s very unfair."
In an earlier tweet on the topic, he posed a question: "Rigged system, or just a double standard?"
Flynn, Trump’s former National Security Adviser, pleaded guilty on Dec. 1 to misleading the FBI about conversations he had with Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergey Kislyak.
Flynn also said he’s cooperating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russia’s role in the 2016 presidential campaign and Trump campaign contacts with Russians.
Did Clinton lie many times to the FBI, as Trump claimed?
The head of the FBI at the time — James Comey — told Congress there was "no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI."
The White House did not provide material to support Trump’s claim.
Let's revisit the recent history books.
Clinton exclusively used personal email when she was secretary of state between 2009 and 2013, the New York Times revealed, choosing to rely on two email servers in the basement of her home in Chappaqua, N.Y.
Clinton repeatedly claimed she did not have any classified emails on her server from time at the State Department, but an FBI investigation found some classified information ended up on her private server, which was an unclassified system.
Comey said in July 2016 that there was not enough evidence to charge her with a crime, and he urged the Justice Department not to prosecute Clinton because there was not enough evidence that she intentionally mishandled classified information with her "extremely careless" email setup. (We covered the Clinton email scandal and related claims.)
Trump referred to her communication with the FBI "on the Fourth of July weekend" during the campaign. There is no transcript of the interview that FBI agents had with with Clinton on July 2, 2016, about her email usage in what her campaign described as a "voluntary interview."
Comey was not present for the discussion. But he spoke for the agency five days later when House members quizzed him about what happened in a hearing.
Rep. Gerald Connolly, D-Va., explicitly asked Comey if Clinton lied to the FBI in that interview.
Comey’s response: "I have no basis for concluding that she was untruthful with us."
During a line of questioning with then-Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., Comey reiterated, "We do not have a basis for concluding she lied to the FBI."
Here’s another exchange with then-Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, in which Comey repeatedly said he was not aware of any FBI case in which Clinton lied.
Chaffetz: "So Hillary Clinton did come to possess documents and materials that contained classified information via e-mail on these unsecured servers is that correct?"
Comey: "That is correct."
Chaffetz: "Did Hillary Clinton lie?"
Comey: "To the FBI? We have no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI."
Chaffetz: "Did she lie to the public?"
Comey: "That's a question I'm not qualified to answer. I can speak about what she said to the FBI."
Chaffetz: "Did she -- did Hillary Clinton lie under oath?"
Comey: "Not to the FBI. Not in a case we're working."
The distinction between what Clinton told the FBI and what she told the public is important. Clinton earned a Pants on Fire for claiming that, regarding the presence of classified information in her email, "Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I've said is consistent with what I have told the American people."
That was a rosy review of reality. Comey had specifically sidestepped whether she provided accurate information to the public. In particular, Clinton said there wasn’t any classified information in her email in media interviews, and Comey said there was.
However, Trump’s charge said Clinton lied to the FBI, and the agency has made no such claim.
Trump said, "Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI."
We at PolitiFact don't know exactly what Clinton told FBI investigators. We also know, however, that Trump failed to back up his allegation. Former FBI director Comey in congressional testimony said there was no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI.
We rate Trump’s claim False.
The Washington Post, Trump says he feels ‘very badly’ for Flynn because lies to FBI have ‘ruined his life’, Dec. 4, 2017
Twitter, @realdonaldtrump tweet, Dec. 2, 2017
The Wall Street Journal, Hillary Clinton Interviewed by FBI in Email Probe, July 2, 2016
CQ, Transcript - House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Holds Hearing on FBI Recommendations on Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's Email Server, Panel 1, July 7, 2016
PolitiFact, Flynn’s guilty plea confirms he talked Russian sanctions, misled FBI, Dec. 1, 2017
PolitiFact, Who is Robert Mueller? New special counsel leading Russian investigation, May 17, 2017
New York Times, Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email Account at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules, March 2, 2015
PolitiFact Wisconsin, What's known, not known on Hillary Clinton's emails?, Nov. 22, 2016
Ars Technica, All the Clintons’ servers: Hillary first used a Power Mac tower for e-mail, Sept. 2, 2016
PolitiFact, FBI findings tear holes in Hillary Clinton's email defense, July 6, 2016
PolitiFact, Donald Trump says Hillary Clinton deleted 33,000 emails after getting a subpoena, Oct. 9, 2016
PolitiFact, PolitiFact Sheet: Hillary Clinton’s email controversy, July 19, 2016
PolitiFact, Hillary Clinton's latest email controversy, what we know, Oct. 30, 2016
PolitiFact, Hillary Clinton says none of her emails had classification headers, Sept. 7, 2016
PolitiFact, A year of fact-checking about James Comey, Clinton emails and Russia, May 9, 2017
PolitiFact, Fact-checking Donald Trump on FBI probe into Clinton emails, Nov. 1, 2016
PolitiFact, Hillary Clinton's wrong claim that FBI director Comey called her comments about email 'truthful', Aug. 1, 2016
The Washington Post, FBI interviews Hillary Clinton for more than 3 hours in email probe, July 2, 2016
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Donald Trump falsely claims Hillary Clinton lied to FBI
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