The FBI agent who was dismissed from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation for exchanging texts critical of President Donald Trump, reportedly edited former FBI Director James Comey’s description of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, effectively exonerating her from prosecution.
Electronic records show Peter Strzok, who led the FBI probe into Clinton’s handling of classified information, changed Comey’s description of Clinton’s conduct from “grossly negligent” to “extremely careless,” U.S. officials familiar with the matter told CNN.
The modification is significant as federal law concerning the handling of classified information establishes “gross negligence” as the standard for criminality.
Strzok, who was removed earlier this year after Mueller learned he mocked Trump in text messages sent to a colleague, was one of a number of FBI personnel who made edits to Comey’s statement, another source familiar with the matter told CNN.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley questioned why last-minute changes were made to Comey’s statement in early November, after obtaining an earlier version of the statement. But it was unclear at the time who was behind the modifications.
As the FBI’s number two counterintelligence official, Strzok signed the document launching the Justice Department’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, CNN has learned.
Comey called Clinton’s decision to store classified information on a private server kept in her home “extremely careless” but said “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges against her in his July 2016 statement.
The news comes hours after Circa reported that Strzok participated in a Jan. 24 interview of then-national security adviser Michael Flynn. Flynn pleaded guilty Friday to lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during that interview.
The latest revelations regarding Strzok’s alteration of Comey’s statement may bolster the argument of critics, who cast Mueller’s probe as politically motivated.