A House panel will be seeking a new FBI investigation into whether Hillary Clinton lied to Congress when she told lawmakers last year that her personal server contained no information marked as classified, the panel's chairman told FBI Director James Comey today.
Comey is in the hot seat over his determination -- after an extensive FBI investigation -- that Clinton did not break the law during her use of the personal server as secretary of state. But Republicans now want the FBI to open a probe into Clinton's statement to lawmakers under oath late last year, when she testified to a special committee for nearly 11 hours over her role in the Benghazi terror attacks.
"There was nothing marked classified on my emails, either sent or received," Clinton testified at the time.
While Comey acknowledged today that Clinton's statement on Oct. 22 was "not true," he seemed skeptical that it amounted to perjury because Clinton may not have known the relevant emails contained classified information. Intent and knowledge are key in determining whether someone has committed perjury.
In describing the matter, Comey said three emails on Clinton's server each had at least one paragraph "down in the body" with a "C" in parentheses at the beginning of the paragraph, indicating the paragraph contained classified information. But "none of the emails had headers at the top of the document that said it's classified," Comey added.
Comey said that while it may be "reasonable" to believe that someone with such a high-level positions as secretary of state would know what the "C" means, "It may not be accurate," noting there are questions over "whether [Clinton] was sophisticated enough to know what a 'C' in parens means."
"The 'reasonable person' test is not what you look at for perjury or false statements," Comey said. "But, like I said, I can understand why people would ask that question.”
Republicans repeatedly wondered whether Clinton should have known the three emails contained classified information, and whether "a reasonable person who has been a senator, a secretary of state, a first lady," Rep. Mark Meadows, R-North Carolina, said, "[would] know that was a classified marking."
"Before this investigation, I probably would have said, 'yes,'" Comey acknowledged. But now, "I’m not so sure."
"I think it’s possible –- possible –- that she didn’t understand what a 'C' meant when she saw it in the body of an email like that," he said. Comey later said it's also possible Clinton never even noticed the "C" markings buried in the more than 30,000 emails she was sending and receiving.
"There is, in my view, not evidence," Comey concluded, "beyond a reasonable doubt that she knew she was receiving [or sending] classified information."
Asked whether the FBI's months-long investigation tied to the email server specifically looked at whether Clinton's statements to Congress on Oct. 22, 2015, were truthful, Comey said his agency had not conducted such a review because there had been no referral from Congress for such a probe.
"Do you need a referral from Congress to investigate her statements under oath?” House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, then asked Comey.
"Sure do," Comey snapped back.
"You’ll have one, you’ll have one in the next few hours," Chaffetz promised with a laugh.
During his testimony today, Comey said he has "a little bit of insight" into Clinton's statement to the Benghazi panel last year because the FBI asked her about it during her interview on Saturday.