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LISTEN: 7 Exchanges That Explain FBI Director's Decision On The Clinton Case

FBI Director James Comey testifies Thursday during a hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
Alex Wong
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FBI Director James Comey testifies Thursday during a hearing before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

For more than four hours Thursday, FBI Director James Comey answered questions from the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Comey appeared just two days after he announced that while Hillary Clinton was "extremely careless" in handling classified information while she was secretary of state, she should not face charges.

As you might expect, Comey was grilled by Republicans on whether Clinton lied and whether he had made a political decision. Comey just kept making his case: The FBI could not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Clinton acted with criminal intent.

We listened to hours of testimony to bring you the seven exchanges you should hear:

1. Comey Explains His Reasoning:

If you listen to these two minutes of testimony, you'll understand just what the FBI was weighing. Director Comey explains that the FBI wasn't just looking at what Hillary Clinton did but also what she was thinking when she did it.

Comey Explains His Decision

2. Chaffetz Asks The Big Questions:

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, asked Comey the big question: Did Clinton lie? The exchange ends with a preview of what's to come. The chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said the FBI should expect a referral asking the agency to investigate whether Clinton perjured herself during congressional testimony.

Rep. Chaffetz Gets At The Big, Controversial Questions

3. Walking Rep. Lummis Through The Law:

This is the the nerdiest of all exchanges, but well worth the three minutes. It starts with Rep. Cynthia Lummis, a Republican from Wyoming, reading the text of 18 U.S. Code Section 1924. She then asks Comey to explain how he concluded Clinton did not run afoul of that law.

Comey Walks Rep. Lummis Through The Law

4. Explaining The Difference Between Petraeus And Clinton:

During the course of the hearing, former Gen. David Petraeus' name came up a few times. Why would he be prosecuted but not Clinton? Comey said the cases draw some good contrast, especially because Petraeus lied to law enforcement and the classified information he had was found hidden inside the insulation of his attic. Remember what Comey said about "criminal intent?"

Comey Explains Difference Between Clinton and Petraeus

5. 'That's Outrageous':

Rep. Will Hurd, a Republican from Texas who worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, made one of the most impassioned pleas for Clinton to face some consequence for her actions. He said that she had a server in her basement with some of the most sensitive information this country possesses.

"What does it take for somebody to misuse classified information and get in trouble for it?" he asked Comey.

Comey Responds To Heated Questioning From Rep. Hurd

6. Comey Defends His Independence:

For most of the hearing Comey kept his cool. The only time he grew emotional was after Rep. John Mica, a Republican from Florida, implied that his decision was political.

Comey Defends His Independence

7. How Some Clinton Emails Were Marked:

Comey has said that three of the emails the FBI reviewed were marked as classified. Comey explained exactly what that meant. They were not marked at the headers but portions of the body of the emails were marked with "(C)," which designates them as classified.

Comey Explains The Classified Markings On 3 Clinton Emails

As we've reported, Clinton has consistently held that she did not send nor receive any information "marked classified."

Comey added that because those emails were not marked at the headers, it might have been reasonable for Clinton not to know that those parts were classified.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.