FBI Director James Comey on Thursday refuted assertions that email abuses by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton outweighed security lapses by former CIA and U.S. Central Command head David Petraeus, calling the retired general's crimes "intentional misconduct."
But Republican critics of Clinton have often cited Petraeus' punishment as a baseline for what the Democratic presidential nominee should face for improper storage of sensitive State Department emails on her personal server.
Earlier this week, Comey sharply criticized Clinton's actions as irresponsible and careless, but said they did not rise to the level of criminal prosecution.
On Thursday, in an appearance before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, he defended that decision and dismissed the Petraeus comparisons.
"The Petraeus case in my mind indicates the kind of cases that the Department of Justice is willing to prosecute," he said. "In that case, you had vast quantities of highly classified information, including highly sensitive information … not only shared with someone without authority to have it, but we found it in a search warrant hidden under the insulation in his attic.
"And then he lied to us about it during the investigation. So you have obstruction of justice, intentional misconduct and vast quantity of information."
Later in testimony, Comey clarified that classified documents were found in Petraeus' home, but in a filing cabinet, not hidden in the attic.
At the hearing, committee chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, said he plans to send a new referral to the FBI to determine if Clinton lied under oath about the email scandal during her appearances before the committee.
Democrats immediately decried the move as a political stunt, and Comey said he is confident that Clinton did not lie to investigators during her interviews with his agency.
Chaffetz also promised a new hearing at a to-be-determined date on how the Petraeus case was handled, at the request of committee ranking member Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.
Leo Shane III covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.