Editor’s Note: J. Gary DiLaura is a legendary FBI agent [He helped break the Timothy McVeigh case; was involved in the John Gotti arrest; and, in the old tradition of the FBI, collared bank robbers after shootouts, setting a record one year for most bank robbers caught in NYC. He advised me on the investigation of “The Lost Women of Nxivm”. He is an opinionated man, with deep-seated political views. In the following post, he explains something about his career, and then gives his opinion of the way former FBI Director James Comey’s handled the Hillary Clinton “matter.”
By J. Gary DiLaura
A reader, Scott Johnson, made an excellent observation regarding my last column, “FBI Agent Explains Why He Thinks Comey Moved the Clinton Investigation to FBI HQs,” where I wrote that, as FBI agents, we never interviewed a subject with their attorney present unless there is a “legal agreement” in place.
Scott asked what about the 6th Amendment, and due process?
By “legal” agreement, I mean a proffer from the subject’s attorney, the agreement in writing between DOJ and the subject, the subject’s testimony before a Grand Jury and THEN we will sit to interview with the attorney present.
If he lies, all bets are off and we get to use his incriminating statements against him. A grant of immunity is supposed to be handled the same way!
How many “grants of immunity” to Hillary’s friends and staff were handled in the “legal” manner I described?
How many grants of immunity did former FBI Director James Comey and his boys “push” through for Hillary’s staff but more importantly…why?
You are correct, Mr. Johnson, a subject or defendant is entitled to an attorney and to have him present during an interview, but he does not have the right to an interview!
A good investigator will only conduct an interview on his terms, his time, his place, his control. Common sense dictates that no lawyer will allow his client to admit to anything wrong. Period. No good can possibly come from that interview. The lawyer will interrupt at every opportunity to disrupt the train of thought of the FBI agent. He will do all he can to disrupt everything.
Most agents are smart and will have their own process or methodology to the “order” of questions, the sequence of things. The attorney’s disruption will result in nothing of value. So, because of that, there was, when I was a brick agent, a hard and fast FBI Rule. I mean it was in the agents’ handbook: no interviews with the attorney present.
(There is one rule I never understood. It was “no recorded interviews”?!) I have no idea what rules, if any, they go by today. All I can say is there needs to be MAJOR changes in the FBI, starting at the top!
Director Christopher Wray has no law enforcement experience. When he took over, his top advisers were Andrew McCabe and Peter Strzok.
That’s a problem in itself! None of these men had any real criminal investigation experience.
With no experience, Wray, in my opinion, circled the wagons when all the branches of government were trying to find out what went wrong with the FBI. That’s a common reaction by lawmen and not always wrong if you know what you are doing.
But Wray did not have ANY experience to be able to know that Comey surrounded himself by very controllable agents, who had little, if any, criminal experience. That allowed him to easily transition them into corrupt agents! These agents Comey took advantage of and he is now throwing them under the bus. They are evidently too inexperienced to even realize what is likely to happen next!
Hopefully, they will smarten up before it’s too late. I predict that if McCabe, Strzok, Lisa Page, and the others don’t come clean and make a deal, it’s going to cost them more than their pensions. Lawmen don’t do well in jail!
So, going back to the interview with Hillary with her lawyers present…What happened when inexperienced, criminal agent(s) interviewed Hillary is exactly what you would expect would happen. Nothing good.
She said, “I was never trained on the handling of classified material.”
Two FBI Agents read her the NDA. She read it and signed it. It’s online. Read it. They let her get away with that statement!
Comey plays word games and is much more than disingenuous. He’s a first-rate conniver, a conman first class. He thinks he’s fooling people with his play on words. I submit that the American citizen is smarter than he believes!
For example, by leaving Hillary’s name out of the Title of her case, he could say, “I allowed lawyers and other people to attend Hillary’s interview because “at that time” she was not the subject of her own “matter”.
The uninformed may say, ”Wow, I didn’t know that”.
The truth is, it’s not possible for a person to not be the subject of their own criminal investigation, by definition. That’s the purpose of the Title. It sets forth the SUBJECTS of the Criminal investigation. The FBI doesn’t conduct “matter” investigations!
There are some perhaps who might say, “Who died and made you the expert on proper law enforcement techniques”?
My response is I was an FBI agent who actually did investigations, made arrests and stuck his neck out, unlike some of these gents and ladies at the top, who seem to think they know more about investigations than the rank and file agents.
Let me tell you a few of my experiences in law enforcement, not to brag but only to provide you with a background on why I am so adamant in saying Comey deliberately whitewashed the Hillary investigation and had experienced criminal agents handled this, she would have been indicted.
Here’s how to obtain a confession without talking to a subject.
A police officer friend of mine, Bob, arrested a bank robber minutes after the armed robbery. I arrived as he was being cuffed, and told him his rights as Bob finished the handcuffing, search and prep for transport. The officer and I transported our subject downtown for processing. He said he wanted a lawyer and we did not talk to him about anything. However, he kept putting his 2 cents into our conversation.
The police officer and I were talking about gambling, I said I didn’t gamble, because I worked too hard for my money. The subject made an unsolicited comment that he worked hard for his money too and blurted out at some point that “robbing banks” is a gamble.
We did not talk directly to him at any time and he just made that statement. This “confession” made it through the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals and got me commended by the 2nd circuit, the Federal District Trial Judge and the US Attorney and FBI for my testimony!
All I did was talk to my buddy about gambling. We never “interviewed” him or spoke directly to him.
Then there was John Gotti.
Gotti had a hard and fast rule about NOT shooting at the “law”. Period. It brings too much heat! At the time I knew Gotti, he had just been made “captain” or capo in the LCN and was a rising star. He knew several Truck Squad members by name and was really a nice, generous sort of person, “to the community” – for such a hard, cold, killer!
My partner Steve and I observed him hand a homeless man a hundred dollars during the winter to buy a coat. He was a gentleman to talk to but watch your back. He started out hijacking trucks and killing when necessary. As he moved up, he bought warehouses as “drops” where he could store his swag (stolen goods) and rented space to others. A regular businessman!
One day, we spotted a very big guy during a surveillance and through his description, an informant ID’d him as Henry “Buzzy” Carone, Gotti’s number one enforcer, another real killer. It just so happened he was also, at the time, an escaped federal prisoner!
The source who ID’d Buzzy cautioned us to “not” fool with Buzzy. He will kill every one of us before we could blink an eye. So we, the young agents, wanted to gear up and take him down without any hesitation. The “Hood Squad” wanted us to follow him and see where and who he met up with.
We asked if they were nuts? This guy is nobody to fool with. We were overruled and we still geared up but had to try to follow him.
As we figured, it didn’t work out too well. He made the surveillance right away and we lost him. That was it. We refused to try that again and told the other squad that we would try to take him the next day!
The next day Buzzy and two friends got into his 1969 Buick deuce and a quarter and the chase was on. We had six agents in 3 cars and twice that wouldn’t have been enough. Our first car crashed when Buzzy ran them off the road. He then intentionally crashed his car into the rear of another car, yanked that driver out, shot at us, got in and off we went again.
Buzzy pulled that maneuver two more times. Many more shots were fired. This guy could really drive and the type of car didn’t matter. We had never seen the types of things Buzzy did to evade us! Of course, he had the advantage in that we did not drive with total reckless abandon. We had to slow at intersections but did hit many “things” during this “French Connection type chase”.
He led us from Brooklyn to Queens. NYPD tried to help us but couldn’t help as the communications were really bad, and the chase way too fast!
In Queens, Tom and Pat were the lead car with us coming up fast from behind. We saw Buzzy crash at the intersection but didn’t see him exit. All the cars plus the FBI car crashed at the intersection. As we came up, a woman bystander hollered to Pat to “Look out behind“. Buzzy was in the front of this last car he hit, leveled his gun at Pat and unloaded. Pat went down. We thought he was dead, but then he rolled over and returned fire on Buzzy’s car.
Tom unloaded as well and we thought he hit Buzzy as the side windows exploded. We stopped to help Pat when Tom hollered to us that, “Pat’s OK, go get him”. We re-engaged in the chase with the adrenaline pumping through our bodies. We were really pissed at this point and frustrated!!
We were now on a narrow, one way street with cars on both sides, Buzzy right in front of us, the rear window blew out and we thought Buzzy was done. We again thought he was hit but either he wasn’t or he really was Superman! He did it again, crashed, left his car, jumped in the one in front, shot at us one last time and got away. We were trapped.
That night we raided every house, apartment trailer that Buzzy stayed in and then four of us picked up John Gotti.
Gotti realized right away we were in no mood to be lied to so he told us Buzzy met with him after the chase. He gave Buzzy what he had in his pocket which was about $2,000 and told Buzzy to never come back. That interview with Gotti actually went well!
About two months later, we received a call from a hospital in Connecticut telling us that Buzzy came in with heart problems and died in surgery. We sent two agents to check out the body. The doctor said there were some healed gunshot wounds on the body but he really did die from heart failure. We pursued that no further!
I can honestly tell you, I’ve been shot at several times, but NOTHING is scarier or more dangerous than a high-speed chase! I was involved in several chases but two were extremely dangerous chases. This one and another, after a bank takeover robbery we witnessed where subjects wore body armor, full auto weapons, and were very smart, that was, believe it or not, much more dangerous than the “French Connection chase” I just described.
I called this other chase the best case I ever worked. ”The Story Book Case”! In this case, we caught the most dangerous bank robbery gang in the country, without us firing a shot! During the lead-up surveillance, the day before the robbery, one subject put two 45 slugs into our surveillance vehicle, myself with my partner, Milt Aldrich, driving, who retired ADIC of Ident and became VP of Security for the NFL!
They didn’t make us for the law but believed we were following to rob them!
That’s the way the FBI was in the 1960s and ’70s in New York. We worked 270 Truck Hijacking cases per year solving 70%, on the Truck Squad with 40 Agents and 500 bank robberies per year solving 60% on the BR Squad!
There are different techniques and how well they seemed to work or not work at all. But we never gave up, never quit! We had so many BR cases that we solved them every way you could possibly think up – from pure luck to great work to everything in between. Keep in mind we had 500 BRs per year – and if there was none one day, there would be four the next!
I will try to relate some other cases in a later post and try to compare them to what went on during Comey’s leadership.
Personally I think that James Comey had a plan to displace candidate Trump and then President Trump. He used inexperienced investigators, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page and others by taking advantage of their loyalty to him. Had their loyalty been where it belonged – to their country, all of this would have been avoided. Now most likely they will have to must pay for what they tried to do. I would call it treason and espionage!”