Did Director Comey truthfully report?
In 2016, the FBI investigated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for hosting a private email server in her home, and the illegal transfer of confidential data both to and from said server. The lead investigator was Peter Strozk.
In 2018, text messages from Mr. Strozk to the Dept. of Justice's attorney, Lisa Page, went public. The messages indicated political bias as well as that the outcome of the Clinton Server investigation was known prior to the interview with Mrs. Clinton.
We learned that the interview had "no memorial"; that is, no audio, video, stenography, or even personal notes by interviewer exist. It is not known if this practice has ever been done (or claimed) before in the Bureau's history.
Upon public knowledge of the text messages, Robert Mueller removed Strozk from his investigatory team.
When more messages were sought, officials reported that 50,000 of such were lost to a "technical glitch."
On 25 January, 2018, media reported that the text messages had been found.
On 26 September, 2016, then FBI Director James Comey testified on Capital Hill denying that a conclusion was made prior to the interview of Mrs. Clinton, who was the target of the investigation.
This contradicts what the text messages from the lead investigator, Strozk, stated.
Who is telling the truth?
Let's look back at the question posed to Director Comey and his answer to learn:
Was Director Comey truthful in his answer?
I. The Statement
II. The Statement With Analysis
III. Analysis Conclusion
I. The Statement Capital Hill, September 26, 2016.
Q: Director, did you make the decision not to recommend criminal charges related to classified information before or after Hillary Clinton was interviewed by the FBI on July the 2nd? Director James Comey: "After. But if colleagues of ours believe that I am lying about when I made this decision, please urge them to contact me privately so we can have a conversation about this.
All I can do is tell you again the decision was made after that because I didn't know what was going to happen in that interview."
II. The Statement With Analysis
Director, did you make the decision not to recommend criminal charges related to classified information before or after Hillary Clinton was interviewed by the FBI on July the 2nd?
This is an "either/or" question in which the subject can answer or he can nullify. The element of the question is "time"; therefore, nullification is limited to one choice only.
Either it is "before" or "after", with the nullification being the third choice, "during."
This would be unusual given the context of the investigation, but it does happen.
For example, an investigator could, during break, call his superior to report findings, even though the interview is not completed. This is sometimes "concurrent planning" due to safety issues.
Next note the inherent accusation within the question. If he answers "before", it is to confirm suspected corruption. It is an "accusatory" question in that it has but "one answer" should the subject choose to answer the question as stated. Anything other than "after" would be to raise suspicion (via avoidance), invite further need for information ("during") or indict the investigation as corrupt ("before").
The subject chose to answer the "either/or" question:
James Comey: After.
This is a strong answer by itself.
There is, if true, no need to add anything to it. It is, of itself, a strong answer that the collaborating evidence will show one of two things: it is either true or it is not.
As truthful, it is best to stop here. The truth within an accusation needs no assistance or reinforcement.
Each word that follows it, however, indicates weakness or a "need to persuade" or buttress his assertion.
Psychological Wall of Truth
The psychological "wall of truth" is a position of confidence in which the subject knows the truth and has a level of comfort within it. He knows that no evidence can ever prove otherwise and anything presented will be, by necessity, false.
The psychological "wall of truth" is often seen in short answers where no further information is offered because no further information is needed.
Similar to "yes or no" questions, we take careful note of every word that follows the "no" (denial) response as, in the mind of the subject, necessary for him to be believed.
Truth is an entity of itself. It is not impacted by time, culture or opinion. Changing the wording, setting, or any other element is outside of the impregnable entity.
We now note the first word that the subject uses after his answer of "after" is:
But if colleagues of ours believe that I am lying about when I made this decision,
The word "but" refutes or minimizes via comparison that which preceded it. The information that follows the word "but" takes precedence. If someone says, "I like pizza; but I love lobster", to the subject, "lobster" is more important.
He said "after" and then sought to rebut or minimize via comparison his answer for another purpose which is more important to him:
"But if colleagues of ours believe that I am lying about when I made this decision,
He refutes or minimizes his answer with the words "I am lying."
An embedded confession is when a subject is processing his words and guilt is inadvertently owned. There are many examples of this, including
"for those of you who believe in my guilt..." (OJ Simpson)
"We hid her incredibly well" (Kate McCann)
In these two above cases, the words came from the subjects' own personal subjective internal dictionary. They did not assign the words to another. This is key to understanding embedded confessions.
When Dennis DeChaine stood trial in the murder of 13 year old Sarah Cherry, he claimed to have never met the victim and that he was alone in the woods. He said, "I was admiring the deciduous trees and got up as we were losing daylight."
His use of the pronoun "we", something he had used millions of times in his life, was consistent with the DNA of his victim in his truck, and was duly convicted.
"I didn't know my victim" (Stephen Trunscott who killed Lynne Harper.
This is a "Pronoun Confession" where one takes instinctive ownership. Humans are possessive creatures. They take ownership of what is theirs, and deny ownership of what they do not want to own. It is estimated that as many as 80% of cold case files contain a "pronoun confession" within them.
In robbery cases where the "victim" knows the perpetrator, the pronoun "we" sometimes slips out.
In one case, an employee said he was beaten into opening the company safe. "They punched and kicked me and then we went into the room and they made me open the safe..."
Pronouns are so powerful that they pre date speech.
Even infants can communicate the pronoun "my" with the opening and closing of the hand.
Pronouns take no "pre thought" and are reliable in detecting deception. We use them millions of times, therefore, the brain is efficient at processing them to the point of 100% accuracy. Even moms of teenagers know to listen for pronouns:
"Didn't do it, Mom." drops the pronoun "I."
When Bill Clinton was running for office, he was accused of having an affair with Gennifer Flowers. His wife, Hillary defended him:
"When the man I love and the man I respect is attacked, I am going to defend him..."
Years later, worn down by his behavior, after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, Hillary said,
"...when the man you respect and the man you love is attacked..."
It took years and much suffering to eject the pronoun "I" from her statement.
Pronouns guide us to truth.
Here, the subject (Comey) allows for the words "I am lying" to enter his language. This is contrary to the psychological "wall of truth." We note the source of these words as critical.
In an argument, one might say, "you are saying that I am lying" which is to assign these words to another. This means the genesis or origin of the words "I am lying" came from someone else.
In Comey's case, it is his belief that he identifies. Therefore, he must process the information rather than parroting or quoting someone else. When one parrots or quotes another, it is not an embedded confession or admission.
It is to embed in a most important point of the statement (following the word "but") the ownership of lying.
When one is telling the truth, there is no possibility of lying. The truthful will not allow for this to stand and it does not enter their language.
When one says, "I did not take the missing money" followed by, "I am telling the truth", it is more than 99% likely to be truthful. This is a "Reliable Denial" and it is to bring the allegation to a halt. Why? Because it is true. Nothing is needed to defend it.
Here, the word "but" alerts us to something in juxtaposition of thought: "After" (timing) is closely connected to "I am lying" in the subject's own language. He does not quote another.
Yet, we continue to listen to see if his words will affirm the assertion that this is an "Embedded Confession."
He allows for himself to be viewed as "lying" and offers the remedy on how to deal with it:
Via private conversation.
This is not to be countered by a polygraph, nor investigation, evidence or interrogation.
It is to be countered in a "conversation" (non legally binding; non-confrontational).
Yet he qualifies this conversation further:
It is to be "private."
This is to indicate confidence in personal bearing while in a private setting, while showing the lack of confidence in words used in the answer.
It is also consistent with manipulation.
please urge them to contact me privately so we can have a conversation about this.
What should not be missed here is the pronouns. Pronouns are intuitive. We use them millions of times and we do not pause to ask ourselves, "should I use "I" or should I use "we"?" It is intuitive for us.
Intended Recipient in Statement Analysis
If a suspect is arrested and brought to jail and is talking to a visitor, the conversation may be recorded.
The suspect is talking to the visitor, who is the "Intended Recipient" of his words.
His words may also indicate awareness of the audio-video recording.
When Casey Anthony met with her mother, Cindy Anthony, while in jail for the killing of her daughter, Caylee, the recordings were played on television each night. Eventually, Casey and Cindy recognized the "Unintended Audience" (or "recipient" of her words) and scripted their message to law enforcement and the public. Also Casey was talking to Cindy, (Cindy is the "Intended Recipient") her awareness of both investigators and the national audience became her "Unintended Recipient."
We hear this often in 911 calls. Sometimes the caller may even say, "I know you are recording this." For further examples, see:
Police investigators often call this "scripting" or "playing to the camera."
The subject is speaking to the 911 operator ("Intended Recipient") but is also speaking to the investigators who will be investigating the caller ("Unintended Recipient") intentionally. The designation of "Intended" and "Unintended" is a Statement Analysis principle that examines the change of language and purpose. It is only "unintended" technically for this classification.
In Statement Analysis, we recognize the "Ingratiating Factor" in language.
This is where a subject "ingratiates" himself into the audience (recipient) often using flattery in an attempt to be "on the side of police" or the "authorities." The flattery or ingratiating words indicates the opposite.
For example, when DeOrr Kunz' toddler son went missing, he extensively praised law enforcement and authorities for not finding his son. He linguistically "ingratiated" himself into the "good guys" (officials) which highlighted his need to be seen as a "good guy." He was deceptive about what happened to his son and he exposed his own need to be seen in a positive light. This is the "Ingratiating Factor" in analysis.
This is also seen where a killer may not only praise law enforcement but put himself into the investigation as "helpful" including "searching" for the missing person he had killed. This is why "memorials for the missing victim" are video taped. The killer has a psychological need to be seen in a positive light. This need, itself, is where we focus our attention.
When an innocent parent's child is not recovered, the parent is not pleased with law enforcement, but impatient and upset.
Appropriate vs Inappropriate
Ingratiation is noted as "Inappropriate" (the above examples) or as "Appropriate" under a specific condition: the subject is already on the same "team" as the "good guys."
This is often indicated in conspiratorial crimes, particularly financial.
Director Comey ingratiated himself in the following:
But if colleagues of ours
While giving this testimony, he was "on the hot seat" with the question, by its own wording, to learn if he had perverted justice on behalf of Mrs. Clinton.
He called them "colleagues" which units him with those who may think he is lying.
He affirmed this position with the pronoun "ours" here.
He is indicated for "Appropriate Ingratiation"; that is, he is identifying those he sees as colleagues who believe he is lying. He wants to deal with them as colleagues, in "conversation" that will be aside or hidden from the public, as "private."
This indicates that he is not only answering the question (Intended Recipient) but he is now addressing at least two persons ("colleagues" is plural) as Unintended Recipients, of whom he wants to have "private" communications that he classifies as "conversations."
This is to indicate that under the word "but", there are those that he is specifically addressing that are government officials.
The profile of this answer is for a different study and outside the boundary of the Analytical Question:
"Is Director Comey truthful?"
One may consider the boldness of this offering, in context, to have "private conversations" regarding the self-stated, "I am lying."
believe that I am lying about when I made this decision, please urge them to contact me privately so we can have a conversation about this.
The pronoun "we" shows "unity" and "cooperation." It is so powerful that in sexual assaults, the language of unity and cooperation is ejected from victims' statements once the sexual assault has taken place.
Pronouns are instinctive, powerful and accurate.
"We drove to the woods and he raped me. He drove me to my house and I called police..."
Here, they drove "together" ("we") but once he raped her, "we" did not drive home, but "he drove me", intuitively distancing herself, as victim, from him, the rapist. It is an indicator of veracity.
To the contrary:
"We were out at this party and everyone was drinking. He raped me. Then we went back to my house and he left. I cried and... "
The use of the pronoun "we" after the assault indicates deception. These often lead to confessions as the subject is confronted with the word "we" as well as the unnecessary use of "left" (his departure) is examined in the interview process.
All I can do
This is self-limiting. He is moving from the free editing process to a containment of information. He is restricted from going further.
Yet it what comes next, we find an even greater source of information.
Question: Who made the decision to not recommend charges?
Answer: We always let the subject speak for himself.
believe that I am lying about when I made this decision
Here he said, "when I made the decision" with the focus of the sentence upon the element of "time." He does use the words "I made this decision" but now there is a change:
is tell you again the decision was made after that because I didn't know what was going to happen in that interview.
a. Passive Voice
Here, the "decision was made" rather than saying "All I can do is tell you again that I made the decision after..."
Passivity is used to conceal identity and/or responsibility.
"The gun went off."
"Rocks were thrown."
"Someone got punched."
We then note that passivity is either appropriately used or inappropriately used.
In a mob scene, "rocks were thrown" conceals the identity and responsibility for the throwing of rocks. If the subject, within a crowd, does not know who did it, this is an appropriate use of passivity in language. Here is an example of one entering "passive voice" (longer than a single use of passivity)
"I was telling my wife that I was sorry. I heard a gun shot and she was on the floor."
Everything he says is truthful. He is, however, lying by omission. The passivity of the scene excludes that he pulled the trigger. Yet, it is true that he told her he was sorry, he did hear a gun shot and his wife did hit the floor. The passivity is inappropriately used which seeks to conceal his responsibility.
Comey now changes the language to "the decision was made."
The analyst/reader should now consider why he has the need to move from,
"...when I made the decision" (associated with the words, "I am lying") to the passive voice which distances himself from responsibility of the decision.
"I know that I did not shoot the man" is very different than "I did not shoot the man." In the former, the subject asserts knowledge; but in the latter, he denies shooting.
The "element" of the first sentence is "knowledge" in stead of a denial. It is a subtle method of shifting the topic and is used skillfully by intelligent liars.
Comey did not directly state, "I made the decision" instead opting for the element of time to dominate: "when I made..."
This subtle difference is amplified by his need to move into passive voice.
Mr. Comey is a very highly intelligent and educated man. He may have a personal internal dictionary in excess of 35,000 words.
When he spoke, he went into this vast dictionary and in less than a microsecond of time, he:
a. chose what information to give; what not to give
b. what order the information is given (priority)
c. what words of 35,000 to use and what words not to use
d. what verb tenses to conjugate
e. where to place each word next to another (syntax) to communicate what he wants his audience to grasp.
This extreme speed of brain transmission to speech is what gives deception detection its basis for success.
He offers "I am lying" followed by a remedy.
Then, he shows us the highest level of sensitivity in speech:
He explains "why" he did something where no such explanation is necessary:
All I can do is tell you again the decision was made after that because I didn't know what was going to happen in that interview.
This is both "sensitive" in analysis as unnecessary but also due to redundancy.
He would not have been asked as a follow up question to "after" with
"Why did you wait until after the interview?" because it is unnecessary information.
Unnecessary words are only unnecessary to us; they are not unnecessary to him.
He, himself, has a need to persuade that he made the decision "after" that acute and in need of support.
It is like saying, "the reason I did not steal from the bank is because it would be stealing."
It is absurd to think that he would know the outcome of "that interview" before the interview took place. It is this absurdity that affirms the analysis.
It is to acknowledge that he knew the content and result of the interview before the interview.
This cannot be separated from the release of information that stated that "no memorial of the interview exists."
Analysts recognize that the color "blue" is used in the highest level of sensitivity in language.
1. It is sensitive because he explains "why" without being asked. This indicates he anticipated the challenge.
2. It is elevated in sensitivity in that it is information of no consequence.
If someone is handed a box and is told, "you don't know what is in the sealed box until you open it" they would not feel the need to state, "I opened the sealed box because I did not know what was in it"; it is presupposed.
It is like picking the numbers of the lottery and later offering,
"I picked the numbers randomly because I did not know the numbers that were going to be drawn."
This statement would immediately lead to an investigation.
The need to explain why (1) and the need to explain that which warrants no explanation (2) indicates that this is the highest point of sensitivity for the subject: pre knowledge.
Analysis Conclusion: Deception Indicated.
The subject knew that no criminal charges were going to be filed against Secretary Clinton prior to the interview.
The subject knew what the interview was going to contain as well as the outcome.
It is very likely that there is a connection between certain members within the audience and the subject, regarding the context of the foregone conclusion of "no charges." This implicate guilty knowledge among some within his "Intended" and/or "Unintended" audience.
For training in deception detection, visit Hyatt Analysis Services.