October 22, 2015: Clinton publicly testifies before the House Benghazi Committee and answers questions for eleven hours.

Clinton testifies before the House Benghazi Committee on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

Clinton testifies before the House Benghazi Committee on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Jonathan Ernst / Reuters)

The New York Times reports that “the long day of often-testy exchanges between committee members and their prominent witness revealed little new information about an episode that has been the subject of seven previous investigations… Perhaps stung by recent admissions that the pursuit of Mrs. Clinton’s emails was politically motivated, Republican lawmakers on the panel for the most part avoided any mention of her use of a private email server.”

The email issue is briefly discussed shortly before lunch, in “a shouting match” between Republican committee chair Trey Gowdy and two Democrats, Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings.

Later in the hearing, Representative Jim Jordan (R) accuses Clinton of changing her explanations of the email service. That leads to a “heated exchange” in which Clinton “repeated that she had made a mistake in using a private email account, but maintained that she had never sent or received anything marked classified and had sought to be transparent by publicly releasing her emails.” (The New York Times, 10/22/2015) (The Washington Post, 10/22/2015)

 

July 27, 2016: US intelligence hasn’t found proof that the Russian government is responsible for WikiLeaks getting recently hacked emails.

The Washington Post reports that “Intelligence officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an issue under investigation, said there is little doubt that agents of the Russian government hacked the Democratic National Committee [DNC], and the White House was informed months ago of [Russia’s] culpability.” However, days after WikiLeaks posted almost 20,000 DNC emails, the Post adds, “The intelligence community, the officials said, has not reached a conclusion about who passed the emails to WikiLeaks.”

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Former NSA director Keith Alexander, testifying before Congress in 2013. (Credit: The Associated Press)

One unnamed US official says, “We have not drawn any evidentiary connection to any Russian intelligence service and WikiLeaks — none.”

Former NSA Director Keith Alexander says, “Determining with confidence who was behind it — if the Russians were the hackers, seeing them pass that data to WikiLeaks — is probably much more difficult than attributing it to the initial hacker. That’s a tough one — especially because there are different ways of passing that information, not all electronic.”

Furthermore, even if Russia is behind the leaks to WikiLeaks, the motivation is unclear. A key question is if Russia is attempting to influence the November 2016 US presidential election. Michael Hayden, former director of both the NSA and the CIA, states, “Frankly, I don’t think they’re motivated by thinking they can affect the election itself.” He thinks the Russians may be flexing their muscles “to demonstrate that they can — not necessarily to make [Donald] Trump win or Hillary [Clinton] lose.”

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Leo Taddeo (Credit: Twitter)

Leo Taddeo, a former FBI agent who worked with cybersecurity operations, says, “This is not [Russian leader Vladimir] Putin trying to help Trump. I think they were messaging Hillary Clinton, telling her that they can get in the way of her election if she doesn’t show some flexibility in her position toward them.”

Representative Adam Schiff (D) believes that if Russia is ultimately responsible, the Obama administration “should make it known publicly and forcefully. Even if they’re not able to lay out the evidence because it would disclose sources and methods, they should make the attribution.” (The Washington Post, 7/27/2016)

August 16, 2016: The FBI gives Congress some classified documents from its Clinton email investigation.

The documents include the FBI’s summary of the interview of Clinton on July 1, 2016, known as a 302.

The State Department wanted to review the 302 interview summaries first, but the FBI ignored that request. On July 7, 2016, FBI Director James Comey said when it came to documents relating to the FBI’s Clinton investigation, he was committed to delivering to Congress “everything I can possibly give you under the law and to doing it as quickly as possible.”

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Representative Adam Schiff (Credit: Michael Buckner / Getty Images)

Representative Adam Schiff (D) criticizes the move. “With the exception of the classified emails that had been found on the private server, I can see little legitimate purpose to which Congress will put these materials. Instead, as the now-discredited Benghazi Committee demonstrated, their contents will simply be leaked for political purposes. This will neither serve the interests of justice nor aid Congress in its responsibilities and will merely set a precedent for the FBI to turn over closed case files whenever one party in Congress does not like a prosecutorial decision. This has been done in the name of transparency, but as this precedent chills the cooperation of other witnesses in the future, I suspect the Department of Justice will later come to refer to it by a different name — mistake.”

The documents can be seen by members of Congress, but they are not allowed to publicly reveal any of it. An FBI spokesperson says, “The material contains classified and other sensitive information and is being provided with the expectation it will not be disseminated or disclosed without FBI concurrence.”

However, Senator Charles Grassley (R), chair of the judiciary committee, says, “On initial review, it seems that much of the material given to the Senate today, other than copies of the large number of emails on Secretary Clinton’s server containing classified information, is marked ‘unclassified/for official use.’ The FBI should make as much of the material available as possible.”

Clinton campaign spokesperson Brian Fallon also wants to see the material publicly release, saying, “This is an extraordinarily rare step that was sought solely by Republicans for the purposes of further second-guessing the career professionals at the FBI. We believe that if these materials are going to be shared outside the Justice Department, they should be released widely so that the public can see them for themselves, rather than allow Republicans to mischaracterize them through selective, partisan leaks.” (Politico, 8/16/2016)

August 30, 2016: More than 50 House Republicans call for a special prosecutor to investigate Hillary Clinton’s ties to the Clinton Foundation.

The representatives write a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, urging the Justice Department to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether Clinton Foundation donors had unusual access to Hillary Clinton while she served as secretary of State. This comes after an August 24, 2016 Associated Press article that claims over half of all the private citizens Clinton met with in those years donated to the foundation.

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Representative John Ratcliffe (Credit: public domain)

Representative John Ratcliffe (R) spearheads the letter, which cites the evidence in the article, then says, “All of this makes it very unclear where the State Department ended and where the Clinton Foundation began. … The facts as they have been reported surrounding the Clinton Foundation warrant an investigation that is beyond reproach and beyond any appearance of political favoritism. Appointing a special counsel is a necessary step at this juncture.”

The presidential campaign of Republican nominee Donald Trump has also been pushing for a special prosecutor in recent days. Prominent Republicans such as vice presidential nominee Mike Pence, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani have issued similar statements.

Not surprisingly, Clinton and other Democratic politicians reject the need for a special prosecutor. For instance, Representative Adam Schiff (D) says, “There’s no evidence at all of any illegality in terms of Clinton Foundation and the secretary of state’s of work. … The most that has come to surface is that some of the Clinton Foundation supporters also met with the secretary of state, which you would imagine would be the case. So no, that’s not at all the kind of foundation you would want for the extraordinary step of a special investigator [or] prosecutor.” (The Hill, 8/30/2016)