According to later released emails, Bryan Pagliano receives an IT [information technology] security briefing in late 2010 or early 2011. It has to do with cybersecurity risks facing the State Department. A letter by Charles Grassley (R) which summarizes the emails says this briefing is “in connection with his work on the Secretary’s non-government server.” Pagliano continues to run Clinton’s private email server after he is hired by the State Department in May 2009, and at least initially, his bosses and co-workers don’t know about his second job with Clinton’s server. It’s not clear who else learns about it and when. (Reuters, 3/24/2016) (US Department of State, 5/25/2016)
She grows impatient as she waits for “talking points” about a sensitive matter.
Sullivan emails her, “They say they’ve had issues sending secure fax. They’re working on it.”
Then Clinton emails him, “If they can’t, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure.” (US Department of State, 1/7/2016)
Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon will later claim, “What she was asking was that any information that could be transmitted on the unclassified system be transmitted. It is wrong to suggest that she was requesting otherwise. The State Department looked into this and confirmed that no classified material was sent through a non-secure fax or email.”
There has been no official comment from the State Department on this exchange yet. (The Washington Post, 3/27/2016)
Senator Charles Grassley (R), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will later call the exchange between Clinton and Sullivan “disturbing.” He will say, “It raises a host of serious questions and underscores the importance of the various inquiries into the transmittal of classified information through her non-government email server.” (CNN, 1/8/2016)
In February 2016, Sullivan will give his opinion about this email in an FBI interview. According to the FBI, “Sullivan did not recall this specific email but believed that Clinton’s request indicated that she would have wanted him to make an unclassified version of the document, summarize the contents, and then send it to her on a non-secure fax.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)
In 2016, Clinton will give her opinion about this email on two occasions.
Alo in 2016, FBI Diretor James Comey will give his opinion about the email.
Abedin is Clinton’s deputy chief of staff during Clinton’s time as secretary of state. For the last six months of Clinton’s tenure, she participates in a “special government employee” six-month program that allows her to simultaneously work four paid jobs: the State Department, the Clinton Foundation, Clinton’s personal office, and Teneo, a private consultancy with close ties to the Clintons. In autumn 2015, the State Department’s inspector general will subpoena the Clinton Foundation, requesting records about Abedin’s possible conflicts of interest. (The Washington Post, 2/11/2016)
Senator Charles Grassley (R) will later say he has “fundamental questions” about Abedin’s multiple jobs, asking her in a letter, “How can the taxpayer know who exactly you are working for at any given moment?” (The Washington Post, 8/27/2015)
On October 26, 2012, Bryan Pagliano sends Clinton an email with the subject line: “Happy Birthday!” His message is, “Happy Birthday Madam Secretary. To many more! Bryan.”
However, rather than directly replying, on November 14, 2012, Clinton forwards the email to her aide Robert Russo with the comment, “Pls [please] respond.”
She forwards dozens of other birthday emails to Russo on the same day, as she apparently has been too busy to reply to each one herself. Curiously, Clinton’s forward of Pagliano’s email (and not his original email) appears to be the only email to or from Pagliano or mentioning his name in the over 30,000 Clinton emails that will later be publicly released, even though he’s a State Department employee and is managing Clinton’s private server during her four years as secretary of state. (US Department of State, 11/30/2015)
In December 2015, it will be reported that a State Department file containing Pagliano’s emails from Clinton’s time as secretary of state is missing. (Politico, 12/11/2015)
Also in December 2015, Senator Chuck Grassley (R), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, will say that his request to the State Department for emails between Pagliano and Clinton is his “highest-priority request.” (Business Insider, 3/3/2016)
Kendall gets a “Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information” (TS/SCI) security clearance from the Justice Department in November 2013. He and his Williams & Connolly law partner Katherine Turner also get a “top secret” clearance from the State Department in December 2014. This is so Kendall can review information related to the House Benghazi Committee’s on-going investigation.
At some point in late 2014, Kendall, Cheryl Mills (Clinton’s chief of staff), and Heather Samuelson (another lawyer) read and sort through all of Clinton’s over 60,000 emails from Clinton’s time as secretary of state. At least 22 of these will later be determined to have contained “top secret” information. Kendall then keeps a copy of over 30,000 of Clinton’s emails, including the 22 top secret ones, in a safe in the office he shares with Turner.
Only in July 2015 will government security officials give him first one safe and then a second more secure safe to hold the thumb drive containing Clinton’s emails, before Kendall gives up the thumb drive in August 2015.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley (R) will later suggest, “Neither Mr. Kendall nor Ms. Turner have a security clearance at a sufficient level to be a custodian of TS/SCI material. Thus, it appears Secretary Clinton sent TS/SCI material to unauthorized persons.” Politico will later point out, “Clearances, especially Top Secret ones, are normally granted in connection with specific matters and do not entitle recipients to all information classified at that level…” (Politico, 8/25/2015)
Furthermore, Clinton’s emails are handed over to the State Department on December 5, 2014, making it likely that at least some of the time-consuming reading and sorting of 60,000 emails took place prior to the security clearances that were given in November 2014. (The Washington Post, 3/10/2015)
John Schindler, a former NSA counterintelligence official, will later comment, “TS/SCI information must always be placed in a Secure Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), a special, purpose-built room designed to protect against physical and electronic intrusion. A full-blown SCIF surely Kendall did not possess. […] Anything less is a clear violation of Federal law. Hillary has placed herself and her attorney in a precarious position here.” (John Schindler, 8/26/2015)
Additionally, it is unknown if Mills and Samuelson, who read and sorted all of Clinton’s emails with Kendall, had the security clearances to do so.
Charles Grassley (R), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, comments on Clinton’s use of only a private email account while secretary of state. “[It] could be a violation of law, probably is a violation of law. Some people are suggesting she could even be prosecuted, and it’s as simple as this – she was using a private email address instead of a government one, and it probably violates the Freedom of Information Act [FOIA], it probably violates national security legislation.” (National Public Radio, 4/2/2015)
Senator Charles Grassley (R), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Ron Johnson, (R) chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, say they will seek an independent review of any deleted emails that get recovered to find out if any actually are work-related. (The Washington Post, 9/12/2015)
After it became clear by May 2015 that some of Clinton’s emails contained classified information, the security of the email copies possessed by Clinton’s lawyer David Kendall became an issue. In July 2015, State Department officials installed a special safe in Kendall’s office to store them.
However, on this day, Assistant Secretary of State Julia Frifield writes to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Charles Grassley (R) that “while the safe was suitable for up to (top secret) information, it was not approved for TS/SCI material.” “TS/SCI” stands for “top secret, sensitive compartmented information.” Top secret information and above, such as TS/SCI, must be kept in a specially built secure room known as a SCIF [sensitive compartmented information facility]. Frifield argues that no one in the department knew Clinton’s emails contained such highly classified information.
The issue was resolved in August 2015 when the FBI took away Kendall’s copies of the emails. (The Associated Press, 9/28/2015)
Senate Judiciary Chair Chuck Grassley (R) sends a letter to former Clinton aide and lawyer Heather Samuelson. In late 2014, Samuelson led the sorting process through Clinton’s 62,000 emails to determine which ones to turn over to The State Department and which ones to delete. She also worked on Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign and then was a senior adviser to Clinton in the State Department.
Grassley asks if Samuelson had the security clearance necessary to handle Clinton’s emails, some of which were later deemed to contain “top secret” intelligence. He writes, “It is imperative to understand your background in determining what is and what is not a federal record, since you apparently played a major role in assisting Secretary Clinton in making a decision as to which emails to delete.”
A week later, Politico will try to contact Samuelson and the Clinton campaign about Grassley’s questions but got no response. After that there will be no news reports indicating if Grassley ever gets a reply. Earlier in 2015, Samuelson moved from Washington to New York with plans to work in Clinton’s presidential campaign headquarters there. But she never started the job, due to the controversy over her role in sorting Clinton’s emails. (Politico, 11/23/2015)
Bloomberg News reports that there is a debate in high-level political circles over whether Clinton should be allowed to keep her security clearance or not during the FBI’s Clinton investigation. Predictably, Democrats say she should while Republicans say she shouldn’t. It was reported in late January 2016 that 22 emails on her unapproved private server contained “top secret” and even above “top secret” information. (Bloomberg News, 2/4/2016)
In October 2015, the State Department reportedly confirmed to Senator Chuck Grassley (R) that Clinton still holds a security clearance for TS/SCI [Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information] the highest-level security clearance, and apparently nothing has changed since then. It is standard practice for high-ranking officials to retain their clearances after leaving office. (The Free Beacon, 10/7/2015)
Department spokesperson Melanie Newman says in a statement, “This matter is being reviewed by career attorneys and investigators and does not meet the criteria for the appointment of a special prosecutor.” There has been increasing pressure, especially from Republicans, to appoint a special prosecutor.
Many worry about a potential conflict of interest if Attorney General Loretta Lynch were to head any prosecution. Although Lynch isn’t seen as personally close to Hillary Clinton, Lynch was appointed to be the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York by President Bill Clinton in 1999. Furthermore, there is speculation that Lynch might keep her job as attorney general if Clinton wins the presidential election in November 2016, giving her a personal investment in the outcome of any prosecution.
Senate Judiciary Committee chair Charles Grassley (R) has said that a special prosecutor would reassure Americans that decisions are made “without regard to any political considerations.” Donald Trump, the frontrunner in the Republican presidential primaries, said in October 2015, “I think they probably won’t indict her, because the attorney general is from New York, who I believe is a friend of Hillary Clinton.” (The Hill, 2/8/2016)
According to Politico, recently discovered emails show that three of Clinton’s former staffers used accounts from a domain linked to Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. Clinton’s chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, used the account email@example.com in an April 5, 2009 email. Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, used the account firstname.lastname@example.org in a February 22, 2012 email. And Clinton’s computer technician, Bryan Pagliano, used the account email@example.com in a March 21, 2010 email. These accounts apparently are in addition to other work and personal emails used by all three people.
These discoveries lead the conservative government watchdog group Cause of Action to write a letter to Judiciary chair Charles Grassley (R) and Oversight chair Jason Chaffetz (R), asking them to look into whether Mills, Abedin, and Pagliano have turned over all their work emails from the domain, and whether other Clinton aides also had hillaryclinton.com accounts that were used for work. The group also wants to know why the domain was kept active long after Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign was over, and who was paying for it. Furthermore, the group questions if the use of such email accounts could violate the Hatch Act, which bars campaign activities from crossing into official government duties. (Politico, 2/16/2016) (US Department of State, 7/31/2015) (US Department of State, 5/13/2015) (US Department of State, 1/15/2016)
Bloomberg News reports that “The Hillary Clinton campaign has gone on the attack against the government official who conducts oversight of the State Department she used to run [Inspector General Steve Linick], accusing him of partisanship and misconduct without any direct evidence.”
However, Linick is a difficult target because he “has never been regarded as a partisan official” and President Obama appointed him. So the attackers are focusing on Emilia DiSanto, who works in his office, and claim that she is influencing him too much. Clinton supporters argue DiSanto is biased against Clinton because she had previously worked as an investigator for Republican Senator Charles Grassley.
Bloomberg News reports that for Linick’s staff, “the accusations are impossible to confront head on because they are not authorized to speak on the record about ongoing investigations.” Furthermore, his office has been “receiving dozens of FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requests aimed at gathering information on office staffers themselves. Sources in the inspector general office tell me they see the requests and accusations as an attempt to intimidate them and deter them from continuing Clinton-related work.” Bloomberg News concludes, “Accusing Linick’s staffers of misconduct due to their past work affiliations is a slippery slope; tons of government employees have connections on Capitol Hill.” (Bloomberg News, 3/4/2016)
It is reported that Senate Republicans have been trying to interview John Bentel since December 2015. Bentel was the director of Information Resources Management (IRM) in the State Department’s Office of Executive Secretariat when Clinton was secretary of state, and thus he may have knowledge about both Clinton’s private email account and her private server. But he has refused to answer their questions about Clinton’s private server. Senators Charles Grassley and Ron Johnson, the leaders of the Senate Judiciary and Homeland Security Committees respectively, have told Bentel that they would prefer a “voluntary and informal” meeting, but “will consider other options if faced with a continuing lack of cooperation,” potentially referring to a subpoena.
Bentel was secretly questioned by the House Benghazi Committee in June 2015, and claimed he had “no memory or knowledge” about such issues.
Senator Chuck Grassley (R), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says of the FBI’s Clinton investigation: “Is there going to be political interference? If there’s enough evidence to prosecute, will there be political interference? And if there’s political interference, then I assume that somebody in the FBI is going to leak these reports and it’s either going to have an effect politically or it’s going to lead to prosecution if there’s enough evidence.” He adds, “I wouldn’t be encouraging it because if it’s a violation of law, I can’t be encouraging a violation of law. This is kind of my own opinion, this is something I’ve heard.” (The Des Moines Register, 4/22/2016)
Senator Charles Grassley (R), head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, writes a letter to the State Department. He asks if some of Clinton’s former top aides, including Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines have kept their security clearances “in light of the fact that classified information has been discovered” on Clinton’s private server.
However, the State Department declines to tell him, saying it won’t discuss the status of any individuals’ security clearance. (The New York Times, 7/6/2016)
It has previously been reported that Clinton and her former chief of staff Cheryl Mills have kept their security clearances.
The State Department inspector general’s report on Clinton’s emails released one day earlier referred to some Clinton work-related emails that were not included in the 30,000 work emails Clinton turned over in December 2014. Senate investigators had asked the State Department for all of Clinton’s emails months ago.
Furthermore, in the summer of 2015, the department got 72,000 pages of work emails from four of Clinton’s top aides—Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, Jake Sullivan, and Philippe Reines—and yet the department didn’t share those with Congressional investigators either.
Senator Charles Grassley (R), who has been leading a Senate Judiciary Committee investigation into Clinton’s use of a private server, says, “Documents in those 72,000 pages were systematically withheld from Freedom of Information Act [FOIA] requestors and Congressional oversight committees, including the Senate Judiciary Committee, which I chair. […] It is disturbing that the State Department knew it had emails like this and turned them over to the inspector general, but not to Congress.” (The Associated Press, 5/26/2016)
Even after the inspector general’s report was released, there still has been no sign the Department has shared those emails.
Yahoo News reports that “Senate investigators and a conservative group [Judicial Watch] are zeroing in on newly revealed evidence about the activities of a now retired State Department computer specialist in orchestrating what they charge was a ‘cover-up’ of the former secretary of state’s email practices.” That person is John Bentel, who was director of the department’s Information Resource Management (IRM) office until December 2012.
According to a newly released State Department inspector general’s report, in late 2010, two IRM staffers separately raised issues with Bentel that some of Clinton’s private emails might need to be preserved to comply with the law and regulations. But according to the report, Bentel told one of the staffers that Clinton’s email practices had been “reviewed and approved by Department legal staff”—which was not true—and “that the matter was not to be discussed any further.” Bentel told the other staffer that the mission of the IRM “is to support the Secretary and instructed the staff never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again.”
In response to this report, Senator Chuck Grassley (R) says, “If what these two witnesses said is true, it is an outrage, and it raises a lot of serious questions. Good and honest employees just trying to do their job were told to shut up and sit down. Concerns about the secretary’s email system being out of compliance with federal record-keeping laws were swept under the rug.”
Additionally, in June 2015, Bentel told the House Benghazi Committee that he had “no memory or knowledge” of Clinton’s private email server while she was secretary of state.
But in August 2011, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, emailed the idea of giving Clinton a new email address because “her personal email server is down.” Bentel suggested giving Clinton a government email account, but warned, “you should be aware that any email would go through the department’s infrastructure and [be] subject to FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] searches.”
Grassley says he intends to learn more about Bentel’s role in a possible cover-up. And Judicial Watch plans to question former Clinton aides like Abedin and Cheryl Mills about Bentel’s role when they are deposed under oath in the coming weeks.
Law professor Douglas Cox say that Bentel’s role was “the most shocking part of the [inspector general’s] report. It shows there was dissent within the State Department precisely by the people responsible for insuring compliance with record-keeping and cyber-security issues—and they were told something that appears not to be true.” (Yahoo News, 5/27/2016) (The New York Times, 5/26/2016)
FBI official Stephen Kelly sends a letter to Senator Charles Grassley (R), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, in reponse to his questions. The letter reveals that FBI agents taking part in the FBI’s Clinton email investigation were sworn to secrecy. The agents signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) called a “Case Briefing Acknowledgement” which says the disclosure of any information about the investigation is “strictly prohibited” without prior approval.
The NDA reads in part: “I (FBI agent) also understand that, due to the nature and sensitivity of this investigation, compliance with these restrictions may be subject to verification by polygraph examination.”
The FBI claims that “no one refused to sign” the NDA or “raised any questions or concerns” about it.
An unnamed recently retired FBI agent says that this kind of NDA is reserved for “the most sensitive of sensitive cases,” and can have a “chilling effect” on agents, who understand “it comes from the very top and that there has to be a tight lid on the case.” This person adds that such NDAs can also contribute to “group think” because investigators cannot bounce ideas off other agents, only those within a small circle. (Fox News, 7/14/2016)
An upper-ranking retired FBI official says, “This is very, very unusual. I’ve never signed one, never circulated one to others.” And a current FBI agent says, “I have never heard of such a form. Sounds strange.” (The New York Post, 7/12/2016)
Grassley first wrote to the FBI with questions about NDAs on February 4, 2016, after a media report that FBI agents were asked to sign additional non-disclosure agreements in some cases.
Grassley comments that he finds it “troubling that the FBI tried to gag its agents with a non-disclosure agreement on this matter, in violation of whistleblower protection statutes.” Agents are only allowed to speak without permisssion in a limited number of circumstances, such as communications with Congress regarding waste, fraud, and abuse. (Fox News, 7/14/2016)
Information about this NDA will be first reported by The New York Post on July 12, 2016, shortly after the FBI announced Clinton would not be indicted. Fox New will wait for a follow-up letter to Grassley which won’t come until just after that announcement. (Fox News, 7/14/2016) (The New York Post, 7/12/2016)
In January 2016, Senator Charles Grassley (R), the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, asking about Cheryl Mills’ role in picking the next head of the Clinton Foundation by interviewing two candidates for that position on June 20, 2012. At the time, Mills was Clinton’s chief of staff in the State Department, and Clinton had vowed not to allow any action that even created the appearance of a conflict of interest between Clinton’s management of the State Department and the Clinton Foundation.
However, on August 11, 2016, CNN reports that Grassley still has received no official reply from the State Department.
Scott Amey, an attorney for the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), says, “Congress has a rightful right to ask for any information that it wants to from the executive branch of government to keep track of them. And the government should be turning that information over. When you have a breakdown in that system, we have a breakdown in our democracy.”
CNN also asks the State Department if Mills had or needed permission from the department for the trip, or if anyone from the department was even aware of what she was doing. A department spokesperson doesn’t directly answer the question, except to say that Mills had the right to do what she wanted on her own time if it was strictly voluntary in nature. (CNN, 8/11/2016)
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.”
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)
FBI acting legislative affairs officer Jason Herring testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.
He is asked by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), chair of the committee, to promise to hand over all of the FBI interview summaries, known as 302s, in unredacted form.
Herring says he can’t do that, and suggests that Chaffetz should file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, just like any private citizen can.
Committee member Representative Trey Gowdy (R) later complains, “Since when did Congress have to go through FOIA to obtain 302s?”
Chaffetz replies to Henning, “You don’t get to decide what I get to see. I get to see it all.” Then he brings out a subpoena. He sends it to the witness table where Henning is sitting, and says, “I’ve signed this subpoena. We want all the 302s… and you are hereby served.”
In fact, Chaffetz’s committee has some of the 302s already, but all “personally identifiable information” has been redacted from them. The committee wants to know more about the role of Paul Combetta in deleting and the wiping all of Clinton’s emails from her personal server, but since Combetta is a Platte River Networks (PRN) employee and not a government employee, much information about what he did has been redacted.
Representative Carolyn Maloney (D), a member of the committee, claims the obstacle to Chaffetz seeing the redactions actually is the House Intelligence Committee, not the FBI. Chaffetz has asked House Intelligence chair Representative Devin Nunes (R) for access to the unredacted versions, but no vote on that request has been taken or scheduled yet.
However, Senator Charles Grassley (R), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also complains about how the FBI is not letting his committee see unredacted documents from the investigation. “The FBI is trying to have it both ways. At the same time it talks about unprecedented transparency, it’s placing unprecedented hurdles in the way of Congressional oversight of unclassified law enforcement matters. It turned over documents, but with strings attached. … The Senate should not allow its controls on classified material to be manipulated to hide embarrassing material from public scrutiny, even when that material is unclassified.” (Politico, 9/12/2016)
Two other Congressional committees formally asked the Justice Department on September 9, 2016 for the full FBI interviews of Combetta and other PRN employees. (US Congress, 9/9/2016)
Senator Charles Grassley (R), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, speaks in the Senate about difficulties he is having with the FBI’s selective release of information regarding the FBI’s Clinton email investigation.
He points out that the FBI has taken the unusual step of releasing the FBI’s final report and Clinton interview summary. “However, its summary is misleading or inaccurate in some key details and leaves out other important facts altogether.”
He says there are dozens of completely unclassified witness reports, but even some Congressional staffers can’t see them “because the FBI improperly bundled [them] with a small amount of classified information, and told the Senate to treat it all as if it were classified.”
He says the normal procedure is for documents to have the classified portions marked. Then the unclassified portions can be released. But in defiance of regulations and a clear executive order on how such material should be handled, “the FBI has ‘instructed’ the Senate office that handles classified information not to separate the unclassified information.”
He points in particular to recently revealed news that Paul Combetta, an employee of the company (Platte River Networks) that managed Clinton’s private server from June 2013 onwards, deleted and wiped all of Clinton’s emails from the server in March 2015. Grassley claims “there is key information related to that issue that is still being kept secret, even though it is unclassified. If I honor the FBI’s ‘instruction’ not to disclose the unclassified information it provided to Congress, I cannot explain why.”
He also says, “Inaccuracies are spreading because of the FBI’s selective release. For example, the FBI’s recently released summary memo may be contradicted by other unclassified interview summaries that are being kept locked away from the public.”
Following the October 28, 2016 revelation that FBI Director James Comey has at least partially reopened the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, Senator Charles Grassley (R), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sends him a letter with a series of questions.
He points that in May 2016, “I wrote to you expressing concern about the appearance that political appointees at the Justice Department might be withholding approval for the FBI to seek search warrants and grand jury subpoenas. These standard investigative tools are usually approved in criminal investigations of this scope and importance. However, it remains unclear to this day whether the FBI requested the use of a grand jury in the Clinton email investigation to compel documents and testimony, and if so, whether the [Justice Department] denied that request. These concerns are only magnified by these latest developments [regarding the reopening of the investigation].”
He adds, “If the FBI is denied the ability to gather evidence through compulsory means, Secretary Clinton and her aides have enormous leverage to negotiate extraordinary concessions in exchange for voluntary cooperation. It is critical for the public to know whether the FBI has requested from the Justice Department vital investigative tools such as grand jury subpoenas and search warrants and whether it has been denied access to them.” (Politico, 11/1/2016) (US Congress, 10/31/2016)
Two days later, it will be reported that the FBI never asked the Justice Department for the grand jury legal backing needed for subpoena power, but this has not been officially confirmed.
On September 28, 2016, Comey hinted that he preferred making immunity deals with key witnesses over using subpoena power in order to bring the investigation to a faster conclusion.
CNN reports, “During the Clinton email server investigation, investigators and prosecutors debated whether to issue subpoenas to Clinton’s aides, officials say. Leaders at the FBI and at the Justice Department thought it would be faster to come to voluntary agreements with aides. Subpoenas could cause delays, particularly if litigation is necessary, officials said. And the FBI and Justice Department wanted to try to complete the probe and get out of the way of the 2016 election.”
Presumably this meant it was agreed not to get Justice Department approval to empanel a grand jury, because an FBI investigation cannot issue subpoenas without the legal authority of a grand jury. (CNN, 11/2/2016)
Two days earlier, Senator Charles Grassley (R) sent FBI Director James Comey a letter asking for an official answer regarding this issue. Comey hinted in September 2016 that he didn’t seek a grand jury in the interest of quickly concluding the investigation.