December 11, 2015: Emails from Clinton’s computer technician are missing.

The State Department has told Senate investigators that it cannot find the emails of Bryan Pagliano, the Clinton aide who managed her private server. Department officials found a “.pst file” which contains back-up copies of Pagliano’s emails from the time period after Clinton was secretary of state, but his .pst file for Clinton’s time as secretary of state is missing. But it is also revealed that the FBI has taken possession of Pagliano’s government computer, and it is hoped that some of all of the emails will be found there. Senate investigators want the email to help determine if Pagliano should be offered immunity in return for testimony. (Politico, 12/11/2015) 

However, it will later emerge that Pagliano was given immunity by the FBI some months earlier. (The New York Times, 3/3/2016)

March 2, 2016: It is reported Clinton’s former computer technician has made an immunity deal.

Hillary Clinton and Brian Pagliano at a party, date and location unknown. (Credit: Facebook)

Hillary Clinton and Brian Pagliano at a party, date and location unknown. (Credit: Facebook)

It is reported that Bryan Pagliano, a former Clinton staffer who helped set up her private email server, has accepted an immunity deal from the FBI and the Justice Department.

In September 2015, Pagliano invoked his Fifth Amendment rights and refused to speak to the House Benghazi Committee. He managed the server from 2008 until mid-2013. He actually started secretly cooperating with investigators in late 2015. The Clinton campaign claims they are “pleased” Pagliano is finally cooperating with prosecutors. (The Washington Post, 3/2/2016) 

The next day, Congressional Republicans say they want to interview Pagliano, since the deal means his Fifth Amendment pledge is no longer applicable. They also want to see the exact terms of the deal. (The Associated Press, 3/3/2016)

June 1, 2016: Pagliano will refuse to answer questions in his upcoming deposition.

Lawyers for Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano say he “will assert the Fifth Amendment and will decline to answer each and every question” when deposed by Judicial Watch as part of a civil suit on June 6.

Pagliano previously refused to speak to the House Benghazi Committee or Congressional investigators. However, it has been reported that he made an immunity deal with the Justice Department as part of cooperating with the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

Also, despite the fact that Pagliano plans on not answering any questions, his lawyers also ask that no video recording of his deposition be made. US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan has already ruled that videos of the deposition should be put under seal. However, Pagliano’s lawyers argue there still could be a chance a video could be released later. (Politico, 6/1/2016) (The Hill, 6/1/2016)

Two days later, Sullivan announces that Pagliano’s deposition will be postponed until issues about his pleading the Fifth are resolved. Sullivan has asked Pagliano’s lawyers to reveal the scope of the immunity deal between Pagliano and the Justice Department, and how that could affect this civil case. There are different types of immunity deals, and until now it hasn’t been clear which type applies to Pagliano. (Politico, 6/3/2016) (The Hill, 6/3/2016)

June 7, 2016: Pagliano is revealed to have received a limited immunity that leaves him open to prosecution.

Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano files a copy of his immunity deal with the Department of Justice as part of a civil suit presided over by US District Judge Emmet Sullivan. Pagliano asks that the deal remain secret, and Sullivan will agree to that several days later. However, in making the filing, Pagliano’s lawyers mention that he was granted “derivative use” immunity in December 2015.

LawNewz explains this form of immunity “does not prevent the government from prosecuting Pagliano, but just limits them from using any evidence derived from Pagliano’s testimony against him.” His lawyers are arguing that what he might say in a deposition in this court case could be used against him in the FBI’s Clinton investigation, despite the immunity deal. (LawNewz, 6/7/2016)

June 10, 2016: Justice Department lawyers want the details of Pagliano’s immunity deal to remain a secret.

Bryan Pagliano was Clinton’s computer technician, and he made an immunity deal with the Justice Department in late 2015.

Several days earlier his lawyers revealed to federal judge Emmet Sullivan that it was a limited “derivative use” immunity deal. But they argue that releasing more details of “Mr. Pagliano’s agreements with the United States could prematurely reveal the scope and focus of the pending investigation.” Furthermore, “The FBI cannot publicly disclose the specific focus, scope, or potential targets of any such investigation without adversely affecting the investigation.” (Politico, 6/10/2016)

 Several days later, Sullivan will agree to keep the details a secret.

June 14, 2016: A federal judge refers to the FBI’s Clinton investigation as a “criminal investigation.”

US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan is presiding over a case in which former Clinton aide Bryan Pagliano is fighting giving a deposition. Sullivan comments, “The privacy interests at stake are high because the government’s criminal investigation through which Mr. Pagliano received limited immunity is ongoing and confidential.” As part of the case, Sullivan is privy to information from the FBI that has not been made public.

Politico points out that this is the first “explicit confirmation that the investigation—which Clinton has repeatedly referred to as a ‘security review’—is actually a criminal probe.” (Politico, 6/14/2016)

June 14, 2016: Pagliano’s immunity deal will remain secret and he will be privately videotaped.

US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan is presiding over a civil suit in which he wants Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano to be deposed under oath and answer questions from Judicial Watch about Clinton’s email server. Pagliano has said he will plead the Fifth Amendment due to receiving an immunity deal with the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

Sullivan orders the immunity deal to be submitted to the court, but declares that details of the deal will not be made public, stating, “In the Court’s opinion, the need for public access to Mr. Pagliano’s agreement with the government is minimal.”

Pagliano also petitioned not to be videotaped, but Sullivan denies this request. Sullivan previously ruled such a video recording would remain under seal and not publicly released, and that will still be the case. Pagliano had been scheduled to be deposed on June 6, 2016. Sullivan orders him and Judicial Watch to arrange a new date for it before the end of June. (Politico, 6/14/2016) (The Washington Post, 6/14/2016)

June 22, 2016: Clinton’s former computer technician Bryan Pagliano repeatedly pleads the Fifth in a sworn deposition.

Pagliano has been forcibly deposed by Judicial Watch in a civil suit presided by US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan. He originally was supposed to be deposed on June 6, 2016, but it was delayed after he revealed he planned to invoke his Fifth Amendment constitutional right against self-incrimination, as well as arguments over the implications of his limited immunity given as part of a deal he made to cooperate with the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

As expected, he pleads the Fifth, doing so more than 125 times, according to Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. Fitton also says, “On many of the key issues, he took the Fifth. He took the Fifth even on questions about his resume.”

In addition, Pagliano’s lawyers reportedly object to many questions, saying they go beyond the scope of discovery permitted by Sullivan. Fitton says he hopes Sullivan will see Pagliano’s failure to answer any substantive questions as further evidence that Clinton’s private email server set up by Pagliano may have been designed to evade Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. (Politico, 6/22/2016)

July 7, 2016: Pagliano won’t be indicted; it isn’t clear why the FBI gave him an immunity deal.

In a Congressional hearing, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) asks FBI Director James Comey if Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano had the “requisite security clearance” to look at Clinton’s classified emails on her private server, which he was managing.

Comey replies, “As I sit here, I can’t remember. He was not a participant on the classified email exchanges though.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

Later in the hearing, Representative Buddy Carter (R) asks Comey about Pagliano, “Is anything going to be done to him? Any prosecution, or any discipline?”

Comey answers, “I don’t know about discipline, but there’s not going to be any prosecution of him.”

Chaffetz then asks, “My understanding, Director, is that you offered him immunity. Why did you offer him immunity and what did you get for it?”

Comey replies, “I’m not sure what I can talk about in open setting about that. … I want to be careful. I’m doing this 24 hours after the investigation closed. I want to be thoughtful, because we’re — we’re as you know, big about the law, that I’m following the law about what I disclose about that. So I’ll have to get back to you on that one. I don’t want to answer that off the cuff.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

September 2016: The FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation tries but fails to get access to possibly relevant emails found in the Clinton email investigation.

Although the FBI’s Clinton email investigation was closed in July 2016, the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation continues, though it never has had grand jury backing and thus no subpoena power.

 Clinton closes the 10th Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Annual Meeting in September, 2014. (Credit: Mark Lennihan / The Associated Press)

Clinton speaks at the 10th Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) annual meeting in September, 2014. (Credit: Mark Lennihan / The Associated Press)

The email investigation uncovered many thousands of emails on non-government computers belonging to Clinton and some of her aides, and many of these same people had obvious roles with the Clinton Foundation. As a result, sometime in September 2016, Clinton Foundation investigators ask to have access to the emails found in the Clinton email investigation.

But that request is rejected by prosecutors at the Eastern District of New York. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Those emails were given to the FBI based on grants of partial immunity and limited-use agreements, meaning agents could only use them for the purpose of investigating possible mishandling of classified information. Some FBI agents were dissatisfied with that answer, and asked for permission to make a similar request to federal prosecutors in Manhattan, according to people familiar with the matter.”

However, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe allegedly tells them no and says they can’t “go prosecutor shopping.”

In early October 2016, a different FBI investigation will find emails belonging to Clinton aide Huma Abedin on a previously unknown computer, leading to a different legal issue about sharing information between various FBI investigations.

It appears the FBI’s Clinton Foundation investigation still has not been given access to the possibly relevant emails found by the Clinton email investigation. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)

September 8, 2016: The FBI gave an immunity deal to the computer employee who deleted and wiped Clinton’s emails.

Paul Combetta (Credit: public domain)

Paul Combetta (Credit: public domain)

The New York Times reveals that the Platte River Networks (PRN) employee mentioned in a recently released FBI report who deleted and then wiped Clinton’s emails from her private server in March 2015 is named Paul Combetta. Furthermore, at some unknown point during the investigation, the FBI gave him an immunity deal. This is “according to a law enforcement official and others briefed on the investigation.”

It was reported in March 2016 that Clinton computer technician Bryan Pagliano got an immunity deal, but Combetta’s deal stayed secret. Even the FBI’s Clinton email investigation final report, released on September 2, 2016, makes no mention of it. The report also redacted every mention of Combetta’s name, but the Times says “the law enforcement official and others familiar with the case identified the employee as Mr. Combetta.”

Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon says the deletions by Combetta have already been “thoroughly examined by the FBI prior to its decision to close out this case.”

However, many questions remain, including why Combetta got immunity and when. He was interviewed by the FBI twice, and his answers in his second interview sometimes directly contradict his answers in his first interview, meaning he had to have lied to the FBI at least once, which is a felony. In his second interview also admitted to deleting Clinton’s emails despite being aware of a Congressional order to preserve her emails, which would suggest an admission of additional crimes.

Fallon also comments, “As the FBI’s report notes, neither Hillary Clinton nor her attorneys had knowledge of the Platte River Network employee’s actions. It appears he acted on his own and against guidance given by both Clinton’s and Platte River’s attorneys to retain all data in compliance with a congressional preservation request.”

The House Oversight Committee has asked PRN employees, including Combetta, to appear at a committee hearing on September 13, 2016, about how the email deletions and other matters. (The New York Times, 9/8/2016)

September 9, 2016: Congressional committees order five people involved with the management of Clinton’s private server to speak in a public hearing.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, orders two Platte River Networks (PRN) employees and three others to testify before a Congressional hearing, on September 13, 2016. PRN is the company that managed Clinton’s private server. The following people are ordered to appear:

Those subpoenaed to appear before the House Oversight committee are from left to right: Paul Combetta, Bryan Pagliano, Justin Cooper and Alex McChord and Bill Thornton. (Credits: public domain)

  • Paul Combetta. He is a PRN employee. On September 8, 2016, the New York Times revealed that Combetta deleted and wiped Clinton’s emails from her private server, and he also got an immunity deal from the Justice Department as part of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. Congressional committees issued subpoenas for PRN interviews on August 22, 2016, after asking without coersion since September 2015.
  • Bill Thornton. He also is a PRN employee. The FBI’s final report indicated  two PRN employees worked on Clinton’s server, so it seems probable he is the other one.
  • Bryan Pagliano. He managed Clinton’s server until PRN took over. He was previously subpoenaed by the House Committee on Benghazi, but he pleaded the Fifth. However, he cooperated with the FBI after also getting an immunity deal.
  • Justin Cooper. He is a member of Bill Clinton’s staff and helped Pagliano manage the server.
  • Austin McChord. He is CEO of Datto, Inc. PRN subcontracted Datto to make back-up copies of the server. (The Wall Street Journal, 9/9/2016) (US Congress, 9/9/2016)

September 9, 2016: Representative Gowdy says the FBI “gave immunity to the very person you would most want to prosecute.”

Trey Gowdy appears on Fox News on September 10, 2016 to discuss the immunity deal. (Credit: Fox News)

On September 09, 2016, Trey Gowdy appears on Fox News with Martha MacCallum to discuss the immunity deal given to Paul Combetta. (Credit: Fox News)

Representative Trey Gowdy (R) comments about a New York Times article from the day before that revealed Platte River Networks employee Paul Combetta was not only the person who deleted and wiped Clinton’s emails, but was the person who got an immunity deal from the FBI.

Gowdy says there are two types of immunity Combetta could have received: use and transactional. “If the FBI and the Department of Justice gave this witness transactional immunity, it is tantamount to giving the triggerman immunity in a robbery case.”

Gowdy, who is a former federal prosecutor, says that Combetta “destroyed official public records” despite a subpoena and preservation order from lawmakers for the documents. He adds that he is “stunned” because “It looks like they gave immunity to the very person you would most want to prosecute.” (Fox News, 9/9/2016)

September 12, 2016: Pagliano indicates he will plead the Fifth again, despite a subpoena to testify before Congress.

Lawyers for Bryan Pagliano, the State Department employee who managed Clinton’s server when she was secretary of state, indicate he will plead the Fifth Amendment yet again. He was given a subpoena to speak before a Congressional hearing the next day, on September 13, 2016.

Pagliano refused to speak before a Congressional inquiry in September 2015, refused to take questions for a State Department inspector general’s report published in May 2016, pled the Fifth when he was deposed in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in June 2016, and only took part in the FBI’s Clinton investigation after agreeing to an immunity deal.

Mark MacDougall (Credit: Akin Gump)

Mark MacDougall (Credit: Akin Gump)

Pagliano’s five lawyer team, led by Mark MacDougall, claim: “Any effort to require Mr. Pagliano to publicly appear this week and again assert his Fifth Amendment rights before a committee of the same Congress, inquiring about the same matter as the Benghazi Committee, furthers no legislative purpose and is a transparent effort to publicly harass and humiliate our client for unvarnished political purposes.”

Justin Cooper, a Bill Clinton aide who helped Pagliano manage the server, reportedly has indicated that he will answer questions in the hearing. (The Washington Post, 9/12/2016)

The next day, Pagliano will fail to appear before the Congressional hearing at all.

September 13, 2016: Representative Chaffetz claims that fewer than 20 of Pagliano’s emails have been recovered.

In comments during a Congressional hearing relating to Clinton’s use of a private server, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) comments about Clinton’s server manager Bryan Pagliano, “[I]t’s our understanding [that] Mr. Pagliano worked in the I.T. department at the State Department nearly four years yet virtually every single email Mr. Pagliano had has suddenly disappeared. There’s something like less than 20 emails…”

Bryan Pagliano’s empty chair at the hearing. (Credit: CSpan)

Chaffetz also says, “Mr. Pagliano is important because he was receiving a paycheck from the Clintons but failed to disclose that on his financial forms. We’d like to give him an opportunity to answer that question. We also believe he entered into an immunity agreement. You’d think somebody would sing like a songbird if you got immunity from the FBI. What are you afraid of?”

Pagliano cannot answer the question because he fails to attend the hearing, despite a Congressional subpoena to do so. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)

It has been reported that the .pst file containing all of Pagliano’s State Department emails has been lost.

The FBI Clinton email investigation’s final report failed to mention the issue of Pagliano’s lost emails or how many of his emails the FBI had or found. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

September 20, 2016: Congressional Republicans press for more documents from the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee holds a classified hearing with Peter Kadzik, the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for legislative affairs, to discuss document requests. Although the hearing is held behind closed doors, Politico will report on what takes place several days later.

Peter Kadzik (Credit: Molly Riley / The Associated Press)

Peter Kadzik (Credit: Molly Riley / The Associated Press)

Republicans believe the hearing is necessary because their request for a completely unredacted copy of the FBI’s Clinton investigation report has gone unanswered. They also have questions about the immunity deals the department handed out during the Clinton email investigation, and want to know who else besides Bryan Pagliano and Paul Combetta (both managers of Clinton’s private servers) received legal protection, who agreed to the immunity deals, and whether the deals require recipients to cooperate with other investigative bodies.

Politico writes, “Kadzik wouldn’t say. A Democratic source said he could not answer the questions because Republicans had only asked for the information a few hours earlier in a letter to the Justice Department, and the answers weren’t fully researched.”

Kadzik’s refusal to answer their questions doesn’t go over well with Republicans, and according to one Republican source, “the meeting deteriorate[s] from there.” Another Republican threatens a public hearing where Kadzik would have to testify if he fails to provide the information requested, and in effect dares him to say that “Congress [isn’t] entitled to it.”

The Justice Department will deliver the unredacted copies of the immunity agreements for Pagliano and Combetta on September 22, 2016, and the immunity agreements for former State Department officials Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson, and John Bentel will be provided the following day. (Politico, 09/23/2016)

September 23, 2016: Three more people were given immunity deals in the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, claims the Justice Department was “handing out immunity deals like candy” in the Clinton email investigation. Chaffetz claims the Justice Department “exempted key physical evidence from any potential criminal case against the aides.”

According to Chaffetz, three former Clinton aides – Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson, and John Bentel – were granted immunity deals in exchange for their cooperation. Mills was Clinton’s chief of staff and then has been one of her lawyers  Samuelson was a State Department aide and then also has been a Clinton lawyer. Bentel was director of the department’s Office of Information Resources Management (IRM).

The Justice Department provided copies of the immunity agreements to the House Oversight Committee this week, under seal. The information was then leaked to the Associated Press.

Mills “gave federal investigators access to her laptop on the condition that what they found couldn’t be used against her.” It is believed the same happened to Samuelson. Bentel apparently refused to be interviewed by the FBI until he got an immunity deal.

This brings the total number of people who were granted immunity as part of the FBI’s investigation to at least five. It has previously been reported that Bryan Pagliano and Paul Combetta were given immunity for their cooperation with the FBI. (The Associated Press, 09/23/16)

September 28, 2016: Comey isn’t sure if the FBI was aware of Paul Combetta’s Reddit posts and won’t comment if Combetta committed a crime by deleting them.

When FBI Director James Comey answers questions before a House Judiciary Committee public hearing, two of the committee members ask him key questions about Paul Combetta, the Platte River Networks (PRN) employee who helped manage Clinton’s private server.

Darrell Issa (Credit: Jeff Malet)

Darrell Issa (Credit: Jeff Malet)

Representative Darrell Issa (R) asks: “Director, I have a lot of concerns but one of them refers to Reddit. At the time that the Department of Justice at your behest, or your involvement, gave Paul Combetta immunity, did you do so knowing about all of the posts he had on Reddit…?”

Comey replies: “I am not sure sitting here. My recollection is and I’ll check this and fix it if I am wrong, that we had some awareness of the Reddit posts, I don’t know whether our folks had read them all or not. We had a pretty good understanding of what we thought he had done, but that is my best recollection.”

Issa then asks: “OK, in the last week, [Combetta] has been deleting [his] Reddit posts. Is that consistent with preserving evidence? … You know, I guess my question to you is, is he destroying evidence relevant to Congressional inquiries? And I will answer it for you: yes he is. And what are you going to do about it?”

Comey answers, “That’s not something I can comment on.”

Bob Goodlatte (Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / The Associated Press)

Bob Goodlatte (Credit: Jacquelyn Martin / The Associated Press)

Later in the same hearing, committee chair Representative Bob Goodlatte (R), similarly asks: “Paul Combetta, with PRN, posted to Reddit, asking how to strip out a VIP’s, very VIP email address from a bunch of archived email. … This clearly demonstrates actions taken to destroy evidence by those operating Sec Clinton’s private server and by her staff.  … [W]as the FBI aware of this Reddit post prior to offering Mr. Combetta immunity on May 3, 2016?”

Comey responds, “I am not sure. I know that our team looked at it. I don’t know whether they knew about it before then or not.” (House Judiciary Committee, 09/28/2016)

September 28, 2016: Comey suggests he didn’t try to get subpoena power for the Clinton email investigation in order to complete it faster.

Representative Tom Marino (Credit: Getty Images)

Appearing before the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Tom Marino (R) asks FBI Director James Comey why he made immunity deals with key figures in the Clinton email investigation instead of using subpoena power. In particular, he wants to know why deals were made to get access to the laptops of Clinton’s lawyers Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson.

Comey replies, “Anytime you’re talking about the prospect of subpoenaing a computer from a lawyer, it involves the lawyer’s practice of law, you know you’re getting into a big Megillah.”

Marino, who was a district attorney and US attorney before being elected to Congress, then asks, “I understand that, clearly. Why did you not decide to go to an investigative grand jury? It would have been cleaner, it would have been much simpler, and you would have had more authority to make these witnesses testify. Not the target, but the witnesses testify. That seems the way to go, Director. We’ve done it thousands of times. This was just too convoluted.”

Comey replies, “Again, I need to steer clear of talking about grand jury use in a particular matter. In general, in my experience, you can often do things faster with informal agreements, especially when you’re interacting with lawyers. In this particular investigation, the investigative team really wanted to get access to the laptops that were used to sort these emails. Those are lawyers’ laptops. That is a very complicated thing. I think they were able to navigate it pretty well to get us access.”

Later in the hearing, Comey adds that the investigation “couldn’t be concluded professionally without doing our best to figure out what was on those laptops. So, getting the laptops was very important to me and to the investigative team.” (Politico, 11/1/2016) (C-SPAN, 9/28/2016)

In contradiction to his answer on this day, in April 2016, he said of the investigation, “The urgency is to do it well and promptly. And ‘well’ comes first.” And in May 2016, he said “I don’t tether to any external deadline” to finish the investigation, such as the Democratic convention in July 2016.

October 5, 2016: The Justice Department allegedly made immunity side deals that ordered the destruction of key evidence and limited what the FBI could search.

Devin Nunes (Credit: public domain)

Devin Nunes (Credit: public domain)

The chairs of several House and Senate committees write a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, with questions about the limitations the Justice Department placed on the investigation of Clinton’s private server. The signatories of this letter are: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz (R), Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R), House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R), and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes (R).

According to the letter, recently released documents suggest the department, “agreed to substantial and inappropriate limitations on the scope of [the FBI’s Clinton email] investigation.” The restrictions were discovered in the course of the committees’ review of the immunity agreements for former Clinton staffers Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson.

Here are some key excerpts from the letter:

  • “We write to express our concerns about the process by which Congress was allowed to view the [Beth] Wilkinson letters, that the letters inappropriately restrict the scope of the FBI’s investigation, and that the FBI inexplicably agreed to destroy the laptops knowing that the contents were the subject of Congressional subpoenas and preservation letters.” (Wilkinson is the lawyer to both Mills and Samuelson.)
  • “These limitations would necessarily have excluded, for example, any emails from Cheryl Mills to [Platte River Networks employee] Paul Combetta in late 2014 or early 2015 directing the destruction or concealment of federal records. Similarly, these limitations would have excluded any email sent or received by Secretary Clinton if it was not sent or received by one of the four email addresses listed, or the email address was altered.”
  • “Further, the Wilkinson letters memorialized the FBI’s agreement to destroy the laptops. This is simply astonishing given the likelihood that evidence on the laptops would be of interest to congressional investigators.”
  • “The Wilkinson letters raise serious questions about why [the Justice Department] would consent to such substantial limitations on the scope of its investigation, and how Director Comey’s statements on the scope of the investigation comport with the reality of what the FBI was permitted to investigate.”

In closing, so that the committee chairs can better understand the DOJ’s basis for agreeing to these restrictions, the letter includes eleven questions for Loretta Lynch, and answers must be submitted no later than October 19, 2016. (US Congress, 10/05/2016)

October 12, 2016: An unnamed high-ranking FBI official claims that the “vast majority” of agents working on the FBI’s Clinton email investigation believe Clinton should have been indicted.

The “high-ranking FBI official” speaks to Fox News on the condition of anonymity, but the person’s “identity and role in the case has been verified by FoxNews.com.” According to this source, “No trial level attorney agreed, no agent working the case agreed, with the decision not to prosecute” anyone in the investigation at all, but “it was a top-down decision” by FBI Director James Comey.

The source says that when it came to Clinton specifically, “It is safe to say the vast majority felt she should be prosecuted. We were floored while listening to the FBI briefing [on July 5, 2016] because Comey laid it all out, and then said ‘but we are doing nothing,’ which made no sense to us.” And while it might not have been a totally unanimous decision to recommend Clinton’s indictment, “It was unanimous that we all wanted her [Clinton’s] security clearance yanked.” However, even that never happened, despite it being standard procedure in similar cases.

The source adds that FBI agents were particularly upset that Comey unilaterally made the decision not to indict when the FBI’s role is merely to present an investigative report to the Justice Department. “Basically, James Comey hijacked the [Justice Department]’s role by saying ‘no reasonable prosecutor would bring this case.’ The FBI does not decide who to prosecute and when, that is the sole province of a prosecutor. … I know zero prosecutors in the [Justice Department]’s National Security Division who would not have taken the case to a grand jury. One was never even convened.” Without a grand jury, FBI agents were not allowed to issue subpoenas or search warrants and could only request evidence and interviews.

The source also complains that the FBI required its agents and analysts involved in the investigation to sign non-disclosure agreements. “This is unheard of, because of the stifling nature it has on the investigative process.”

Furthermore, immunity deals were made with five key figures in the investigation: Cheryl Mills, Bryan Pagliano, Paul Combetta, John Bentel, and Heather Samuelson. The source says none of them should have been granted immunity if no charges were being brought. “[Immunity] is issued because you know someone possesses evidence you need to charge the target, and you almost always know what it is they possess. That’s why you give immunity. … Mills and Samuelson receiving immunity with the agreement their laptops would be destroyed by the FBI afterwards is, in itself, illegal. We know those laptops contained classified information. That’s also illegal, and they got a pass.”

Additionally, “Mills was allowed to sit in on the interview of Clinton as her lawyer. That’s absurd. Someone who is supposedly cooperating against the target of an investigation [being] permitted to sit by the target as counsel violates any semblance of ethical responsibility.”

The source also comments, “Every agent and attorney I have spoken to is embarrassed and has lost total respect for James Comey and [Attorney General] Loretta Lynch. The bar for [the Justice Department] is whether the evidence supports a case for charges — it did here. It should have been taken to the grand jury.”

Finally, the source claims that many in the FBI and the Justice Department believe Comey and Lynch were motivated by ambition instead of justice. “Loretta Lynch simply wants to stay on as attorney general under Clinton, so there is no way she would indict. James Comey thought his position [heavily criticizing Clinton even as he decides against indicting her] gave himself cover to remain on as director regardless of who wins.”

Andrew Napolitano (Credit: Fox News)

Andrew Napolitano (Credit: Fox News)

Andrew Napolitano, a former judge and judicial analyst for Fox News, also claims to know of many law enforcement agents involved with the Clinton email investigation who have similar beliefs. He says, “It is well known that the FBI agents on the ground, the human beings who did the investigative work, had built an extremely strong case against Hillary Clinton and were furious when the case did not move forward. They believe the decision not to prosecute came from the White House.” (Fox News, 10/12/2016)

The next day, Malia Zimmerman, a co-writer of the article, is questioned on Fox News television. She claims that she has been speaking to other disgruntled FBI agents as well. “They’re saying that the morale is very low and that a lot of them are looking for other jobs. They’re very disappointed. They feel like the agency has been polluted… and they’re embarrassed. They feel like they’ve been betrayed.”

She adds that some of her sources might be willing to speak on the record if they retire or change jobs, which some of them are in the process of doing. But they are currently worried about retaliation. “There are a lot of disgruntled agents, analysts, and [Justice Department] attorneys as well.” These people feel Clinton could have been charged for various reasons, but her 22 “top secret” emails made the most compelling case. (Fox News, 10/13/2016)

October 30, 2016: Former Attorney General Mukasey claims Comey is in a no-win situation due to his earlier failure to pursue a vigorous Clinton email investigation.

Michael Mukasey (Credit: The Associated Press)

Michael Mukasey (Credit: The Associated Press)

Michael Mukasey, the US attorney general from 2007 to 2009, writes an editorial in the Wall Street Journal with the title: “The FBI Director’s Dishonorable Choice.”

He suggests that FBI Director James Comey’s recent highly controversial reopening of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation shortly before the 2016 US presidential election is due to earlier mistakes Comey made in the investigation.

“Recall that Mr. Comey’s authority extends only to supervising the gathering of facts to be presented to Justice Department lawyers for their confidential determination of whether those facts justify a federal prosecution. Nonetheless, in July [2016] he announced that ‘no reasonable prosecutor’ would seek to charge her with a crime, although Mrs. Clinton had classified information on a private non-secure server—at least a misdemeanor under one statute; and although she was ‘extremely careless’ in her handling of classified information such that it was exposed to hacking by hostile foreign nations—a felony under another statute; and apparently had caused the destruction of emails—a felony under two other statutes.”

He continues, “Those decisions were not his to make, nor were the reasons he offered for making them at all tenable: that prosecutions for anything but mishandling large amounts of classified information, accompanied by false statements to investigators, were unprecedented; and that criminal prosecutions for gross negligence were constitutionally suspect.”

He also points to immunity deals made with key suspects that even included destroying their computers after limited searches, and a failure to get to the bottom of computer technician Paul Combetta’s destruction of Clinton’s emails in March 2015, supposedly done entirely on his own for no clear motive. “Why would an FBI director, who at one time was an able and aggressive prosecutor, agree to such terms or accept such a fantastic story?”

He also claims that emails between President Obama and Clinton on her private server suggested that “if Mrs. Clinton was at criminal risk for communicating on her non-secure system, so was [Obama].” The FBI needs the cooperation of a grand jury, and only the legal authority of a grand jury would give the FBI subpoena power to conduct a real investigation. If Attorney General Loretta Lynch refused to allow a grand jury, Comey “could have gone public with his request, and threatened to resign if it was not followed. … Instead, Mr. Comey acceded to the apparent wish of President Obama that no charges be brought.”

That lack of courage put Comey in his no-win situation when more evidence happened to come to light shortly before Election Day. (The Wall Street Journal, 10/30/2016)

November 1, 2016: The FBI never asked Clinton’s aides for all their computers and mobile devices.

Politico reports that the FBI never asked Clinton’s top aides for their computers and mobile devices as part of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. An unnamed source familiar with the investigation says, “No one was asked for devices by the FBI.”

Because the investigation didn’t have subpoena power, it could only ask for people to cooperate, or make immunity deals with them. The FBI did make an effort to get Clinton’s computers and mobile devices, and made immunity deals with Clinton lawyers Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson to get their computer laptops, but FBI requests didn’t go much beyond that.

Bob Goodlatte (Credit: Bill O'Leary / Getty Images)

Bob Goodlatte (Credit: Bill O’Leary / Getty Images)

Bob Goodlatte (R), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, says, “The more we learn about the FBI’s initial investigation into Secretary Clinton’s unauthorized use of a private email server, the more questions we have about the thoroughness of the investigation and the administration’s conclusion to not prosecute her for mishandling classified information.”

Politico suggests that the FBI might not have asked for what Clinton’s aides possessed because of a focus on Clinton and her server and mobile devices. “It’s also possible the FBI or prosecutors elected not to demand all the Clinton aides’ computers and other electronics because doing so might have triggered a legal battle that could have slowed the probe.”

The issue about what Clinton’s aides may have possessed came to the fore after the FBI reopened the Clinton email investigation after emails belonging to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin were discovered on a computer owned by her estranged husband Anthony Weiner. In an April 2016 FBI interview and then in a public deposition in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit in June 2016, Abedin said she gave her lawyers all devices she thought might contain State Department-related emails. However, it appears no government entity ever asked for any of her devices, so her lawyers never gave them up to anyone.

Abedin was asked for all her work-related emails from her time in the State Department in another FOIA lawsuit, but not the computers or devices the emails were stored on.

The same appears to be true for other top Clinton aides like Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, Bryan Pagliano, and others, with the few exceptions noted above.(Politico, 11/1/2016)

November 2, 2016: The FBI allegedly has not destroyed the laptops of two Clinton aides, and their immunity deals may have been voided.

In October 2016, it was reported that Clinton’s aides Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson got immunity deals in return for their cooperation in the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, and in return for turning over their computer laptops, the FBI promised to destroy those laptops after analyzing the data on them.

However, on this day, Fox News reporter Bret Baier claims, “As a result of the limited immunity deals to top aides, including Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, the Justice Department had tentatively agreed that the FBI would destroy those laptops after a narrow review. We are told definitively that has not happened. Those devices are currently in the FBI field office here in Washington, DC, and are being exploited. The source points out that any immunity deal is null and void if any subject lied at any point in the investigation.” (Real Clear Politics, 11/2/2016)