January 29, 2016—March 9, 2016: White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest is criticized for his Clinton scandal comments.

On January 29, 2016, Earnest is asked if the White House believes Clinton will be indicted for her email scandal or not. He replies, “I know that some officials over there have said is that she is not a target of the investigation. So that does not seem to be the direction that it’s trending, but I’m certainly not going to weigh in on a decision or in that process in any way. That is a decision to be made solely by independent prosecutors. But, again, based on what we know from the Department of Justice, it does not seem to be headed in that direction.”

On March 9, Attorney General Loretta Lynch says that Earnest shouldn’t have made such comments. “Certainly, it’s my hope when it comes to ongoing investigations, that we would all stay silent. […] It is true that neither I nor anyone in the department has briefed Mr. Earnest or anyone in the White House about this matter. I’m simply not aware of the source of his information.”

Earnest then clarifies that he was only referring to his opinion of news reports. (Politico, 3/9/2016)

February 8, 2016: The Justice Department seems to be against appointing a special prosecutor for Clinton’s email scandal.

Melanie Newman (Credit: public domain)

Melanie Newman (Credit: public domain)

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)

February 24, 2016: Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks about the Justice Department’s role in prosecuting the Clinton email scandal.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch (Credit: Empower Magazine)

Attorney General Loretta Lynch (Credit: Empower Magazine)

Lynch tells a House committee, “This will be conducted as every other case and we will review all the facts and all the evidence and come to an independent conclusion as to how to best handle it. […] With respect to our investigation into how information was handled by the State Department, how they handled classified information, as I’m sure you know that matter is being handled by career, independent law enforcement agents, FBI agents as well as the career, independent attorneys in the Department of Justice. They follow the evidence. They look at the law. And they’ll make a recommendation to me when the time is appropriate.” (Politico, 2/24/2016) 

FBI Director James Comey is expected to decide whether or not to recommend indictment of Clinton and/or any of her aides. Then, if any indictment is recommended, Lynch would decide whether to act on it or not. (The Washington Post, 3/2/2016)

March 9, 2016: Attorney General Lynch shows no interest in the Clinton Foundation’s foreign donors.

Senator Thom Tillis (Credit: NC Political News)

Senator Thom Tillis (Credit: NC Political News)

Senator Thom Tillis (R) asks Attorney General Loretta Lynch if the Justice Department is looking into whether Bill and/or Hillary Clinton took funds from foreign governments while Hillary served as secretary of state. Presumably this refers to the Clinton Foundation, which accepted millions of dollars from foreign governments during that time. Lynch replies, “I’m not aware of any other issue along the lines of what you have outlined.” (Politico, 3/9/2016)

March 31, 2016: Fox News claims that FBI Director James Comey is trying to make a case to indict Clinton herself.

Ron Hosko (Credit: Evan Vucci / The Associated Press)

Ron Hosko (Credit: Evan Vucci / The Associated Press)

This is based on an inside source into the FBI investigation of Clinton’s emails. That source says Comey is said to be frequently meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in order to prepare to interview Clinton and her top aides soon. The source says, “In a case like this, you get one shot at the queen” [referring to Clinton]. “The pressures are enormous on the agents, as the case has to be airtight and perfect.”

Ron Hosko, former assistant director of the FBI’s criminal investigative division, says, “This in an incredibly high stakes, high-wire act. Timing is of the essence, but being right is absolutely critical. Comey must be the one to make the case that the law has been broken and a prosecution is recommended.” It is believed that the one approach the FBI is taking is seeing if Clinton or any of her aides can be caught lying under oath during their interviews. If they do, they could be prosecuted for that, as happened to Martha Stewart and many others. (Fox News, 3/31/2016)

April 28, 2016: Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the Justice Department hasn’t set a deadline to finish the FBI’s Clinton investigation because doing so would hurt its effectiveness.

Asked in an interview if voters deserve to know the result of the investigation before the Democratic primaries are over, Lynch replies, “People have to have confidence that we treat every case the same, no matter whose last name is involved, no matter how much publicity it gets. We don’t make predictions on the time because that essentially cuts off the independence of that and it cuts off the thoroughness.” (Bloomberg News, 4/28/2016)

June 17, 2016: Former FBI agents are wondering why the FBI’s Clinton investigation is taking so long.

Edward C. Cosgrove (Credit: Eileen Buckley)

Edward C. Cosgrove (Credit: Eileen Buckley)

Former FBI agent and former district attorney Edward C. Cosgrove says that he has been in contact with other former FBI agents, and “Most former FBI agents cannot understand why the FBI investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has not been concluded.”

He wonders why the investigation has gone on for about a year, and yet it “has not been turned over to the attorney general [Loretta Lynch] for her prosecutive judgment.” (The Buffalo News, 6/17/2016)

June 19, 2016: Attorney General Loretta Lynch say she’s never spoken with President Obama about the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

“We’ve never discussed the Clinton case. I’ve never spoken about it with the president or really anyone at the White House. That’s not the kind of relationship that I have with the people there, and it would be inappropriate to do so.”

She also says Obama’s recent endorsement of Clinton doesn’t create a conflict of interest, even though she’s an Obama appointee. “I don’t get involved on whom the president endorses.” (The Hill, 6/19/2016)

June 27, 2016: Former President Bill Clinton has an “accidental” meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch, causing a political storm.

Headlines displayed on a photo capture of a CBS News report on June 27, 2016. (Credit: CBS News)

Headlines displayed on a photo capture of a CBS News report on June 27, 2016. (Credit: CBS News)

On the night of June 27, 2016, Clinton and Lynch are in separate airplanes at the international airport in Phoenix, Arizona. According to an account by Lynch two days later, Clinton walks uninvited from his plane to her plane and talks with her for about half an hour. On June 30, 2016, CBS News will report, “An aide to Bill Clinton says that he spotted her on the tarmac, but CBS News has been told that she was in an unmarked plane.” (CBS News, 6/30/2016)

Lynch will say: “He did come over and say hello, and speak to my husband and myself, and talk about his grandchildren and his travels and things like that. That was the extent of that. And no discussions were held into any cases or things like that.” However, this encounter causes what the New York Times calls a “political furor” and “storm,” because Bill Clinton’s wife Hillary is being investigated by the FBI.

Furthermore, the FBI is expected to make a recommendation to indict her or not “in the coming weeks,” according to the Times. If the FBI does recommend indictment, then the decision to actually indict or not will rest with Lynch. Thus, many Republican politicians and even some Democrats criticize Bill Clinton and Lynch simply for meeting at all during such a politically charged time.

  • Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump calls it “one of the big stories of this week, of this month, of this year.” He says it was a “sneak” meeting, exposing that Clinton’s possible indictment is already a rigged process.
  • Republican Senator John Cornyn says that as a lawyer and attorney general, Lynch “must avoid even the appearance” of a conflict of interest, and renews his call for a special prosecutor to take charge of the Clinton investigation instead of Lynch.
  • David Axelrod, President Obama’s former senior adviser, says he takes Clinton and Lynch at their word that their conversation didn’t touch on the FBI investigation, but that it was “foolish to create such optics.”
  • Democratic Senator Chris Coons says he is convinced Lynch is “an independent attorney general. But I do think that this meeting sends the wrong signal… I think she should have steered clear, even of a brief, casual, social meeting with the former president.”
    Senator Chris Coons (Credit: public domain)

    Senator Chris Coons (Credit: public domain)

  • White House spokesperson Josh Earnest refuses to say whether the meeting was appropriate or not.
  • The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch says the meeting creates the impression that “the fix is in” and calls on the Justice Department’s inspector general to investigate the meeting. (The New York Times, 6/30/2016) (The Hill, 6/30/2016) (CBS News, 6/30/2016)

New York University law school professor Stephen Gillers comments: “It was the height of insensitivity for the former president to approach the attorney general. He put her in a very difficult position. She wasn’t really free to say she wouldn’t talk to a former president. […] He jeopardized her independence and did create an appearance of impropriety going onto her plane.” He adds that the meeting “feeds the dominant narrative that the Clintons don’t follow the usual rules, that they’re free to have back channel communications like this one and that’s true even if we assume as I do that nothing improper was said.” (NPR, 6/30/2016)

 

July 1, 2016: Attorney General Loretta Lynch will accept whatever recommendations the FBI and career prosecutors give in the Clinton investigation.

Jonathan Capehart interviews U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch at the Aspen Ideas Festival on July 1, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

Jonathan Capehart interviews Attorney General Loretta Lynch in Aspen, Colorado, on July 1, 2016. (Credit: MSNBC)

Attorney General Loretta Lynch says of the FBI’s Clinton investigation, “The recommendations will be reviewed by career supervisors in the Department of Justice and in the FBI, and by the FBI director, and then as is the common process, they present it to me and I fully expect to accept their recommendations.”

She doesn’t completely recuse herself from the process, saying that if she did that she wouldn’t even be able to see the FBI’s report. She says, “While I don’t have a role in those findings, in coming up with those findings or making those recommendations as to how to go forward, I will be briefed on it and I will be accepting their recommendations.” (Politico, 7/1/2016)

The New York Times comments, “Her decision removes the possibility that a political appointee will overrule investigators in the case.” The Justice Department supposedly had been moving towards the arrangement since at least April 2016, but a private meeting on June 27, 2016 between Lynch and Hillary’s husband, former President Bill Clinton, “set off a political furor and made the decision all but inevitable.” (The New York Times, 7/1/2016)

Lynch claims that she had been planning to essentially recuse herself for months, although there is no evidence of this. But it seems clear her controversial meeting with Clinton played a role. She says of the meeting, “I certainly wouldn’t do it again. Because I think it has cast a shadow.” (Politico, 7/1/2016)

The Times says that the US attorney general often follows the recommendations of career prosecutors, so she “is keeping the regular process largely intact.” However, when the FBI, led by Comey, wanted to bring felony charges against former CIA Director David Petraeus in 2013, Lynch’s predecessor Eric Holder arranged a plea deal, reducing the charge to a misdemeanor and no jail time. The created a “deep and public rift” between the FBI and the Justice Department. (The New York Times, 7/1/2016)

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest says President Obama didn’t play a role in Lynch’s decision, nor did he offer input on her decision to make that announcement. (Politico, 7/1/2016)

July 1, 2016: Attorney General Lynch says she regrets meeting with Bill Clinton.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch arrives in Arizona on June 29, 2016 for a planned visit to promote community policing.. (Credit: ABC News)

Attorney General Loretta Lynch arrives in Arizona for a planned visit to promote community policing. (Credit: ABC News)

At the same time that Attorney General Loretta Lynch announces she will mostly recuse herself from deciding if Clinton should be indicted or not, she also says that she regrets having a private meeting with Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton. The meeting took place four days earlier, on June 27, 2016.

She says, “I certainly wouldn’t do it again. Because I think it has cast a shadow. The most important thing for me as attorney general is the integrity of this Department of Justice. And the fact that the meeting I had is now casting a shadow over how people will view that work is something that I take seriously and deeply and painfully.”

Politico points out, “Republicans have long complained that the Justice Department’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server constitutes a conflict of interest by default. They have argued that Lynch, a Democratic political appointee, might seek to protect the Democratic presidential nominee.” Additionally, Bill Clinton appointed Lynch to be US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York in 1999. (Politico, 7/1/2016)

July 3, 2016: If Clinton is elected president, she may keep Lynch as attorney general.

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Obama looks on as Loretta Lynch is sworn in during a formal ceremony on June 17, 2015. (Credit: Oliver Douliery / European Press Agency)

The New York Times reports, “Democrats close to Mrs. Clinton say she may decide to retain Ms. [Loretta] Lynch, the nation’s first black woman to be attorney general, who took office in April 2015.” The Times says this comes from “Democrats, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential conversations with Mrs. Clinton and her advisers…” (The New York Times, 7/3/2016)

Lynch technically is the head of the FBI’s Clinton investigation, since she’s in charge of the Justice Department and the FBI is a part of that. She recently announced she would accept the recommendation of the FBI and top Justice lawyers in Clinton’s case, but she has not fully recused herself.

Two days later, and after FBI Director James Comey announces he will not recommend that Clinton be indicted, presumptive Republican presidential nominee will comment on the article’s revelation, saying, “I think it’s a bribe.” (The Washington Post, 7/5/2016)

July 6, 2016: The Justice Department won’t pursue an indictment against Clinton, ending the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

160706lynch press conferenceABCNews

Loretta Lynch holds a press conference on June 29, 2016 to explain her private meeting with Bill Clinton at the Arizona airport. (Credit: ABC News)

One day after FBI Director James Comey announced that he would not give the Justice Department a recommendation to indict Clinton, Attorney General Loretta Lynch says the Justice Department agrees with Comey and will not pursue the indictment. Comey did not publicly discuss Clinton’s former aides, but Lynch says there will not be any indictments of her aides either. She also announces that this closes the investigation into Clinton’s email practices during her tenure as secretary of state.

Lynch says, “Late this afternoon, I met with FBI Director James Comey and career prosecutors and agents who conducted the investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email system during her time as Secretary of State. I received and accepted their unanimous recommendation that the thorough, year-long investigation be closed and that no charges be brought against any individuals within the scope of the investigation.”

On July 1, 2016, Lynch said she would accept whatever recommendations Comey and her top prosecutors would give after it was discovered she’d had a meeting with Bill Clinton, Hillary’s husband, several days earlier.

Lynch’s announcement comes one day before Comey is scheduled to testify before the House Oversight Committee, in order to explain his decision to not recommend any indictments.

Republican National Committee (RNC) Chair Reince Priebus criticizes Lynch’s decision, saying, “By so blatantly putting its political interests ahead of the rule of law, the Obama administration is only further eroding the public’s faith in a government they no longer believe is on their side.” (Politico, 7/6/2016)

July 12, 2016: Attorney General Loretta Lynch refuses to answer questions about the FBI’s Clinton investigation in a Congressional hearing.

160712LorettaLynchManuelBalceCenetaAP

Attorney General Loretta Lynch testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on July 12, 2016. (Credit: Manuel Balce Ceneta / the Associated Press)

Lynch speaks before the House Judiciary Committee several days after the Justice Department ended the FBI’s investigation into Clinton’s email usage as secretary of state. FBI Director James Comey answered questions about the investigation before a Congressional committee on July 7, 2016, but Lynch doesn’t follow suit. She says, “While I understand that this investigation has generated significant public interest, as attorney general, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further on the underlying facts of the investigation or the legal basis for the team’s recommendation.”

At one point, she says she can’t reveal details because she’s not familiar with them. “The director and I had very different roles in this investigation and, therefore, very different amounts of information about this investigation.” But at other times, she indicates she wouldn’t comment anyway. “It would not be appropriate in my role to discuss the specific facts and the law.”

After a meeting with Hillary Clinton’s husband Bill Clinton that many said was inappropriate, on July 1, 2016, Lynch distanced herself from the investigation but didn’t totally recuse herself from it.  (Politico, 7/12/2016)

July 12, 2016: Some FBI agents are disappointed over FBI Director James Comey’s decision not to recommend Clinton’s indictment.

Many agents are said to express “disappointment.” This according to a New York Post article, citing “sources close to the matter.”

One unnamed source says, “FBI agents believe there was an inside deal put in place after the Loretta Lynch/Bill Clinton tarmac meeting” on June 27, 2016. The article attributes quotes to both active and retired FBI agents critical of Comey, but it is not clear what this person’s job position is.

Another unnamed source, this one from the Justice Department, is “furious” with Comey, saying he’s “managed to piss off right and left.” (The New York Post, 7/12/2016)

All FBI agents taking part in the Clinton investigation are unable to comment because they have signed a non-disclosure agreements and are subject to lie detector tests to make sure they obey.

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.

160830JohnRatcliffepublic

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)

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 27, 2016: Comey is briefed and decides to announce the reopening of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, but Justice Department officials are strongly opposed.

Abedin and Weiner leave their home separately, the day before the sexting scandal broke in September, 2016. (Credit: The Daily Mail)

Abedin and Weiner leave their home separately, the day before the sexting scandal broke in September, 2016. (Credit: The Daily Mail)

In early October 2016, FBI agents discovered 650,000 emails on a computer owned by Anthony Weiner, the husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin. Though the agents were investigating Weiner for something unrelated, they eventually brief FBI agents who had worked on the recently closed FBI Clinton email investigation, and those agents say they would like to have the legal permission to look at the emails themselves.

Apparently, FBI Director James Comey first learns about the emails in mid-October 2016. Then he is given an updated briefing about it on this day. He decides he should immediately inform Congress about the development, even though the 2016 US presidential election is less than two weeks away. He does so in a letter sent one day later, which immediately becomes public.

However, Justice Department officials are opposed. According to the New York Times, “Senior Justice Department officials did not move to stop him from sending the letter, officials said, but they did everything short of it, pointing to policies against talking about current criminal investigations or being seen as meddling in elections.”

James Comey (Credit: Getty Images)

James Comey (Credit: Getty Images)

According to the Times, Comey decides to write his letter “before agents even began reading the newly discovered emails to determine whether they contained classified information or added new facts to the case.” This puzzles Justice Department officials. Apparently, some agents were only able to analyze the metadata.

It has long been Justice Department and FBI policy that politics should play no role in any investigative decisions. This is particularly emphasized for any actions taken within 60 days prior to an election. (The New York Times, 10/29/2016)

One unnamed “US official familiar with the matter” tells Yahoo News that senior officials “strongly discouraged” Comey from sending the letter, due to that department policy, adding, “He was acting independently of the guidance given to him.” One government source says that high-ranking Justice Department officials are “apoplectic” about the letter.

However, after listening to the Justice Department’s concerns, Comey concludes that the ramifications of not telling Congress promptly about the new emails far outweigh concerns about the department guidelines. He fears if he doesn’t immediately alert Congress, the FBI’s work will leak to the media and he will be accused of concealing information. If the news comes out before the election, he will be accused of trying to influence the election one way, but if it comes out after the election, he will be accused of trying to influence it the other way. One unnamed senior official says, “This was the least bad choice.”

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George J. Terwilliger III (Credit: McGuire Woods)

Many will criticize Comey for the letter, including some Republicans. For instance, George J. Terwilliger III, a deputy attorney general under President George Bush (R), says, “There’s a longstanding policy of not doing anything that could influence an election. Those guidelines exist for a reason. Sometimes, that makes for hard decisions. But bypassing them has consequences. There’s a difference between being independent and flying solo.” (The New York Times, 10/29/2016) (Yahoo News, 10/29/2016)

Politico reports that according to an unnamed “official familiar with the discussions,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch does not speak directly with Comey about the issue. However, her concerns are conveyed to him before he sends the letter. In late June 2016, Lynch pledged to recuse herself from the email investigation after she was seen having a private discussion with Bill Clinton. (Politico, 10/31/2016)

October 29, 2016: Both Republican and Democratic senators want more information from the FBI about the reopening of the Clinton email investigation.

On October 28, 2016, FBI Director James Comey sent a letter to eight Congressional committees, revealing that the FBI’s Clinton email investigation is being at least partially reopened due to the discovery of potentially relevant new evidence. But his letter is only three paragraphs long and is very vague. Subsequent media reports say the evidence is newly discovered emails belonging to top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

Senators who sign the letter are from left to right

Democratic Senators who wrote to Lynch and Comey are from left to right, Patrick Leahy, Thomas Carper, Dianne Feinstein, and Benjamin Cardin. (Credit: public domain)

The next day, four Democratic senators – Patrick Leahy, Thomas Carper, Dianne Feinstein, and Benjamin Cardin – write a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Comey, asking for more information. They want to know, by October 31, 2016, more details of the investigative steps being taken, the number of emails involved, how many of the emails are duplicates of those already known.

Republican Senator Ron Johnson, chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, writes a similar letter to Comey. “In line with your commitment to be transparent with Congress and the public, I respectfully request that the FBI provide as much information as possible about these new developments without harming the integrity of its ongoing investigation.” (The Washington Post, 10/29/2016)

October 30, 2016: A former assistant FBI director criticizes the Clintons, the Clinton Foundation, and the FBI’s Clinton email investigation.

James Kallstrom (Credit: Fox News)

James Kallstrom (Credit: Fox News)

Former Assistant FBI Director James Kallstrom says in an interview, “The Clintons, that’s a crime family, basically. It’s like organized crime. I mean, the Clinton Foundation is a cesspool.”

He also criticizes the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. “The problem here is this investigation was never a real investigation. That’s the problem. They never had a grand jury empaneled, and the reason they never had a grand jury empaneled, I’m sure, is [Attorney General] Loretta Lynch would not go along with that. … The agents are furious with what’s going on, I know that for a fact.”

He also says that he is supporting Republican nominee Donald Trump for president, and calls Clinton a “pathological liar.”

Kallstrom is best known for leading the investigation into the explosion of TWA Flight 800 in the late 1990s. (The Hill, 10/30/2016)

Since July 2016, he has occasionally appeared on Fox News and claimed to be in contact with an increasing number of FBI agents upset with the FBI’s Clinton email investigation.

October 30, 2016: Former Attorney General Eric Holder says that Comey made “a serious mistake.”

Eric Holder (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

Eric Holder (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

Eric Holder, US attorney general from 2009 to 2015, writes an editorial in the Washington Post with the title: “James Comey is a good man, but he made a serious mistake.”

He writes, “I am deeply concerned about FBI Director James B. Comey’s decision to write a vague letter to Congress about emails potentially connected to a matter of public, and political, interest. That decision was incorrect. It violated long-standing Justice Department policies and tradition. … Director Comey broke with these fundamental principles. I fear he has unintentionally and negatively affected public trust in both the Justice Department and the FBI. And he has allowed — again without improper motive — misinformation to be spread by partisans with less pure intentions.“

Holder continues, “This controversy has its roots in the director’s July [2016] decision to hold a news conference announcing his recommendation that the Justice Department bring no charges against Hillary Clinton.” He says, given that Attorney General Loretta Lynch recused herself from the case, instead of having Comey “publicly share his professional recommendation, as well as his personal opinions” about the case in a “a stunning breach of protocol,” Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates could have announced the final decision of the department, without Comey’s extensive public commentary.

Holder concludes, “I served with Jim Comey and I know him well. This is a very difficult piece for me to write. He is a man of integrity and honor. I respect him. But good men make mistakes. In this instance, he has committed a serious error with potentially severe implications.” (The Washington Post, 10/31/2016)

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)

October 31, 2016: Loretta Lynch and James Comey have a private meeting, and agree to work together to get faster answers.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch and FBI Director James Comey meet in person to discuss Comey’s announcement on October 28, 2016 that he is at least partially reopening the FBI’s Clinton email investigation due newly discovered evidence. It has been reported that one day before his announcement, Lynch made clear that she disagreed, passing that message to him through intermediaries.

Lynch and Comey have a regular national security meeting at the FBI, and after the meeting ends, Lynch and Comey talk in private. (CBS News, 11/1/2016)

Peter Kadzik (Credit: CSpan)

Peter Kadzik (Credit: CSpan)

Later in the day, Justice Department legislative liaison Peter Kadzik tells Congress that the department will dedicate all necessary resources and work “as expeditiously as possible” to learn something about the new evidence, since Election Day is only eight days away.

Politico reports that “Lynch and Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates are now seeking a kind of detente with [Comey] after the extraordinary rift between Comey and the Justice Department” regarding his decision to ignore the Justice Department’s wishes for him not to send the letter.

One unnamed “top Justice official” says that Lynch and Yates “felt they needed to make clear that they disagreed with Comey’s decision. But no one is dragging their feet here. The Justice Department is committed to working with the FBI to move the case forward.” (Politico, 10/31/2016)

November 2, 2016: Suspicions of partisan political decisions has been causing increasing conflict within both the FBI and Justice Department, as well as between them.

CNN publishes a front-page article with the title “Turmoil in the FBI,” which is based on interviews with more than a dozen anonymous government officials close to the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. It states that since the investigation began in July 2015, “infighting among some agents and officials has exposed some parts of the storied [FBI] to be buffeted by some of the same bitter [political] divisions as the rest of American society.”

Loretta Lynch (Credit: ABC News)

Loretta Lynch (Credit: ABC News)

CNN alleges, “Some of the sharpest divides have emerged between some agents in the FBI’s New York field office, the bureau’s largest and highest-profile, and officials at FBI headquarters in Washington and at the Justice Department. Some rank-and-file agents interpreted cautious steps taken by the Justice Department and FBI headquarters as being done for political reasons or to protect a powerful political figure [Clinton]. At headquarters, some have viewed the actions and complaints of some agents in the field as driven by the common desire of investigators to get a big case or, perhaps worst, because of partisan views.”

The tensions are said to have “multiplied” since FBI Director James Comey announced in July 2016 that he would not recommend indicting Clinton. In addition to increasing conflicts within the FBI, his announcement “also opened up sharp divides between Justice [Department] and FBI officials, and even within the Justice Department itself, where some officials have pushed for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to more forcefully assert her power over the FBI.”

The tensions in the Clinton email investigation have been duplicated by the Clinton Foundation investigation, with some FBI agents again frustrated at what they consider political obstructionism from FBI leaders and the Justice Department to protect Clinton. That has also led to friction between FBI headquarters and the New York field office.

Since then, conflicts have increased still more due to the reopening of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation on October 28, 2016. Potentially relevant evidence was discovered on the computer of Anthony Weiner, the estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin, shortly after October 3, 2016. “The longer it took for officials at FBI headquarters and at the Justice Department to decide how to proceed with the matter, the more conspiracies spread among some agents that perhaps senior FBI officials were trying to cover up the matter.”

Rick DesLauriers (Credit: Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters)

Rick DesLauriers (Credit: Jessica Rinaldi / Reuters)

One unnamed “senior law enforcement official” says, “It’s the times we are living in. No one has emerged from this election unscathed.”

Rick DesLauriers, who was head of the FBI’s Boston field office until he retired three years ago, says, “Politics is running rampant. Passions are high.” He adds that “[Comey] made a decision that angered Republicans in July [2016] and one that angered Democrats in October [2016]. That’s a pretty good indication he’s nonpartisan.”

CNN also notes that “Some of the tensions are built-in because of the FBI’s unique position as part of the Justice Department but also projecting a large measure of independence. The FBI director’s job has a 10-year tenure, spanning presidential administrations, while his bosses at the Justice Department are politically appointed and they leave when the administration ends.” (CNN, 11/2/2016)