A recent FOIA request by attorney Ty Clevenger resulted in the release of a letter (pdf pgs 12-16), dated October 5, 2016, written by Senator Grassley and co-signed by three members of congress. It is addressed to AG Loretta Lynch, and reveals how the DOJ/FBI and Cheryl Mill’s attorney, Beth Wilkinson, wrote and agreed to the rules that grossly limited the scope of the Clinton email investigation.
Here are some of the concerns listed by Senator Grassley and congress members Jason Chaffetz, Devin Nunes and Bob Goodlatte. They also have questions for AG Lynch at the end of the letter and they can be found at the source link provided above and below:
1. There were two letters addressed to the DOJ from attorney Beth Wilkinson on behalf of her client Cheryl Mills, that were made available for an in camera review by our committees.
2. The Wilkinson letters are both dated June 10, 2016 and incorporated by reference into the immunity agreements for Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson that was related to the FBI criminal investigation into Clinton’s email server.
3. The letters set out the precise manner in which the Department and the FBI would access and use federal records and other information stored on .PST and .OST email archives from Ms. Mills’ and Ms. Samuelson’s laptops.
4. Ms. Wilkinson and lawyers from the Justice Department drafted the letters jointly before they were sent them to DOJ.
5. They express concerns about “the process by which Congress was allowed to view the 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.”
6. The viewing restrictions imposed on congress as a condition of cooperating voluntarily, the DoJ limited access to the letters to only members of certain committees and one or two staff, prohibited members and staff from “taking notes or photos, or otherwise seeking to record the information contained in the memos,” and redacted the names of all DOJ and FBI personnel on the documents.
7. The Wilkinson letters only permitted the FBI to review email archives from Platte River Networks created after June 1, 2014, and before February 1, 2015, that included emails sent or received from Secretary Clinton’s four email addresses during her tenure as Secretary of State. Limitations would necessarily have excluded, for example, any emails from Cheryl Mills to 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. Notably, in December 2014, Mr. Combetta deleted all Clinton emails older than 60 days, which was in effect all of Secretary Clinton’s emails from January 2009 to October 2014. He admitted this “change in retention policy” during his second FBI interview in February 2016.
8. In March 2015, Mr. Combetta had two conference calls with David Kendall, attorney for Secretary Clinton, and Ms. Mills. Mr. Combetta admitted to the FBI in his third interview in May 2016 that after the second conference call on March 31, 2015, he used BleachBit to destroy any remaining copies of Clinton’s emails and PST files that he was able to locate. Per the agreement with Ms. Wilkinson, emails from around the time of the conference calls (and subsequent deletion of records) would not have been covered by the FBI’s review of Ms. Mills’ and Ms. Samuelson’s laptops. Importantly, before the FBI agreed to the Wilkinson letters in June 2016, it already knew of the conference calls between Secretary Clinton’s attorneys and Mr. Combetta, his use of BleachBit, and the resulting deletions, further casting doubt on why the FBI would enter into such a limited evidentiary scope of review with respect to the laptops.
The Wilkinson letters went on to provide that the FBI would destroy any records which it retrieved that were not turned over to the investigatory team, meaning the FBI might proceed to delete such an email, after determining it should not be sent to the investigatory team. 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.
9. The Wilkinson letters raise serious questions about why DOJ 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.
10. The Committees requested unredacted copies of Wilkinson letters; the two immunity agreements for Mr. Bryan Pagliano; the immunity agreement for Mr. Paul Combetta; the immunity agreement for Mr. John Bentel; the immunity agreement for Ms. Cheryl Mills; and the immunity agreement for Ms. Heather Samuelson.