anomaly

August 14, 2019 – A Grassley/Graham/Johnson memo suggests the FBI failed to seek access to certain highly classified information potentially relevant to the Clinton email investigation

From left to right, Senators Lindsey Graham, Charles Grassley and Ron Johnson (Credit: public domain)

(…) “Thanks to the relentless investigative work of Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), we are learning that the Hillary Clinton email case may not really be settled.

A staff memo updating the two senators’ long-running probe discloses that the FBI — the version run in 2016 by the now-disgraced and fired James ComeyAndrew McCabe and Peter Strzok — failed to pursue access to “highly classified” evidence that could have resolved important questions.

The failure to look at the evidence back in 2016 occurred even though the agents believed access to the sensitive evidence was “necessary” to complete the investigation into Clinton’s improper transmission of classified emails — some top-secret — on her unsecure private email server, the memos show.

To make matters worse, the Trump Department of Justice (DOJ) has known about that decision since at least 2018, thanks to the work of the DOJ’s internal watchdog, Inspector General (IG) Michael Horowitz, who provided DOJ leaders and Congress with a classified appendix explaining what happened.

But Johnson and Grassley have been unable to get answers for a year, even from Attorney General William Barr, about whether the FBI intends to look at the critical evidence it skipped back in 2016.

The Senate staff memo succinctly lays out just how egregious the FBI’s decision was in 2016.

The inspector general’s “appendix raised a number of serious questions because, as explained on page 154 of the unclassified DOJ IG report, the FBI decided not to seek access to certain highly classified information potentially relevant to the investigation despite members of the FBI case team referring to the review as a ‘necessary’ part of the investigation,” the Senate staff wrote.

“As a result of the findings in that appendix, Senator Grassley wrote a classified letter to DOJ on October 17, 2018, which remains unanswered. On January 15, 2019, at Mr. Barr’s nomination hearing, Senator Grassley asked Mr. Barr if he would answer the letter, if confirmed, to which he attested, ‘Yes, Senator.’ On April 16, 2019, Senators Grassley, Johnson, and Graham sent a letter to Attorney General Barr reiterating the need for a written response to that letter.”

The DOJ’s silence on the road that the FBI willfully chose not to take is all the more deafening given what we already know about the Clinton email case.” (Read more: The Hill, 8/22/2019)

May 23, 2019 – Trump’s declassification orders gives Barr sweeping authority to declassify and unredact several of Clinton’s still secret communications

A 2017 cartoon symbolic to the popularly held belief that the FBI was ‘With Her’ throughout the 2016 election. (Credit: Branco/Comically Incorrect.com)

(…) “White House lawyers wrote the May 23 order in a way that delegates sweeping authority to Barr to declassify or un-redact documents covering both 2016 presidential investigations. This is key, because the same former Justice Department and FBI officials who led the Russia “collusion” investigation also headed the Clinton inquiry.

Under the order, these and other agencies will finally have to cough up key classified documents — including summaries of suspect and witness interviews, confidential source reports, transcripts of covert recordings and other investigative records — that they’ve withheld from congressional Republicans investigating whether the former administration misused its spying powers to monitor Trump and his aides. In addition, they’ll have to loosen their grip on secret papers related to the probe of Clinton’s illicit server.

One of these undisclosed papers remains so secret that Justice’s Inspector General Michael Horowitz was barred from discussing it in his 500-plus-page report on the FBI’s investigation of Clinton. “The information was classified at such a high level by the intelligence community that it limited even the members [of Congress] who can see it, as well as the staffs,” he said.

The documents are said to implicate the Clinton campaign and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a secret deal to fix the Clinton email investigation.

In his memoir, former FBI Director James Comey says he worried Lynch might be viewed as “politically compromised” if the secret information leaked, especially after the public found out she privately met with Bill Clinton on an airport tarmac just days before the FBI interviewed his wife in July 2016.

In recent closed-door House testimony, Lynch said she received a “defensive briefing” from the FBI on the potentially incriminating material in late summer 2016, but claimed it told her it couldn’t verify the information and didn’t think it “worthy of investigation.”

The FBI has been sitting on the documents — which I’m told are classified Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information, meaning they can only be viewed in a secure room known as a SCIF — since March 2016.

The CIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence also have copies and are keeping them under tight seal. (ODNI is the intelligence hub through which all requests and approvals for declassification normally flow.) Horowitz said they told him they need to protect “sources and methods” — an excuse the agencies too often hide behind when they don’t want to release embarrassing or potentially incriminating information.

But Trump’s order gives Barr unilateral authority to declassify any information classified under Obama’s Executive Order 13526, including “intelligence sources or methods.”

Count on Barr also freeing up a highly classified May 2016 memo drafted by Clinton investigators for higher-ups at Justice’s National Security Division. At the time, agents sought access to a still-secret intelligence report that a foreign government (reportedly China) penetrated Clinton’s unsecured private server and exfiltrated classified emails. They needed to explore the issue to complete their investigation, since cyber-espionage was relevant to their probe.

But this was the same month Comey began drafting his statement exonerating Clinton, so the memo was never sent. And the breach was never fully investigated. “The FBI left a potential mountain of evidence unreviewed,” former Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said.

In August 2015, the Intelligence Community’s IG first alerted then-FBI counterintelligence official Peter Strzok to an “anomaly” related to the foreign intrusion on Clinton’s emails going through her server. Strzok’s notes from their meeting have suddenly turned up “missing,” or at least that’s what the FBI is telling the watchdog group Judicial Watch after it FOIA’d them.” (Read more: IssuesInsights, 8/09/2019)

February 5 – 12, 2019 – The FBI met with ICIG re Clinton emails, notes of that meeting are reported missing and a CD of notes is found broken and inaccessible

“Judicial Watch announced today that the FBI released 277 pages of redacted records in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that show the FBI failed to produce information from an August 2015 meeting with Intelligence Community Inspector General about Hillary Clinton’s email server. The FBI claimed that notes are “missing” and the CD containing notes from meeting is likely “damaged” irreparably.

The electronic communication regarding the missing “Notes from Meeting” says:

On or about February 4, 2016, Special Agents (SAs) [redacted] attempted to locate [redacted] 1A4, described as “Notes from Meeting” acquired by [redacted] (see referenced serial). The SAs looked through all case materials in the CI-13 file and workbox area, however they were not able to located this item.

SA [redacted] inquired with Supervisory Intelligence Analyst (SIA) [redacted] regarding the item, as he was previously the IA assigned to the case. SIA [redacted] contacted [redacted] regarding the item, who indicated he remembered handing over his case notes to SA [redacted] (see attached email).

On February 6, 2019, SA [redacted] contacted SA [redacted] regarding the notes.  SA [redacted] explained he documented all relevant case materials before leaving the case and did not retain any notes or other case materials.

As such, WFO CI-13 considers the item missing and will enclose this document into 1A4 as a placeholder until the missing item is located.

The email referred to in the electronic communication on the missing “Notes from Meeting” reads as follows:

Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said during a hearing with Strzok that in 2015 ICIG investigator Fred Rucker advised Strzok of an “anomaly” on Hillary Clinton’s emails going through the private server. The forensic analysis found that all of those emails except four – over 30,000 – “were going to an address that was not on the distribution list.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 6/07/2019)

August 29, 2018 – FBI Refuses To Confirm Or Deny ICIG Warned Of Clinton Server Intrusion

Inspector General Intelligence Community Logo (Credit: public domain)

“The FBI refuses to disclose whether or not it met with senior members of the Intelligence Community Inspector General on the subject of foreign intrusion of former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s private server.

An FBI spokeswoman refused to confirm if Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) officials — including Frank Rucker, its chief investigator — briefed top bureau officials about evidence of penetration of Clinton’s private server by a Chinese government intelligence operation. “We have no comment,” she told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Earlier Wednesday, an FBI spokesman released what appeared to be a categorical statement about the Clinton server: “The FBI has not found any evidence the servers were compromised,” the FBI stated.

The statement does not address a central aspect of TheDCNF’s reporting, which was that the ICIG briefed top bureau officials on three separate occasions to warn the FBI of an “anomaly” they found in 30,000 in-bound and outgoing emails. The report is based on an intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter. The anomaly showed a code embedded in Clinton’s server was producing in real time a “courtesy copy” to a third party.

The third party was a Chinese state-owned company based in Northern Virginia just outside of Washington, D.C., and was part of an ongoing Chinese government intelligence operation, according to two separate sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

According to one source, the last ICIG briefing was held in June 2016 about a month before former FBI Director James Comey stated that he did not recommend any indictment of Clinton for mishandling classified materials.

Comey in that widely reported July 5, 2016 press conference stated he did not find “direct evidence” that Clinton’s email domain was successfully hacked.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 8/29/2018)

July 13, 2018 – Lisa Page testifies she was unaware the ICIG briefed top bureau officials on an anomaly found embedded in Clinton’s server that sent a copy of her emails to a third party

On August 29, 2018, The Daily Caller News Foundation reports, “The FBI refuses to disclose whether or not it met with senior members of the Intelligence Community Inspector General on the subject of foreign intrusion of former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s private server.

An FBI spokeswoman refused to confirm if Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) officials — including Frank Rucker, its chief investigator — briefed top bureau officials about evidence of penetration of Clinton’s private server by a Chinese government intelligence operation. “We have no comment,” she told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Earlier Wednesday, an FBI spokesman released what appeared to be a categorical statement about the Clinton server: “The FBI has not found any evidence the servers were compromised,” the FBI stated.

The statement does not address a central aspect of The DCNF’s reporting, which was that the ICIG briefed top bureau officials on three separate occasions to warn the FBI of an “anomaly” they found in 30,000 in-bound and outgoing emails. The report is based on an intelligence official with direct knowledge of the matter. The anomaly showed a code embedded in Clinton’s server was producing in real time a “courtesy copy” to a third party.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 8/29/2018)

Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page arrives for a closed door hearing with the House Judiciary and House Oversight committees, Friday, July 13, 2018. (Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press)

On January 11, 2019, Jeff Carlson writes of his exclusive access to the July 13, 2018 transcript of Lisa Page’s testimony to a joint congressional committee and she is asked why the FBI didn’t meet with Mr. Rucker and the ICIG team to further investigate the “anomaly” found embedded in Clinton’s private server:

“During one exchange, one of the representatives questioning her noted, “We have information from the inspector general of the intelligence community … that there were anomalies that would suggest that there were copies of every email going to a third party. … Is this news to you

Page admitted it was and noted it was “completely baffling to me.”

She was then asked the obvious question: “Why would the investigative team not have had multiple interviews with Mr. Rucker, who brought it to the FBI’s attention originally?”

Page responded by saying the following:

“My understanding is that the IC IG [Intelligence Community Inspector General] did refer the existence of the server to the FBI, but that was because of the existence of classified information on that server, not because of any anomalous activity, not because of potential intrusion activity. Because it’s not my understanding that the IC IG conducted any sort of forensic analysis like that.”

The questioning continued:

“So what you’re telling me, it would surprise you to know today that, if there were anomalies, that the inspector general’s forensic team found those before it was referred to the FBI?”

Page responded:

“To the extent that a foreign government or even a criminal outlet had had access to Secretary Clinton’s private email server, that would have been something we cared very much about. And it’s my understanding that there was no evidence that would have supported that kind of conclusion.”
(Read more: Epoch Times, 1/11/2019)

June 5, 2018 – Bill Priestap, former assistant director of FBI counterintelligence, testifies he was unaware of the ICIG 811 referral on the possible compromise of Clinton emails

(…) “President Donald Trump suggested in August last year that Clinton’s emails were obtained by China.

The president was likely responding to a report released days earlier by the Daily Caller, citing two anonymous sources, claiming that a Chinese-owned company operating in the Washington area obtained nearly all of Clinton’s emails. The firm received Clinton’s emails in real time using a code embedded on a private, unauthorized email server she used for government work while she was secretary of state, the report alleged. Fox News confirmed the Daily Caller report, citing two anonymous sources. It isn’t clear if the Fox sources are different from those used by the Daily Caller.

Kable and Chappell served as section chiefs at the bureau’s counterintelligence division alongside Strzok during the early days of the Clinton-email investigation. Both Kable and Chappell have expertise in Chinese espionage, a factor which, if the media reports about China are true, may have initially contributed to their selection for the Clinton-email team.

Kable led investigations against “known and suspected Chinese intelligence officers in the U.S.” for a year and five months starting in 2009, according to an FBI promotion notice and his LinkedIn profile. While little is known about Chappell’s time at the FBI, he was cited among experts on Chinese espionage in a Fox News article published two weeks after the start of the Clinton-email probe. Executive Assistant Director Randall Coleman, the senior most official overseeing the email probe, is also cited in the article, as well as the related FBI press release.

Despite playing a prominent role in the investigation, Kable’s name isn’t mentioned in Horowitz’s otherwise voluminous and exhaustive report (pdf) on the handling of the Clinton-email investigation. Chappell, who met the ICIG and worked in counterespionage, also isn’t mentioned in the report. The FBI wouldn’t confirm whether Chappell still works for the bureau.

With the exception of Comey, every person in the chain of command above Strzok was replaced at different points during the Clinton-email investigation. On Dec. 9, 2015, Comey moved Kable out of FBI headquarters to the Washington field office, ending his term on the Clinton-email probe.

Bill Priestap (Credit: Jacquelyn Martin/The Associated Press)

Two weeks after Kable’s departure, Comey appointed Bill Priestap to serve as assistant director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, replacing Randall Coleman, who held the same position until Dec. 21, 2015. A month later, Comey appointed Andrew McCabe to replace Mark Giuliano as deputy director, and the following month, Comey appointed Michael Steinbach to replace Giacalone as the executive assistant director for the National Security Branch.

If Kable was the fourth person present at the meeting when Rucker told FBI about the email metadata anomalies, Strzok would be the only official who learned of the ICIG lead and remained on the Clinton-email investigation until it was concluded.

Priestap, who arrived six months after the ICIG anomaly referral, told lawmakers on June 5 last year that he didn’t know Frank Rucker, the ICIG investigator, and that he was never informed of the referral on the anomalies in the metadata in Clinton’s emails. Strzok reported to Priestap.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 1/29/2019)

Late 2015 – Early 2016: ICIG McCullough sends a team to the FBI to detail the anomaly that was found on Clinton’s server

Charles McCullough (Credit: Fox News)

“In either late 2015 or early 2016, the IC inspector general, Chuck McCullough, sent Frank Rucker and Janette McMillan to meet with the FBI in order to detail the anomaly that had been uncovered. That meeting was attended by four individuals, including Strzok, then-Executive Assistant Director John Giacalone, and then-Section Chief Dean Chappell. The identity of the fourth individual remains unknown, though Moffa, who also met with the IG at various times, is a possible candidate. Charles Kable, who also met with the ICIG at several points, is another possible candidate.

Priestap testified that he had not been briefed on the Clinton server anomaly by Strzok, noting “this would have been a big deal.”

“I am not aware of any evidence that demonstrated that. I’m also not aware of any evidence that my team or anybody reporting to me on this had advised me that there were anomalies that couldn’t be accounted for. I don’t recall that,” he said.

Priestap’s admission that this was all new information to him, prompted an observation from Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) that Strzok appeared to be exercising significant investigative control:

Mr. Meadows: “It sounds like Peter Strzok was kind of driving the train here. Would you agree with that?”

Mr. Priestap: “Peter and Jon, yeah.”

As Meadows noted during testimony, this matter still had to be officially “closed out” by the FBI before the official closing of the Clinton investigation. Strzok personally called the IC inspector general within minutes of Comey’s July 5, 2016, press conference on the Clinton investigation, telling him that the FBI would be sending a “referral to close it out.”

Meadows seemed genuinely surprised that Strzok had apparently kept this information successfully hidden from Priestap, noting, “I’m a Member from North Carolina, and you’re saying that I have better intel than you do?” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 1/31/2019)

July 10, 2015 – The FBI opens an official counterespionage investigation regarding the “potential compromise of classified information” on Clinton’s private server

(…) “Strzok was one of four officials briefed on the anomalies. He was transferred to FBI headquarters from the field office in Washington to work on the Clinton-email probe around two months after it was opened and, eventually, the investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. According to Meadows, Strzok called the ICIG office 10 minutes after Comey exonerated Clinton in July 2016 and asked to close out the inspector general’s referral.

The ICIG referred the Clinton-email case to the FBI on July 6, 2015, pursuant to the Intelligence Authorization Act, which requires agencies to advise the FBI “immediately of any information, regardless of its origin, which indicates that classified information is being, or may have been, disclosed in an unauthorized manner to a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power,” according to the Justice Department Inspector General’s report on the handling of the email case. The bureau officially opened the investigation on July 10, 2015.

Meadows confronted Strzok about the metadata anomalies in Clinton’s emails during a closed-door interview on June 27 last year.

“Sir, I am — I do not recall a meeting where the IC IG made any reference to changes in the metadata,” Strzok said. “What I can tell you, Congressman, is that our technical experts, any allegation of intrusion, any review of metadata that might be indicative of an act, was pursued by our technical folks, and I am very confident that they did that thoroughly and well. I am certainly unaware of anything that we did not pursue or had not pursued.”

McCullough told The Epoch Times that he did interact with the bureau after the initial meeting when he referred the Clinton-email case. He tasked Rucker to handle day-to-day interactions with the bureau. Rucker would go on to pass information to the FBI in several tranches.

Louie Gohmert (Credit: Getty Images)

It’s unclear whether the lead on metadata anomalies was passed along during the initial referral or as part of a separate meeting. According to a version of events put forth by Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) during Strzok’s public testimony in June last year, Rucker passed on the referral during a meeting with four FBI officials. Jeanette McMillian, the legal counsel for the ICIG, also attended the meeting, according to Gohmert.

According to the transcripts, three of the four FBI officials briefed by the ICIG were Strzok, then-Executive Assistant Director John Giacalone, and then-Section Chief Dean Chappell. The identity of the fourth official remains unclear. Moffa, who was a lead analyst on the Clinton-email probe, told lawmakers during a closed-door interview on Aug. 24 last year that he met the ICIG together with Counterespionage Section Chief Charles Kable. Moffa said he and Kable met the ICIG two or three times during the early days of the investigation.

Lawmakers asked at least two of the four present at the meeting, Strzok and Giacalone, about their interactions with the ICIG. Both claim to not remember being told anything about anomalies in the metadata of Clinton’s emails and the possibility that a copy of every message was sent to a foreign actor. Giacalone told lawmakers he remembers a specific country of concern being discussed during either a face-to-face meeting or other communication.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 1/31/2019)

July 6, 2015 – IC IG McCullough issues an 811 referral on possible compromise of Clinton’s private server and the FBI ignores it

“Congressional investigators have gathered enough evidence to suggest that the FBI, under the Obama administration, ignored a major lead in the Clinton-email probe, according to transcripts of closed-door testimonies of several current and former bureau officials.

The office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General informed the FBI in 2015 that a forensic review of Hillary Clinton’s emails unearthed anomalies in the metadata of the messages. The evidence in the metadata suggested that a copy of every email Hillary Clinton sent during her tenure as the secretary of state was forwarded to a foreign third party.

The existence of the lead was first revealed during the public testimony of Department of Justice (DOJ) Inspector General Michael Horowitz in June last year. Horowitz acknowledged the existence of the specific lead and said he spoke about it to Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) Charles McCullough. Yet, despite the alarming nature of the referral, Horowitz’s 568-page report on the FBI’s handling the Clinton-email investigation made no mention of the lead or how the bureau handled it. The omission caught the attention of Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who pressed Horowitz for an explanation. Horowitz said he would get back to the committee with answers.

It’s unclear if Horowitz ever followed up on that promise. Meadows went on to question several current and former FBI officials about the lead, including Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bill Priestap, Jonathan Moffa, John Giacolone, and James Comey. In all of the interviews, transcripts of which were reviewed for this article, the officials claimed to remember nothing about the specific referral from the ICIG, suggesting that the lead was either suppressed or ignored by investigators.

During questioning, Meadows repeatedly suggested that Strzok, the former FBI official best known for being fired from the agency last year for his anti-Trump text messages, ignored the lead and never followed up with the ICIG regarding the referral. The bureau also didn’t interview anyone from the ICIG’s office, including Frank Rucker, the investigator who initially briefed the FBI team about the anomalies, according to the transcripts.

An official from the ICIG communications office didn’t respond to repeated requests for an interview with Rucker.

Meadows summed up what lawmakers have learned about the ICIG lead while questioning Comey on Dec. 17 last year. Comey served as the director of the FBI during the Clinton-email probe. He was one of the last witnesses interviewed by lawmakers shortly before the House judiciary and oversight committees wrapped up their review of actions taken and not taken by the FBI and the DOJ during the 2016 presidential election.

“Well, just to be clear, Mr. McCullough has indicated to Members of Congress that there was zero followup,” Meadows told Comey. “There are allegations they believe were largely ignored by the FBI.” (The Epoch Times, 1/29/2019)

July 6, 2015 – The Intel Community IG determines the classified national security information in Clinton’s emails may have been “compromised” and shared with a foreign power

Former National Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough (Credit: Getty Images)

“Two secret letters the FBI sent to the State Department have revealed for the first time that the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and the classified emails sent through it, stemmed from a so-called “Section 811” referral from the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General (ICIG). The ICIG determined that classified, national security information in Clinton’s emails may have been “compromised” and shared with “a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power.”

Section 811 of the Intelligence Authorization Act of 1995 “is the statutory authority that governs the coordination of counterespionage investigations between Executive Branch departments or agencies and the FBI.” A Section 811 referral is a report to the FBI about any unauthorized information that may have been disclosed to a foreign power.

A Section 811 referral “arises whenever there is a compromise of classified information — for whatever reason,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. “It could include espionage, but it could also include negligence, inadvertence, or something else…. Section 811 does not assert a violation of criminal law.”

The two letters, dated October 23, 2015 and January 20, 2016, and marked “For Official Use Only,” were written by Peter Strzok and Charles H. Kable IV, the section chiefs of the FBI’s counterespionage section, and sent to Gregory B. Starr, the assistant secretary at the State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security. They were written while the FBI was investigating Clinton’s use of an unsecure, private email server and the dissemination of classified information.

A snippet from Peter Strzok’s letter proving he was aware Clinton’s emails may have been compromised by a foreign power.

“The potential compromise was identified when, as part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request [by VICE News], the U.S. Department of State (DoS) and the ICIG reviewed electronic mail (email) communications from the private email accounts previously used by a former Secretary of State during her tenure at DoS,” Kable wrote. “An initial review of this material identified emails containing national security information later determined by the US Intelligence Community to be classified up to the Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information Level.”

The letters were turned over to VICE News in response to a FOIA lawsuit we filed against the FBI last year seeking, among other records, correspondence between the FBI and the State Department about Clinton’s private server and the FBI’s probe into it. The FBI had previously said that if it were to disclose the contents of these letters — even the identities of the senders and receivers — it would jeopardize its investigation.” (Read more: VICE News, 8/09/2016) (FBI Vault)

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