Clinton Email Investigation
June 17, 2019 – The State Department identifies 23 violations, ‘multiple security incidents’ concerning Clinton emails
“The State Department revealed Monday that it has identified “multiple security incidents” involving current or former employees’ handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails, and that 23 “violations” and seven “infractions” have been issued as part of the department’s ongoing investigation.
The information came in a letter to Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, who is responsible for overseeing the security review.
“To this point, the Department has assessed culpability to 15 individuals, some of whom were culpable in multiple security incidents,” Mary Elizabeth Taylor, the State Department’s Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of Legislative Affairs, wrote to Grassley. “DS has issued 23 violations and 7 infractions incidents. … This number will likely change as the review progresses.”
The State Department, calling the matter “serious,” said it expected to conclude the investigation by Sept. 1. The department acknowledged that the probe was unusually time-consuming.
(…) “In every instance in which the Department found an individual to be culpable of a valid security violation or three or more infractions, the Department forwarded the outcome to the Bureau of Diplomatic Security’s Office of Personnel Security and Suitability (DS/PSS), to be placed in the individuals’ official security file,” Taylor wrote. “All valid security incidents are reviewed by DS and taken into account every time an individual’s eligibility for access to classified information is considered.
“This referral occurred whether or not the individual was currently employed with the Department of State and such security files are kept indefinitely,” Taylor added. “Consistent with the referral policy, for individuals who were still employed with the Department at the time of adjudication, the Department referred all valid security violations or multiple infractions to the Bureau of Human Resources.”
The State Department declined to release the names of the employees, consistent with its procedures. The department promised another update once its review is completed.” (Read more: Fox News, 6/17/2019)
February 25, 2019 – DOJ prevented the FBI from pursuing gross negligence charges against Clinton
“The DOJ required the FBI to establish evidence of intent in regards to Clinton—even though the gross negligence statute explicitly does not require this.
This meant that the FBI would have needed to find a smoking gun, such as an email or an admission from Clinton.
The word “intent” drove the entirety of the FBI’s investigation.
Anderson viewed intent as “an email that the Secretary sent saying, I set up this server for the purpose of sending unclassified information for my convenience, even though I know it’s not a secure system.”
According to House Majority Counsel at the time of Priestap’s interview, the State Department had identified 22 top-secret emails and 1,300 classified emails on Clinton’s email server.
Included within Clinton’s emails was “classified information up to the Special Access Program level.”
The classification level of SAPs is so high that Anderson refused to define her understanding of SAPs in the unclassified interview setting before congressional investigators
An email sent from an unknown individual in the FBI general counsel’s office to Priestap’s former boss, Michael Steinbach, contained a chart of available statutes for prosecuting Clinton.
Gross Negligence was specifically excluded.
Lisa Page appeared to indicate during her testimony that because of the DOJ’s position, there was no reason for the FBI to even pursue evidence related to the specific statute of gross negligence.
Under Anderson’s understanding of the DOJ’s standard, the extreme volume of emails was not a factor, nor was the classification level of the emails, as long as those being investigated were able to say they simply didn’t know any documents were actually classified.
Despite this, not everyone within the FBI agreed w/the DOJ.
FBI General Counsel James Baker:
“I thought these folks should know that this stuff is classified, that it was alarming what they were talking about, especially some of the most highly classified stuff.”
Page, Baker, and Anderson all testified that the gross negligence statute was rarely, if ever used, as part of their explanation for the DOJ’s unwillingness to pursue, but this logic was repeatedly challenged by then-majority House counsel Breitenbach.
“If part of that rationale was that it had never been used, then, by extension, one might presume that other statutes that are on the books, if they aren’t being used, should not be ever considered as predication for a prosecution.”
Anderson, the #2 lawyer at the FBI, was asked about her understanding of the difference between gross negligence and extreme carelessness.
Anderson answered that she didn’t “know exactly what the precise difference is between extremely careless and gross negligence.”
Which begs the question of why Anderson, among others, felt compelled to push Comey to change the language within his statement from the legal term of gross negligence to the non-legal term of extremely careless.
According to Anderson’s testimony, the FBI never even looked into negligence due to the DOJ’s legal position:
The issue at the heart of the Clinton email investigation was summarized by Breitenbach:
“The Department of Justice made a decision that intent was required, even though we have a statute on the books that does not require intent that [only] requires gross negligence.”
Absent a major error on her part, it appears that Clinton was effectively in the clear from the outset of the FBI investigation due to the DOJ’s decision to require intent.17)
With the exceptions of Moffa, Evans, and Hickey, every individual from the FBI and DOJ mentioned in the article has either been fired or has resigned.
(Republished in part with permission)
January 21, 2019 – Lindsey Graham to continue oversight of the FBI investigation into Clinton’s private email server and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications
“New tensions are flaring on the Senate Judiciary Committee over plans by newly minted Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to dig into Obama-era scandals.
Graham, a close ally of President Trump’s, has outlined several areas he wants to probe now that he has the Judiciary Committee gavel.
They include the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications targeting former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
(…) Graham told reporters earlier this month that he would do a “deep dive into the FISA issue” as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. And he told Fox News last month that he believed the FBI “phoned in” the Clinton probe and were “in the tank” for the Democratic presidential nominee.
“There’s a certain unevenness here about how you investigate campaigns,” Graham said, adding that he believed there was “100 percent” a double standard between how the bureau handled the investigation into Clinton compared to investigating the Trump campaign.
Graham also said late last year that he would “totally” investigate the FBI’s handling of its investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Clinton’s email. He added separately last month that he would “get to the bottom of” the FISA warrant applications against Page and that he wanted to have “an in-depth discussion” with former FBI Director James Comey.
Asked about his investigation plans and the criticism from Democrats, a spokeswoman for Graham pointed to a pair of tweets from the GOP senator on Friday where he doubled down.
Graham described as “stunning” a Fox News report that Justice Department official Bruce Ohr discussed his views on a controversial research opposition dossier on Trump with individuals now on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
“These purported revelations will NOT get a pass in Senate Judiciary Committee,” Graham added.” (Read more: The Hill, 1/21/2019)
January 10, 2019 – Judicial Watch to depose former top officials involved in the Clinton email scandal
Judicial Watch announced today that it submitted a court-ordered discovery plan for the depositions of several top former government officials involved in the Clinton email scandal, including Obama administration senior officials Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap.
Judicial Watch “intends to update the Court regarding the depositions of Hillary Clinton and Cheryl Mills at the conclusion of the 16-week discovery period, unless the Court believes such notice is not necessary.” The plan for discovery is the latest development in Judicial Watch’s July 2014 FOIA lawsuit filed after the U.S. Department of State failed to respond to a May 13, 2014 FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State (No. 1:14-cv-01242)). Read the discovery plan here:
December 28, 2018 – Goodlatte and Gowdy recommend a second counsel to continue investigating the investigators of Hillary Clinton’s emails and Trump Russia collusion
“The outgoing Republican committee chairmen in charge of a year-long probe of how the FBI and Justice Department handled investigations into the Trump campaign’s alleged Russia ties and Hillary Clinton’s emails once again called for a second special counsel to look into such matters in a letter to top administration and congressional officials summing up their work.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., sent their letter to acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. In it, they encouraged them to pick up where the House panels left off and “continue to identify and eliminate bias” at the federal law enforcement agencies “so the public can trust the institutions to make decisions solely on the facts and the law and totally devoid of political bias or consideration.”
“Our 2016 presidential candidates were not treated equally,” Goodlatte and Gowdy wrote in a statement accompanying the release of the letter. “The investigators in both investigations were biased against President Trump.”
The House GOP leaned heavily on details in an inspector general report released earlier this year to make their arguments about bias having infected the FBI and DOJ’s proceedings. The IG’s report found that while certain individuals, such as former top FBI counterintelligence officer Peter Strzok, displayed clear personal bias against Trump, there was no evidence that the conclusions of the investigations themselves were biased.” (Read more: Chicago Tribune, 12/28/2018)
December 4, 2018: And Then There Was None – Bill Priestap Resigns
“The only remaining FBI counterintelligence official at the center of all Spygate and Clinton investigation issues is departing. The enigma man, E.W. “Bill” Piestap is retiring from the FBI. Bill Priestap is the FBI Asst. Director in charge of all counterintelligence operations. Priestap was FBI Agent Peter Strzok’s boss; he was also at the epicenter of the story surrounding every action taken by the FBI in the Clinton investigation and the Trump campaign investigation.
Bill Priestap was copied on every email of consequence including the writing of the Clinton exoneration talking points delivered by FBI Director James Comey. Priestap was the central figure on the FBI side of both Clinton and Trump operations. “Bill” is mentioned in hundreds of text messages sent by Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.
In short, Bill Priestap was everywhere – except where you would most likely expect to find him, in media discussion. The timing seems curious though the Wall Street Journal goes to great lengths to describe the timing as a mere happenstance due to his 20-year service anniversary and the opportunity to retire with full benefits:
WASHINGTON—A top FBI official who helped oversee two politically sensitive investigations related to the 2016 presidential campaign is retiring from government service.
Bill Priestap, who currently serves as assistant director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counterintelligence division, will leave his post by the end of the year. Mr. Priestap, a 20-year veteran of the bureau, worked on organized crime and drug cases in Chicago before rising through the national security ranks of the agency after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
Mr. Priestap’s retirement is unrelated to the controversies over the handling of the 2016 investigations, according to a person familiar with the matter. He “became eligible to retire and has chosen to do so after 20 years of service,” the FBI said in a statement.
The federal government allows some employees, including FBI agents, to retire with full benefits if they are 50 or older and have at least two decades of service.
During the 2016 campaign, Mr. Priestap was one of several officials at the center of two politically volatile probes: the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information, and a counterintelligence inquiry into whether associates of then-candidate Donald Trump colluded with the Russian government.
After Mr. Priestap’s departure, none of the high-ranking bureau officials involved in the two investigations will remain with the bureau. FBI director James Comey was fired by President Trump last year, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was later dismissed by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his contacts with the media, days before he was eligible to retire with benefits.
Peter Strzok, the chief of the counterespionage section, left the FBI this year after it emerged that he had sent disparaging text messages about Mr. Trump.
Top bureau officials, especially those with national security experience, are in high demand in private-sector fields like cybersecurity, defense contracting and private intelligence. Mr. Priestap’s future plans aren’t known. (read more)
(…) Priestap was so important that during FBI Director James Comey’s March 20th, 2017 congressional testimony Director Comey told congress it was Bill Priestap who recommended that congressional oversight should not be notified of the ongoing counterintelligence operations. Priestap’s instruction was so important that despite the rules violation FBI Director Comey followed his recommendation and kept congress in the dark.
On June 5th, 2018, FBI Director of Counterintelligence E.W. “Bill” Priestap testified to a joint session of the House Judiciary and House Oversight committees.
The hearing was a matter of strong public interest. Mr. Priestap was questioned for approximately seven hours. However, journalist Olivia Beavers covering for The Hill dropped a detail that seemed rather curious:
(…) Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.), however, said he felt that Priestap didn’t say anything that would indicate there was “political bias that motivated the Hillary Clinton email investigation.”
Priestap “completely” backed up everything that Comey said, according to a source familiar with his testimony.
Only three lawmakers — Jordan, Meadows and Krishnamoorthi — attended the hearing, which took place on the first day after a week-long recess.
Priestap’s interview comes after the joint House investigation stalled for months after being first announced. (more)
On the home-front: FBI Director of Counterintelligence Bill Priestap is married to Sabina Menshell a self-employed “consultant” with a history of donations to Democrat candidates, specifically to Hillary Clinton.” (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 12/04/2018)
October 3rd & 18th, 2018 – Transcripts of former top FBI lawyer details a belief Clinton should have been charged for her “alarming, appalling” mishandling of classified info
“[James] Baker served as the FBI’s general counsel when the bureau investigated the Trump campaign and Hillary Clinton’s use of an unauthorized private email server. During two days of testimony on Oct. 3 and Oct. 18, he told lawmakers that he believed even toward the end of the Clinton investigation that she should have been charged over her “alarming, appalling” mishandling of classified information.
He argued with others, including then-FBI Director James Comey, about the issue all the way toward the end of the investigation, but was ultimately persuaded that Clinton should be exonerated.
“My original belief … after having conducted the investigation and towards the end of it, then sitting down and reading a binder of her materials, I thought that it was alarming, appalling, whatever words I said, and argued with others about why they thought she shouldn’t be charged,” Baker told lawmakers.
As of October 2018, nearly two years after the Clinton probe concluded, Baker still believed that the conduct of the former secretary of state and her associates was “appalling” with regard to the handling of classified information.
(…) As general counsel, Baker advised senior FBI leaders on the legal aspects of key investigations and served as the liaison with the Department of Justice (DOJ). In testimony, he detailed a series of unusual steps he took in the Trump-Russia investigation, including serving as the conduit between Perkins Coie—the firm working for the Clinton 2016 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC)—and the FBI.
Baker left his position as general counsel in early January 2018 and then resigned from the FBI in early May 2018.” (Read more: Epoch Times, 1/18/2019)
August 31, 2018 – Testimony by FBI lawyer Trisha Anderson reveals extensive role in Trump, Clinton investigations
“A key player in the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Donald Trump and his 2016 presidential campaign was Trisha Anderson, who, at the time, was the No. 2 lawyer at the agency’s Office of General Counsel.
Despite having no specific experience in counterintelligence before coming to the FBI, Anderson was, in some manner, involved in virtually all of the significant events of the investigation.
Anderson told members of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees in August last year during closed-door testimony that she was one of only about 10 people who had known about the Trump–Russia investigation prior to its official opening.
A transcript of Anderson’s testimony, which was reviewed for this article, reveals that she had read all of the FBI’s FD302 forms detailing information that the author of the Steele dossier, former British spy Christopher Steele, had provided to high-ranking Department of Justice (DOJ) official Bruce Ohr.
Anderson also told lawmakers that she personally signed off on the original application for a warrant to spy on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page without having read it. The FBI relied heavily on the unverified information in the Steele dossier—which was paid for by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee—to obtain the FISA warrant.
Anderson also was part of a small group of FBI personnel who got to read then-FBI Director James Comey’s memos about conversations he had with President Donald Trump.
Besides the investigation into Trump, Anderson also was involved in the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton for sending classified information using a private server.
Anderson’s testimony reveals that she received the original referral from the inspectors general for both the State Department and Intelligence Community on Clinton after hundreds of classified emails had been found on her server.
Her testimony also raises questions as to whether then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch had a conflict of interest.
Lawmakers also questioned Anderson about whether she advised Comey against making a public announcement that the FBI had reopened its investigation into Clinton following findings on the laptop of former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) because Comey would have been “responsible for getting Donald Trump elected.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 3/08/2019) (Trisha Anderson transcript, 8/31/2018)
- August 2018
- Bruce Ohr
- Christopher Steele
- Clinton Email Investigation
- Clinton emails
- Clinton/DNC/Steele Dossier
- Democratic National Committee (DNC)
- FBI counterintelligence investigation
- FISA application
- FISA Title-1 surveillance warrant
- House Judiciary Committee
- House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
- Loretta Lynch
- Trisha Anderson
- Trump campaign
- Weiner laptop
August 26, 2018 – House task force interviews FBI official, Jonathan Moffa, about Clinton emails
“House lawmakers interviewed an FBI official on Friday, part of an ongoing congressional investigation into the bureau’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.
A congressional source confirmed to the Washington Examiner that the Judiciary and Oversight Committees met privately with FBI official Jonathan Moffa at the end of the week — the latest in a line of interviews conducted by the joint task force looking into the FBI’s controversial handling of the inquiry into the former secretary of state’s unauthorized server.
Moffa was mentioned in an April letter sent to Oversight Chairman Trey Gowdy by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., who took note of emails from February 2016 that suggested Justice Department coordination with the FBI before ex-FBI Director James Comey publicly recommend in July that no charges be brought against Clinton, who was then a candidate for president.
In the letter, first reported by Fox News, Meadows pointed to emails found on Clinton’s server with “Top Secret” information that indicated Comey may have misled Congress when he testified that there was no DOJ-FBI coordination at “crucial moments of the investigation.” One of those emails from an unidentified senior Justice Department official sent to Peter Strzok, the former FBI official who led the Clinton probe and was recently fired for his anti-Trump texting; Moffa, an official in the FBI’s criminal division and the bureau’s Office of General Counsel; and members of the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia, discussed being “kept in the loop as [a] response is drafted.”
The Judiciary-Oversight joint task force also reportedly set up interviews with at least three other FBI officials earlier this summer, including with Bill Priestap, the assistant director of the FBI’s counterintelligence division, and Michael Steinbach, the former head of the FBI’s national security division, and John Giacalone, who preceded Steinbach.
Despite protests from across the aisle, the GOP-led task force isn’t done yet. According to Bloomberg, lawmakers will privately interview former top FBI lawyer James Baker on Aug. 30. (Read more: Washington Examiner, 8/26/2018)
July 20, 2018 – Peter Strzok statements about the Weiner laptop conflict with DOJ Inspector General claims about Weiner laptop
“With the exceptional help of John Spiropoulos we investigate a conflict completely ignored by media and congress. Peter Strzok, the FBI’s lead Investigator in the Clinton email investigation, never intended to investigate the laptop before the election. The evidence, in his own words, is in the report by the Inspector General. In addition, the IG report includes a jaw dropping contradiction regarding the investigation of the laptop. Strzok says one thing; the FBI’s computer experts say another. It calls into question the entirety of the laptop investigation.
There is a great deal of inconsistent application of law surrounding the DOJ/FBI investigative authority during 2015 and 2016. There is also a great deal of fatigue surrounding discussion of those inconsistent applications. Contradictions, inconsistency and obtuse justifications are as rampant in our midst as the political narratives shaping them. Perhaps that’s by design.
Reading Chapter 11 of the IG Report reinforces an acceptance that not only is there a need for a special counsel, but there is a brutally obvious need for multiple special counsels; each given a specific carve-out investigation that comes directly from the content of the Inspector General report. This issue of the handling of the Weiner/Abedin laptop screams for a special counsel investigation on that facet alone. Why?
Well, consider this from page #388 (emphasis mine):
Midyear agents obtained a copy of the Weiner laptop from NYO immediately after the search warrant was signed on October 30.
The laptop was taken directly to Quantico where the FBI’s Operational Technology Division (OTD) began processing the laptop. The Lead Analyst told us that given the volume of emails on the laptop and the difficulty with de-duplicating the emails that “at least for the first few days, the scale of what we’re doing seem[ed] really, really big.”
Strzok told us that OTD was able “to do some amazing things” to “rapidly de-duplicate” the emails on the laptop, which significantly lowered the number of emails that the Midyear team would have to individually review. Strzok stated that only after that technological breakthrough did he begin to think it was “possible we might wrap up before the election.” (pg 388)
The key takeaway here is two-fold. First, the laptop is in the custody of the FBI; that’s important moving forward (I’ll explain later). Also, specifically important, FBI Agent Peter Strzok, the lead investigative authority in the Hillary Clinton MYE (Mid-Year-Exam), is explaining to the IG how they were able to process an exhaustive volume of emails (350,000) and Blackberry communications (344,000) in a few days; [Oct 30 to Nov 5]
Note: “OTD was able “to do some amazing things to rapidly de-duplicate” the emails on the laptop.”
OK, you got that?
Now lets look at the very next page, #389 (again, emphasis mine):
(…) The FBI determined that Abedin forwarded two of the confirmed classified emails to Weiner. The FBI reviewed 6,827 emails that were either to or from Clinton and assessed 3,077 of those emails to be “potentially work-related.”The FBI analysis of the review noted that “[b]ecause metadata was largely absent, the emails could not be completely, automatically de-duplicated or evaluated against prior emails recovered during the investigation” and therefore the FBI could not determine how many of the potentially work-related emails were duplicative of emails previously obtained in the Midyear investigation. (pg 389)
See the problem? See the contradiction?
Strzok is saying due to some amazing wizardry the FBI forensics team was able to de-duplicate the emails. However, FBI forensics is saying they were NOT able to de-duplicate the emails.
Both of these statements cannot be true. And therein lies the underlying evidence to support a belief the laptop content was never actually reviewed. But it gets worse, much worse… (Read more: Conservative Treehouse, 7/20/2018)
(Note From the Editor: Conservative Treehouse has granted us permission to share more of their work than what Fair Use would normally allow. We thank them for their generosity and excellent, investigative work. Please don’t stop reading here, there is a lot more to their story.)