Clinton Email Investigation

Dec. 7, 2018 – Comey is questioned about secret memo on Lynch ahead of testimony and states he believes the Russian intel is “genuine” but questions accuracy

(Credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/The Associated Press)

“A controversial and classified document, alleging potential misconduct by former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, resurfaced on December 7, suggesting lawmakers may press Lynch about the memo during her own deposition.

While the contents of the document remain classified, media leaks suggest it includes an email from the then-chair of the Democratic National Committee Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Leonard Benardo of the Open Society Foundations, the nonprofit organization run by billionaire Democratic fundraiser George Soros. The email shows Lynch assured Clinton-campaign staffer Amanda Renteria that the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized access to the private email server would not “go too far.”

(…) Comey said the document was one of the factors that led him to break from established protocol and announce the exoneration of Clinton in a press conference. During his transcribed deposition (pdf) on Capitol Hill on Dec. 9, Comey answered questions about the document to both a Democrat and a Republican.

“[I’ve] tried to be very careful in public comments about this. There was material that had not been verified that I believed if it became public, would be used to cast doubt on whether the Attorney General had acted appropriately with respect to the investigation,” Comey said in response to a question from Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) about the document on Dec. 9. “I don’t think I’m allowed to go beyond that in characterizing that material.”

“So far as I knew at the time, and still think, the material itself was genuine, which is a separate question, though, from whether it was what it said was accurate,” Comey added in response to a question from Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.).

Comey had previously written about the document in his book, explaining that he made the exoneration announcement because of a “development still unknown to the American public” that “cast serious doubt” on Lynch.

During his testimony, Comey agreed disclosing information in the document to the public would “have caused some to question the objectivity of the Department of Justice (DOJ).”

According to Comey, Lynch and then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates were briefed on the contents of the document. The FBI then interviewed Lynch about the matter, although he was not present, Comey said.

If, since last year, the FBI or lawmakers had found a way to verify the accuracy of the document, it would prove that Obama administration officials at the highest level were using their power to further a political agenda. The finding could be especially devastating since it could implicate the head of the Justice Department, an entity traditionally independent of The White House and politics.

Lynch’s actions are behind three of the main reasons that Comey cites for announcing that no charges will be brought against Clinton. The usual protocol is for the Justice Department, not the FBI, to make a determination about bringing charges. Neither the FBI nor the DOJ announces details of investigations that do not result in prosecution.

Comey said he decided to make the announcement because of the way Lynch’s tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton could be perceived. Lynch had also told Comey to refer to the Clinton investigation as a matter.

The FBI would go on to interview Clinton on July 2, five days after the tarmac meeting. According to Ratcliffe, Clinton was never asked about the tarmac meeting during the FBI interview.”  (Read more: The Epoch Times, 12/09/2018)

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 (Credit: public domain)

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:

WASHINGTONA 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)

(Credit: Conservative Treehouse)

(…) 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

(Credit: Conservative Treehouse)

“[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

(Credit: The Epoch Times)

“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 26, 2018 – House task force interviews FBI official, Jonathan Moffa, about Clinton emails

(Credit: Kelo)

“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.)

July 13, 2018 – Lisa Page admits Obama DOJ ordered stand-down on Clinton email prosecution

“Former FBI lawyer Lisa Page admitted under questioning from Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe last summer that “the FBI was ordered by the Obama DOJ not to consider charging Hillary Clinton for gross negligence in the handling of classified information,” the congressman alleged in a social media post late Tuesday, citing a newly unearthed transcript of Page’s closed-door testimony.

(Credit: Twitter)

Page and since-fired FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok, who were romantically involved, exchanged numerous anti-Trump text messages in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election, and Republicans have long accused the bureau of political bias. But Page’s testimony was perhaps the most salient evidence yet that the Justice Department improperly interfered with the FBI’s supposedly independent conclusions on Clinton’s criminal culpability, Ratcliffe alleged.

“So let me if I can, I know I’m testing your memory,” Ratcliffe began as he questioned Page under oath, according to a transcript excerpt he posted on Twitter. “But when you say advice you got from the Department, you’re making it sound like it was the Department that told you: You’re not going to charge gross negligence because we’re the prosecutors and we’re telling you we’re not going to —”

Page interrupted: “That is correct,” as Ratcliffe finished his sentence, ” — bring a case based on that.” (Read more: Fox News, 3/13/2019)

July 13, 2018 – Lisa Page testimony reveals the DOJ prevented the FBI from pursuing gross negligence charges against Clinton

(…) “Lisa Page, an FBI lawyer who served as special counsel to Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe during the time of the Clinton investigation, noted during her testimony in July 2018, that the DOJ was intimately involved in the investigation.

“Everybody talks about this as if this was the FBI investigation, and the truth of the matter is there was not a single step, other than the July 5th statement, there was not a single investigative step that we did not do in consultation with or at the direction of the Justice Department,” Page told congressional investigators on July 13, 2018.

Comey had also hinted at the influence exerted by the DOJ over the Clinton investigation in his July recommendation, stating that “there are obvious considerations, like the strength of the evidence, especially regarding intent.”

Intent is a requirement of several statutes the FBI was looking into. But intent is specifically not a factor under the charge of gross negligence—contained within 18 U.S. Code § 793(f)—a fact that was brought up by Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX) during Page’s testimony:

John Ratcliffe (Credit: CSpan)

Rep. Ratcliffe: Okay. And that’s — I think, when you talk about intent, that’s certainly true under part of 18 793(f), but it sounds like you all just blew over gross negligence.

Ms. Page: We did not blow over gross negligence. We, in fact — and, in fact, the Director — because on its face, it did seem like, well, maybe there’s a potential here for this to be the charge. And we had multiple conversations, multiple conversations with the Justice Department about charging gross negligence.

Page made clear during her testimony that the DOJ had decided that due to “constitutional vagueness” a charge of gross negligence would not be supported without accompanying proof of intent—a seemingly oxymoronic position:

Rep. Ratcliffe: Okay. So let me if I can, I know I’m testing your memory, but when you say advice you got from the Department, you’re making it sound like it was the Department that told you: You’re not going to charge gross negligence because we’re the prosecutors and we’re telling you we’re not going to —

Ms. Page: That is correct.

Rep. Ratcliffe: — bring a case based on that.

Trouble Defining Intent

The word “intent” drove the entirety of the FBI’s investigation into the Clinton email server.

It appears, however, that there were differing understandings of the word “intent” within the FBI. Trisha Anderson, the No. 2 lawyer at the FBI, told investigators that what she viewed as intent was “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.”

Page viewed the situation somewhat differently, agreeing they were looking for “an intent to do an act which is in violation of the law’s central command.” As she told investigators, the FBI “couldn’t find any indicia of knowledge that she knew that these [classified emails] shouldn’t be traversing her server.”

In Anderson’s understanding, she was looking for a prosecutable reason behind the establishment of the server itself. Page, however, was looking at whether Clinton knew which emails should not have traveled through the private server.

Meanwhile, Bill Priestap, head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division and who was officially in charge of the Clinton investigation, said during testimony that he thought the “number of instances is absolutely a proper consideration” in establishing intent.

According to Ryan Breitenbach, who was the 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. As Breitenbach noted to Priestap during testimony, “I think there might be many who would question whether people in this room would still be in this room if we had hit 1,300 emails on our personal Gmail service.”

DOJ Not Willing to Charge This

Michael Steinbach (Credit: CSpan)

Priestap was shown an email sent from an unknown individual in the FBI general counsel’s office to Priestap’s former boss, Michael Steinbach, which contained a chart of “available statutes for prosecuting the former Secretary of State.” Gross Negligence was specifically excluded from the chargeable statutes available to the FBI. Priestap, who had not previously seen the document, expressed concerns that this might have hindered the work of FBI investigators.

Mr. Breitenbach: We see in this chart that DOJ is not willing to charge this, meaning 18 U.S.C. 793(f). My question is going back to those draft affidavits. If DOJ is not willing to charge this statute, why would the FBI in an affidavit use this statute as predication to obtain a search warrant if this statute is never going to be prosecuted?

Mr. Priestap: So I — I don’t know who put this together and used this language.

Mr. Breitenbach: Well, someone in the FBI general counsel’s office.

Mr. Priestap: Yeah. No. No. I trust you. But I don’t know why they, again, put it together. I don’t know why they used this language, ‘DOJ not willing to charge this.’

My attitude is that if there is a Federal criminal statute still on the books, then, you know — and we think there may or might be a violation of that, we still have to work to uncover whether, in fact, there was.

The prosecutive history of a particular statute isn’t going to affect — I sure hope it does not affect the fact-finder’s work.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 2/25/2019)

July 13, 2018 – Page denies bias, but says FBI focused more on Trump than Clinton

(Credit: Fox News)

“Page steadfastly maintained there was no bias present in either the Clinton-email investigation or the Trump–Russia investigation on the part of anyone within the FBI or the DOJ, and went to some lengths to illustrate that, in general, FBI personnel don’t like most of the people they tend to investigate.

At the same time, Page repeatedly and openly admitted to placing a greater emphasis and weight on the Trump–Russia investigation than the Clinton-email investigation:

“If you were weighing resources with respect to which poses a graver threat to national security, which is more, frankly, important, there is no doubt—at least in mine or anybody else’s mind that I know—that the Russia investigation posed an incredible threat to national security, and whether we got into the Weiner laptop simply did not.”

Page returned to this topic several times:

“The notion that there might be more emails that have not previously been seen that existed on Hillary Clinton’s email server just simply don’t even enter into the realm of the same room of seriousness. The Clinton investigation involved activities that had taken place three years prior. It’s an entirely historical investigation.”

“In the assessment of the Counterintelligence Division, they still don’t even come close to the threat posed if Russia had co-opted a member of a political campaign.”

Although Page admitted to a personal dislike for Trump, she also admitted to a less-than-favorable view of Hillary Clinton, noting that while she didn’t like then-candidate Trump, she “wasn’t particularly fond or favorable toward Secretary Clinton. Page summed her position up thusly: “I mean, given a Trump-Clinton race, yes, I was supporting Clinton, but I was not a particularly big fan of hers.” (The Epoch Times, 1/21/2019)

July 12, 2018 – According to Rep Louie Gohmert, the Intelligence Community Inspector General found all of Clinton emails were sent to a ‘foreign entity’ and “it was unrelated to Russia”

Peter Strzok (l) and Louie Gohmert (Credit: public domain)

“A member of the House Committee on the Judiciary said during a hearing Thursday that a government watchdog found that nearly all of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails were sent to a foreign entity and that the FBI didn’t follow-up on that finding.

“It was going to an unauthorized source that was a foreign entity unrelated to Russia,” he added.

Gohmert said the ICIG investigator, Frank Rucker, presented the findings to Strzok, but that the FBI official did not do anything with the information.

Strzok acknowledged meeting with Rucker, but said he did not recall the “specific content.”

“The forensic examination was done by the ICIG and they can document that,” Gohmert said, “but you were given that information and you did nothing with it.” (Read more: The Daily Caller, 7/12/2018)