Jason Chaffetz

A Republican Representative leaks Comey’s letter to Congress.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (Credit: Jose Luis Magana / Reuters)

Representative Jason Chaffetz (Credit: Jose Luis Magana / Reuters)

On this day, FBI Director James Comey sends a letter to eight Congressional committees, revealing that the FBI is at least partially reopening the FBI’s Clinton email investigation due to newly discovered evidence.

Shortly thereafter, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, reveals in a Tweet: “FBI Dir [Director] just informed me, ‘The FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation.’ Case reopened.” The full text of Comey’s letter is leaked to the media a short time later that same day.

Three days later, Chaffetz comments, “I thought I would put it out there. People have a right to know. It was newsworthy. It caught me by surprise. … It is absolutely correct” that the investigation is being reopened, after concluding in July 2016. “They are spending time, money and resources investigating. Nobody knows where it’s going to lead, but the reality is, it is reopened.”

The Democratic Coalition Against Trump announces on October 31, 2016 that it has filed a complaint against Chaffetz with the Office of Congressional Ethics “for his role in releasing information” from Comey. The coalition has also lodged a complaint against Comey with the Justice Department, requesting an investigation into whether his letter violated the federal Hatch Act for taking a political action shortly before an election. (Deseret News, 10/31/2016)

The Justice Department allegedly made immunity side deals that ordered the destruction of key evidence and limited what the FBI could search.

Devin Nunes (Credit: public domain)

Devin Nunes (Credit: public domain)

The chairs of several House and Senate committees write a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch, with questions about the limitations the Justice Department placed on the investigation of Clinton’s private server. The signatories of this letter are: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Jason Chaffetz (R), Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R), House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte (R), and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Devin Nunes (R).

According to the letter, recently released documents suggest the department, “agreed to substantial and inappropriate limitations on the scope of [the FBI’s Clinton email] investigation.” The restrictions were discovered in the course of the committees’ review of the immunity agreements for former Clinton staffers Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson.

Here are some key excerpts from the letter:

  • “We write to express our concerns about the process by which Congress was allowed to view the [Beth] Wilkinson letters, that the letters inappropriately restrict the scope of the FBI’s investigation, and that the FBI inexplicably agreed to destroy the laptops knowing that the contents were the subject of Congressional subpoenas and preservation letters.” (Wilkinson is the lawyer to both Mills and Samuelson.)
  • “These limitations would necessarily have excluded, for example, any emails from Cheryl Mills to [Platte River Networks employee] Paul Combetta in late 2014 or early 2015 directing the destruction or concealment of federal records. Similarly, these limitations would have excluded any email sent or received by Secretary Clinton if it was not sent or received by one of the four email addresses listed, or the email address was altered.”
  • “Further, the Wilkinson letters memorialized the FBI’s agreement to destroy the laptops. This is simply astonishing given the likelihood that evidence on the laptops would be of interest to congressional investigators.”
  • “The Wilkinson letters raise serious questions about why [the Justice Department] would consent to such substantial limitations on the scope of its investigation, and how Director Comey’s statements on the scope of the investigation comport with the reality of what the FBI was permitted to investigate.”

In closing, so that the committee chairs can better understand the DOJ’s basis for agreeing to these restrictions, the letter includes eleven questions for Loretta Lynch, and answers must be submitted no later than October 19, 2016. (US Congress, 10/05/2016)

Three more people were given immunity deals in the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, claims the Justice Department was “handing out immunity deals like candy” in the Clinton email investigation. Chaffetz claims the Justice Department “exempted key physical evidence from any potential criminal case against the aides.”

According to Chaffetz, three former Clinton aides – Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson, and John Bentel – were granted immunity deals in exchange for their cooperation. Mills was Clinton’s chief of staff and then has been one of her lawyers  Samuelson was a State Department aide and then also has been a Clinton lawyer. Bentel was director of the department’s Office of Information Resources Management (IRM).

The Justice Department provided copies of the immunity agreements to the House Oversight Committee this week, under seal. The information was then leaked to the Associated Press.

Mills “gave federal investigators access to her laptop on the condition that what they found couldn’t be used against her.” It is believed the same happened to Samuelson. Bentel apparently refused to be interviewed by the FBI until he got an immunity deal.

This brings the total number of people who were granted immunity as part of the FBI’s investigation to at least five. It has previously been reported that Bryan Pagliano and Paul Combetta were given immunity for their cooperation with the FBI. (The Associated Press, 09/23/16)

A Congressional committee votes that Pagliano should be held in contempt of Congress.

Bryan Pagliano (Credit: public domain)

Bryan Pagliano (Credit: public domain)

Bryan Pagliano, who managed Clinton’s server when she was secretary of state, recently was served a subpoena to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. But instead of pleading the Fifth, as two others did, he failed to appear altogether. The committee holds another hearing on this day, and he fails to appear again. As a result, the committee immediately votes on party lines, 19 to 15, to recommend that the House of Representatives hold him in contempt of Congress.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), chair of the committee, says, “Subpoenas are not optional. Mr. Pagliano is a crucial fact witness in this committee’s investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server to conduct government business.”

After a required two day wait time, the resolution can be voted on by the entire House to be adopted.

Democrats on the committee argue repeatedly that the move is a politically motivated abuse of power meant to influence the November 2016 presidential election.

A letter by Pagliano’s lawyer Mark McDougall to the committee similarly claims that efforts to force Pagliano to testify show a “naked political agenda” with “no valid legislative aim.” McDougall says Pagliano is ready to appear behind closed doors, but will not appear in public. (The Hill, 9/22/2016) (Politico, 9/22/2016)

A House panel is looking into Combetta’s post about Clinton’s email server.

Representative Mark Meadows (Credit: public domain)

Representative Mark Meadows (Credit: public domain)

Representative Mark Meadows (R) of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is reviewing a Reddit post that suggests an IT (Internet technology) specialist who worked on Hillary Clinton’s private server  asked for advice on how to alter the contents of “VERY VIP” emails. Meadows is the chairman of the panel’s Government Operations subcommittee.

Reddit users uncovered a two-year-old post from an account they believe belongs to Paul Combetta, a Platte River Networks employee who helped manage Clinton’s private server. Meadows says, “the Reddit post issue and its connection to Paul Combetta is currently being reviewed by [my] staff and evaluations are being made as to the authenticity of the post. If it is determined that the request to change email addresses was made by someone so closely aligned with the Secretary’s IT operation as Mr. Combetta, then it will certainly prompt additional inquiry.”

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), chair of the same House committee, has issued a criminal referral to the US attorney for the District of Columbia. The referral asks that the Justice Department investigate whether Clinton or her aides were involved in the decision to delete the emails while they were under subpoena and a request for preservation of records. (The Hill, 09/19/16)

“Less than 20 people” had access to Clinton’s private server.

Cooper shakes hands with Representative Chaffetz after the hearing. (Credit: public domain)

Cooper shakes hands with Representative Chaffetz after the hearing. (Credit: CSpan)

Justin Cooper worked with Bryan Pagliano to manage Clinton’s private server while she was secretary of state. When Cooper testifies before a Congressional committee on this day, he is asked by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), “[H]ow many people had access to the server?”

He replies, “There were two people who had some administrative rights, myself and Mr. Pagliano. I can’t off the top of my head tell you exactly how many users there were over the lifetime of the server, but it was less than 20 people.”

He also mentions, “The only remote access login to the server was for myself and Mr. Pagliano.”

At other points in his testimony, he says that most of the users were members of former President Bill Clinton’s staff and/or Clinton Foundation employees. Cooper doesn’t have a security clearance and its probable that most of the others with access to the server don’t have security clearances either. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)

In July 2016, FBI Director James Comey claimed that Clinton gave between three and nine people without a security clearance access to the server, but he may be defining “access” in a different manner than Cooper.

Justin Cooper was an administrator of Clinton’s private server and yet had no security clearance; Clinton apparently wasn’t asked about this.

Justin Cooper appears before the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee on September 13, 2016 (Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Justin Cooper appears before the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee on September 13, 2016. (Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Justin Cooper worked with Bryan Pagliano to manage Clinton’s private server while she was secretary of state. But while Pagliano was a State Department employee, Cooper was an aide to former President Bill Clinton as well as a Clinton Foundation employee. When Cooper testifies before a Congressional committee on this day, he is asked by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) if he had a security clearance while he was helping to manage the server.

He replies, “No, I did not have a security clearance.”

He mentions that he worked in the White House from 2000 to 2001, but he is not asked if he had a security clearance in those years. However, he mentions that he wasn’t involved in handling classified information at that time.

Chaffetz also asks him, “You had access to the server the entire time you were working for the Clintons?”

He answers, “Yes I had access to the server.”

He also mentions that both he and Pagliano had remote access, which means they could have accessed Clinton’s emails over the Internet at any time. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)

Curiously, the FBI Clinton email investigation’s final report, released earlier in September 2016, doesn’t mention Cooper’s lack of a security clearance. Nor is it mentioned in the summary of Clinton’s July 2016 FBI interview, which is made public in early September 2016 as well, if Clinton knew Cooper had no security clearance when she hired him and continued to pay him for managing the server. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Two former managers of Clinton’s private server plead the Fifth before a Congressional hearing; one other fails to appear at all.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee holds a public hearing related to the management of Clinton’s private server. Four people associated with the management of Clinton’s private server had been served by Congressional subpoenas on September 8, 2016 to force them to testimony:

Paul Combetta (left) Bill Thornton (center) Justin Cooper (right) (Credit: CSpan)

Paul Combetta (left) Bill Thornton (center) Justin Cooper (right) (Credit: CSpan)

  • Bryan Pagliano, a former State Department employee who managed Clinton’s server while she was secretary of state. He defies the subpoena by failing to appear at all.
  • Justin Cooper, a former Bill Clinton aide who helped Pagliano manage the server. He does answer questions for nearly two hours at the hearing.
  • Paul Combetta, a Platte River Networks (PRN) employee, which managed the server from June 2013 until at least late 2015. He deleted and then wiped all of Clinton’s emails from her server. He fails to answer any questions and pleads the Fifth instead.
  • Bill Thornton, another PRN employee who managed the server with Combetta. He also to answer any questions and pleads the Fifth instead.

Pagliano’s lawyers have complained the hearing is politically biased and he will continue to refuse to participate. He has also failed to cooperate with another Congressional committee in 2015, a State Department inspector general’s investigation, and a deposition in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) says of Pagliano’s refusal to appear: “He made the decision not to be here and there are consequences for that. … We’ll look at the full range of options. If anybody is under any illusion I’m going to let go of this and let it sail off into the sunset they are very ill-advised.” However, he doesn’t specify what the penalties might be. (The Associated Press, 9/13/2016) (US Congress, 9/13/2016)

Austin McChord, the CEO of Datto, Inc., was also scheduled to appear, but there is no mention of him. Presumably, he is rescheduled for another hearing.

Representative Chaffetz claims that fewer than 20 of Pagliano’s emails have been recovered.

In comments during a Congressional hearing relating to Clinton’s use of a private server, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) comments about Clinton’s server manager Bryan Pagliano, “[I]t’s our understanding [that] Mr. Pagliano worked in the I.T. department at the State Department nearly four years yet virtually every single email Mr. Pagliano had has suddenly disappeared. There’s something like less than 20 emails…”

Bryan Pagliano’s empty chair at the hearing. (Credit: CSpan)

Chaffetz also says, “Mr. Pagliano is important because he was receiving a paycheck from the Clintons but failed to disclose that on his financial forms. We’d like to give him an opportunity to answer that question. We also believe he entered into an immunity agreement. You’d think somebody would sing like a songbird if you got immunity from the FBI. What are you afraid of?”

Pagliano cannot answer the question because he fails to attend the hearing, despite a Congressional subpoena to do so. (US Congress, 9/13/2016)

It has been reported that the .pst file containing all of Pagliano’s State Department emails has been lost.

The FBI Clinton email investigation’s final report failed to mention the issue of Pagliano’s lost emails or how many of his emails the FBI had or found. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

Congressional committees order five people involved with the management of Clinton’s private server to speak in a public hearing.

Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, orders two Platte River Networks (PRN) employees and three others to testify before a Congressional hearing, on September 13, 2016. PRN is the company that managed Clinton’s private server. The following people are ordered to appear:

Those subpoenaed to appear before the House Oversight committee are from left to right: Paul Combetta, Bryan Pagliano, Justin Cooper and Alex McChord and Bill Thornton. (Credits: public domain)

  • Paul Combetta. He is a PRN employee. On September 8, 2016, the New York Times revealed that Combetta deleted and wiped Clinton’s emails from her private server, and he also got an immunity deal from the Justice Department as part of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation. Congressional committees issued subpoenas for PRN interviews on August 22, 2016, after asking without coersion since September 2015.
  • Bill Thornton. He also is a PRN employee. The FBI’s final report indicated  two PRN employees worked on Clinton’s server, so it seems probable he is the other one.
  • Bryan Pagliano. He managed Clinton’s server until PRN took over. He was previously subpoenaed by the House Committee on Benghazi, but he pleaded the Fifth. However, he cooperated with the FBI after also getting an immunity deal.
  • Justin Cooper. He is a member of Bill Clinton’s staff and helped Pagliano manage the server.
  • Austin McChord. He is CEO of Datto, Inc. PRN subcontracted Datto to make back-up copies of the server. (The Wall Street Journal, 9/9/2016) (US Congress, 9/9/2016)