John Giacalone

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)

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)

October 12, 2015 – March 2, 2016: Comey makes a series of high profile reassignments resulting in a complete upper-echelon turnover of the FBI Team working on the Clinton email investigation

Starting in October 2015 and into the first three months of 2016:

  • Oct. 12, 2015: Louis Bladel was moved to the New York Field Office.
  • Dec. 9, 2015: Charles “Sandy” Kable was moved to the Washington Field Office.
  • Dec. 1, 2015: Randall Coleman, Assistant Director – head of Counterintelligence, was named as executive assistant director – Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, and was replaced by Bill Priestap.
  • Feb. 1, 2016: Mark Giuliano retired as Deputy FBI Director and was replaced by Andrew McCabe.
  • Feb. 11, 2016: John Giacalone retired as Executive Assistant Director and was replaced by Michael Steinbach.
  • March 2, 2016: Gerald Roberts, Jr. was moved to the Washington Field Office.

Comey was the only known involved senior FBI leadership official who remained a constant during the entirety of the Clinton email investigation.

Strzok told lawmakers last year that the Clinton Mid-Year Exam was opened out of headquarters by then-Assistant Director Coleman. Strzok also noted that Section Chief Kable was involved in that effort. The FBI investigation into the Clinton emails was formally opened on July 10, 2015.

At this time, Strzok was an Assistant Special Agent in Charge at the Washington Field Office. The Assistant Director in Charge at the Washington Field Office during this period was Andrew McCabe, a position he assumed on Sept. 14, 2014.

Notably, on the same day, John Giacalone was appointed as the executive assistant director of the National Security Branch at FBI Headquarters, a position that had been held by McCabe prior to his move to head the Washington Field Office. Giacalone became the supervisor of Priestap’s predecessor, Coleman. Also on Sept. 14, Michael Steinbach replaced Giacalone as assistant director of the Counterterrorism Division. Steinbach would later replace Giacalone as the executive assistant director of the National Security Branch on Feb. 11, 2016, when Giacalone retired. With this appointment, Steinbach became Priestap’s direct supervisor.

Strzok said the decision to open the Clinton case at FBI headquarters as opposed to the Washington Field Office was made by senior executives at the FBI—certainly at or above Assistant Director Coleman’s level. At this time, Coleman was serving as the head of the FBI’s counterintelligence division—the same position Priestap would take over in January 2016.

On July 30, 2015, within weeks of the FBI’s opening of the Clinton investigation, McCabe was suddenly promoted to the No. 3 position within the FBI. With his new title of associate deputy director, McCabe was transferred to FBI headquarters from the Washington Field Office and his direct involvement in the Clinton investigation began.

Peter Strzok (Credit: Evan Vucci/The Associated Press)

Strzok would shortly rejoin his old boss. Approximately two months after opening the Clinton investigation, FBI headquarters reached out to the Washington Field Office, saying they needed greater staffing and resources “based on what they were looking at, based on some of the investigative steps that were under consideration.”

Strzok was one of the agents selected and, likely in September or early October 2015, he was assigned to the Mid-Year Exam team and transferred to FBI headquarters.

On Jan. 29, 2016, FBI Director Comey appointed McCabe as Deputy FBI Director, replacing the retiring Giuliano, and McCabe assumed the No. 2 position within the FBI after having held the No. 3 position for all of six months.

Strzok, in his comments to lawmakers, acknowledged that the newly formed investigative team was largely made up of personnel from the Washington Field Office and FBI headquarters.

This new structure resulted in some unusual reporting lines that went outside normal chains of command. Strzok, who did not normally fall under Priestap’s oversight, was now reporting directly to him. Priestap described the structure as being established by his predecessor, Randall Coleman, during his testimony:

“I don’t know why he [Coleman] set it up, but he set up a reporting mechanism that leaders of that team would report directly to him, not through the customary other chain of command. And I kept that on when I assumed responsibility,” Priestap said.

Sometime around September or October 2016, Strzok was promoted to Deputy Assistant Director, a position that came under Priestap’s normal line authority. By this time the Clinton email case was formally closed and Strzok had already opened the counterintelligence investigation into then-candidate Trump on July 31, 2016.” (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)