Mark Giuliano

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)

January 29, 2016 – Comey appoints McCabe as deputy director of the FBI

Andrew McCabe (Credit: Pete Marovich/Getty Images)

“FBI Director James B. Comey has named Andrew McCabe as the Bureau’s new deputy director. Mr. McCabe most recently served as the FBI’s associate deputy director. As deputy director, Mr. McCabe will oversee all FBI domestic and international investigative and intelligence activities and will serve as acting director in the director’s absence.

Mr. McCabe joined the FBI in 1996. He began his career in the New York Field Office, where he focused on organized crime. Throughout his career, Mr. McCabe has held leadership positions in the Counterterrorism Division, the National Security Branch, and the Washington Field Office.

“Andy’s 19 years of experience, combined with his vision, judgment, and ability to communicate make him a perfect fit for this job,” announced Director Comey.

Mr. McCabe will assume this new role on February 1, 2016, when current Deputy Director Mark Giuliano retires from the FBI after 28 years of service.” (FBI Press Release, 1/29/2019)

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)