Michael Steinbach

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)

June 5, 2018 – Priestap was unaware how often Strzok met with McCabe

Andrew McCabe (l), Lisa Page and Peter Strzok (Credit: The Daily Caller)

“Text messages sent between Strzok and Page, which were first obtained by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, suggest that McCabe was a preferred line of direct communication for Strzok. These same texts indicate that both Strzok and Page frequently met directly with McCabe. Priestap admitted he did not know the frequency of such meetings:

Mr. Brebbia: “Would they frequently meet with then Deputy Director McCabe without you being there?”

Mr. Priestap: “No. I have no idea of the frequency in which that might have occurred. But while responsible for this case, I couldn’t drop the thousands of others cases and matters, issues I was responsible for. And so I had numerous regular meetings outside of the office with other U.S. Government entities, what have you.

“And as a result, in this particular case, Pete would often be a point person if I was, for example,  half the day at the Central Intelligence Agency, and things came up, they could go direct — ‘they’ meaning my 7th floor, EAD, deputy director, would know they could go straight, of course, with Pete.

“So I would think — I have no idea of the exact numbers, but these meetings absolutely would have occurred without me.”

A report published by Horowitz in June last year, which reviewed the FBI’s investigation of the Clinton email case, included the notable statement that several witnesses had informed the IG that Page “circumvented the official chain of command, and that Strzok communicated important Midyear case information to her, and thus to McCabe, without Priestap’s or Steinbach’s knowledge.” Steinbach, who was the executive assistant director and Priestap’s direct supervisor, left the FBI in early 2017.

Page’s role as special counsel to McCabe has been described by former FBI general counsel James Baker in congressional testimony as being both unique and undefined.

“I expected them [Page and McCabe] to report back to me about important things. And I had leave it to both of their discretion to figure out that — what important was, I know it’s kind of vague. But that was how we were supposed to try to work it out,” Baker told lawmakers on Oct. 3, 2018. (Read more: The Epoch Times, 1/29/2019)

The supervisor of the FBI’s Clinton email investigation is revealed.

Michael Steinbach (Credit: public domain)

Michael Steinbach (Credit: public domain)

It is reported that Michael Steinbach recently spoke at a meeting of the Washington, DC, chapter of the Society of Former FBI Agents. Steinbach is the FBI’s executive assistant director in charge of national security investigations.

According to one former FBI agent who attended the meeting, Steinbach said that he supervised the FBI’s Clinton email investigation, though FBI Director James Comey made the final decision on whether to recommend an indictment or not. It is unclear if Steinbach was the sole supervisor of the investigation or if there were others of his similar authority.

He claims that about 25 FBI employees worked on the investigation. He says that all of them agreed with Comey’s decision not to recommend an indictment. Furthermore, contrary to media reports, there has been no rebellion of FBI agents due to dissatisfaction with the investigation. He staunchly supports everything Comey has done, and finds no fault with any aspect of the investigation. (The Washington Times, 10/31/2016)

Ironically, the same day the article is published in which Steinbach claims there is no FBI rebellion, an unnamed “former FBI top official” is quoted in another article, saying, “The stuff about a rebellion going on inside the [FBI] is absolutely true…” (Politico, 10/31/2016)

October 28, 2016 – Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, emails Baker requesting a call “ASAP” about the Comey letter

Clinton attorney David Kendall (l), enters the hearing room with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a House hearing of the Select Committee on Benghazi, on Thursday, October 22, 2015. (Credit: Mike Sacks/The National Law Journal)

“On October 28, 2016, the day that Comey sent a letter to Congress regarding the FBI’s discovery that the Weiner laptop contained Clinton’s emails. Hillary Clinton’s personal lawyer David Kendall, within hours, email’s Baker requesting a call “ASAP” about the Comey letter. Baker describes his follow-up call to senior FBI officials:

“I received the email below from David Kendall and I called him back. Before doing so I alerted DOJ via email that I would do that.

[Redacted paragraph]

He said that our letter was “tantalizingly ambiguous” and made statements that were “inchoate and highly ominous” such that what we had done was worse than transparency because it allows people to make whatever they want out to make out of the letter to the prejudice of Secretary Clinton.

I told him that I could not respond to his requests at this time but that I would discuss it with others and get back to him.

I suggest that we have some kind of follow up meeting or phone call with this group either this evening or over the weekend to address this and probably other issues/questions that come up in the next 24 hours. Sound reasonable?”

Baker’s heads up on the Kendall call was sent to:

The emails show that a conference call for the above senior officials was set up for the next day by Peter Strzok. (Two days before the election, on November 6, Comey sent a second letter reporting that the FBI’s review of the Weiner laptop material would not change his “conclusion” that Hillary Clinton should not be prosecuted.) (Judicial Watch, 2/11/2019)

August 16-24, 2016 – New Strzok-Page emails reveal FBI gave special treatment to Clinton’s demands for email investigation information just before election

David Kendall, (r), sits behind Hillary Clinton during a House hearing of the Select Committee on Benghazi, on October 22, 2015. (Credit: Diego M. Radzinschi/The National Law Journal)

“Judicial Watch announced today it received 218 pages of disgraced former FBI officials Peter Strzok-Lisa Page emails which show then-FBI General Counsel James Baker instructing FBI officials to expedite the release of FBI investigative material to Hillary Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall in August 2016. Kendall and the FBI’s top lawyer discussed specifically quickly obtaining the “302” report of the FBI/DOJ interview of Mrs. Clinton.

(…) On August 16, 2016, at 10:02 p.m. Baker emails then-Associate Deputy Director David Bowdich; Michael Steinbach, former executive assistant director for national security; former Acting Assistant Director Jason V. Herring; former FBI lawyer Lisa Page; former Principal Deputy General Counsel Trisha Anderson; Michael Kortan, FBI assistant director for public affairs, now retired; James Rybicki, former chief of staff to Comey; and others to inform them that he “just spoke” with Clinton’s lawyer Kendall, who requested documents from the FBI. Baker says he told Kendall he would “need to submit a request.” Baker tells them, “I said we would process it expeditiously.”

“I just spoke with David Kendall … I conveyed our view that in order to obtain the documents [FBI investigative material] they are seeking they need to submit a request pursuant to the Privacy Act and FOIA. I said they could submit a letter to me covering both statutes. They will send it in the morning. I said that we would process it expeditiously. David asked us to focus first on the Secretary’s 302 [FBI interview report]. I said OK. [Redacted] We will have to focus on this issue tomorrow and get the 302 out the door as soon as possible and then focus on the rest of the stuff.”

The following day, August 17, 2016, Kendall sent a FOIA/Privacy Act request on “behalf of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton” to the FBI’s top lawyer with a request for “expeditious processing.” Baker passes this request to Bowdich, Steinbach, Herring, Page, Anderson:

In my view, we need to move as quickly as possible on this, but pursuant to David’s oral request last night, we should focus first on Secretary Clinton’s 302…. Is the end of this week out of the question for her 302?

In a follow-up email exchange, the same day, Anderson arranged for Herring, Page, former FBI Assistant Director and head of the Office of Congressional Affairs Gregory Brower, Strzok and others to “coordinate a plan for processing and releasing” Clinton’s 302, though one official reminds others that they should process the request “consistent” with other requests.

Then, in an August 21, 2016email exchange Baker tells his people that he would “alert” Kendall shortly before Clinton’s 302 was to be posted on the FBI’s FOIA Vault webpage. On September 2, 2016, the FBI announced the release of Clinton’s interview documents.

Finally, on August 24, 2016, the acting FBI FOIA unit chief said he sees “no problem” with giving Hillary’s attorney a heads up before her records were posted to the Vault.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 6/03/2019)

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)