October 28, 2019 – Grassley: Deliberate Mishandling of Classified Information Requires Accountability
Prepared Floor remarks by U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa comments on recent findings of deliberate mishandling of classified information by State Department officials October 28, 2019.
August 21, 2019 – Judicial Watch will seek the deposition of Hillary Clinton and Cheryl Mills
“Judicial Watch announced today that a federal court ordered a hearing for Thursday, August 22, 2019, on the Clinton email issue. On December 6, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Lamberth ordered Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers and Clinton aides to be deposed or answer written questions under oath.
The court ruled that the Clinton email system was “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.” The court ordered discovery into three specific areas: whether Secretary Clinton’s email use of a private email server was intended to stymie FOIA; whether the State Department’s intent to settle this case in late 2014 and early 2015 amounted to bad faith; and whether the State Department has adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s request.
Judicial Watch deposed nearly a dozen witnesses and will seek addition[al] witnesses and documents from the court, including the deposition of Hillary Clinton and Cheryl Mills, her chief of staff at State and personal lawyer who directed the destruction of 33,000 State Department Clinton emails. Lawyers for Clinton and Mills are expected at the hearing Thursday.”
June 18, 2019 – Judicial Watch releases transcript of Justin Cooper’s deposition – Cheryl Mills communicates with him a week prior to testimony
“Judicial Watch today released the deposition transcript of Justin Cooper, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and Clinton Foundation employee who registered the domain name of the unsecure clintonemail.com server that Hillary Clinton used while serving as Secretary of State. Cooper admits that he spoke with Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s former chief of staff, one week prior to his deposition and let her know that the deposition had been scheduled. Cooper also said that he worked with Huma Abedin, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, to create the private email system, but can’t recall if Clinton had any input in its creation or if he wiped the original server. The entire transcript is available here.
(…) Cooper testified that he spoke with Mills the week before giving his deposition:
Q When did you last speak with Cheryl Mills?
A Last week.
Judge Lamberth late last year criticized the DOJ, saying he was “dumbfounded” by the Inspector General report revealing that Mills had been given immunity and was allowed to accompany former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to her FBI interview. The full transcript of that hearing is available here.
I did print out and read that 500-page report when I got it and I was actually dumbfounded when found out, in reading that report, that Cheryl Mills had been given immunity because … I had myself found that Cheryl Mills had committed perjury and lied under oath in a published opinion I had issued in a Judicial Watch case where I found her unworthy of belief, and I was quite shocked to find out she had been given immunity in — by the Justice Department in the Hillary Clinton email case. So I did not know that until I read the IG report and learned that and that she had accompanied the Secretary to her interview.
(In an April 28, 2008 ruling relating to Mills’ conduct as a White House official in responding to concerns about lost White House email records, Judge Lamberth called Mills’ participation in the matter “loathsome.” He further stated Mills was responsible for “the most critical error made in this entire fiasco … Mills’ actions were totally inadequate to address the problem.”)
When Cooper was asked who approached him about creating the clintonemail.com account, Cooper answered: “It would have been a discussion with Huma Abedin.” Cooper also testified that Abedin was his primary contact regarding the choice of the domain name that was registered “I believe” in “January ’09.”
Cooper’s testimony is at odds with a 2016 Judicial Watch deposition of Abedin in which she testified that she became aware of the server through “reading in some news articles about a year, a year-and-a-half ago, when it was – it was being publicly discussed.”
Cooper said “I don’t recall” when asked if Clinton herself had any input in the creation of the domain name.
Cooper also testified that there were two servers: an original “Apple server” and then a Windows server, which was “the Pagliano server,” named after Clinton’s top State Department IT specialist Bryan Pagliano. Cooper said he couldn’t recall whether the Apple server was wiped once her emails were transferred over to the Pagliano server in early 2009.
When Cooper was asked to testify how many e-mails accounts he created or setup for Clinton he answered, “To the best of my recollection two or three.” Cooper also said that he and Pagliano set up email accounts for Abedin and Chelsea Clinton.
Pagliano was a Clinton State Department IT official who repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right to not answer questions in a 2016 Judicial Watch deposition.
(…) He identified controversial Clinton Foundation official and advisor to President Clinton Doug Band as the individual in a redacted FBI 302 report who had conversations with Cooper and Abedin about the Apple server and who thought adding Hillary Clinton to the server was a “bad idea.”
Q Let me direct your attention to the fourth paragraph about four lines up. This is a redacted version, so we don’t know who the interviewee is or some of the names. But I want to direct your attention to the line that starts off with the redaction and says, blank recall the conversation with Huma Abedin and Cooper regarding the addition of Hillary Clinton to the Apple server; do you see that?
A I do.
Q Do you know who that individual would be …
A I suspect it’s Doug Band.
Q The next line says, blank thought it was a bad idea, but the issue had been decided by that point in time; do you see that?
April 16, 2019 – Senators Grassley, Graham and Johnson ask AG Barr for a classified appendix to Horowitz’s previous report re various actions by the FBI and DOJ during the Clinton email investigation
“Three Senate committee chairmen are calling on the Justice Department to provide previously-sought information related to the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email server investigation. DOJ initially refused to furnish the information, citing the ongoing special counsel investigation. Following the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe, Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson are renewing the request.
“Now that the Special Counsel’s investigation has concluded, we are unaware of any legitimate basis upon which the Department can refuse to answer the Judiciary Committee’s inquiries,” the senators wrote in an unclassified cover letter to Attorney General William Barr.
The chairmen’s request stems from a classified annex to a DOJ Inspector General report on the FBI’s investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server for official business and mishandling of classified information. The unclassified portion of the report describes an FBI effort to review highly-classified material that was potentially relevant to its ongoing server investigation codenamed Midyear Exam. In May of 2016, around the same time then-FBI Director James Comey was drafting a statement exonerating Clinton, the FBI’s Midyear team wrote a memo seeking DOJ permission to review highly-classified information “necessary to complete the investigation,” according to the unclassified IG report. However, the memo was never sent to DOJ and the Midyear investigation was closed shortly thereafter. The classified annex includes additional detail about the information in question, its potential relevance to the Midyear investigation and the FBI’s justification for failing to review it.
In July of 2018, the Judiciary Committee requested a DOJ briefing to discuss questions raised by the classified annex, and followed up with a classified letter in October. However DOJ initially declined to provide the information, citing the ongoing special counsel investigation into matters related to Russian interference in the 2016 election. Now that the special counsel’s investigation has concluded, the chairmen are renewing their request for details on the FBI’s decision not to seek potentially-relevant information during the Midyear investigation.
- April 2019
- Charles Grassley
- classified annex
- Clinton Email Investigation
- DOJ OIG Report
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- House Judiciary Committee
- Lindsey Graham
- Michael Horowitz
- Midyear Exam
- mishandling classified information
- Mueller Special Counsel Investigation
- private server
- Ron Johnson
- Senate Finance Committee
- Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee
- William Barr
February 25, 2019 – DOJ prevented the FBI from pursuing gross negligence charges against Clinton
“The DOJ required the FBI to establish evidence of intent in regards to Clinton—even though the gross negligence statute explicitly does not require this.
This meant that the FBI would have needed to find a smoking gun, such as an email or an admission from Clinton.
The word “intent” drove the entirety of the FBI’s investigation.
Anderson viewed intent as “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.”
According to 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.
Included within Clinton’s emails was “classified information up to the Special Access Program level.”
The classification level of SAPs is so high that Anderson refused to define her understanding of SAPs in the unclassified interview setting before congressional investigators
An email sent from an unknown individual in the FBI general counsel’s office to Priestap’s former boss, Michael Steinbach, contained a chart of available statutes for prosecuting Clinton.
Gross Negligence was specifically excluded.
Lisa Page appeared to indicate during her testimony that because of the DOJ’s position, there was no reason for the FBI to even pursue evidence related to the specific statute of gross negligence.
Under Anderson’s understanding of the DOJ’s standard, the extreme volume of emails was not a factor, nor was the classification level of the emails, as long as those being investigated were able to say they simply didn’t know any documents were actually classified.
Despite this, not everyone within the FBI agreed w/the DOJ.
FBI General Counsel James Baker:
“I thought these folks should know that this stuff is classified, that it was alarming what they were talking about, especially some of the most highly classified stuff.”
Page, Baker, and Anderson all testified that the gross negligence statute was rarely, if ever used, as part of their explanation for the DOJ’s unwillingness to pursue, but this logic was repeatedly challenged by then-majority House counsel Breitenbach.
“If part of that rationale was that it had never been used, then, by extension, one might presume that other statutes that are on the books, if they aren’t being used, should not be ever considered as predication for a prosecution.”
Anderson, the #2 lawyer at the FBI, was asked about her understanding of the difference between gross negligence and extreme carelessness.
Anderson answered that she didn’t “know exactly what the precise difference is between extremely careless and gross negligence.”
Which begs the question of why Anderson, among others, felt compelled to push Comey to change the language within his statement from the legal term of gross negligence to the non-legal term of extremely careless.
According to Anderson’s testimony, the FBI never even looked into negligence due to the DOJ’s legal position:
The issue at the heart of the Clinton email investigation was summarized by Breitenbach:
“The Department of Justice made a decision that intent was required, even though we have a statute on the books that does not require intent that [only] requires gross negligence.”
Absent a major error on her part, it appears that Clinton was effectively in the clear from the outset of the FBI investigation due to the DOJ’s decision to require intent.17)
With the exceptions of Moffa, Evans, and Hickey, every individual from the FBI and DOJ mentioned in the article has either been fired or has resigned.
(Republished in part with permission)
February 5 – 12, 2019 – The FBI met with ICIG re Clinton emails, notes of that meeting are reported missing and a CD of notes is found broken and inaccessible
“Judicial Watch announced today that the FBI released 277 pages of redacted records in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit that show the FBI failed to produce information from an August 2015 meeting with Intelligence Community Inspector General about Hillary Clinton’s email server. The FBI claimed that notes are “missing” and the CD containing notes from meeting is likely “damaged” irreparably.
The electronic communication regarding the missing “Notes from Meeting” says:
On or about February 4, 2016, Special Agents (SAs) [redacted] attempted to locate [redacted] 1A4, described as “Notes from Meeting” acquired by [redacted] (see referenced serial). The SAs looked through all case materials in the CI-13 file and workbox area, however they were not able to located this item.
SA [redacted] inquired with Supervisory Intelligence Analyst (SIA) [redacted] regarding the item, as he was previously the IA assigned to the case. SIA [redacted] contacted [redacted] regarding the item, who indicated he remembered handing over his case notes to SA [redacted] (see attached email).
On February 6, 2019, SA [redacted] contacted SA [redacted] regarding the notes. SA [redacted] explained he documented all relevant case materials before leaving the case and did not retain any notes or other case materials.
As such, WFO CI-13 considers the item missing and will enclose this document into 1A4 as a placeholder until the missing item is located.
The email referred to in the electronic communication on the missing “Notes from Meeting” reads as follows:
Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) said during a hearing with Strzok that in 2015 ICIG investigator Fred Rucker advised Strzok of an “anomaly” on Hillary Clinton’s emails going through the private server. The forensic analysis found that all of those emails except four – over 30,000 – “were going to an address that was not on the distribution list.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 6/07/2019)
January 21, 2019 – Lindsey Graham to continue oversight of the FBI investigation into Clinton’s private email server and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications
“New tensions are flaring on the Senate Judiciary Committee over plans by newly minted Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to dig into Obama-era scandals.
Graham, a close ally of President Trump’s, has outlined several areas he wants to probe now that he has the Judiciary Committee gavel.
They include the FBI’s handling of its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant applications targeting former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.
(…) Graham told reporters earlier this month that he would do a “deep dive into the FISA issue” as chairman of the Judiciary Committee. And he told Fox News last month that he believed the FBI “phoned in” the Clinton probe and were “in the tank” for the Democratic presidential nominee.
“There’s a certain unevenness here about how you investigate campaigns,” Graham said, adding that he believed there was “100 percent” a double standard between how the bureau handled the investigation into Clinton compared to investigating the Trump campaign.
Graham also said late last year that he would “totally” investigate the FBI’s handling of its investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Clinton’s email. He added separately last month that he would “get to the bottom of” the FISA warrant applications against Page and that he wanted to have “an in-depth discussion” with former FBI Director James Comey.
Asked about his investigation plans and the criticism from Democrats, a spokeswoman for Graham pointed to a pair of tweets from the GOP senator on Friday where he doubled down.
Graham described as “stunning” a Fox News report that Justice Department official Bruce Ohr discussed his views on a controversial research opposition dossier on Trump with individuals now on special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
“These purported revelations will NOT get a pass in Senate Judiciary Committee,” Graham added.” (Read more: The Hill, 1/21/2019)
January 15, 2019 – Federal Court orders discovery on Clinton Email, Benghazi scandal
“Judicial Watch announced today that United States District Judge Royce C. Lamberth ruled that discovery can begin in Hillary Clinton’s email scandal. Obama administration senior State Department officials, lawyers, and Clinton aides will now be deposed under oath. Senior officials — including Susan Rice, Ben Rhodes, Jacob Sullivan, and FBI official E.W. Priestap — will now have to answer Judicial Watch’s written questions under oath. The court rejected the DOJ and State Department’s objections to Judicial Watch’s court-ordered discovery plan. (The court, in ordering a discovery plan last month, ruled that the Clinton email system was “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency.”)
Judicial Watch’s discovery will seek answers to:
- Whether Clinton intentionally attempted to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by using a non-government email system;
- whether the State Department’s efforts to settle this case beginning in late 2014 amounted to bad faith; and
- whether the State Department adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.
Discovery is scheduled to be completed within 120 days. The court will hold a post-discovery hearing to determine if Judicial Watch may also depose additional witnesses, including Clinton and her former Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills.
Judge Lamberth ordered written responses under oath to Judicial Watch’s questions from Obama administration senior officials Rice, Rhodes and Sullivan, and former FBI official Priestap. Rice and Rhodes will answer interrogatories under oath on the Benghazi scandal. Rejecting the State and Justice Department objections to discovery on the infamous Benghazi talking points, Judge Lamberth reiterated:
Yet Rice’s talking points and State’s understanding of the attack play an unavoidably central role in this case: information about the points’ development and content, as well as their discussion and dissemination before and after Rice’s appearances could reveal unsearched, relevant records; State’s role in the points’ content and development could shed light on Clinton’s motives for shielding her emails from FOIA requesters or on State’s reluctance to search her emails.
Judicial Watch also may serve interrogatories on Monica Hanley, a former staff member in the State Department’s Office of the Secretary, and on Lauren Jiloty, Clinton’s former special assistant.
According to Lamberth’s order, regarding whether Clinton’s private email use while Secretary of State was an intentional attempt to evade FOIA, Judicial Watch may depose:
- Eric Boswell, the former Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security.… Boswell’s March 2009 memo to Mills … discusses security risks Clinton’s Blackberry use posed more generally. And Boswell personally discussed the memo with Clinton. So, he plainly has relevant information about that conversation and about his general knowledge of Clinton’s email use. Judicial Watch may depose Boswell.
- Justin Cooper. the Clinton Foundation employee who created the clintonemail.com server. In its proposal, Judicial Watch noted Cooper’s prior congressional testimony “appears to contradict portions of the testimony provided by Huma Abedin in the case before Judge Sullivan.” … Cooper repeatedly told Congress that Abedin helped set-up the Clintons’ private server, e.g., Examining Preservation of State Department Federal Records: [before a Congressional hearing] Abedin testified under oath she did not know about the server until six years later.… Judicial Watch may depose Cooper.
- Clarence Finney, the former deputy director of State’s Executive Secretariat staff…. [T]his case’s questions hinge on what specific State employees knew and when they knew it. As the principal advisor and records management expert responsible for controlling Clinton’s official correspondence and records, Finney’s knowledge is particularly relevant. And especially given the concerns about government misconduct that prompted this discovery, Judicial Watch’s ability to take his direct testimony and ask follow-up questions is critical.” (Read more: Judicial Watch, 1/15/2019)
- Ben Rhodes
- Bill Priestap
- Cheryl Mills
- Clarence Finney
- Clinton emails
- Department of Justice
- Department of State
- Eric Boswell
- Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI)
- Jake Sullivan
- January 2019
- Judge Royce C. Lamberth
- Judicial Watch
- Justin Cooper
- Lauren Jiloty
- Monica Hanley
- private server
- Susan Rice
December 6, 2018 – Federal Judge Royce C. Lamberth opens discovery into Clinton email usage
“Judicial Watch announced today that, in a ruling excoriating both the U.S. Departments of State and Justice, U.S. District Court Judge Royce C. Lamberth has ordered both agencies to join Judicial Watch in submitting a proposed schedule for discovery into whether Hillary Clinton sought to evade the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by using a private email system and whether the State Department acted in “bad faith” by failing to disclose knowledge of the email system. The decision comes in a FOIA lawsuit related to the Benghazi terrorist attack.
“… the Court ORDERS the parties to meet and confer to plan discovery into (a) whether Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email while Secretary of State was an intentional attempt to evade FOIA; (b) whether the State Department’s attempts to settle this case in late 2014 and early 2015 amounted to bad faith; and (c) whether State has adequately searched for records responsive to Judicial Watch’s requests.”
Terming Clinton’s use of her private email system, “one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency,” Lamberth wrote in his MEMORANDUM OPINION:
“… his [President Barack Obama’s] State and Justice Departments fell far short. So far short that the court questions, even now, whether they are acting in good faith. Did Hillary Clinton use her private email as Secretary of State to thwart this lofty goal [Obama announced standard for transparency]? Was the State Department’s attempt to settle this FOIA case in 2014 an effort to avoid searching – and disclosing the existence of – Clinton’s missing emails? And has State ever adequately searched for records in this case?”
At best, State’s attempt to pass-off its deficient search as legally adequate during settlement negotiations was negligence born out of incompetence. At worst, career employees in the State and Justice Departments colluded to scuttle public scrutiny of Clinton, skirt FOIA, and hoodwink this Court.
Turning his attention to the Department of Justice, Lamberth wrote:
“The current Justice Department made things worse. When the government last appeared before the Court, counsel claimed, ‘it is not true to say we misled either Judicial Watch or the Court.’ When accused of ‘doublespeak,’ counsel denied vehemently, feigned offense, and averred complete candor. When asked why State masked the inadequacy of its initial search, counsel claimed that the officials who initially responded to Judicial Watch’s request didn’t realize Clinton’s emails were missing, and that it took them two months to ‘figure [ ] out what was going on’… Counsel’s responses strain credulity.” [citations omitted]
The Court granted discovery because the government’s response to the Judicial Watch Benghazi FOIA request for Clinton emails “smacks of outrageous conduct.”
Citing an email (uncovered as a result of Judicial Watch’s lawsuit) that Hillary Clinton acknowledged that Benghazi was a terrorist attack immediately after it happened, Judge Lamberth asked:
Did State know Clinton deemed the Benghazi attack terrorism hours after it happened, contradicting the Obama Administration’s subsequent claim of a protest-gone-awry?”
November 14, 2018 – Court rules Hillary Clinton must answer more questions about her emails
“Judicial Watch announced that U.S. District Court Judge Emmett G. Sullivan ruled that within 30 days Hillary Clinton must answer under oath two additional questions about her controversial email system.
In 2016, Clinton was required to submit under oath written answers to Judicial Watch’s questions. Clinton objected to and refused to answer questions about the creation of her email system; her decision to use the system despite warnings from State Department cybersecurity officials; and the basis for her claim that the State Department had “90-95%” of her emails.
After a lengthy hearing on Wednesday, Judge Sullivan ruled that Clinton must address two questions that she refused to answer under-oath: “Describe the creation of the clintonemail.com system, including who decided to create the system, the date it was decided to create the system, why it was created, who set it up, and when it became operational.”
“During your October 22, 2015 appearance before the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Benghazi, you testified that 90 to 95 percent of your emails “were in the State’s system” and “if they wanted to see them, they would certainly have been able to do so.” Identify the basis for this statement, including all facts on which you relied in support of the statement, how and when you became aware of these facts, and, if you were made aware of these facts by or through another person, identify the person who made you aware of these facts.”