security clearance

June 24, 2019 – DOJ confirms Flynn defense team never received a transcript of Flynn/Kislyak phone call

“When General Michael Flynn entered into the seemingly coerced plea agreement with the special counsel team and prosecutor Brandon Van Grack (November 30, 2017), he gave up the right to defense discovery in his case.  In hindsight this will likely be viewed a mistake.

Lt. General Michael Flynn and his new attorney, Sidney Powell. (Credit: Megan Meneiro/Courthouse News)

(h/t Techno Fog) During a court appearance today by new attorney Ms. Sidney Powell, the topic of needing a classified security clearance -to review documents- was raised.  The DOJ responded to the assertion by saying no classified information was provided to the prior Flynn defense team, therefore Ms. Powell doesn’t need not carry that concern.

However, by admitting the DOJ provided no classified information to the defense, the prosecution is simultaneously admitting they never provided Flynn with a copy of the phone call transcript (December 29, 2016) between President-elect Trump’s incoming National Security Advisor and Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.  The content of that phone call lies at the heart of the FBI interview that took place on January 24th, 2017.

Judge Emmet Sullivan originally asked for the Flynn/Kislyak transcript; however, the prosecution said it was irrelevant to their case.  The judge accepted the non-production.

It is suspected Flynn may have been under a FISA surveillance warrant which seems confirmed by the Weissmann/Mueller report. The FBI intercepted, recorded, and later transcribed the December 29, 2016, conversation.

This is why the issue of how the FBI agents write the 302 summary of the Flynn January 24, 2017, interview becomes such an important facet.

On June 6, 2019, the DOJ released the FBI agent report (FD-302) written after their interview of Michael Flynn on Jan 24th, 2017. (Full pdf below) From prior testimony we know that FBI Agent Peter Strzok did the questioning and FBI Agent Joe Pientka took notes.

Lt. General Michael Flynn (Credit: public domain)

For some reason, within the DOJ release of the report they are continuing to redact the name Joe Pientka. [Could be due to ongoing employment]

It’s worth noting according to Mark Meadows the Office of Inspector General Michael Horowitz has interviewed Joe Pientka extensively; prior attempts by congress to gain testimony from Pientka were blocked by the FBI and Rod Rosenstein.

FBI Agent Joseph Pientka was never interviewed by the joint House judiciary and oversight committees (Goodlatte and Gowdy). The reason, as explained by Meadows, was simple; Pientka was on Weissmann and Mueller’s special counsel team. Congress was not allowed to interfere in the Mueller probe. In hindsight this looks like Weissmann, Mueller & Rosenstein strategically using the investigation as a shield from sunlight.

The interview took place on January 24, 2017. The report was written Jan 24th, 2017. The wording was then deliberated by the small group, approved by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and entered into the record on February 15th, 2017. (Read much more: Conservative Treehouse, 6/24/2019)

June 21, 2018 – Sessions: Peter Strzok No Longer Has Security Clearance

Peter Strzok (Credit: Saul Loeb/Agence France Presse/Getty Images

“Attorney General Jeff Sessions confirmed Thursday that embattled anti-Trump FBI official, Peter Strzok, no longer has his security clearance.

This news comes just days after Strzok’s attorney confirmed that the agent was escorted out of FBI headquarters following the bombshell Inspector General’s report on the bureau’s mishandling of the Clinton email investigation.

In an interview with radio host, Howie Carr, Sessions said, “Mr. Strzok, as I understand, has lost his security clearance.”  Despite losing his clearance, the Attorney General said it was his “understanding” that Strzok remained on the FBI’s payroll, but that he wasn’t sure.” (Read more: Sarah Carter, 6/22/2018)

June 9, 2017 – The State Department is reviewing Clinton’s mishandling of classified information, yet she and her aides retain their security clearances

“The State Department confirmed that it is continuing to review the mishandling of classified information that passed through Secretary Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized email server as she and seven former aides retain access to sensitive information.  In a recent letter from the State Department to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, the Department outlined its procedures for safeguarding and addressing potential mishandling of classified material and answered questions raised by Grassley in March.

In the letter, the State Department confirmed that it initiated a review of the mishandling of classified information in the unauthorized server matter following the conclusion of the FBI investigation. That review is ongoing and could result in loss of security clearances for violators of the department’s protocols guarding sensitive material.

A snippet of the State Department letter sent to Senator Grassley on May 23, 2017.

The State Department also indicated that Clinton may still access materials that were originated, reviewed, signed or received by her during her tenure at the department, which includes classified information. The State Department had previously informed the Judiciary Committee that seven of Clinton’s former aides were designated as “research assistants,” which allows them to take their State Department-issued clearance with them after their official service at the department concludes, and to retain access to specified information originated by Clinton during her tenure as secretary.

Often, during the course of reviews into mishandling of classified information, security clearances of individuals responsible for a potential breach are suspended. (Senate Judiciary Committee, 6/09/2017)

December 20, 2016 – Hillary deletes an email showing that she forwarded classified information to Chelsea who has no apparent security clearances

Chelsea and Hillary Clinton (Credit: Agence France Presse/Getty Images)

“Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton deleted an email from 2009 that shows she forwarded classified information to her daughter, Chelsea.

The State Department released the email on Friday, as it is one of thousands that were recovered by the FBI from Clinton’s private email server.

The email chain from December 20, 2009 titled ‘Update,’ began with a message from Michael Froman, who served as deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs and as a deputy assistant to President Obama.

It was then sent to Clinton’s foreign policy adviser at the State Department, Jake Sullivan, along with several aides to the president.

Sullivan then sent it to Clinton who forwarded it to her daughter, who used the pseudonym ‘Diane Reynolds’.

Since it contains classified ‘confidential’ information, the entire text in the body portion of the email has been redacted.

The email was labeled a ‘near duplicate’ by the State Department who indicated it was similar for the most part to others the agency has released from the thousands of emails she turned over in December 2014.

The former first lady did not delete other responses she made to others who were on the email thread from that ‘Update’ email chain. (Read more: The Daily Mail, 11/04/2016) 

An unnamed high-ranking FBI official claims that the “vast majority” of agents working on the FBI’s Clinton email investigation believe Clinton should have been indicted.

The “high-ranking FBI official” speaks to Fox News on the condition of anonymity, but the person’s “identity and role in the case has been verified by FoxNews.com.” According to this source, “No trial level attorney agreed, no agent working the case agreed, with the decision not to prosecute” anyone in the investigation at all, but “it was a top-down decision” by FBI Director James Comey.

The source says that when it came to Clinton specifically, “It is safe to say the vast majority felt she should be prosecuted. We were floored while listening to the FBI briefing [on July 5, 2016] because Comey laid it all out, and then said ‘but we are doing nothing,’ which made no sense to us.” And while it might not have been a totally unanimous decision to recommend Clinton’s indictment, “It was unanimous that we all wanted her [Clinton’s] security clearance yanked.” However, even that never happened, despite it being standard procedure in similar cases.

The source adds that FBI agents were particularly upset that Comey unilaterally made the decision not to indict when the FBI’s role is merely to present an investigative report to the Justice Department. “Basically, James Comey hijacked the [Justice Department]’s role by saying ‘no reasonable prosecutor would bring this case.’ The FBI does not decide who to prosecute and when, that is the sole province of a prosecutor. … I know zero prosecutors in the [Justice Department]’s National Security Division who would not have taken the case to a grand jury. One was never even convened.” Without a grand jury, FBI agents were not allowed to issue subpoenas or search warrants and could only request evidence and interviews.

The source also complains that the FBI required its agents and analysts involved in the investigation to sign non-disclosure agreements. “This is unheard of, because of the stifling nature it has on the investigative process.”

Furthermore, immunity deals were made with five key figures in the investigation: Cheryl Mills, Bryan Pagliano, Paul Combetta, John Bentel, and Heather Samuelson. The source says none of them should have been granted immunity if no charges were being brought. “[Immunity] is issued because you know someone possesses evidence you need to charge the target, and you almost always know what it is they possess. That’s why you give immunity. … Mills and Samuelson receiving immunity with the agreement their laptops would be destroyed by the FBI afterwards is, in itself, illegal. We know those laptops contained classified information. That’s also illegal, and they got a pass.”

Additionally, “Mills was allowed to sit in on the interview of Clinton as her lawyer. That’s absurd. Someone who is supposedly cooperating against the target of an investigation [being] permitted to sit by the target as counsel violates any semblance of ethical responsibility.”

The source also comments, “Every agent and attorney I have spoken to is embarrassed and has lost total respect for James Comey and [Attorney General] Loretta Lynch. The bar for [the Justice Department] is whether the evidence supports a case for charges — it did here. It should have been taken to the grand jury.”

Finally, the source claims that many in the FBI and the Justice Department believe Comey and Lynch were motivated by ambition instead of justice. “Loretta Lynch simply wants to stay on as attorney general under Clinton, so there is no way she would indict. James Comey thought his position [heavily criticizing Clinton even as he decides against indicting her] gave himself cover to remain on as director regardless of who wins.”

Andrew Napolitano (Credit: Fox News)

Andrew Napolitano (Credit: Fox News)

Andrew Napolitano, a former judge and judicial analyst for Fox News, also claims to know of many law enforcement agents involved with the Clinton email investigation who have similar beliefs. He says, “It is well known that the FBI agents on the ground, the human beings who did the investigative work, had built an extremely strong case against Hillary Clinton and were furious when the case did not move forward. They believe the decision not to prosecute came from the White House.” (Fox News, 10/12/2016)

The next day, Malia Zimmerman, a co-writer of the article, is questioned on Fox News television. She claims that she has been speaking to other disgruntled FBI agents as well. “They’re saying that the morale is very low and that a lot of them are looking for other jobs. They’re very disappointed. They feel like the agency has been polluted… and they’re embarrassed. They feel like they’ve been betrayed.”

She adds that some of her sources might be willing to speak on the record if they retire or change jobs, which some of them are in the process of doing. But they are currently worried about retaliation. “There are a lot of disgruntled agents, analysts, and [Justice Department] attorneys as well.” These people feel Clinton could have been charged for various reasons, but her 22 “top secret” emails made the most compelling case. (Fox News, 10/13/2016)

“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)

Paul Ryan’s attempt to block Clinton from getting intelligence briefings is denied.

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James Clapper (Credit: J. Scott Applewhite / The Associated Press)

A request from Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R) to prevent Clinton from receiving intelligence briefings after the late July 2016 Democratic National Convention is denied.

Just a few days after Ryan made the request, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper tells Ryan in a letter  that he “does not intend to withhold briefings from any officially nominated, eligible candidate. … Nominees for president and vice president receive these briefings by virtue of their status as candidates, and do not require separate security clearances before the briefings. Briefings for the candidates will be provided on an even-handed non-partisan basis.”

The briefings given both major party candidates are intended to prepare them with the information they’ll need to run the country if they win the general election.

Ryan made the request after FBI Director James Comey said that Clinton and her aides had been “extremely careless” handling highly classified intelligence. Ryan wrote in the request, “There is no legal requirement for you to provide Secretary Clinton with classified information, and it would send the wrong signal to all those charged with safeguarding our nation’s secrets if you choose to provide her access to this information despite the FBI’s findings.” (CNN, 7/11/2016)

Pagliano won’t be indicted; it isn’t clear why the FBI gave him an immunity deal.

In a Congressional hearing, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R) asks FBI Director James Comey if Clinton’s computer technician Bryan Pagliano had the “requisite security clearance” to look at Clinton’s classified emails on her private server, which he was managing.

Comey replies, “As I sit here, I can’t remember. He was not a participant on the classified email exchanges though.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

Later in the hearing, Representative Buddy Carter (R) asks Comey about Pagliano, “Is anything going to be done to him? Any prosecution, or any discipline?”

Comey answers, “I don’t know about discipline, but there’s not going to be any prosecution of him.”

Chaffetz then asks, “My understanding, Director, is that you offered him immunity. Why did you offer him immunity and what did you get for it?”

Comey replies, “I’m not sure what I can talk about in open setting about that. … I want to be careful. I’m doing this 24 hours after the investigation closed. I want to be thoughtful, because we’re — we’re as you know, big about the law, that I’m following the law about what I disclose about that. So I’ll have to get back to you on that one. I don’t want to answer that off the cuff.” (CNN, 7/7/2016)

The State Department resumes its Clinton email investigation.

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John Kirby (Credit: CCTV-America)

In January 2016, it was reported that the State Department had started its own investigation into Clinton’s email practices while Clinton was secretary of state. (This is separate from the State Department inspector general’s investigation, which concluded in late May 2016). However, this investigation was put on hold in March 2016 in deference to the FBI’s investigation. Now that the FBI finished its investigation on July 5, 2016, the State Department is resuming its own investigation.

Department spokesperson John Kirby announces the resumption, but he doesn’t reveal many details about it. He also sets no deadline for when it will be completed.

It is believed the investigation will consider administrative sanctions against Clinton and her aides. Although most of them are out of government, they could face some problematic penalties, such as the loss of security clearances, which could prevent future government employment. The investigation is likely looking into the past behavior of aides such as Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, and Jake Sullivan, as well as Clinton herself. (The Associated Press, 7/7/2016)

The BBC comments that this means “Hillary Clinton – and some of her most trusted senior advisors – will twist in the wind a while longer. The State Department’s renewed inquiry into possible mishandling of classified information in emails is not nearly as serious as the recently closed FBI criminal investigation, but it keeps the email server story alive for an indeterminate period of time.”

Clinton cannot lose her security clearance if she’s elected president in November 2016, but she could be prevented from including some of her most trusted aides into positions in her administration if they lose their security clearances. The State Department’s investigation also is likely to help keep the controversy alive at least through Election Day. (BBC, 7/7/2016)