Trey Gowdy

October 13, 2017 – Samantha Power testifies intel officials made ‘unmasking’ requests in her name

Trey Gowdy walks on Capitol Hill, July 25, 2017. (Credit: Andrew Harnik/The Associated Press)

“House Oversight & Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy said Tuesday that President Obama’s former United Nations ambassador has testified that not all of the “unmasking” requests made in her name were directed by her.

Samantha Power testified in Gowdy’s committee last week, and Fox News reported weeks before her appearance that she was thought to have made as many as 260 requests to “unmask” Americans caught up in the surveillance of non-U.S. citizens.

But Tuesday evening, Gowdy told Fox News that Power told his committee that she was not the official requesting that unmasking in every case.

“I think if she were on your show, she would say those requests to unmask may have been attributed to her, but they greatly exceed by an exponential factor the requests she actually made,” Gowdy said.

“So, that’s her testimony, and she was pretty emphatic in it,” he added. “The intelligence community has assigned this number of requests to her. Her perspective, her testimony is, they may be under my name, but I did not make those requests.” (Read more: Washington Examiner, 10/17/2017)

July 27, 2017 – The House Judiciary Committee makes a formal request to take a second look at the Clinton Foundation and email investigations

(Timeline editor’s note: While preparing this timeline entry, I discovered the links provided by Jeff Carlson to Rep. Goodlatte’s press release and letter, are no longer working links on the House Judiciary Committee website. I called Rep. Nadler’s office to ask why those documents are no longer available and they could not (or would not) give me an answer. With a little further searching, I was able to find the original letter in the Wayback Machine.) 

(A screenshot of my attempt to access Rep. Goodlatte’s press release and letter on the House Judiciary Committee website.)

“The House Judiciary Committee issued a press release on July 27, 2017, stating that a formal request for the appointment of a second Special Counsel has been made to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The actual letter may be viewed here.

The Judiciary Committee members were specific in their request. They are asking for investigation into the following:

The members call for the appointment of a second special counsel to investigate grave concerns such as former Attorney General Lynch’s directive to former FBI Director Comey to mislead the American people on the nature of the investigation into former Secretary Clinton; the FBI and Justice Department’s investigative decisions related to the Clinton email investigation, including the immunity deals given to potential co-conspirators; selected leaks of classified information that unmasked U.S. persons incidentally collected upon by the intelligence community; and the FBI’s reliance on “Fusion GPS” in its investigation of the Trump campaign, among many others issues.

Fourteen specific topics of investigation are noted – many of which were asked previously but remain unanswered:

  1. Then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch directing Mr. Comey to mislead the American people on the nature of the Clinton investigation;
  2. The shadow cast over our system of justice concerning Secretary Clinton and her involvement in mishandling classified information;
  3. FBI and DOJ’s investigative decisions related to former Secretary Clinton’s email investigation, including the propriety and consequence of immunity deals given to potential Clinton co-conspirators Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson, John Bentel and possibly others;
  4. The apparent failure of DOJ to empanel a grand jury to investigate allegations of mishandling of classified information by Hillary Clinton and her associates;
  5. The Department of State and its employees’ involvement in determining which communications of Secretary Clinton’s and her associates to turn over for public scrutiny;
  6. WikiLeaks disclosures concerning the Clinton Foundation and its potentially unlawful international dealings;
  7. Connections between the Clinton campaign, or the Clinton Foundation, and foreign entities, including those from Russia and Ukraine;
  8. Mr. Comey’s knowledge of the purchase of Uranium One by the company Rosatom, whether the approval of the sale was connected to any donations made to the Clinton Foundation, and what role Secretary Clinton played in the approval of that sale that had national security ramifications;
  9. Disclosures arising from unlawful access to the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) computer systems, including inappropriate collusion between the DNC and the Clinton campaign to undermine Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign;
  10. Post-election accusations by the President that he was wiretapped by the previous Administration, and whether Mr. Comey and Ms. Lynch had any knowledge of efforts made by any federal agency to unlawfully monitor communications of then-candidate Trump or his associates;
  11. Selected leaks of classified information related to the unmasking of U.S. person identities incidentally collected upon by the intelligence community, including an assessment of whether anyone in the Obama Administration, including Mr. Comey, Ms. Lynch, Ms. Susan Rice, Ms. Samantha Power, or others, had any knowledge about the “unmasking” of individuals on then candidate-Trump’s campaign team, transition team, or both;
  12. Admitted leaks by Mr. Comey to Columbia University law professor, Daniel Richman, regarding conversations between Mr. Comey and President Trump, how the leaked information was purposefully released to lead to the appointment of a special counsel, and whether any classified information was included in the now infamous “Comey memos”;
  13. Mr. Comey’s and the FBI’s apparent reliance on “Fusion GPS” in its investigation of the Trump campaign, including the company’s creation of a “dossier” of information about Mr. Trump, that dossier’s commission and dissemination in the months before and after the 2016 election, whether the FBI paid anyone connected to the dossier, and the intelligence sources of Fusion GPS or any person or company working for Fusion GPS and its affiliates; and
  14. Any and all potential leaks originated by Mr. Comey and provide to author Michael Schmidt dating back to 1993.

I have written previously about almost every one of these issues – including Comey’s TestimonyComey’s handling of the Clinton Investigation, the Clinton FoundationUranium OneUnmaskingObama’s Surveillance and the Russian Investigation.

They are all questions and topics that merit actual investigation.

The Committee’s questions fall into broader subgroups:

Hillary Clinton Investigation

Clinton Foundation

Surveillance

Unmasking of U.S. Citizens

FBI/Comey Collusion

Illegal Leaks

The final question pertains to Michael Schmidt, a New York Times reporter who has broken a number of stories on Trump-Russia as well as apparent leaks from Comey. You may find a complete listing of Schmidt’s articles here. Someone was whispering directly into his ear.

I’m not sure what will come from this letter – perhaps nothing – but the House Judiciary Committee’s timing is excellent. Attorney General Sessions has been under pressure for his recusal on the Russian Investigation along with his lack of prosecutorial zeal. If this request had come out a month ago, I would have noted it but not thought much else. At this particular juncture of events, I find myself marginally more hopeful that something – anything – might result from the Committee’s formal request.” (Read more: themarketswork.com, 7/29/2017)

November 9, 2016 – Peter Strzok text mentions the first meeting of the “secret society”

“Reps. Trey Gowdy and John Ratcliffe join FNC’s Martha McCallum to talk about another newly released text message between FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page. This time, Strzok implies a “secret society” of federal agents worked to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president.

(…) “Ratcliffe continued: “We learned today about information that in the immediate aftermath of his election, there may have been a ‘secret society’ of folks within the Department of Justice and the FBI, to include Page and Strzok, working against him. I’m not saying that actually happened, but when folks speak in those terms, they need to come forward to explain the context.”

About the “secret society,” Gowdy said: “You have this insurance policy in Spring 2016, and then the day after the election, what they really didn’t want to have happen, there is a text exchange between these two FBI agents, these supposed to be fact-centric FBI agents saying, ‘Perhaps this is the first meeting of the secret society.’ So I’m going to want to know what secret society you are talking about, because you’re supposed to be investigating objectively the person who just won the electoral college. So yeah — I’m going to want to know.” (Read more: RealClearPolitics, 1/22/2018)

October 12, 2016 – McCabe/Page texts reveal the FBI clash with the DOJ over potential ‘bias’ of source for surveillance warrant

(Credit: Conservative Treehouse)

“Just nine days before the FBI applied for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant to surveil a top Trump campaign aide, bureau officials were battling with a senior Justice Department official who had “continued concerns” about the “possible bias” of a source pivotal to the application, according to internal text messages obtained by Fox News.

The 2016 messages, sent between former FBI lawyer Lisa Page and then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, also reveal that bureau brass circulated at least two anti-Trump blog articles, including a Lawfare blog post sent shortly after Election Day that called Trump possibly “among the major threats to the security of the country.”

Another article, sent by Page in July 2016 as the FBI’s counterintelligence probe into Russian election interference was kicking off, flatly called Trump a “useful idiot” for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Page told McCabe that then-FBI Director James Comey had “surely” read that piece. Both articles were authored in whole or part by Benjamin Wittes, a Comey friend.

Further, the texts show that on Sept. 12, 2016, Page forwarded to McCabe some “unsolicited comments” calling then-GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy a “total d–k.” Gowdy, at the time, was grilling FBI congressional affairs director Jason Herring at a hearing on the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email investigation.

But perhaps the most significant Page-McCabe communications made plain the DOJ’s worries that the FISA application to surveil Trump aide Carter Page was based on a potentially biased source — and underscored the FBI’s desire to press on.” (Read more: Fox News, 3/22/2019)

Representative Gowdy says the FBI “gave immunity to the very person you would most want to prosecute.”

Trey Gowdy appears on Fox News on September 10, 2016 to discuss the immunity deal. (Credit: Fox News)

On September 09, 2016, Trey Gowdy appears on Fox News with Martha MacCallum to discuss the immunity deal given to Paul Combetta. (Credit: Fox News)

Representative Trey Gowdy (R) comments about a New York Times article from the day before that revealed Platte River Networks employee Paul Combetta was not only the person who deleted and wiped Clinton’s emails, but was the person who got an immunity deal from the FBI.

Gowdy says there are two types of immunity Combetta could have received: use and transactional. “If the FBI and the Department of Justice gave this witness transactional immunity, it is tantamount to giving the triggerman immunity in a robbery case.”

Gowdy, who is a former federal prosecutor, says that Combetta “destroyed official public records” despite a subpoena and preservation order from lawmakers for the documents. He adds that he is “stunned” because “It looks like they gave immunity to the very person you would most want to prosecute.” (Fox News, 9/9/2016)

A Congressperson serves the FBI a subpoena for all the unredacted interviews from the FBI’s Clinton investigation.

Jason Herring (Credit: CSpan)

Jason Herring (Credit: CSpan)

FBI acting legislative affairs officer Jason Herring testifies before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

He is asked by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R), chair of the committee, to promise to hand over all of the FBI interview summaries, known as 302s, in unredacted form.

Herring says he can’t do that, and suggests that Chaffetz should file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, just like any private citizen can.

Committee member Representative Trey Gowdy (R) later complains, “Since when did Congress have to go through FOIA to obtain 302s?”

Chaffetz serves the FBI a subpoena during a House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee hearing on September 9, 2016. (Credit: ABC News)

Chaffetz serves the FBI a subpoena during a House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee hearing on September 9, 2016. (Credit: ABC News)

Chaffetz replies to Henning, “You don’t get to decide what I get to see. I get to see it all.” Then he brings out a subpoena. He sends it to the witness table where Henning is sitting, and says, “I’ve signed this subpoena. We want all the 302s… and you are hereby served.”

In fact, Chaffetz’s committee has some of the 302s already, but all “personally identifiable information” has been redacted from them. The committee wants to know more about the role of Paul Combetta in deleting and the wiping all of Clinton’s emails from her personal server, but since Combetta is a Platte River Networks (PRN) employee and not a government employee, much information about what he did has been redacted.

Representative Carolyn Maloney (Credit: Andrew Burton / Getty Images)

Representative Carolyn Maloney (Credit: Andrew Burton / Getty Images)

Representative Carolyn Maloney (D), a member of the committee, claims the obstacle to Chaffetz seeing the redactions actually is the House Intelligence Committee, not the FBI. Chaffetz has asked House Intelligence chair Representative Devin Nunes (R) for access to the unredacted versions, but no vote on that request has been taken or scheduled yet.

However, Senator Charles Grassley (R), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, also complains about how the FBI is not letting his committee see unredacted documents from the investigation. “The FBI is trying to have it both ways. At the same time it talks about unprecedented transparency, it’s placing unprecedented hurdles in the way of Congressional oversight of unclassified law enforcement matters. It turned over documents, but with strings attached. … The Senate should not allow its controls on classified material to be manipulated to hide embarrassing material from public scrutiny, even when that material is unclassified.” (Politico, 9/12/2016)

Two other Congressional committees formally asked the Justice Department on September 9, 2016 for the full FBI interviews of Combetta and other PRN employees. (US Congress, 9/9/2016)

August 26, 2016 – More Strzok/Page texts that express anger at Trey Gowdy and smelling Trump support at Walmart

In the early morning of August 26, 2016, Strzok sends Page a text expressing anger at Trey Gowdy and says, “he’s really starting to p*ss me off.”

(Trey Gowdy appeared on Fox News the previous evening, discussing the Clinton team’s use of BleachBit to destroy her emails.) (Fox News, 8/26/2016)

Later that day, Strzok writes: “Just went to a southern Virginia Walmart. I could SMELL the Trump support…”

It is alleged that Clinton’s lawyers used a computer program to make sure her deleted emails couldn’t be recovered.

Since late 2014, when Clinton and her lawyers deleted over 31,000 of Clinton’s emails from when she was secretary of state, it has been unclear if the emails were simply deleted or “wiped,” meaning deliberate steps were taken to make sure they couldn’t be recovered later.

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Trey Gowdy appears with Martha MacCallum on Fox News on August 25, 2016. (Credit: Fox News)

In an interview, Representative Trey Gowdy (R) says that, “[Clinton] and her lawyers [Cheryl Mills, David Kendall, and Heather Samuelson] had those emails deleted. And they didn’t just push the delete button; they had them deleted where even God can’t read them. They were using something called BleachBit. You don’t use BleachBit for yoga emails or bridemaids emails. When you’re using BleachBit, it is something you really do not want the world to see.”

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BleachBit Logo (Credit: public domain)

BleachBit is computer software whose website advertises that it can “prevent recovery” of files. Politico notes that if Gowdy is correct, this would be “further proof that Clinton had something to hide in deleting personal emails from the private email system she used during her tenure as secretary of state.” It is not explained how Gowdy might know this, but his comments come only a few days after the FBI gave raw materials about their Clinton email investigation to Congress. (Politico, 8/25/2016)

Gowdy’s claim contradicts what FBI Director James Comey said on July 5, 2016 when he announced that he would not recommend charging Clinton with any crime. At that time, Comey stated, “we found no evidence that any of the additional work-related emails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them. Our assessment is that, like many email users, Secretary Clinton periodically deleted emails or emails were purged from the system when devices were changed.” (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 7/5/2016)

Within hours of Gowdy’s comments, BleachBit updates their website to say: “Last year when Clinton was asked about wiping her email server, she joked, ‘Like with a cloth or something?’ It turns out now that BleachBit was that cloth, according to remarks by Gowdy.” The website also notes, “As of the time of writing BleachBit has not been served a warrant or subpoena in relation to the investigation. … The cleaning process [of our program] is not reversible.” (BleachBit, 8/25/2016)

On September 2, 2016, the FBI’s final report on their Clinton email investigation will be released, and it will be revealed that BleachBit was used on Clinton’s server in late March 2015. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 9/2/2016)

July 7, 2016 – DoS OIG Steve Lenick testifies Clinton declined to be interviewed by his team

During a congressional hearing looking into the Hillary Clinton email investigation, Congressman Trey Gowdy finds out from the Inspector General of the State Department that Hillary Clinton declined to be interviewed by him.

FBI Director Comey says it is unclear if any of Clinton’s emails were deleted by Clinton or anyone else.

At a Congressional hearing, FBI Director James Comey is asked by Representative Trey Gowdy (R), “Secretary Clinton said neither she nor anyone else deleted work-related emails from her personal account. Was that true?”

Comey answers, “That’s a harder one to answer. We found traces of work-related emails in — on devices or in slack space. Whether they were deleted or whether when the server was changed out, something happened to them. There’s no doubt that the work-related emails were removed electronically from the email system.” (Politico, 7/7/2016) (CNN, 7/7/2016)

However, in September 2016, the FBI Clinton investigation’s final report will be released, based entirely on information learned by the FBI prior to Comey’s testimony. That makes clear that in late March 2015, someone used a computer program called BleachBit to delete all of Clinton’s emails off her server and then wipe them to prevent their later recovery. It is unknown why Comey fails to mention this.