A member of the House Committee on the Judiciary said during a hearing Thursday that a government watchdog found that nearly all of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails were sent to a foreign entity and that the FBI didn’t follow-up on that finding.
The Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) found an “anomaly on Hillary Clinton’s emails going through their private server, and when they had done the forensic analysis, they found that her emails, every single one except four, over 30,000, were going to an address that was not on the distribution list,” Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said during a hearing with FBI official Peter Strzok.
“It was going to an unauthorized source that was a foreign entity unrelated to Russia,” he added.
Gohmert said the ICIG investigator, Frank Rucker, presented the findings to Strzok, but that the FBI official did not do anything with the information.
Strzok acknowledged meeting with Rucker, but said he did not recall the “specific content.”
“The forensic examination was done by the ICIG and they can document that,” Gohmert said, “but you were given that information and you did nothing with it.”
He also said that someone alerted the Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz to the issue.
“Mr. Horowitz got a call four times from someone wanting to brief him about this, and he never returned the call,” Gohmert said.
The ICIG previously caught problems regarding Clinton’s server that the FBI missed. The bureau didn’t notice that some emails were openly marked classified with a “(C)” when they were sent.
The ICIG spotted the oversight after the FBI missed it, texts between Strzok and his mistress, former FBI lawyer Lisa Page, show.
“Holy cow,” Strzok wrote, “if the FBI missed this, what else was missed? … Remind me to tell you to flag for Andy [redacted] emails we (actually ICIG) found that have portion marks (C) on a couple of paras. DoJ was Very Concerned about this.”
In late 2017, ICIG Chuck McCullough — who was appointed by former President Barack Obama — took the unusual step of coming forward publicly to say that he perceived pushback after he began raising the alarm about issues with Clinton’s servers to then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.
He said he found it “maddening” that Democrats, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, were underselling the amount of classified information on the server.
McCullough said he “expected to be embraced and protected,” but was instead “chided” by someone on Capitol Hill for failing to consider the “political consequences” of his investigative findings, Fox News reported.
The ICIG has not publicly disclosed the findings Gohmert described in the meeting between Rucker and Strzok, but the congressman said the watchdog can document them.
Thursday’s exchange is below:
Gohmert: You said earlier in this hearing you were concerned about a hostile foreign power affecting the election. Do you recall the former Intelligence Community Inspector General Chuck McCullough having an investigation into an anomaly found on Hillary Clinton’s emails?
Let me refresh your memory. The Intelligence Community Inspector General Chuck McCullough sent his investigator Frank Rucker along with an IGIC attorney Janette McMillan to brief you and Dean Chapelle and two other FBI personnel who I won’t name at this time, about an anomaly they had found on Hillary Clinton’s emails that were going to the private unauthorized server that you were supposed to be investigating?
Strzok: I remember meeting Mr. Rucker on either one or two occasions. I do not recall the specific content or discussions.
Gohmert: Mr. Rucker reported to those of you, the four of you there, in the presence of the ICIG attorney, that they had found this anomaly on Hillary Clinton’s emails going through their private server, and when they had done the forensic analysis, they found that her emails, every single one except four, over 30,000, were going to an address that was not on the distribution list. It was a compartmentalized bit of information that was sending it to an unauthorized source. Do you recall that?
Strozk: Sir, I don’t.
Gohmert: He went on the explain it. And you didn’t say anything, you thanked him, you shook his hand. The problem is it was going to an unauthorized source that was a foreign entity unrelated to Russia and from what you’ve said here, you did nothing more than nod and shake the man’s hand when you didn’t seem to be all that concerned about our national integrity of our election when it was involving Hillary Clinton. So the forensic examination was done by the ICIG — and they can document that — but you were given that information and you did nothing with it. And one of the things I found most egregious with Mr. Horowitz’s testimony, and — by the way Mr. Horowitz got a call four times from someone wanting to brief him about this, and he never returned the call.
FBI MISSED CLINTON EMAILS OPENLY MARKED CLASSIFIED, WANTED TO CONCLUDE PROBE BEFORE IG CAUGHT MISTAKE
The FBI didn’t notice that some emails from Hillary Clinton’s private email server were marked classified with a “(C)” when they were sent — something that seemingly would have been one of the first and most obvious checks in an investigation, and one that FBI agents instantly recognized put the facts at odds with Clinton’s public statements.
The Intelligence Community Inspector General spotted it after the FBI missed it, texts between FBI agent Peter Strzok and his mistress, FBI lawyer Lisa Page, reveal. “Holy cow,” Strzok wrote, “if the FBI missed this, what else was missed?”
“Remind me to tell you to flag for Andy [redacted] emails we (actually ICIG) found that have portion marks (C) on a couple of paras. DoJ was Very Concerned about this,” he wrote.
“Found on the 30k [emails] provided to State originally. No one noticed. It cuts against ‘I never sent or received anything marked classified,’” he wrote, referring to statements by Clinton downplaying the danger of her email practices.
Much of the more in-depth investigation considered whether Clinton and her aides emailed materials that were classified but were not marked as such, a harder determination to make.
The exchange occurred on June 12, 2016. FBI Director Jim Comey disclosed the findings of marked-classified emails to the House on July 7.
On May 10, 2016, Strzok had suggested that in his mind, the investigation was closer to being finished than to just getting started — suggesting that if it weren’t for the inspector general, it might have closed down and cleared her despite missing the most obvious first step.
“I cannot overstate to you the sense of urgency about wanting to logically and effectively conclude this investigation,” he said.
The ommission allowed Clinton to repeatedly and prominently state that she had “never received nor sent any material that was marked classified” on her private email server while secretary of state.
She even said so at major debates, and because the FBI hadn’t caught the letter (C), and therefore never stated its findings, PolitiFact rated the claim “Half True.”
When the FBI belatedly noticed and relayed the truth, the fact-checking site said “Now we know it’s just plain wrong.”
Clinton decided to print out 55,000 pages instead of providing the State Department with her emails in their digital format, a technique sometimes used by lawyers to make searches harder for their opponents. A CTRL-F search for “(C)” could have missed the markings because State had to re-digitize the forms with Optical Character Recognition, which can get tripped up on symbols, perhaps interpreting it as something like “[C]” or a copyright symbol. Nonetheless, the classified marker always appears at the beginning of a paragraph and is visually distinct.
Markings denoting the different levels within the category of “classified” information include, in order: (C) for confidential, (S) for secret, and (TS) for top secret.
The comments come from 500 pages of texts released Wednesday by Senate investigators.