Republicans on key congressional committees say they have uncovered new irregularities and contradictions inside the FBI’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s email server.
For the first time, investigators say they have secured written evidence that the FBI believed there was evidence that some laws were broken when the former secretary of State and her top aides transmitted classified information through her insecure private email server, lawmakers and investigators told The Hill.
That evidence includes passages in FBI documents stating the “sheer volume” of classified information that flowed through Clinton’s insecure emails was proof of criminality as well as an admission of false statements by one key witness in the case, the investigators said.
The name of the witness is redacted from the FBI documents but lawmakers said he was an employee of a computer firm that helped maintain her personal server after she left office as America’s top diplomat and who belatedly admitted he had permanently erased an archive of her messages in 2015 after they had been subpoenaed by Congress.
The investigators also confirmed that the FBI began drafting a statement exonerating Clinton of any crimes while evidence responsive to subpoenas was still outstanding and before agents had interviewed more than a dozen key witnesses.
Those witnesses included Clinton and the computer firm employee who permanently erased her email archives just days after the emails were subpoenaed by Congress, the investigators said.
Lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee who attended a Dec. 21 closed-door briefing by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe say the bureau official confirmed that the investigation and charging decisions were controlled by a small group in Washington headquarters rather the normal process of allowing field offices to investigate possible criminality in their localities. The Clinton email server in question was based in New York.
In normal FBI cases, field offices where crimes are believed to have been committed investigate the evidence and then recommend to bureau hierarchy whether to pursue charges with prosecutors. In this case, the bureau hierarchy controlled both the investigation and the charging decision from Washington, a scenario known in FBI parlance as a “special,” the lawmakers said.
The FBI declined comment on McCabe’s closed-door testimony and the evidence being shared with Congress.
Some Republicans on the committee say the findings and revelations have left them more convinced than ever that FBI leadership rigged the outcome to clear Clinton.
“This was an effort to pre-bake the cake, pre-bake the outcome,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a House Judiciary Committee member who attended the McCabe briefing before the holidays. “Hillary Clinton obviously benefited from people taking actions to ensure she wasn’t held accountable.”
Gaetz said he could not divulge the specifics of what McCabe told lawmakers, but that he left the Dec. 21 session believing the FBI had deviated from its “normal objective practices” while investigating Clinton.
The top Democrat on the panel acknowledged the FBI’s handling of the case was unique, but argued Republicans are politicizing their own panel’s work.
“To the extent that the Assistant Director of the FBI was involved in that investigation, and recognizing that the investigation itself presented a unique set of circumstances, his testimony did not raise any concerns that would justify the Republicans’ outsized obsession with Hillary Clinton’s emails two years after the fact,” said Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y) who recently took over as the top Democrat on House Judiciary after former Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) stepped aside after sexual misconduct allegations were made against him.