Just when you think the Hillary email scandal can’t get any more bizarre and corrupt, it does. According to a just released letter from the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Bob Goodlatte (R – Virginia), to Attorney General Lynch, the FBI apparently struck “side agreements” with both Cheryl Mills an Heather Samuelson to “destroy” their “laptops after concluding its search.”
In the attached, Goodlatte questioned why the destruction of the laptops used to sort Clinton’s emails was included in immunity deals that already protected Mills and Samuelson from prosecution based on the records recovered from their computers. Furthermore, we learn that according to the immunity agreements, FBI agents limited their search to documents authored before Jan. 2015. The Republican argued such parameters prevented investigators from examining potential proof of the destruction of evidence that may have occurred after that date, and that the deals offered to Mills and Samuelson already protected the aides from prosecution related to their alleged roles in the deletion of federal records.
“Like many things about this case, these new materials raise more questions than answers,” Goodlatte wrote of the “side agreements,” which lawmakers were allowed to read even though they have not yet been released in full to members of Congress.
The immunity deals for Mills and Samuelson were negotiated before they agreed to hand over their laptops which we now learn were subsequently destroyed.
While we parse the letter to understand what basis for action the FBI may have had when pursuing such a course of action, we can’t help but note that the FBI appears to have acted as a co-conspirator in what appears to be an unprecedented case of destruction of key evidence.
Below are some of the key excerpts from the letter (full document attached at the end of this post):
As part of the Judiciary Committee’s ongoing oversight of Secretary Clinton’s unauthorized use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State, the Justice Department (DOJ) provided in camera review’ of certain immunity agreements. After a specific request from the Committee, based on references made in the immunity agreements to certain “side agreements,” DOJ subsequently provided in camera review of those “side agreements” between DOJ, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Beth Wilkinson, the lawyer representing both Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson. Like many things about this case, these new materials raise more questions than answers. Please provide a written response to the below questions and make DOJ staff available for a briefing on this matter no later than October 10, 2016.
1. Why did the FBI agree to destroy both Cheryl Mills’ and Heather Samuelson’s laptops after concluding its search?
2. Doesn’t the willingness of Ms. Mills and Ms. Samuelson to have their laptops destroyed by the FBI contradict their claim that the laptops could have been withheld because they contained non-relevant, privileged information? If so, doesn’t that undermine the claim that the side agreements were necessary?
7. Please explain why DOJ agreed to limit their search of the Mills and Samuelson laptops to a date no later than January 31, 2015 and therefore give up any opportunityto find evidence related to the destruction of evidence or obstruction of justice related to Secretary Clinton’s unauthorized use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State.
8. Why was this time limit necessary when Ms. Mills and Ms. Samuelson were granted immunity for any potential destruction of evidence charges?
9. Please confirm whether a grand jury was convened to investigate Secretary Clinton’s unauthorized use of a private email server. Disclosure is authorized under Fed. R. Crim. P. 6(e)(3)(A)(i) and (e)(3)(D).
Of course, since this will be promptly spun as just more “plumes of smoke” we hope people will stop trying to “criminalize behavior that is normal.”
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