On August 30, 2017, Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray, regarding the conduct and handling of the Clinton and Russia investigations by former FBI Director James Comey.
In his letter, Grassley states that according to the unredacted portions of transcripts provided by the Office of Special Counsel (OSC), Director Comey had already decided in April or early May of 2016, that he would issue a statement exonerating Secretary Clinton. Director Comey also circulated an early draft statement to select member of senior FBI leadership.
Comey’s decision was made long before FBI agents had completed their investigation, and two months before the FBI conducted their July 2, 2016 interview of Clinton. Furthermore, this decision was made before the FBI finished interviewing multiple key witnesses, such as:
- May 3, 2016 – Paul Combetta
- May 12, 2016- Sean Misko
- May 17, 2016- Unnamed CIA employee 5
- May 19, 2016- Unnamed CIA employee 6
- May 24, 2016 – Heather Samuelson
- May 26, 2016 – Marcel Lehel (aka Guccifer)
- May 28, 2016 – Cheryl Mills
- June 3, 2016- Charlie Wisecarver
- June 10, 2016 – John Bentel
- June 15, 2016 – Lewis Lukens
- June 21, 2016 – Justin Cooper
- June 21, 2016- Unnamed State Dept. Employee 7
- June 21, 2016 – Bryan Pagliano
- June 21, 2016 – Purcell Lee
- June 23, 2016- Monica Hanley
- June 29, 2016 – Hannah Richert
- July 2, 2016 – Hillary Clinton
Cheryl Mills, Heather Samuelson, John Bentel, Bryan Pagliano, and Paul Combetta would all later receive immunity by the FBI.
Grassley goes on to state that in his final statement, Director Comey acknowledged that while there was evidence of potential violations of statutes regarding the handling of classified material, there was no intent or obstruction of justice. Grassley notes that evidence of obstruction of justice does indeed exist in the destruction of emails under a subpoena by the House of Representatives, as well as being subject to congressional preservation requests.
Furthermore, the immunity deals given by the FBI prevented their ability to conduct a thorough investigation. The immunity deals limited the FBI’s review of the Clinton email archives from Platter River Networks to emails created after June 1, 2014 and before February 1, 2015. As a result, agents were barred from reviewing records relating to a March 2015 conference call between Mr. Paul Combetta and Clinton’s attorneys, after which Combetta admitted he used BleachBit to destroy any remaining copies of Clinton’s emails.
The immunity agreements with Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson also prevented the FBI from looking at any emails authored by Secretary Clinton after she had left office.
In closing, Sen. Grassley requests that the FBI turn over the following documents, without redactions, by September 13, 2017:
- All drafts of Mr. Comey’s statement closing the Clinton investigation, from his original draft in April or May to the final version
- All records related to communications between or among FBI officials regarding Cormey’s draft statement closing the Clinton investigation, including all memoranda or analyses of the factual or legal justification for the announcement.
- All records previously provided to the Office of Special Counsel in the course of its now- closed Hatch Act investigation of Mr. Comey.
The fact that Comey had made a decision to not charge Clinton, months before agents had finished the investigation and interviewed key witnesses, should be troubling for all law-abiding citizens. The FBI should be held to the highest standard, and never prejudge the outcome of an investigation before it is completed.