Newly obtained internal FBI messages show the bureau failed to properly document agents’ interviews of at least four witnesses in the investigation of then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct official U.S. government business.
The documents, which were obtained by the nonprofit government watchdog Judicial Watch through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, also show the FBI gave Clinton’s lawyer special treatment during the email investigation.
The new information was gleaned from the 218 pages of messages exchanged by former FBI counterintelligence executive Peter Strzok and former bureau lawyer Lisa Page.
In an Aug. 5, 2016, email, an unnamed FBI assistant general counsel asked Strzok, Page, and intelligence analyst Jonathan Moffa whether to include a number of Form 302s from the Clinton email probe for review by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for needed redactions.
Form 302s are the reports of interviews that agents are required to write and submit promptly following their conversations with witnesses in ongoing cases.
Page responded, saying among much else that “Pete,” another bureau official, had “discovered that there were four (I think) 302s that had never been written. … I would throw them on the pile for redactions.”
The Clinton email investigation was referred to within the FBI as the “Midyear Exam.”
In another message thread, then-FBI general counsel James Baker told Page and more than a dozen other senior bureau officials, including James Rybicki, then-chief of staff for then-Director James Comey, that he had just spoken with Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall.
Kendall asked for a number of documents from the Midyear Exam and was told by Baker that he needed to submit a FOIA and a Privacy Act request.
“I just spoke with David Kendall. … I conveyed our view that in order to obtain the documents [FBI investigative material] they are seeking, they need to submit a request pursuant to the Privacy Act and FOIA.
“I said they could submit a letter to me covering both statutes. They will send it in the morning. I said that we would process it expeditiously.
“David asked us to focus first on the Secretary’s 302 [FBI interview report]. I said OK. [Redacted] We will have to focus on this issue tomorrow and get the 302 out the door as soon as possible and then focus on the rest of the stuff.”
In a message the next morning, Baker told his colleagues, “We need to move as quickly as possible on this.” Then, more than a week before the Clinton 302 was made public by the FBI, Baker tipped off Kendall on what was about to happen.
In a third message thread released June 3 by Judicial Watch, top FBI officials scrambled to respond to a question from Daily Beast reporter Shane Harris about whether Clinton’s lawyers possessed security clearances required to read classified documents included in her private emails.
“Harris’s question set off a scramble at the top of the FBI all the way up to Comey over the next 28 hours, producing a seven-page (mostly redacted) email discussion, with Lisa Page concluding, ‘Could we say something more equivocal,’” according to Judicial Watch.
“These incredible documents show the leadership of the FBI rushed to give Hillary Clinton her FBI interview report shortly before the election,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.
“And the documents also show the FBI failed to timely document interviews in the Clinton email ‘matter’ — further confirming the whole investigation was a joke. AG [William] Barr can’t reopen the Clinton email investigation soon enough.”