Department of Justice (DOJ) officials let the attorney for two of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s closest aides shape the FBI’s investigation into her private email server, including allowing the assistants to destroy official records and laptops.
Four leaders of key House and Senate oversight committees pointed to two June 10, 2016, letters Beth Wilkinson drafted in conjunction with DOJ officials saying the FBI could only review Clinton email archives dated between June 1, 2014, and Feb. 1, 2015, and maintained by the Colorado firm Platte River Networks. The letters also “memorialized” the FBI’s agreement allowing the Clinton aides to destroy their records and laptops.
“The Wilkinson letters raise serious questions about why DOJ would consent to such substantial limitations on the scope of its investigation, and how Director (James) Comey’s statements on the scope of the investigation comport with the reality of what the FBI was permitted to investigate,” the four told Attorney General Loretta Lynch in a letter made public Wednesday. “This is simply astonishing given the likelihood that evidence on the laptops would be of interest to congressional investigators.”
The four included Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Chuck Grassley; House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Jason Chaffetz; House Committee on the Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte; and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes.
Wilkinson represents Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson.
The DOJ agreed to Wilkinson’s terms after learning Clinton IT tech Paul Combetta used BleachBit to delete Clinton’s emails, “further casting doubt on why the FBI would enter into such a limited evidentiary scope of review with respect to the laptops,” the congressional leaders said.
“These limitations would necessarily have excluded, for example, any emails from Cheryl Mills to Paul Combetta in late 2014 or early 2015 directing the destruction or concealment of federal records,” the congressmen wrote. “Similarly, these limitations would have excluded any email sent or received by Secretary Clinton if it was not sent or received by one of the four email addresses listed, or the email address was altered.”
The DOJ granted immunity to Mills, Samuelson, Combetta, and two other Clinton aides — Bryan Pagliano and John Bentel.
The DOJ last week only allowed some members of Congress to review the letters in person, and prohibited them from capturing any evidence of them. The Wilkinson letters are not publicly available.
“These extraordinary restrictions interfere with our constitutional obligation to conduct oversight of this matter,” the congressional leaders said. “Thus far, the department has not explained its rationale for imposing these restrictions.”
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