Last week The Hill’s John Solomon reported yet another twist in the FBI’s investigative nonfeasance in the Clinton email case. The report comes in Solomon’s excellent column “The road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces.” Solomon reports that “Johnson and Grassley have been unable to get answers for a year, even from Attorney General William Barr, about whether the FBI intends to look at critical evidence it skipped back in 2016.”
Solomon’s column is based on an August 14 memo by majority committee staff to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson. As Solomon explains, the Senate staff memo “lays out just how egregious the FBI’s decision was in 2016.”
Senator Grassley has posted the August 14 staff memo and attachments here. The three-page memo is self-explanatory. It states in part:
In August 2018, news articles alleged that a Chinese state-owned company hacked former Secretary Clinton’s non-government server and inserted code that forwarded nearly all of her emails to the foreign company. The reporting indicated that two Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) officials – Frank Rucker and Jeanette McMillian – discovered the code and brought the possible intrusion to the attention of the FBI.
We pursued this issue by requesting interviews with the two ICIG officials. On December 4, 2018, your staff, along with staff from Senators Feinstein and McCaskill, interviewed ICIG employees Mr. Rucker and Ms. McMillian. On December 20, 2018, you transmitted a copy of an interview summary of the Majority’s questions and the witness’s answers to the ICIG for a classification review. On January 30, 2019, the ICIG provided classified and unclassified versions of the interview summary, and the Office of Senate Security redacted the classified information. On February 28, 2019, the ICIG provided documentary evidence including copies of emails and notes from meetings. On April 9, 2019, the DOJ IG and ICIG provided a summary of their findings related to these Chinese hacking allegations.
We would like to bring to your attention two pieces of information that we learned during those interviews. First, according to one ICIG official, some members of the FBI investigative team seemed indifferent to evidence of a possible intrusion by a foreign adversary into Secretary Clinton’s non-government server. The interview summary makes clear exactly what information Mr. Rucker and Ms. McMillian knew regarding the alleged hack of the Clinton server, as well as the information they shared with the FBI team, including Peter Strzok, the Deputy Assistant Director of the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division in charge of the Clinton investigation.
Second, the interview summary provides additional information about the internal process the State Department undertook to determine the classification of emails from Secretary Clinton and her associates. Ms. McMillian explained that, “at first, State fought back against the intelligence community being involved” but eventually agreed. She also explained that, during the course of their review, the Central Intelligence Agency and the National GeospatialIntelligence Agency had “significant equities” in the Clinton emails. Also, during the interview, Mr. Rucker stated that he was told that two State Department employees, Austin Evers and Catherine Duval, took steps to downgrade classified emails by arguing that they should be withheld from disclosure for deliberative process reasons, rather than classification reasons, under the Freedom of Information Act. Mr. Rucker also observed then-Ambassador Patrick Kennedy questioning whether certain emails should be provided to the intelligence community for review and fighting against classifying other emails.
Solomon comments, in short: “Now we learn the FBI willfully chose to ignore highly classified evidence in the Clinton email case and has stonewalled Congress for a year on whether it intends to reexamine that evidence. It’s exactly that sort of behavior that leaves many Americans wondering whether there are two systems of justice inside the FBI — one for the Clintons, and one for the rest of the country.”