There were side deals to the immunity agreements with Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, two of Hillary Clinton’s attorneys investigated by the FBI in connection with her private server.
Bob Goodlatte, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch Monday asking why the FBI looked at the two lawyers’ laptops but apparently agreed not to review anything after February 2015, i.e. when Clinton’s private server became public knowledge. The FBI also agreed to destroy both laptops after examining them. From Fox News:
Sources said the arrangement with former Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills and ex-campaign staffer Heather Samuelson also limited the search to no later than Jan. 31, 2015. This meant investigators could not review documents for the period after the email server became public — in turn preventing the bureau from discovering if there was any evidence of obstruction of justice, sources said.
The Republican-led House Judiciary Committee fired off a letter Monday to Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking why the DOJ and FBI agreed to the restrictive terms, including that the FBI would destroy the laptops after finishing the search.
Goodlatte’s letter contains a list of ten questions about various aspects of the side deals with Mills and Samuelson. It reads in part:
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 opportunity to 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?
The time limit on the search of the laptops doesn’t make a lot of sense. Mills began working as Clinton’s lawyer sometime shortly after Clinton left office in early 2013. So if the issue here was attorney client privilege, the no-look date would have been much earlier. But if the FBI wanted to investigate whether Mills (or Samuelson) were involved in any attempt to cover up what was in the email it would seem sensible to look at what happened after the story went public. That happened in March 2015 when the New York Times reported it.
Keep in mind that Mills and Samuelson were heavily involved in deciding which emails were eventually turned over to the state department in December 2014. At that point the whole story was still happening behind the scenes. Why wouldn’t the FBI be interested in what they were saying after the story became public? And why did the FBI agree to a no-look date if it had already granted them immunity from prosecution?
Here’s the on-air report from Fox News’ Catherine Herridge. There’s an intro about Julian Assange which doesn’t seem to have anything to do with this report. But stay until the end of this clip when Herridge points out that, according to a “leading national defense attorney” any laptop with classified information would immediately become government property, making the attorney wonder why the DOJ needed to make a deal to see this at all.
Finally, when asked about this exact issue (why the immunity agreement was necessary in this case) Directory Comey said, “For whatever reason, her lawyer thought it was in her interest to get an active production immunity agreement with the Department of Justice.”