FBI knew the 'Bleach Bit' computer guy lied in Clinton email testimony, gave him immunity

The Hill published a story today based on leaks from a recent House Judiciary Committee meeting where FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe discussed elements of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Republicans on the committee say McCabe outlined some irregularities that suggest the outcome of the investigation was rigged in Clinton’s favor. Among the new findings is that an unnamed tech specialist who used Bleach Bit to wipe Clinton’s server after a congressional subpoena was issued admitted lying to the FBI [emphasis added]:

A computer technician who deleted Clinton emails from her server in March 2015 after a congressional subpoena had been issued for them, originally lied to the FBI during his interviews, memos show. The witness’s name was redacted from documents released by the FBI but he was identified as an employee of a computer firm that helped maintained Clinton’s email server.

His admission of false statements came one day after the Comey statement was already being drafted, investigators told The Hill.

The computer employee originally told the FBI in a February 2016 interview that he did not recall making any deletions from Clinton’s server in March 2015, FBI records show.

But then on May 3, 2016, the same employee in a subsequent FBI interview told agents he had an “oh shit moment” and in late March 2015 deleted Clinton’s email archive from the server, according to FBI documents reviewed by The Hill.

Lying to the FBI is a federal felony, a crime that former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn recently pleaded guilty to. But the FBI decided not to pursue criminal charges against the witness, and instead gave the technician an immunity deal so he could correct his story, congressional investigators said.

That line in bold is significant because it suggests that even as the FBI gained leverage against one of the minor players in the drama the higher-ups had already started writing Hillary’s exoneration. And that brings us to another unusual aspect of the FBI’s handling of the case. Instead of allowing field agents to investigate, all decisions were handled by a small group in Washington:

Lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee who attended a Dec. 21 closed-door briefing by FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe say the bureau official confirmed that the investigation and charging decisions were controlled by a small group in Washington headquarters rather the normal process of allowing field offices to investigate possible criminality in their localities. The Clinton email server in question was based in New York.

In normal FBI cases, field offices where crimes are believed to have been committed investigate the evidence and then recommend to bureau hierarchy whether to pursue charges with prosecutors. In this case, the bureau hierarchy controlled both the investigation and the charging decision from Washington, a scenario known in FBI parlance as a “special,” the lawmakers said…

“This was an effort to pre-bake the cake, pre-bake the outcome,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.), a House Judiciary Committee member who attended the McCabe briefing before the holidays. “Hillary Clinton obviously benefited from people taking actions to ensure she wasn’t held accountable.”

Finally, Republicans say they have an affidavit from an FBI agent which contradicts a claim made by former FBI Director Comey. During the investigation, the FBI recovered some work emails which had not been turned over to the State Department by Clinton. Each missing email could potentially have been charged as a misdemeanor violation of the federal records act which requires government workers to preserve such records. On this point, Comey claimed the investigation had specifically looked at whether or not Clinton had violated the federal records act but the new affidavit says that’s not true, i.e. the investigation never considered the destruction of federal records.

The impression you get from all of this is that the people in charge of this “special” investigation decided early on that Clinton wouldn’t be charged. There was no effort to put any of her people through the legal wringer to see what they might say under duress. Instead, the Bleach Bit guy and Clinton’s own attorneys got immunity deals. When the FBI interviewed the major players, including Clinton herself, the exoneration had already been drafted. It was pro forma justice, very different from the kind of aggressive tactics we’re seeing Mueller employ in going after people like George Papadopolous and Paul Manafort. Apparently, Hillary convinced everyone she never intended any harm. She was just a grandma who didn’t understand what it meant to wipe a server (“With a cloth?). Ultimately, the smartest woman in the world was saved by her constant profession of ignorance.