A top Hillary Clinton aide and two other staff members were granted immunity deals in exchange for their cooperation in the now-closed FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server as secretary of state, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) told the Associated Press on Friday.
Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said that Clinton’s former chief of staff and counselor Cheryl Mills gave federal investigators access to her laptop only on the condition that the findings couldn’t be used against her.
“This is beyond explanation,” the exasperated congressman said in a statement. “The FBI was handing out immunity agreements like candy. I’ve lost confidence in this investigation and I question the genuine effort in which it was carried out. Immunity deals should not be a requirement for cooperating with the FBI.”
This arrangement brings the total number of publicly known immunity deals given in the Clinton case to five. With no prosecutions.
Chaffetz told the AP, “No wonder they couldn’t prosecute a case.”
Chaffetz says the two others granted immunity were John Bentel, then-director of the State Department’s Office of Information Resources Management, and Clinton aide Heather Samuelson. Two other people were previously identified as receiving immunity deals.
In addition to testifying in a deposition taken by the conservative group Judicial Watch in May, Mills also testified for nine hours in September 2015 before the House Benghazi Committee, and was interviewed by the FBI in May.
The FBI said in a summary of its report released to Congress earlier this month that in December 2014 “a top Clinton aide” told Denver-based Platte River Networks to destroy an archive of e-mails from her private server, but the company failed to do so.
Then, after The New York Times reported in early March 2015 details of then-Secretary Clinton’s use of a private server, the House committee investigating the deadly attacks on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, ordered that her e-mails be preserved, and subpoenaed those related to the attack. Three weeks later, the story goes, the engineer responsible for deleting Clinton’s archive suddenly remembered the failed duty, and acted on it by deleting the e-mails with a program (wonderfully named BleachBit) that apparently rendered most of them unreadable.
Around the time of Paul Combetta’s sudden recollection, Platte River officials joined a conference call with Hillary Clinton attorneys Cheryl Mills and David Kendall, according to the FBI report.
The FBI investigation exposed emails that showed Mills asking a Platte Rivers employee, in December 2014, to modify her email system so that it would delete messages after 60 days. In the same month, Platte River employee Paul Combetta posted this to Reddit:
“I have a client who wants to push out a 60 day email retention policy for certain users. However, they also want these users to have a ‘Save Folder’ in their Exchange folder… All email in any other folder in the mailbox should purge anything older than 60 days… How would I go about this?”
The FBI disclosed the new information about Cheryl Mills’ immunity deal to Chaffetz and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) on Friday.
Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon downplayed the new revelation on Twitter:
Three days before debate, House GOP selectively leaks details from inquiry that was closed months ago w/no charges https://t.co/bzmVNKDf6a
— Brian Fallon (@brianefallon) September 23, 2016