The FBI failed to document at least four interviews of witnesses in the bureau’s investigation into former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private server to send classified emails, according to documents obtained by the government watchdog Judicial Watch.
Judicial Watch also discovered among the 218 pages of emails between former FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and his paramour former FBI Attorney Lisa Page that then FBI General Counsel James Baker had instructed “FBI officials to expedite the release of FBI investigative material to Hillary Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall in August 2016. Kendall and the FBI’s top lawyer discussed specifically quickly obtaining the “302” report of the FBI/DOJ interview of Mrs. Clinton.”
These findings are significant, as they come at a crucial time when the Department of Justice under Attorney General William Barr is investigating the bureau’s handling of both the Clinton probe and the investigation into the origination of the bureau’s investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign alleged – now debunked – ties to Russia.
“These incredible documents show the leadership of the FBI rushed to give Hillary Clinton her FBI interview report shortly before the election,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And the documents also show the FBI failed to timely document interviews in the Clinton email ‘matter’ – further confirming the whole investigation was a joke. AG Barr can’t reopen the Clinton email investigation soon enough.”
The information obtained by Judicial Watch coincides with documents obtained by Congressional investigations. For example, Rep. John Ratcliffe, a former federal prosecutor who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, told Fox New’s Maria Bartiromo Sunday that Strzok’s involvement in the Trump campaign’s defensive briefing mired in conflict.
First, Ratcliffe noted that it was Strzok who opened the official investigation into Trump’s campaign on July 31, 2016 dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane.” Ratfcliffe warned that U.S. Attorney John Durham, who has been appointed by Barr to investigate the bureau, was essentially acting as a ‘special counsel’ in the DOJ’s investigation.
“It’s interesting that 18 days later on August 17, of 2016 that the FBI and CIA conducted a counterintelligence briefing for the purpose of protecting and warning Donald Trump would put in charge for coordinating that briefing Peter Strzok – the same agent who was already investigating the Trump campaign,” Ratcliffe told Bartiromo. “The same agent who eight days before that defensive briefing to protect and warn Donald Trump sent a text message saying he was going to ‘stop him.’ Then two days before that defensive briefing sent a text message saying ‘we need an insurance policy’ against the Trump presidency.”
“So little wonder on that day of August 17, 2016 Donald Trump isn’t warned about Russian interference in his campaign and he wasn’t briefed about the Steele Dossier, wasn’t briefed about Carter Page,” Ratcliffe added.
Currently, DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz is putting together his report on the FBI’s handling of the FBI’s probe into the Trump campaign. According to numerous congressional sources the investigation is expected to include the FBI’s defensive briefing to Trump and the lack of information provided to the Trump campaign. Strzok, who was vehemently anti-Trump in his text messages to Page, is also expected to be a significant part of the Horowitz investigation.
Judicial Watch FOIA:
The documents were obtained in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed after the Justice Department failed to respond to a December 4, 2017, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00154)) for:
- All records of communications, including but not limited to, emails, text messages and instant chats, between FBI official Peter Strozk and FBI attorney Lisa Page;
- All travel requests, travel authorizations, travel vouchers and expense reports of Peter Strozk;
- All travel requests, travel authorizations, travel vouchers and expense reports of Lisa Page.
Revelation: Below Is an ‘Exact Excerpt’ From Judicial Watch’s Findings
On August 16, 2016, at 10:02 p.m. Baker emails then-Associate Deputy Director David Bowdich; Michael Steinbach, former executive assistant director for national security; former Acting Assistant Director Jason V. Herring; former FBI lawyer Lisa Page; former Principal Deputy General Counsel Trisha Anderson; Michael Kortan, FBI assistant director for public affairs, now retired; James Rybicki, former chief of staff to Comey; and others to inform them that he “just spoke” with Clinton’s lawyer Kendall, who requested documents from the FBI. Baker says he told Kendall he would “need to submit a request.” Baker tells them, “I said we would process it expeditiously.”
I just spoke with David Kendall … I conveyed our view that in order to obtain the documents [FBI investigative material] they are seeking they need to submit a request pursuant to the Privacy Act and FOIA. I said they could submit a letter to me covering both statutes. They will send it in the morning. I said that we would process it expeditiously. David asked us to focus first on the Secretary’s 302 [FBI interview report]. I said OK. [Redacted] We will have to focus on this issue tomorrow and get the 302 out the door as soon as possible and then focus on the rest of the stuff.
The following day, August 17, 2016, Kendall sent a FOIA/Privacy Act request on “behalf of former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton” to the FBI’s top lawyer with a request for “expeditious processing.” Baker passes this request to Bowdich, Steinbach, Herring, Page, Anderson:
“In my view, we need to move as quickly as possible on this, but pursuant to David’s oral request last night, we should focus first on Secretary Clinton’s 302…. Is the end of this week out of the question for her 302?”
In a follow-up email exchange, the same day, Anderson arranged for Herring, Page, former FBI Assistant Director and head of the Office of Congressional Affairs Gregory Brower, Strzok and others to “coordinate a plan for processing and releasing” Clinton’s 302, though one official reminds others that they should process the request “consistent” with other requests.
Then, in an August 21, 2016, email exchange Baker tells his people that he would “alert” Kendall shortly before Clinton’s 302 was to be posted on the FBI’s FOIA Vault webpage. On September 2, 2016, the FBI announced the release of Clinton’s interview documents.
Finally, on August 24, 2016, the acting FBI FOIA unit chief said he sees “no problem” with giving Hillary’s attorney a heads up before her records were posted to the Vault.
Other documents show that on August 5, 2016, Page, Strzok and FBI intelligence analyst Jonathan Moffa are notified by a FBI assistant general counsel from the national security law branch that additional 302’s were in need of processing:
Today [Redacted] brought over additional 302s from the WFO [Washington Field Office]. Are those supposed to go through the redaction process for production to DOJ on Monday? We’re trying to figure out what needs to be completed this weekend.
[Redacted] to the best of my knowledge, yes they will when Pete identified for [redacted] the DOJ edits that needed to be made to the 302s [redacted] discovered that there were four (I think) 302s that had never been written. What I don’t know is whose 302s they are but unless Pete or Jon are able to respond in short order, I would throw them on the pile for redactions. Thanks so much.
On August 24, 2016, Daily Beast reporter Shane Harris sent an inquiry to the FBI asking if Comey’s admission to Congress was accurate that Hillary’s lawyers at William & Connolly did not possess the security clearances needed to see and possess highly classified Hillary emails being stored at their law offices. Harris’s question set off a scramble at the top of the FBI all the way up to Comey over the next 28 hours, producing a seven-page (mostly redacted) email discussion, with Lisa Page concluding, “Could we say something more equivocal?”
In a September 1, 2016, email exchange, Page, Strzok, Office of Public Affairs official Michael Kortan and Special Agent Richard Quinn discuss an email from The Hill’s John Solomon, wherein Solomon forwarded them his draft article for Circa.com citing “government sources” detailing extensive evidence the FBI had collected, which showed Hillary Clinton “violated federal record-keeping laws” through her use of a private BlackBerry and server, despite the security and legal risks she was told they posed. Solomon asked for any final “guidance” from the FBI before publishing. Page writes to Moffa, Strzok and a redacted FBI official, it was “pretty inaccurate,” but provided nothing to support her charge of its inaccuracy. Judicial Watch’s work on the Hillary Clinton email scandal is cited extensively in the column, and former U.S. Attorney Matt Whitaker was quoted as well, saying a special prosecutor was needed to look into Hillary’s use of the personal server.
On August 16, 2016, after Congress requested that the FBI supply additional copies of the binders of Clinton server-investigation materials, an unidentified FBI official complained to his colleagues of being understaffed and under supplied:
We literally do not have the office supplies to do this. Nor do I have the IAs [Investigative Assistants/Analysts] for assistance…. These binders are huge and each one took hours to compile.
I am not trying to throw shade…. I just wish decisions could get made by considering resources.
I need people in [room] 7947 ready to go in the early AM and a charge card for Staples.”