House Judiciary Republicans Call on FBI to Explain ‘Special’ Status for Clinton Email Probe

Hillary Clinton and James Comey. (Reuters and AFP/Getty Images)
Reuters and AFP/Getty Images

Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday called on FBI Director Christopher Wray to provide answers as to why the FBI’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server was considered “special” and treated differently than other investigations.

Emails recently released by the FBI show that Clinton’s case was marked “special,” and that the FBI stood up a small team at its headquarters to conduct the investigation, versus letting it be investigated by the FBI’s Washington Field Office.

The Republican lawmakers say they would grill Wray on this and a host of other related topics during his appearance in front of the Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

Specifically, committee Republicans want to know if and why Clinton’s investigation was handled differently than the FBI’s current investigation into President Trump.

“Nobody should get special treatment, and no one should be subjected to special bias,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), who led the letter to Wray, during a press conference on Wednesday.

“Each day we learn more information that reflects the double standard that unfortunately seems to be pervasive at the FBI, and at the Department of Justice,” he added.

Gaetz said Clinton was assigned a “small team” at the headquarters, while Trump has more people investigating him than there were investigating the Oklahoma City bombing.

He noted that fired FBI Director James Comey had drafted an exoneration statement before the investigation was ever completed, and before she and other key witnesses were interviewed. He also noted that the FBI granted two key witnesses immunity and allowed them to have their laptops destroyed after being examined.

“There are conflicts of interest associated with immunity deals given to Ms. Mills, Ms. Samuelson, no such accommodation was given to [former National Security Adviser] Michael Flynn, or the others associated with the president’s transition team,” he said.

“Contrast that with the investigation of President Trump, where people who actively disliked the president were assigned to work against him,” he added.

The New York Times and the Washington Post recently reported that a top investigator on the special counsel team, Peter Strzok, sent anti-Trump and pro-Clinton texts to another lawyer on the team, Lisa Page, with whom he was having an extramarital affair.

And Mueller’s deputy, Andrew Weissman, praised then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to follow an order from Trump on a travel ban, writing that he was “proud” of her.

Another lawyer on the team, Jeannie Rhee, also represented top Obama aide Ben Rhodes during a congressional investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attack. She previously represented the Clinton Foundation and Clinton herself, and maxed out donations to Clinton in 2015 and 2016.

“Meanwhile, a witch hunt continues against the president, with tremendous bias, with no purpose, and with no end in sight,” Gaetz said.

Members also want to know whether the FBI used a salacious dossier funded by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to obtain a surveillance warrant from a secretive court on members of the Trump campaign.

“Was this dossier — discredited dossier, paid for by DNC and Clinton campaign money, was this dossier in fact used? Was it part of what was taken to the FISA court to allow spying to take place on Americans who were associated with the Trump campaign?” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) asked.

“If in fact that took place, then it is as wrong as it should be. We want to know that, and that’s why we ask that the application be made public,” he said.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) said he wanted to know whether there are “two different standards of justice” for Clinton and Trump, and why the FBI and Justice Department have been delaying handing over documents for months.

He added that members were not suggesting that Flynn or former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort did not do anything wrong, but rather, that two different standards of justice were applied based on political motives.

“Folks, this is how police states are started,” Perry said. “This is how it begins, and it has to stop, and the only way that it stops is by sunlighting, daylighting, by providing the information to the American people, by their duly elected representatives, so everyone can see what happened here,” he said.

Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) said Clinton’s investigation being considered “special” was only one of many times investigators turned a blind eye to justice, and called for a new investigation on the FBI’s processes and procedures. He said:

The more we hear about how the FBI handled the investigations involving Hillary Clinton, the more we understand that she received special treatment, and that is unacceptable — from the infamous tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton and Loretta Lynch to the changing of the scandal from being described as grossly negligent to extremely careless. It’s clear that Hillary Clinton has received break after break after break from the FBI.

Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ ) concurred: “We see over and over again, that people are being treated differently by our institutions. And when that happens, that’s the breakdown of our society. The breakdown of who we are as Americans.”

He also questioned why the same FBI officials who mishandled the Clinton investigation were still in the administration, particularly when they have shown an anti-Trump bias.

Strzok was simply transferred to the FBI’s human resources office after the anti-Trump texts were found, but he still remains employed, as does Page.

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), leader of the House Freedom Caucus, called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to show leadership.

“It is time that we get to the bottom of it. … It is time for him to show the type of leadership to make sure the American people get the answers they deserve,” he said.

“Because we cannot allow the highest law enforcement agency in the land to actually be in a situation where they allow partisanship to determine who is actually not only guilty or innocent, but certainly we can’t allow it to happen when indeed it should be a non-partisan, non-biased way,” he said.

“We need to understand what role did the dossier — it was actually a campaign document — play in the FISA court request. And also we must understand that special deals for special people is not the American way. It is time we have one standard for everyone,” he said.

Meadows urged the FBI to comply immediately.

“Time does not improve with this. The time for action is now. [There is a] short fuse on demanding the kind of evidence and transparency the American people deserve,” he said.


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