Three days on, FBI director James Comey continues to take heat for his Oct. 28 letter to Congress, in which he disclosed the possibility of new evidence in the agency’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server. The latest criticism comes from US senator Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican who chairs the Senate judiciary committee.
In a letter addressed to Comey, Grassley raised concerns about whether the FBI has been influenced in its investigation of Clinton by political appointees at the US Department of Justice, and said it is critical to know whether the FBI has sought grand jury subpoenas and search warrants in the case—and whether or not it has done so successfully.
While supporting Comey’s decision to come forward before the Nov. 8 US presidential election, Grassley joined a chorus of criticism over the scant details provided in the disclosure. Comey’s letter said that the FBI, through a separate investigation, has come across emails that “appear to be pertinent” to the Clinton probe.
“Without additional context, your disclosure is not fair to Congress, the American people, or Secretary Clinton,” Grassley wrote.
“In the absence of additional, authoritative information from the FBI in the wake of your vague disclosure, Congress and the American people are left to sift through anonymous leaks from Justice Department officials to the press of varying levels of detail, reliability, and consistency. The American people deserve better than that,” he wrote.
Grassley then put 10 questions to Comey, and requested a response by Nov. 4:
- Has anyone at the FBI had the ability to read any of the content of the newly discovered emails? If not, then how do you know that they appear to be pertinent to the FBI’s inquiry? If so, does any of the content upon initial review suggest obstruction of or false statements to Congress or the FBI by Secretary Clinton or her senior aides? Please explain.
- What time frame do the newly discovered emails cover and approximately how many are there?
- Is there any preliminary information to suggest that a significant number of the newly discovered emails are duplicates of emails already reviewed by the FBI?
- Did the FBI obtain the device(s) through which it learned of the existence of new emails mentioned in your letter on Friday through compulsory process? If so, please describe the nature and scope of the process in detail. If not, then how did the FBI learn of the existence of the new emails mentioned in your letter?
- At any point in the Clinton email investigation, did the FBI request use of a grand jury from the Justice Department? If not, why not? If the Department declined, please describe the circumstances in detail. Who at the Justice Department made that decision and what grounds were given for the denial?
- At any point in the Clinton investigation, did the FBI request an application for a search warrant from the Justice Department? If not, why not? If so, what was the Department’s response? If the Department declined, please describe the circumstances in detail. Who at the Justice Department made that decision and what grounds were given for the denial?
- According to news reports, the FBI has recently obtained a search warrant for the emails in question. If those reports are accurate, please provide the Committee with copies of the material provided to the court in support of the warrant, including any affidavits executed by FBI personnel.
- According to news reports, the FBI has also been conducting a criminal inquiry involving the Clinton Foundation. Yet, Justice Department officials reportedly denied the FBI’s request for a grand jury in that matter and pressured senior FBI officials not to pursue the matter through other means. Is it true that the Department denied the FBI’s request for a grand jury in the Clinton Foundation investigation?
- Press reports also indicate that the Justice Department denied the FBI the ability to search the laptops of senior Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson for information related to the Clinton Foundation inquiry. Is it true that the FBI requested such a search of the Mills and Samuelson laptops, but DOJ denied that request? If the FBI did make such a request, was that request made before or after the Department executed its agreement with Mills and Samuelson for a narrow voluntary search and destruction of the laptops?
- Please provide the committee with all records related to communications between FBI and DOJ officials regarding: (a) requests for any sort of court-supervised process, such as empaneling a grand jury or applying for a search warrant in connection with the Clinton email or Clinton Foundation investigations, or (b) the Mills and Samuelson laptops that were to subject of limited immunity agreements.