Congress received FBI documents related to the agency’s recently closed investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state, lawmakers said on Tuesday.
A spokeswoman for the Republican-led House oversight panel said staff is reviewing documents that are classified as secret. Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the intelligence committee, said in a statement that the panel received “FBI witness interview reports, including that of Secretary Clinton’s interview, along with other materials from the FBI’s now closed investigative file.”
The FBI last month closed its yearlong probe into whether Clinton and her aides mishandled sensitive information that flowed through a private email server located in the basement of her New York home. Though he described Clinton’s actions as “extremely careless,” FBI Director James Comey said his agents found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the Democratic presidential nominee.
In a statement, the FBI said the materials were provided to Congress consistent with the agency’s “commitment to transparency” in the Clinton case. The material contains classified information and was provided “with the expectation it will not be disseminated or disclosed” without the FBI’s agreement, the agency said on Tuesday.
Furious the FBI didn’t press charges against their political rival, House Republicans pressed the agency to release notes from its agents’ July interview with Clinton. They claim the FBI notes, which are typically kept confidential after an investigation is closed, may show Clinton provided inconsistent answers to questions about her handling of emails containing classified information during testimony last year before the House Benghazi panel.
Republicans are also demanding that the Justice Department open a new investigation into whether Clinton lied to Congress. Justice Department spokeswoman Melanie Newman declined to comment Tuesday on the GOP request for a perjury investigation.
Though the Republicans failed to find evidence to support their claims that Clinton was negligent in preventing or stopping the deadly 2012 attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya, they are now focusing on questions surrounding the Democratic nominee’s haphazard handling of emails containing government secrets. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump routinely criticizes Clinton over her email use when she was secretary of state.
Clinton said last year that she turned over all 55,000 pages of work-related emails from her server, but said she deleted thousands more she and her lawyers deemed as personal. Clinton also says she never sent any information by email that was marked “classified.”
More than 100 emails exchanged by Clinton were subsequently reviewed and determined to contain information considered classified. Republicans have pointed to three email chains forwarded to Clinton that contained paragraphs marked “(C),” signifying they contained classified information, as evidence she lied.
Democrats, meanwhile, expressed concern that the Republicans would leak snippets of the classified materials carefully selected to make the presidential candidate look bad without providing a fair account of what happened.
Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said Tuesday the campaign would like the FBI notes to be publicly released in full.
“This is an extraordinarily rare step that was sought solely by Republicans for the purposes of further second-guessing the career professionals at the FBI,” Fallon said. “We believe that if these materials are going to be shared outside the Justice Department, they should be released widely so that the public can see them for themselves, rather than allow Republicans to mischaracterize them through selective, partisan leaks.”
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House oversight committee, said Clinton did not originate the three email chains in question, which were forwarded to her private account by aides. He said only one of those emails was later determined by the State Department to contain classified information.
“The FBI already determined unanimously that there is insufficient evidence of criminal wrongdoing,” said Cummings, D-Md. “Republicans are now investigating the investigator in a desperate attempt to resuscitate this issue, keep it in the headlines and distract from Donald Trump’s sagging poll numbers.”
State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Tuesday that the FBI allowed the department to review emails the agency is providing Congress.
“I think we’re satisfied after having reviewed these emails that the FBI has made arrangements that the documents will be transmitted subject to appropriate handling controls,” he said, adding that the department respects the FBI’s desire to accommodate the requests of its congressional oversight committees.
Toner said, however, that the department is still discussing with the FBI the release of additional notes from the interviews investigators did with Clinton and her aides.
“My understanding is that we continue to work with FBI on those interview summaries,” Toner said. “We haven’t quite reached an agreement on those. My understanding is that we have not received them.”
Associated Press reporter Deb Riechmann in Washington and Ken Thomas in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
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