FBI agrees to destroy laptops of Clinton aides
New York, Oct 5 (IANS) The FBI reportedly agreed to destroy the laptops of Hillary Clinton’s aides Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson as part of immunity deals offered during the investigation into Clintons use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.
The deal also includes a promise that investigators would not search the devices for documents created after January 31, 2015, when news of the server became public.
Republicans suggest this means any communications that could have proven Mills or Samuelson were involved in obstructing justice after the scandal broke could not be investigated, Fox News reports.
The destruction of the laptops also means their content cannot be used in future investigations or lawsuits.
Bob Goodlatte, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote to Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday to question the deal.
“Doesn’t the willingness of Ms. Mills and Ms. Samuelson to have their laptops destroyed by the FBI contradict their claim that the laptops could have been withheld because they contained non-relevant, privileged information?” Goodlatte asked. “If so, doesn’t that undermine the claim that the side agreements were necessary?”
Five people are known to have been granted immunity deals in the investigation. Bryan Pagliano, a former State Department computer specialist, John Bentel, former director of the State Department office of information resources, and Paul Combetta of Platte River Networks, the firm hired by Clinton, were also offered immunity during the investigation.
FBI director James Comey was brought before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about the decision to grant immunity to five people in its investigation last week.
Comey said the decision was made by the Department of Justice. “The FBI doesn’t grant immunity to anybody, the Department of Justice is able to grant very different kinds of immunity,” Comey said. “If new and substantial evidence develops a witness lied [under immunity], of course the Department of Justice can pursue it. Nobody gets lifetime immunity.”
The FBI chief defended the investigation and insisted it was in no way politically biased. “You can call us wrong, but don’t call us weasels. We are not weasels,” he said.