Grassley Wants “Clarity” From FBI on Hillary Clinton’s Recovered Emails

The Senate Judiciary chairman said new revelations bolster the case for an “independent authority” to search records.

Sen. Chuck Grassley
Bloomberg AFP/Getty
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
Sept. 23, 2015, 8 p.m.

Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee Chair­man Chuck Grass­ley said re­ports that the FBI has re­covered emails de­leted from Hil­lary Clin­ton’s per­son­al serv­er re­in­force the need for a third-party search for mes­sages.

“The FBI should … provide clar­ity on how it will handle the emails now that they have been re­covered from the serv­er. Al­low­ing an in­de­pend­ent au­thor­ity to search for re­cords that were re­ques­ted by Con­gress, the In­spect­or Gen­er­al, the press, and the pub­lic years ago, and then provid­ing the re­cords to the ap­pro­pri­ate re­questers, would be a wel­come move in trans­par­ency,” Grass­ley said in a state­ment Wed­nes­day.

Grass­ley’s com­ments fol­low a widely cir­cu­lated Bloomberg re­port that the FBI, which is prob­ing the se­cur­ity of the un­usu­al email setup, has “re­covered per­son­al and work-re­lated e-mails from the private com­puter serv­er used by Hil­lary Clin­ton dur­ing her time as sec­ret­ary of state.” The New York Times, cit­ing un­named gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, also re­por­ted on the re­cov­ery of de­leted mes­sages.

Grass­ley is frus­trated with a let­ter he re­ceived from the Justice De­part­ment Tues­day that de­clines to con­firm its in­vest­ig­a­tion of Clin­ton’s email serv­er, which was promp­ted by con­cerns about the pres­ence of clas­si­fied in­form­a­tion. Justice sim­il­arly would not re­spond to sev­er­al ques­tions from Grass­ley and Sen­ate Home­land Se­cur­ity Com­mit­tee Chair­man Ron John­son about Bry­an Pagliano, the former Clin­ton aide who helped set up her serv­er. Grass­ley and John­son have been ex­plor­ing the pos­sib­il­ity of provid­ing im­munity for Pagliano in or­der to seek in­form­a­tion from him.

“The Justice De­part­ment is giv­ing us less in­form­a­tion than nor­mal when they should be giv­ing us more, so that we can make an in­formed de­cision about wheth­er to seek an im­munity or­der. You know it is get­ting a little ab­surd when someone at the Justice De­part­ment is ap­par­ently leak­ing de­tails to the press about an in­vest­ig­a­tion that the de­part­ment of­fi­cially re­fuses to ad­mit to Con­gress that it is con­duct­ing,” Grass­ley said.

It is at least the second time this week that Grass­ley has signaled frus­tra­tion with the Justice De­part­ment’s re­fus­al to share in­form­a­tion about its probe. He told Politico that the FBI is “be­hav­ing like it’s above the law” after it re­buffed a judge’s re­quest for in­form­a­tion.

Clin­ton has said she de­leted roughly 30,000 emails that her team de­cided were per­son­al in nature. She turned over roughly the same num­ber of work-re­lated emails late last year to the State De­part­ment, which it has been pub­licly re­leas­ing—some with heavy re­dac­tions—in monthly batches un­der a court or­der.

Clin­ton’s cam­paign did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment for this story.

Grass­ley, who has stepped up his probe of Clin­ton’s email ar­range­ment, also said he plans to deep­en his in­quiry fol­low­ing the re­ports of the re­cov­ery of de­leted mes­sages.

“In light of the de­tails re­por­ted in the me­dia, the com­mit­tee will be seek­ing more in­form­a­tion about the State De­part­ment’s at­tempts to re­gain pos­ses­sion of the email re­cords that should have re­mained at the State De­part­ment in the first place,” he said.

Grass­ley is not the only Re­pub­lic­an to call for some kind of third-party re­view of Clin­ton’s mes­sages. Rep. Trey Gowdy, chair­man of House Se­lect Com­mit­tee on Benghazi, has sim­il­arly called for such a step in the past.

However, Gowdy said through an aide that he’s not seek­ing in­form­a­tion from the FBI. “Chair­man Gowdy has not asked the FBI about its in­vest­ig­a­tion in­to Sec­ret­ary Clin­ton’s un­usu­al and un­pre­ced­en­ted email ar­range­ment nor has the Bur­eau offered a brief­ing to the com­mit­tee,” spokes­man Jamal Ware said in re­sponse to a ques­tion about the pub­lished re­ports on the FBI’s re­cov­ery of emails.

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