WASHINGTON — Congress has 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, according to lawmakers.
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 carless,” FBI Director James Comey said his agents found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the Democratic presidential nominee.
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 either the delivery of the FBI documents or the GOP request for another investigation of Clinton.
Though the Republicans failed to find evidence to support their claims that Clinton was negligent in preventing or stopping the deadly 2012 terrorist 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 attacks Clinton over her email use.
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 as classified.
More than 100 emails exchanged by Clinton were subsequently reviewed and determined to contain information considered classified. As evidence Clinton lied, Republicans have pointed to three email chains forwarded to Clinton that contained paragraphs marked “(C),” signifying they contained classified information.
Democrats, meanwhile, expressed concern Tuesday that House 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.
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.”
The announcement comes as the conservative group Judicial Watch announced they would receive copies of thousands of previously undisclosed work-related emails sent or received by Clinton. The emails, recovered as part of the FBI’s probe, were recently returned to the State Department.
Judicial Watch is among several groups, including The Associated Press, that have sued the State Department over access to government records from Clinton’s tenure as the nation’s top diplomat between 2009 and 2013.
The department has said it plans to release publicly the new Clinton emails, though a federal judge could order that Judicial Watch get them on an accelerated schedule. A court hearing on the issue is scheduled for next week.