Deal with Hillary Clinton aides agreed to ‘dispose’ of computers after limited search
A lawyer for Hillary Clinton who helped delete the former secretary of state’s infamous 33,000 missing emails admitted last month she was given immunity from prosecution by the Obama Justice Department.
Now a copy of Heather Samuelson’s immunity agreement obtained in a lawsuit reveals the DOJ agreed to “evade” the statutory requirements of the Freedom of Information Act “by purporting to deem the contents … as not under DOJ or FBI ‘custody or control.’”
The American Center for Law & Justice said Samuelson, who served as White House liaison at the State Department during Clinton’s tenure, admitted in June that contrary to what she told the FBI, she knew Clinton was using a private, unauthorized email account that jeopardized national security.
The testimony came in court-ordered discovery granted to Judicial Watch by Judge Royce Lamberth.
Now, ACLJ has revealed the details of the immunity agreement for Samuelson as well as Cheryl Mills, Clinton chief of staff.
“These agreements reveal that James Comey’s Federal Bureau of Investigation and Loretta Lynch’s Department of Justice granted immunity to Hillary Clinton’s aids and lawyers, Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, from prosecution for anything found on their laptops violating multiple felony criminal statutes governing the mishandling of classified information and/or the removal or destruction of records, including Espionage Act provisions,” ACLJ said.
“Further, the DOJ and FBI also agreed to evade the statutory requirements of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by purporting to deem the contents of the laptops as not under DOJ or FBI ‘custody or control,’” the report said.
“These laptops were critical to any meaningful investigation of Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified emails and records. According to the DOJ inspector general, who identified these as the ‘culling laptops,’ ‘[a]ll 62,320 emails pulled from the Clinton servers were stored at one time on these laptops.’”
ACLJ said that having taken control of the laptops, “agreeing to severely limit its searches, agreeing to unlawfully shield the laptops from FOIA, then agreeing to dispose of the laptops, it appears the Comey FBI and Lynch DOJ did everything in their power to protect Clinton’s senior aids and lawyers from both criminal liability <and public scrutiny.”
The agreements documented that in return for temporary, brief and limited access to the computers, “no information directly obtained” will be used against the Clinton staffers.
ACLJ explained that one of its lawsuits seeking information about Obama-administration scandals, it went to court to “to force production of various records surrounding former FBI Director James Comey’s sham investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of private email servers and mishandling of classified information.”
The organization said the documents show “the DOJ attempting to enter an agreement not to comply with the requirements of FOIA, and which confirm it agreed to ‘dispose’ of evidence, including Mills’ and Samuelson’s ‘culling laptops’ which contained all of the missing emails from Hilary Clinton’s private homebrew server,” the report said.
The documents were directly responsive to FOIA demands the ACLJ had submitted.
The government under Obama’s DOJ agreed “not to use any information directly obtained from the Mills laptop in any prosecution of Cheryl Mills for the mishandling of classified information and/or removal or destruction of records.”
ACLJ pointed out their immunity included from possible violations of the Espionage Act, which “makes it a felony for a person with unauthorized access or possession to convey the information to an unauthorized person, or for a person with authorized possession to negligently allow it to be removed from its proper place, delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, lost, stolen, or destroyed; or failing to promptly report such an act.”
Also implicated were laws regarding the removal of classified information. And the exemptions from prosecution included statutes involving records and reports.
“Importantly, in item #1 of both the Mills and Samuelson immunity agreements obtained by the ACLJ earlier this year, the DOJ NSD referenced and incorporated the terms of a ‘separate letter’ of the same date (June 10, 2016) containing the ‘terms of consent’ to which the FBI/DOJ agreed to comply,” ACLJ said.
They show “the DOJ in exchange for them voluntarily handing over their culling laptops – the laptops they used to delete Hillary’s emails and on which the Clinton Team used BleachBit” “attempted to circumvent its statutory obligation to comply with the FOIA.”
The deal said Mills, or Samuelson, retained ownership and control over the laptops, and the FBI would not “assert custody and control … for any other purpose, including any requests made pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act.”
“In other words, the DOJ/FBI purported or attempted to agree itself out of the requirements of FOIA, so that nothing on Mills’ or Samuelson’s culling laptops would be subject to FOIA,” the report said.
That’s particularly noteworthy, the report said, given that former FBI lawyer Lisa Page told the DOJ Office of Inspector General: ‘T]hese are the State Department’s records.’”
Then the FBI and DOJ also agreed to “dispose” of the computers.
ACLJ explained: “In other words, after agreeing to limit its search of Mills’ laptop to (1) only a certain method of searching; (2) only for certain email-related files; and, (3) only files created within a certain time-frame, the DOJ/FBI agreed to dispose of the laptop – meaning anything else embarrassing, negative or potentially implicating on the laptop – including official State Department records – would be destroyed and never be exposed.”