Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley is blasting the FBI for rebuffing a judge’s request for information on the law enforcement agency’s investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s private email system.
Grassley, whose panel oversees the FBI, reacted sharply to a letter the FBI sent Monday turning aside U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan’s request for information on whether investigators have been able to retrieve records from a backup thumb drive of Clinton emails or from a server turned over by a tech company Clinton hired.
“The FBI is behaving like it’s above the law,” Grassley said in a statement provided to POLITICO on Monday evening. “Simply refusing to cooperate with a court-ordered request is not an appropriate course of action. This entire case, from Secretary Clinton’s ill-advised decision to use a non-government email server, to the FBI’s investigation about classified information, needs some transparency in order to assure the American people that getting to the bottom of this controversy is a priority.”
Grassley, who has been investigating aspects of the email controversy and State’s personnel practices, did not elaborate on what steps his committee might take. It’s also unclear whether the judge involved or other judges handling similar cases might take more emphatic action, like directly ordering the FBI to cooperate.
About a month ago, Sullivan asked the State Department to reach out to the FBI for assistance in addressing a Freedom of Information Act request by the conservative group Judicial Watch regarding Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s employment arrangements. The judge also asked State to report on arrangements for the FBI to share information about the ongoing investigation.
In a terse letter Monday, FBI General Counsel James Baker appeared to reject the request .
“At this time, consistent with long-standing Department of Justice and FBI policy, we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of any ongoing investigation, nor are we in a position to provide additional information at this time,” Baker wrote to senior State Department attorney Mary McLeod.
DOJ confirmed in July that it received a referral from the Intelligence Community inspector general regarding possible compromise of classified information in Clinton’s email account. The agency initially said the referral was criminal, but later said it was not and that it was sent under a counterintelligence law regarding possible breaches involving national security secrets.
SOURCE: JOSH GERSTEIN