The United States Department of Justice released 119 pages of records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, revealing that, after former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statement denying the transmission of classified information over her unsecure email system, former FBI official Peter Strzok sent an email to FBI officials citing “three [Clinton email] chains” containing (C) [classified] portion marks in front of paragraphs.”
The records containing emails from Strzok and former FBI attorney Lisa Page also reveal senior FBI officials’ concerns over articles written about the “tarmac meeting” between former President Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Strzok specifically cited a CBS News report terming the meeting “shocking, absolutely shocking,” and adding that, “the appearance of impropriety is just stunning.”
The document production came in response to Judicial Watch’s January 24, 2018, lawsuit filed after the Department of Justice failed to respond to a December 4, 2017, FOIA request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:18-cv-00154)).
Judicial Watch continues to seek:
- All records of communications, including but not limited to, emails, text messages and instant chats, between FBI official Peter Strzok and FBI attorney Lisa Page;
- All travel requests, travel authorizations, travel vouchers and expense reports of Peter Strzok;
- All travel requests, travel authorizations, travel vouchers and expense reports of Lisa Page.
In a July 4, 2016, email exchange with Priestap, Moffa, and unidentified Office of the General Counsel officials, a Daily Beast article titled “Is Hillary Clinton Telling the Truth About Emails?” is discussed in which Clinton is quoted saying that she never sent or received emails with material marked classified.
Strzok: There are three chains totaling 8 or 9 emails which have (C) [classified] portion marks in front of paragraphs. Some have both (C) and (SBU) [sensitive but unclassified] in front of different paragraphs in the same email. During a brief a few weeks ago Jon provided a copy of the emails in question.
All were released in the 30,000 FOIA production. One of the chains contains multiple B1 [national defense or foreign policy] redactions, indicating it is currently classified Confidential; the other two chains were released in full. We do not yet have determinations from State about their classification at the time of writing.
On June 29, 2016, Strzok forwards Page a story about the meeting between Bill Clinton and then-Attorney General Lynch on the Phoenix airport tarmac just days before Clinton’s criminal investigation interview. Strzok highlights an excerpt in which CBS News’ Justice Reporter Paul Reid called the meeting, “shocking, absolutely shocking” also that, “the appearance of impropriety is just stunning.” The excerpt ends with Reid saying: “[Lynch] stood up to El Chapo, she has taken on FIFA – she is not incapable to telling someone, ‘Look, you can’t come on my plane’ or ‘Look, I don’t want to talk to you.’”
The documents also show that on May 23, 2016, Strzok; FBI Office of Congressional Affairs’ Elizabeth Beers; Principal Deputy General Counsel for the FBI Trisha Anderson; FBI Deputy Assistant Director in the Counterintelligence Division Jonathan Moffa; and another redacted senior FBI official have an email exchange about how to respond to a letter sent from Senator Chuck Grassley to then-FBI Director James Comey asking a series of pointed questions focusing on why FBI personnel working on Clinton’s email server case (Midyear Exam/MYE) were required to sign a special non-disclosure agreement (NDA) above and beyond the normal rules in place that govern disclosure of sensitive information by FBI personnel.
Grassley asked for copies of the special NDA and if any agents refused to sign.
Beers notes that some of her communications about the matter were on the “redside” (the Top Secret FBI computer system). Beers also noted that she ran their proposed response to Grassley by the DOJ, which provided “edits.”
On June 3, 2016, Strzok organized an “MYE Scrub” meeting with Page, Moffa and an unidentified official from the FBI General Counsel’s Office.
On June 3, 2016, following the “MYE Scrub” meeting, Strzok emailed then Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe, Asst. Dir. for Counterintelligence Bill Priestap and other redacted officials, advising them that “PSEU [Policy and Statutory Enforcement Unit] approved memo about 45 minutes ago. They (Toscas, CES [George Toscas, Dep. Asst. Atty. Gen. for National Security Div., Counterespionage Section], and EDVA [US Attorney for Eastern District of Virginia] are having a conference call tonight …”
The PSEU, among other tasks, advises “senior department leadership about “investigative tools and prosecutorial actions” to obtain information “from or about members of the news media.”
The PSEU can “close otherwise public judicial proceedings to the public in federal criminal cases; seek court-ordered use immunity for federal witnesses; subpoena attorneys in federal criminal as well as civil proceedings for information relating to their representation of clients; [provide]authorization to apply for search warrants for the premises or electronic storage devices of attorneys who are the subjects or targets of federal investigations; and obtain authorization to conduct a dual or successive federal prosecution of an individual under the Department’s Petite policy. The PSEU also provides advice when Department of Justice employees have been subpoenaed to provide testimony or to produce evidence in state or federal judicial proceedings.
On June 6, 2016, Strzok organized a “MYE comment walk thru” meeting for himself, then-FBI Director Comey’s Chief of Staff James Rybicki, Page, Moffa, and an unidentified General Counsel’s office official.
On June 7, 2016, Strzok emails his boss, Priestap, saying that that the FBI’s Counterespionage Section “engaged in multiple conversations with Beth Wilkinson [an attorney for several top Clinton aides during the server investigation] concerning the scope and wording of the consent to search the Samuelson and Mills laptops.”
In a June 9, 2016, email exchange, FBI Public Affairs Official Richard Quinn sends a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article titled “Clinton Emails in Probe Dealt with Planned Drone Strikes” to Strzok and FBI Asst. Dir. for Public Affairs Michael Kortan. The article cites unidentified “law enforcement sources” by saying, “Several law enforcement officials said they don’t expect any criminal charges to be filed as a result of the investigation [of Clinton’s transmission of classified information on an unsecure server], although a final review of the evidence will be made only after an expected FBI interview with Mrs. Clinton this summer.”
Kortan writes to Strzok: “Whatta you think?”
Strzok replies: “Not bad at all. I think we’ll be OK. Thanks for all your work on this.”
Also on June 9, 2016, Strzok emailed redacted FBI officials, cc’ing Moffa about a phrase in the WSJ article that concerned him, asking whom they had interviewed that said something similar: “Some [State Department] officials chafed at pressure to send internal deliberations through intelligence channels, since they were discussing whether to push back against the CIA, congressional officials said.”
Moffa replied that he remembered an interviewee saying something like that at a 9AM briefing. Strzok then emails Page privately about it, asking her to “Call me.”
In a June 10, 2016 email exchange between top FBI and DOJ officials that included Strzok, Page, Moffa, McCabe, Priestap, General Counsel James Baker, and Toscas, they discuss scheduling the FBI’s interview of Clinton in the MYE investigation, keepinig in mind “the Boss’s strong desire to get this wrapped up in June.”
The exchange has the subject line ‘Kendall DOJ contact’.
Strzok: Bill, I’m driving and can provide more detail on the phone, but DOJ is telling Toscas. Without DOJ asking, Kendall [Clinton’s lawyer] tjrew pit a date pf 2 July in NY for the Interview. [Redacted] said that he could not commit to a date and we need to look at the laptops first. Kendall said he would keep the date blocked anyway because it is getting very hard to get on her calendar, even for him.
Baker: I guesss I’m OK with it so long as we clearly state in writing that the date is tentative snd subject to our finishing our review of the laptops [of Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson]
McCabe: Keep in mind the Boss’s [presuambly James Comey] strong desire to get this wrapped up in June.
McCabe: So if July 2 is the first thing she has free now, we should grab it.
The exchange concludes with Strzok telling Page, “Also Phase I [redacted] of Samuelson is done. CES (Counterespionage Section) notifying Wilkinson [per terms of consent – that we are moving to Phase 2 [redacted]. Mills laptop still processing, was about twice as large. OTD [Technical Division] thinks that will be done tonight as well.”
He highlights in bold a section about the DOJ’s concerns relating to the “No Contact Rule” in many state laws that says a lawyer representing a client cannot discuss his representation of that client with another person involved in the same matter, without approval of the lawyer representing the other person in the same matter.
In a June 21, 2016 email, Strzok informs Priestap that there was a different email domain other than clintonemail.com located on Clinton’s private server (in addition to clintonemail.com):
And slight correction to below [redacted] account was not on clintonemail.com, but a different domain on the same server. We saw the login from the server logs.
McCabe: Jim will email us once the D [Director Comey] has made contact with [redacted]. That will be the green light. If you are not able to make contact, you can send him a brief, non-detailed email. Please confirm.
Strzok replies: OK, will do.
Strzok replies: Laufman notified [DOJ’s Chief of Counterintelligence and Export Control Section].
McCabe writes: Toscas emailed.
In a July 5, 2016, email marked “Importance: High,” with the subject line “Read this,” Strzok sends Page a New York Times article titled, “James Comey’s Rebuke of Hillary Clinton Fits a 3-Decade Pattern.” The article discusses Comey’s press conference and claims it demonstrated his “willingness to ‘take the hit’ on a controversial decision.”
“These emails show that neither the corrupt ‘tarmac’ meeting nor Hillary Clinton’s falsehoods about her emails nor anything else would get in the way of the Obama FBI under Comey letting Clinton skate,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The FBI continues to slow roll the release of Strzok-Page materials and we may not see them all until at least 2021. What other documents is the FBI sitting on?”
Strzok and Page were key investigators in the Clinton email and Russia collusion investigations. Strzok was removed from the Mueller investigative team in July 2017 and reassigned to a human resources position after it was discovered that he and Page, who worked for FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, and with whom Strzok was carrying on an extramarital affair, exchanged pro-Clinton and anti-Trump text messages.