Fired FBI agent Peter Strzok told Congress last year that the agency “did not have access” to Clinton Foundation emails that were on Hillary Clinton’s private server because of a consent agreement “negotiated between the Department of Justice attorneys and counsel for Clinton.“
That agreement was revealed in newly released congressional transcripts from Strzok’s closed-door testimony at the House Judiciary Committee on June 27, 2018.
When asked by then-majority general counsel Zachary Somers if “the Clinton Foundation was on the server”, Strzok testified that he believed it was “on one of the servers, if not the others.” But Strzok stressed that due to an agreement between the DOJ and Clinton, they were not allowed to search Clinton Foundation emails for information that could help in their investigation.
The FBI would have been investigating Clinton’s emails in 2016, when former President Barack Obama was still in office and when Clinton was running for president against then-candidate Donald Trump.
Somers asked in the 2018 hearing: “Were you given access to those emails as part of the investigation?”
Strzok replied: “We were not. We did not have access,” according to the transcript.
The FBI’s investigation into Clinton, called the “Midyear Exam,” focused on whether she had mishandled classified information in emails that were sent and received through her private server.
Strzok testified that “according to the [DOJ] attorneys, we lacked probable cause to get a search warrant for those servers and projected that either it would take a very long time and/or it would be impossible to get to the point where we could obtain probable cause to get a warrant.”
Strzok testified that the FBI did not have immediate access to Clinton’s servers, but rather “obtained possession of the servers over time.”
Although the FBI would eventually gain possession of Clinton’s server, it was only according to terms negotiated with Clinton’s lawyers. Strzok said that the FBI “had it voluntarily in the context — in the case of the servers, voluntarily in the context of consent that was worked out between DOJ attorneys and counsel for Secretary Clinton.”
Strzok testified that the FBI’s ability to search these emails was constrained. He said that there was “a significant filter team that was put in place to work through the various terms of the various consent agreements.”
He listed just some of the restrictions placed on the FBI’s search of Clinton’s emails: “Those could be — and this is not an exclusive list — limits of domains, or date ranges, of people. But that’s not an exclusive list.”
Despite those constraints, Strzok said the FBI was being “aggressive” in its investigation.
“The FBI team was certainly, I think, comparatively aggressive, which is my experience,” he said. “Agents tend to be much more aggressive in trying to get information. Prosecutors look at it from a different set of perspectives.”
Strzok said that the FBI’s investigators didn’t want to be restrained at all. “You know, we wanted — as an investigator, I want as much information as I can get,” he said. “I don’t want limitations. I don’t want you to tell me a date range is off limits, a domain is off limits, anything is.”
FBI Director James Comey would clear Clinton in a speech on July 5, 2016. He would list Clinton’s numerous missteps, including the fact that 110 emails in 52 email chains contained classified information at the time they were sent or received by Clinton, but he would not recommend charging her with any crimes.
The release of Strzok’s testimony today followed the release of FBI lawyer Lisa Page’s testimony earlier this week.
Among the numerous revelations in Page’s testimony was the fact that officials at the FBI — including then-Director James Comey — were discussing possible Espionage Act charges against Hillary Clinton, citing “gross negligence,” but the Justice Department shut them down.