House Republican Subpoenas FBI for Full Clinton Probe Filesby
‘I get to see it all,’ Chaffetz tells FBI official at hearing
FBI witness cites ‘chilling effect’ on witness cooperation
The Republican chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee subpoenaed the FBI Monday for unredacted files from its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail system.
“I get to see it all,” Representative Jason Chaffetz of Utah said before issuing the subpoena to Jason Herring, the FBI’s acting assistant director for congressional affairs, during a committee hearing on Monday. “There is no legal reason why you should withhold any of this information from the United States Congress.”
Herring defended the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s decision to black out and withhold some material from lawmakers, citing personal information about people who were interviewed and aren’t public figures. Doing otherwise, he said, would risk "a chilling effect" that might discourage witnesses from cooperating with investigations.
"We’re not trying to play hide the ball with Congress," Herring said. "We don’t typically make our case files available."
The hearing sparked more of the tense exchanges that have become commonplace between Republicans who say they’re determined to get to the bottom of a scandal involving the former secretary of state and Democrats who say it’s an effort to inflict maximum political damage on their party’s presidential nominee.
FBI Director James Comey said in July that the agency found Clinton and her aides were “extremely careless” in handling sensitive government communications but that there wasn’t enough evidence to justify prosecution.
Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the committee’s top Democrat, said Chaffetz was trying to "beat up" the seven legislative liaisons from the FBI, CIA, State Department and other agencies he had summoned to the session.
"No matter what Director Comey does, it will never be enough for Republicans,” Cummings said. “They are demanding that he bring criminal charges against Secretary Clinton despite the fact that the evidence is simply not there, and that is something nobody with any integrity would ever do."
Herring testified Monday that the FBI’s Clinton investigation produced “dozens” of so-called 302s, which are notes from interviews with witnesses. The FBI prioritized which ones to provide to Congress, he said.
Herring said Comey went beyond traditional protocol by making information about the Clinton investigation public as well as giving Congress additional classified material.
After the exchanges in open session, the committee voted to go behind closed doors to further question the agency officials. Over Democratic protests, Chaffetz has scheduled another hearing for Tuesday to question computer technicians who worked on Clinton’s e-mail system.