Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, Ranking Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Crime and Terrorism Subcommittee Chairman Lindsey Graham and Ranking Democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse sought information about alleged political interference by President Barack Obama’s handpicked Attorney General Loretta Lynch in the midst of the FBI’s investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private — and unauthorized — email server. The Senate’s inquiry comes as the result of the Judiciary Committee examining the circumstances surrounding the removal of James Comey as FBI Director by President Donald Trump.
In April, journalists reported that the FBI had obtained a large number of hacked documents, one of them was alleged to have been written by a Democratic Party minion who said he was confident that Attorney General Lynch would keep the Clinton investigation from going too far and causing damage to her presidential campaign.
Chairman Grassley then requested a copy of the document from the Justice Department, which has failed to respond. One month later, The Washington Postreported on a similar story that contained further allegations about individuals involved in the withheld communications. The Post went a step further by reporting that the email in question was sent by then-chair of the Democratic National Committee Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Florida, to Leonard Benardo of the Open Society Foundations. The WaPo report indicated that Lynch had privately assured Clinton campaign staffer Amanda Renteria that the FBI’s investigation wouldn’t “go too far.”
Comey was reportedly concerned that the communication would raise doubts about the investigation’s independence and began discussing plans to announce the end of the Clinton email investigation rather than simply referring it to the Department for a prosecutorial decision. Comey’s extraordinary action to announce the end of the investigation was a break from Justice Department protocol, and was later cited as justification for his removal from the FBI by the President.
In the Senate letters to Benardo, Open Society Foundations’ General Counsel Gail Scovell, Hillary Clinton’s staffer Renteria, and former Attorney General Lynch, the Senators stated they seek details about the reported communication, copies of any related documents and whether the FBI contacted them to investigate the alleged communication. Open Society Foundation is the central organization formulti-billionaire George Soros.
In their letter to the Soros group’s Leonard Benardo they asked three questions:
Did anyone from the FBI ever contact you to ask about emails, memos, reports, or phone calls such as those described in these media reports, or about any communications you may have had with Rep. Wasserman Schultz related to then-Attorney General Lynch’s role in the Justice Department’s Clinton email investigation? If so, when were you contacted and what did you discuss? Please provide all related records.
Do you have the document or email in question? Did you provide it to the FBI? If so, when? In addition, if you maintain the document in your possession, please provide it to the Committee.
Have you ever had communications with Rep. Wasserman Schultz, her staff, or her associates, about then-Attorney General Lunch’s role in the Clinton email investigation? If so, please describe the communications and provide all records of them.
The reports come amidst numerous allegations of political inference in controversial and high-profile investigations spanning the current and previous administrations. The Senate Judiciary Committee has jurisdiction over the FBI and Justice Department and is obliged to oversee any potential misconduct or inappropriate political influence at these agencies.
On April 22, 2017, The New York Times reported that during the investigation of Russian hacking against political organizations in the United States, the FBI “received a batch of hacked documents” from U.S. intelligence agencies that had access to stolen materials stored on Russian networks. One of the documents provided to the FBI reportedly appeared to have implications on the then-ongoing Clinton email investigation. Specifically, the FBI is reported to have obtained an email or memo “written by a Democratic operative who expressed confidence that Ms. Lynch would keep the Clinton investigation from going too far. “According to anonymous government officials cited in the report, the discovery of the document ‘complicated’ how FBI and the Justice Department would interact in the investigation because: ‘[i]f Ms. Lynch announced that the case was closed, and Russia leaked the document, Mr. Corney believed it would raise doubts about the independence of the investigation. Similar concerns were raised by Director Corney during this Committee’s May 3, 2017 oversight hearing.'”
Jim Kouri, CPP, is founder and CEO of Kouri Associates, a homeland security, public safety and political consulting firm. He's formerly Fifth Vice-President, now a Board Member of the National Association of Chiefs of Police, a columnist, and a contributor to the nationally syndicated talk-radio program, the Chuck Wilder Show..
He's former chief of police at a New York City housing project in Washington Heights nicknamed "Crack City" by reporters covering the drug war in the 1980s. In addition, he served as director of public safety at St. Peter's University and director of security for several major organizations. He's also served on the National Drug Task Force and trained police and security officers throughout the country.