Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Q #2872...# 2 OIG Review of FBI & DOJ in Advance of 2016 Vote...Overview Midyear Investigation...Public Acknowledgement of M.Y Investigation

The next 2 Chapters of the OIG Review of the Midyear investigation by the FBI,and DOJ. Talk about throwing each under the bus lives here.One thing an astute reader will be to see in these two chapters is how the Deep State operates in situations like this.I attempted to keep my comments short and on point below.As I read these two chapters an old song called 'Smiling Faces' kept running through my head

In this chapter, we provide an overview of the Midyear investigation. More specifically, we describe the referral and opening of the investigation, the staffing of the investigation by the Department and the FBI, and the investigative strategy. 

Referral and Opening 
of the Investigation 
1. Clinton’s Use of 
Private Email Servers 
Hillary Clinton served as Secretary of State from January 21, 2009, until February 1, 2013. During that time, she used private email servers hosting the @clintonemail.com domain to conduct official State Department business.44 According to FBI documents, former Secretary Clinton and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, had a private email server in their house in Chappaqua, N.Y., beginning in approximately 2008 (before Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State) for use by former President Clinton’s staff. Former Secretary Clinton told the FBI that, in or around January 2009, she “directed aides...to create the clintonemail.com account,” and that this was done “as a matter of convenience.” 

According to the FBI letterhead memorandum (LHM) summarizing the Midyear investigation, Clinton used her clintonemail.com account and personal mobile devices linked to that account for both personal and official business throughout her tenure as Secretary of State. The LHM states that Clinton “decided to use a personal device to avoid carrying multiple devices.” Clinton never personally used an official State Department email account or State Department-issued handheld device during her tenure, although there were official State Department email accounts from which emails were sent on her behalf. 

2. Production of Emails from the Private Email Servers to the State Department and Subsequent Deletion of Emails by Clinton’s Staff 
Image result for images of Cheryl Mills
On September 11 and 12, 2012, terrorists attacked the U.S. Temporary Mission Facility and a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Annex in Benghazi, Libya, killing four Americans.45 On May 8, 2014, the U.S. House Select Committee on Benghazi (House Benghazi Committee) was established to investigate the Benghazi attack and, thereafter, sought documents from the State Department as part of its investigation. In the summer of 2014, State Department officials contacted Cheryl Mills, who had served as former Secretary Clinton’s Chief of Staff and Counselor, concerning the State Department’s inability to locate Clinton’s and other former Secretaries’ emails to respond to Congressional requests. Mills later told the FBI that she suggested that the State Department officials search State Department systems for Clinton’s clintonemail.com email address. In addition, Mills told the FBI that State Department officials requested that she produce former Secretary Clinton’s emails and advised her that it was Clinton’s or Mills’s “obligation to filter out personal emails from what was provided to State.” 
Image result for images of Heather SamuelsonImage result for images of David Kendall,
Former Secretary Clinton asked Mills and Clinton’s personal attorney, David Kendall, to oversee the process of providing her emails to the State Department. In late summer 2014, Mills contacted Paul Combetta, an employee of the company that administered Clinton’s private server at the time, and requested that he transfer copies of Clinton’s emails onto Mills’s laptop and a laptop belonging to Heather Samuelson, a lawyer who had served in the State Department as Secretary Clinton’s White House Liaison. Mills, Samuelson, and Kendall then developed a methodology for Samuelson to “cull” former Secretary Clinton’s work-related emails from her personal emails, to produce her work-related emails to the State Department. 

In October and November 2014, the State Department sent letters to four former Secretaries of State, including Clinton, requesting that they “make available copies of any Federal records in their possession, such as emails sent or received on a personal email account while serving as Secretary of State.”46 In December 2014, former Secretary Clinton produced to the State Department “from her personal email account approximately 55,000 hard-copy pages, representing approximately 30,000 emails that she believed related to official business.”47 After receiving these documents, the State Department, in addition to responding to the House Benghazi Committee’s document request, reviewed Clinton’s emails for potential public release in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. 

As described in Chapter Five, Mills, Samuelson, and Combetta told the FBI that in late 2014 or early 2015 Mills and Samuelson asked Combetta to remove former Secretary Clinton’s emails from their laptops. Combetta then used the commercial software “BleachBit” to permanently remove or wipe former Secretary Clinton’s emails from Mills’s and Samuelson’s laptops.48 Mills told the FBI that at some point between November 2014 and January 2015, Clinton decided she no longer wished to retain on her server emails that were older than 60 days and Mills instructed Combetta to change Clinton’s email retention policy accordingly. Combetta, however, failed to do so until late* March 2015. 

On March 3, 2015,[as in early*^^^ March DC] the House Benghazi Committee sent preservation orders requiring former Secretary Clinton to preserve emails on her servers.49 As described in more detail in Chapter Five, Combetta told the FBI that later in March 2015 he realized that he had neglected to make the change to former Secretary Clinton’s email retention policy earlier that year, had an “oh shit” moment, and, without consulting Mills, used BleachBit to permanently remove Clinton’s emails from her server. These included emails that had been transferred from a prior server. According to FBI documents, former Secretary Clinton’s attorneys advised Combetta about the congressional preservation order before he made the deletions. As a result of Combetta’s actions, 31,830 emails that former Secretary Clinton’s attorneys had deemed personal in nature were deleted from three locations on which they had previously been stored—Mills’s and Samuelson’s laptops and the Clinton server.[Operation cover our Asses!DC] 

State Department Inspector 
General and IC IG Review 
of Clinton’s Emails and 
Subsequent 811 Referral 
On March 12, 2015, three Members of Congress requested that the State Department Inspector General (State IG) conduct a review regarding State Department employees’ use of personal email for official purposes. The Members of Congress requested that the State IG coordinate with the Office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General (IC IG) to determine whether classified information was transmitted or received by State Department employees over personal systems. Following this request, the IC IG reviewed 296 of the 30,490 emails that former Secretary Clinton’s attorneys had provided to the State Department and determined that at least two of these emails contained classified information. The 296 emails, including the two determined to contain classified information, had already been publicly released by State Department FOIA officials.[So if we stick with these #'s we are looking at least 200 missives containing classified material on her personal server,you have to be a mental midget,to not see the issue with this,or be seeking the destruction of this country,along with her D.C] 

In a June 24, 2015 letter, Kendall told the State IG and the IC IG that a copy of the 30,490 emails provided by former Secretary Clinton to the State Department was stored on a thumb drive in his law office and that her personal server was in the custody of the company “Platte River Networks” (“PRN”). Based on this information, the IC IG concluded that “the thumb drive and personal server contain classified information and are not currently in the Government’s possession.” [Hell even I,know THAT is not good,and I do not even work for the government!DC]

On July 6, 2015, the IC IG made a referral to the FBI pursuant to Section 811(c) of the Intelligence Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 1995 (811 referral). This provision requires Executive Branch departments and agencies to advise the FBI “immediately of any information, regardless of its origin, which indicates that classified information is being, or may have been, disclosed in an unauthorized manner to a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power,” and is typically used to refer to the FBI a loss or unauthorized disclosure of classified information. The IC IG referred the matter to the FBI “for any action you deem appropriate.” [Which SHOULD mean,it does not matter who did it,it means IT was done and ACTION should be taken by the Proper Authority's! DC]

FBI’s Decision to Open 
a Criminal Investigation 
On July 10, 2015, the FBI Counterintelligence Division opened a criminal investigation in response to the 811 referral from the IC IG. Although only a small percentage of 811 referrals result in criminal investigations, witnesses told the OIG that a criminal investigation was necessary to determine the extent of classified information on former Secretary Clinton’s private server, who was responsible for introducing the information into an unclassified system, and why it was placed there. The FBI gave the investigation the code name “Midyear Exam,” choosing it from a list of randomly generated names. 

The FBI predicated the opening of the investigation on the possible compromise of highly sensitive classified secure compartmented information (SCI). One of the Midyear case agents told us that the Midyear investigative team was focused at the outset on the “potential unauthorized storage of classified information on an unauthorized system and then where it might have gotten [sic] from there.” A Department prosecutor assigned to the investigation similarly described the scope of the investigation as “related to the email systems used by Secretary Clinton, and whether on her private email server there are individuals who improperly retained or transmitted classified information.” 

The FBI designated the Midyear investigation as a Sensitive Investigative Matter (SIM). According to the DIOG, a SIM includes “an investigative matter involving the activities of a domestic public official or domestic political candidate (involving corruption or a threat to the national security)” as well as “any other matter which, in the judgment of the official authorizing an Assessment, should be brought to the attention of FBI [Headquarters] and other DOJ officials.” FBI witnesses told us that the SIM designation is typically given to investigations involving sensitive categories of persons such as attorneys, judges, clergy, journalists, and politicians, and that that SIM investigations are overseen more closely by FBI management and the FBI Office of General Counsel than other investigations.[So folks...SIM's are no small thing in FBI circles,keep that in mind,as we follow this timeline DC] 

The Midyear investigation was opened with an “Unknown Subject(s) (UNSUB),” and at no time during the investigation was any individual identified by the FBI as a subject or target of the investigation, including former Secretary Clinton. FBI witnesses told us that the “UNSUB” designation is common and means that the FBI has not identified a specific target or subject at the outset of an investigation. According to FBI witnesses, this allowed the FBI to expand the focus of the investigation based on the evidence without being “locked into a particular subject.” With respect to the Midyear investigation, witnesses told the OIG that the FBI did not identify anyone as a subject or target during the investigation because it was unclear how the classified material had been introduced to the server and who was responsible for improperly placing it there. [This paragraph is called deny what you just said in the previous paragraph as Unknown Subject =SIM does not compute then,or now DC]

Despite the UNSUB designation, witnesses told us that a primary focus of the Midyear investigation was on former Secretary Clinton’s intent in setting up and using her private email server. An FBI OGC attorney assigned to the Midyear team (FBI Attorney 1) told the OIG, “We certainly started looking more closely at the Secretary because they were her emails.” Randall Coleman, the former Assistant Director of the Counterintelligence Division, stated, “I don’t know why that was the case, why it was UNSUB. I’m really shocked that it would have stayed that way because certainly the investigation started really kind of getting more focused.” [Oh good,we actually had people present in the moment.The Truth will come out. DC]

In his OIG interview, Comey described former Secretary Clinton as the subject of the Midyear investigation and stated that he was unaware that the investigation had an UNSUB designation. Similarly, in his book, Comey referred to former Secretary Clinton as the subject of the Midyear investigation, stating that one question the investigation sought to answer was what Clinton was thinking “when she mishandled that classified information.”50 [How does a FBI Director not know a designation of an investigation in the agency he heads? He has lied about said investigation,as the Truth is never forgotten DC]

Initial Briefing for the Department 
On July 23, 2015, Coleman and then Deputy Director Markas met with Deputy Attorney General (DAG) Sally Yates and Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General (PADAG) Matt Axelrod to brief them on the opening of the Midyear investigation. According to Coleman, he and Giuliano told Yates and Axelrod why the Midyear investigation was opened and laid out their vision of how the investigation would be conducted, including that the FBI planned to run the investigation out of headquarters. 

Yates recalled being briefed by Giuliano and Coleman at the beginning of the Midyear investigation, but said that she did not recall having concerns about the information they presented at the meeting or remembering anything significant about it. Axelrod told the OIG that Giuliano and Coleman showed them a copy of the 811 referral that the FBI had received, and either showed them or told them about some of the emails that had been identified as potentially classified. Axelrod stated: 

That, my recollection is that the way they explained it was that review of the certain emails contained on the personal server that Secretary Clinton had been using showed that some of those emails contained classified information. And so that, and that they, one of the things that was sort of standard practice when there was classified information on non-classified systems was that a review needed to be done to sort of contain the, I think the word they use in the intelligence community is a spill…. The spill of classified information out into sort of a non-classified arena. And so that they needed to, this was a referral so that the Bureau could help contain the spill and identify if there was classified information on non-classified systems so that that classified information could be contained and either, you know, destroyed or returned to proper information handling mechanisms. 

Asked whether he considered the Midyear investigation to be criminal as of the date of this initial briefing, Axelrod replied, “Not in my view.” According to Axelrod, “it was some time...before I, at least I understood that it had morphed into a criminal investigation.” 

The prosecutors and career Department staff assigned to the Midyear investigation told us that they considered it a criminal investigation from early on. Deputy Assistant Attorney General (DAAG) George Toscas, who was the most senior career Department official involved in the daily supervision of the investigation, told us that he approached it as a criminal investigation from the beginning of NSD’s involvement. Prosecutors 1 and 2, both of whom were assigned to the investigation by late July 2015, understood that it was a criminal investigation from very early in the investigation. Prosecutor 1 told us, “I mean, pretty quickly this seemed like a, a criminal investigation…. It looked, looked and it smelled like a criminal investigation to me.” 

Staffing the Midyear Investigation 
FBI Staffing 
The Midyear investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Counterintelligence Division. For the first few weeks, the investigation was staffed by FBI Headquarters personnel and temporary duty assignment (TDY) FBI agents. Thereafter, FBI management decided to run the investigation as a “special” out of FBI Headquarters. This meant that the investigation was staffed by counterintelligence agents and analysts from the FBI Washington Field Office (WFO) who were temporarily located to headquarters and received support from headquarters personnel. FBI management selected WFO personnel based on WFO geographic proximity to headquarters and its experience conducting sensitive counterintelligence investigations. FBI witnesses told us that previous sensitive investigations also had been run as “specials,” and that this allowed FBI senior executives to exercise tighter control over the investigation.[Specials= cover ups DC] 

There were approximately 15 agents, analysts, computer specialists, and forensic accountants assigned on a full-time basis to the Midyear team, as well as other FBI staff who provided periodic support. Four WFO agents served as the Midyear case agents and reported to a WFO Supervisory Special Agent (“SSA”). Several FBI witnesses described the SSA as an experienced and aggressive agent, and the SSA told us that he selected the “four strongest agents” from his WFO squad to be on the Midyear team.

The SSA reported to Peter Strzok,[compromised from the beginning DC] who was then an Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) at WFO. 51 Comey and Coleman told us that Strzok was selected to lead the Midyear investigative team because he was one of the most experienced and highly-regarded counterintelligence investigators within the FBI. 

There were also several analysts on the Midyear team. Some analysts assigned to Midyear were on the review team, which reviewed and analyzed former Secretary Clinton’s emails. These analysts reported to a Supervisory Intelligence Analyst, who in turn reported to the Lead Analyst. FBI witnesses, including Coleman, told us that the Lead Analyst was highly regarded within the FBI and very experienced in counterintelligence investigations. Other analysts were on the investigative team, which assisted the agents with interview preparation and performed other investigative tasks. These analysts reported to the SSA and Strzok, in addition to reporting directly to the Lead Analyst. Several analysts were on both the review and investigative teams. 

Until approximately the end of 2015, the Lead Analyst and Strzok both reported to a Section Chief in the Counterintelligence Division, who in turn reported to Coleman for purposes of the Midyear investigation. 52 The remainder of the reporting chain was as follows: Coleman to John Giacalone, who was Executive Assistant Director (EAD) of the National Security Branch; Giacalone to DD Giuliano; and DD Giuliano to Director Comey. 

During the course of the investigation, some FBI officials involved with the Midyear investigation retired or changed positions. In late 2015, Coleman became the EAD of the FBI Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch and was no longer involved in the Midyear investigation. At the same time, E.W. (“Bill”) Priestap replaced Coleman as AD of the Counterintelligence Division. EAD Giacalone and DD Giuliano retired from the FBI in early 2016 and were replaced by Michael Steinbach and Andrew McCabe, respectively.[It is called running out of the house fire without yelling fire DC]

In addition, Lisa Page, who was Special Counsel to McCabe, became involved in the Midyear investigation after McCabe became the Deputy Director in February 2016. Page told the OIG that part of her function was to serve as a liaison between the Midyear team and McCabe. Page acknowledged that her role upset senior FBI officials, but told the OIG that McCabe relied on her to ensure that he had the information he needed to make decisions, without it being filtered through multiple layers of management. Several witnesses told the OIG that Page circumvented the official chain of command, and that Strzok communicated important Midyear case information to her, and thus to McCabe, without Priestap’s or Steinbach’s knowledge. McCabe said that he was aware of complaints about Page, and that he valued her ability to “spot issues” and bring them to his attention when others did not do so.["Spot issues" in intel terms= his 'mole' in the investigation,who would whore herself out to get ahead DC]  

The FBI Office of General Counsel (OGC) assigned FBI Attorney 1, who was a supervisory attorney in the National Security and Cyber Law Branch (NSCLB), to provide legal support to the Midyear team. A second, more junior attorney (FBI Attorney 2) also was assigned to the Midyear team. FBI Attorney 1 reported to Deputy General Counsel Trisha Anderson, who in turn reported to then General Counsel James Baker.53 

Figure 3.1 describes the FBI chain of command for the Midyear investigation. This figure does not include intervening supervisors who had limited involvement in the investigation.
Image result for images of Figure 3.1 describes the FBI chain of command for the Midyear investigation. This figure does not include intervening supervisors who had limited involvement in the investigation.

Department Staffing 
Within the Department, the Midyear investigation was primarily handled by the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section (CES) of the National Security Division (NSD), with support from two prosecutors in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA). All of the prosecutors assigned to the Midyear team had significant experience handling national security investigations or white collar criminal cases. 
Image result for images of George Toscas.
The lead prosecutor (Prosecutor 1) was a supervisory attorney in CES. Prosecutor 1 told us that he selected the “best” nonsupervisory line attorney within CES (Prosecutor 2) to handle the Midyear investigation with him. The two CES prosecutors reported directly to the Chief of CES, David Laufman, who in turn reported to DAAG George Toscas. Toscas was the highest level career Department employee[There is your Deep State DC] involved in the Midyear investigation, and the prosecutors and supervisors below him who were involved in the Midyear investigation were also career employees.[And the ones needing to be fired DC] As described in more detail below, Department officials above Toscas, including then Assistant Attorney General (AAG) John Carlin, Axelrod, Yates, and Lynch, received briefings about the Midyear investigation but were not involved in its day-to-day management. 

In August 2015, EDVA was brought into the Midyear investigation. EDVA assigned two supervisory attorneys to work with the CES prosecutors: Prosecutor 3 and Prosecutor 4. The role of the EDVA prosecutors initially was to facilitate the issuance of legal process, including grand jury subpoenas, search warrants, and 2703(d) orders. However, the NSD prosecutors told the OIG that ultimately they consulted and worked closely with the EDVA prosecutors on many issues and decisions throughout the course of the Midyear investigation. Prosecutor 3 similarly told us that as the investigation progressed, he and Prosecutor 4 were considered “equal partners” with the NSD prosecutors. [My head is spinning,paper and red tape,straight out obstruction,why 3 and a 4th?,this is getting smelly ,somebody knows something,we better chat DC]

EDVA senior leadership, including then U.S. Attorney Dana Boente, received briefings on the Midyear investigation from the EDVA prosecutors and were informed of significant developments, but they were not involved in investigative decisions. Axelrod told the OIG that he recalled that he spoke to Boente early in the Midyear investigation and “let them know that this was NSD’s investigation.” Axelrod stated: 

Sometimes when you have a U.S. Attorney’s office and a Main Justice component, you know, things have to go up two chains and...that’s cumbersome.... In...an investigation like this we figured it was easier just to have everything centralized in NSD. There’s a reason why NSD has the ticket on, you know, all these matters, right? They’re the subject matter experts. 

Axelrod explained that NSD has primary responsibility for counterterrorism and counterintelligence cases not only because it has subject matter expertise in those areas, but also because those cases are nationwide. He stated that there are certain areas of law where it is important to ensure nationwide consistency in how the law is applied, because if “one district does something really different than another district it can have very bad...ramifications or consequences.” As noted previously, the USAM requires NSD to expressly approve in advance charges involving certain national security statutes, including those that were considered in this investigation. 

Prosecutor 2 stated that NSDs typical role varies from case to case, and depends on the resources and experience of the specific U.S. Attorney’s Office. This prosecutor told the OIG that NSD typically “drives” counterintelligence cases, but that its role “runs the gamut” from taking the lead on cases to playing a supporting role. Prosecutor 2 stated that EDVA has been more willing to allow NSD attorneys to play an active role in charged cases and is “very open to [NSD’s] partnership and support.” 

Prosecutor 3 similarly told the OIG that EDVA’s supporting role in the Midyear investigation was unusual, but he attributed this to logistics. This prosecutor stated, “[Prosecutors 1 and 2] were right across the street from FBI Headquarters.... It was pretty work intensive, more so for them because they would have to go over there at the drop of a hat for meetings. You know, we were always kept in the loop of what was going on. But [the] FBI kept a pretty tight hold of the classified documents.” Prosecutor 3 also said that running the case out of NSD, supervised by Toscas, allowed the Department to keep “one central location of control by a career person over the investigation.” [Deep State DC]

Several witnesses told us that the FBI was frustrated at the perceived slow pace of bringing a U.S. Attorney’s Office into the Midyear investigation. However, Toscas told us that it is not unusual for a U.S. Attorney’s Office not to be involved in the beginning of an investigation, and that it took some time to determine the proper venue and select the most appropriate U.S. Attorney’s Office. Prosecutor 1 told us that although the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia also was considered, EDVA was selected in part based on the good historical working relationship between NSD and EDVA. 

Boente told the OIG that he expressed concerns that EDVA was not the appropriate district given that former Secretary Clinton lived in New York. He said that they potentially could establish venue through an email server or victim agency server located in EDVA, but that it would be unusual to select venue to prosecute a high-profile public figure on that basis. Boente said that while no one explained why the Department chose EDVA, he assumed that it was because “we move quicker and do things a lot quicker than some districts can.” 

III. Role of Senior FBI and Department 
Leadership in the Investigation 
FBI Leadership 
The Midyear investigation was closely supervised by FBI leadership from the outset. Comey told the OIG that he received frequent briefings on the Midyear investigation:

And then once it got underway, either in July or maybe in August 2015, I told them I wanted to be briefed on it on a much more frequent basis then I would normally on a case because I was keen to make sure that they had the resources they need and that there was no—that I could both support them if they needed additional things and protect them in the event anybody outside of the investigative team tried to monkey with them in any way or exert any pressure on them or anything like that. Because I could see immediately how significant the matter was.... So I think they got into a rhythm of briefing me maybe every couple of weeks. 

Comey said that briefings took place roughly every two to three weeks at the beginning of the investigation, and occurred on a weekly basis as the investigation progressed. 

Comey said that the Midyear briefings typically were attended by a core team of senior officials: 

 The Deputy Director (Giuliano, then McCabe); 
 Comey’s Chief of Staff, James Rybicki; 
 FBI OGC personnel including Baker, Anderson, and FBI Attorney 1; 
 The EAD of the National Security Branch (Giacalone, then Steinbach); 
 The AD of the Counterintelligence Division (Coleman, then Priestap); 
 Deputy Director McCabe’s counsel, Lisa Page (beginning in February 2016); and 
 Strzok and the Lead Analyst. 

Other FBI officials periodically attended these briefings, including then Associate Deputy Director (ADD) David Bowdich after his appointment in April 2016, but witnesses told us that briefings were carefully controlled and limited to a select group of senior FBI managers. 

Comey said that the Midyear team typically produced a biweekly or weekly written summary of their progress in the investigation, and that briefings generally focused on what the team had completed and what needed to be done. Comey stated, “The way it tended to break down is [the Lead Analyst] would talk about exploitation of media and sorting through emails and things. And Pete Strzok would focus on investigative steps, interviews, things like that.” Comey told the OIG: 

It would typically be here in the Director’s conference room at the table and they would give me a progress report on where they were and I would typically ask the questions that were rooted in my interest in it to begin with which is— do you have the resources you need? Any problems that I can help you with? I just felt the need to stay close to it. 

As described in more detail in Chapter Six, the same officials were involved in discussions about whether to do a public statement announcing the closing of the Midyear investigation. Comey characterized these discussions as “great family conversations,” stating that he was a great believer in Opposition argument and encouraged people to bring up different points of view. 

In addition to the Midyear-specific meetings, Comey and the Deputy Director (first Giuliano, then McCabe) had daily morning and late afternoon meetings about significant developments or issues that were impacting the FBI. The Midyear investigation was sometimes discussed immediately following these meetings in “sidebar” meetings involving a smaller group of participants due to the sensitivity of the investigation.54 

As the result of these frequent briefings, Comey and McCabe knew about and were involved in significant investigative decisions. McCabe stated: 

Comey relied on me for kind of my advice and recommendation on those decisions. But he was very involved in the decisions on Midyear.... Not decisions like what time is the interview with John Jones going to take place tomorrow, but...we think we should serve a subpoena on so-and-so for these records, and the Department of Justice is saying no, we want to try to work it out with a letter. And so...as that conflict was brewing, he would learn about it and weigh in on it and not necessarily decide it. But he was up-to-speed on all of the kind of significant things that were happening in the case. 

McCabe told the OIG that although Strzok and Priestap made the day-to-day investigative decisions, he and Comey were informed about any problems that arose during the investigation, as well as any significant information that the team discovered. 

As described in more detail in Chapter Five, our review found examples where Comey or McCabe approved or directed specific investigation decisions. These included directing the Midyear agents to deliver a preamble at the first interview of Cheryl Mills about the need to answer questions about the process used to cull former Secretary Clinton’s personal and work-related emails, without informing the prosecutors; authorizing Baker to contact Beth Wilkinson, counsel to Mills and Samuelson, again without telling the prosecutors; approving the consent and immunity agreements used to obtain the Mills and Samuelson laptops; and not prohibiting Mills and Samuelson from attending the interview of former Secretary Clinton as her counsel.[Yes,integrity is our middle name...not DC]  

Department Leadership 
Unlike the FBI’s senior leadership, senior Department officials played a more limited role in the Midyear investigation. Although Lynch, Yates, Axelrod, and Carlin described making a conscious decision to allow the career staff to handle the Midyear investigation with minimal involvement by political appointees, they also told us that their involvement was consistent with their normal role in criminal investigations. 

Lynch told the OIG that she received limited briefings on the Midyear investigation. She explained that the Midyear investigation was not discussed at her morning meetings or staff meetings because it was a sensitive matter and involved potentially classified information. Lynch said that she had a monthly meeting with NSD, and that although the Midyear investigation was too sensitive to discuss during that meeting, afterward the meeting would “skinny down” to discuss sensitive cases among a smaller group of people that included Yates, Axelrod, Carlin, Toscas, and sometimes members of her staff. She said that the cases discussed among this smaller group included not only the Midyear investigation, but also other sensitive counterterrorism and classified cases. 

Lynch said that she understood that there were political sensitivities inherent in the Midyear investigation, and she wanted to protect the Midyear team from perceived pressure from Department leadership. She stated: 

Because we knew that it was going to be scrutinized, we wanted to make sure that not only was the team supported, but they also were insulated from a lot of people talking about it and just discussing it in general throughout the office.... And so, my view was that unless you need me for something, you know, I don’t want to be on top of the team for this. They, they should work as they always work. They should know that [they have] whatever they need to have, whatever resources they need to get. But the Front Office is not, you know, breathing down their neck on this. 

Asked whether there was ever a conscious decision by the political appointees to step back and allow the career employees to handle the investigation, Lynch replied: 

Certainly it was my view, and I can’t recall having discussions about that. But that was how I viewed the setup, was that we wanted to make sure that this was always handled by the career people, and that essentially even though they would need input, and certainly toward the end of anything you’d have to make certain decisions. But not to have, at least certainly from...the fifth floor level where I was, not to have that kind of input early on. Although I typically wouldn’t have had input...in the inner workings of an investigation.

Lynch said that Toscas was the most senior career Department official involved in making decisions about the Midyear investigation, and that she had faith and confidence in his ability to handle the case.[Unreal,why does her job even exist?And She is willing to stand by and watch them destroy this country,disgusting DC] 

Lynch explained that she was not involved in the day-to-day investigative decisions about how to staff the investigation, what witnesses to interview, or any of the other “things that she used to do as a line [Assistant U.S. Attorney (AUSA)].” Nor did she intervene in conflicts between the prosecutors and agents. She told the OIG that this was not unique to the Midyear investigation but rather represented her standard practice, stating: 

My view is that...whoever is, is leading the team needs to deal with that initially because they’ve got to keep working with each other. And based on my experience as an AUSA, if you can resolve it at that level first, you will have a team that is, is, is more solid and can work together more easily. If not, then I think the, the next level supervisor has got to be involved in that.... My view is that the chain of command is set up is there for that reason. 

But I wouldn’t, if someone said to me the agents want to interview this person, and the prosecutors don’t, my first question before I got involved would be to say what do the supervisors think? Because if, if I as AG, or even as U.S. Attorney immediately step in and make that decision, then what I’ve done is I may have solved a problem, but I’ve cut the knees off of every supervisor in between me and them. And, and that creates bigger problems down the road. 

Lynch said her view was that problems or conflicts should not be elevated to the Attorney General unless the parties had exhausted all other remedies. 

Yates and Axelrod 
Yates told the OIG that although Department leadership understood the significance of the Midyear investigation, they agreed that it should be handled like any other case. She said that the role of Department leadership in the Midyear investigation represented their normal approach to criminal investigations, stating: 

Look, we got the sensitivity of this matter obviously even from the beginning. And I remember we wanted to make certain that NSD had all the resources that they needed, that they were on top of it. That we stayed briefed on what was going on but from the very beginning it was important to us for this to be handled like any other case would be handled. That we wanted to make sure that the line prosecutors and lawyers who were doing this didn’t feel like they had the leadership office breathing down their neck because that’s going to put a layer of pressure on them that is not appropriate we felt like here. So it was important to us for NSD to be handling the day to day aspects of this. But at the same time we wanted to make sure that they were getting what they needed. And that we were staying apprised of significant developments in it.... 

Not only doing it the right way but making sure that we did this, that it had the appearance of doing it the right way too. And public confidence was going to be important. We knew that from the very beginning. And that we wanted to make sure that we had a process in place that was going to be the right process. And that would be for NSD to handle the day to day aspects of it. And so we had that conversation. You know, the DAG’s office is really sort of more the operational one between the two leadership offices. And so I certainly had conversations with the AG about how we set this up and we’re running it. But again, there was no real dispute with anybody about this. This seemed like the natural and right way to do things.... 

Asked whether her role in the Midyear investigation differed at all from her usual process, Yates replied: 

Every other case is not on the radar screen of...the DAG, obviously. But this was a significant matter for the Department that was one of those small handful of cases that how you do it can be defining for the Department of Justice.... And we were very aware of that from the very beginning. So when I say we were handling it like any other case what I mean is that we wanted to ensure that the factors that went into a decision about how we should proceed in that matter and how, the kind of latitude that the line people were handling had to do it in that matter, that that should be done like any other case. Nobody should get any special treatment. Nobody should be treated more harshly...because of who they were. That’s what I mean it should be like any other case. But we weren’t stupid. I mean, we recognized that the profile and import of this matter was such that we needed to make sure that things were done correctly. 

Yates explained that the DAG typically gets involved in an investigation from a decision making standpoint if there is disagreement between one of the Department’s litigating components and another government agency, or between a Department component and a U.S. Attorney’s Office, or if there is “real uncertainty” about whether to take a potential investigative step. She stated, “Normally the DAG’s office is not running an investigation and we weren’t running this one.” 

Yates told the OIG that she received more frequent updates on the Midyear investigation than she did on other cases, attributing this to the profile and time sensitivity of the investigation. Yates told the OIG that it was hard to generalize how frequently she received updates, but that she had regular meetings with NSD every other week. Although the Midyear investigation was not discussed with the larger group present during these meetings, afterward they would “skinny down” to a smaller group to discuss sensitive matters, including the Midyear investigation. This smaller group included Carlin, Toscas, and Mary McCord, who was at the time the Principal DAAG in NSD. Yates said that she also participated in Lynch’s regular meetings with NSD, which would similarly “skinny down” at the end.

The NSD and EDVA prosecutors told the OIG that they were concerned at various points during the Midyear investigation that there was a disparity between the involvement of Department and FBI leadership in discussions about investigative steps. For example, while McCabe (the second in command at the FBI) attended meetings at which the Midyear agents and prosecutors debated whether and how to obtain the Mills and Samuelson laptops, the highest ranking official representing the Department’s position at those meetings was Toscas. Asked whether she was informed of these concerns, Yates told the OIG that she was not. She said that she was not aware that McCabe attended meetings with the Midyear prosecutors, nor did she know that Comey was closely involved in the investigation. Yates stated that she spoke to McCabe regularly about various issues, and that she thought he was “relaxed enough” with her to tell her that she needed to be at any meetings. Yates said that any disparity resulted from the unusually high level of involvement by FBI leadership, not a decreased role by Department leadership.[Constantly seeing throughout this chapter people speaking to cover their own asses,and claiming not to know what the other hand was doing.DC] 

Axelrod similarly told the OIG that at the outset of the Midyear investigation, senior Department officials “made efforts to...set up a structure that would maintain the integrity of this matter.” He explained that they were aware that no matter how the investigation turned out, there was likely to be criticism at the end. As a result, he said that they considered it “extra important to make sure things were...done...by the book, following procedures. Making sure that when people criticized whatever the outcome was that we’d be able to say no, this was done straight down the middle on the facts and on the law.” 

Axelrod said that he met with Toscas at the outset of the investigation and explained that Toscas would be the primary supervisor over the investigation. Axelrod stated: 

We were going to have sort of a lighter touch from the leadership offices than we might on a sort of high profile case. In other words, we were there for him for whatever he needed. But we weren’t going to be sort of checking in day to day or week to week for updates or briefings. When...something significant happened...that we needed to know about he would let us know.... 

And I, when I say a lighter touch I don’t mean that folks weren’t engaged or paying attention. I, not at all. I just mean we wanted to give them the space they needed to do whatever they thought necessary in the investigation. So that at the end...I just wanted to make sure that any allegation that there was some sort of political interference with this investigation wouldn’t hold water. [What is this jackass babbling about?The whole foot print of the Deep State in this investigation as well as in multiple areas of the Federal Government reeks of political interference all day long! DC]

Axelrod told the OIG that the difference between the role of Department leadership in the Midyear investigation and the typical high-profile investigation was “just a matter of degree.” He said that he and Yates relied on Toscas to bring issues to their attention at “skinny down” sessions following the biweekly meetings with NSD, but that “it wasn’t us saying okay, and what’s the latest on the email investigation?”

Carlin told the OIG that NSD’s standard practice is for cases to be handled by the career staff, supervised by a DAAG. He said that at the beginning of the Midyear investigation, he held a meeting with McCord, Toscas, and the NSD prosecutors in which he emphasized the need to “go more by the book” and to follow the normal procedure. Carlin said that he wanted one person in the NSD Front Office to be in charge of the Midyear investigation, and that he chose Toscas based on his historical expertise with investigations involving “espionage, the straight-up a spy cases, and the leak mishandling type portfolio.” [Remember when they speak of the "career staff" they are deferring to the Deep State.Yates,Alexrod,Carlin and the like are nothing more then faces you can attach names to.They run cover for the career staff. DC]

Carlin said that he preferred having one person who was clearly accountable and in charge. He stated:[less lies he must remember if he gets ALL of his story from one person DC]

I tend to like that as former career person...I knew what it felt like when you’re in one of those spots. So, in general, I prefer that type of structure. In this case, I knew, as well, at the end of the day, whatever decision was made in the case, it was going to be a high profile controversial decision. And so...you might need to explain later what process do we follow at the Department. And so, I wanted to make that clear, internally and to our partners, that this was the process we were following...at the National Security Division. 

And just, seeing some other cases in my career that were, they were high profile. They were handled in a way than was different than the norm. More people got involved in trying to make the day-to-day decisions. I didn’t think that that redounded to the benefit of the case. Not just for appearance purposes, but...it also just created confusion and frustration among the relevant teams. And kind of, inconsistencies in how they were staffed, sometimes, when someone had a great idea later, and came in over the top, and changed the way they were approaching the case. So, right from the beginning, I wanted to, to set it up, and structure...it that way. I felt pretty strongly about it.[Cover ups tend to get sticky by nature DC] 

Carlin said that he discussed this with Lynch and Yates and made it clear to them that the team had the authority to make investigative and prosecutorial decisions. Carlin said that he told Lynch and Yates that “like other sensitive matters, we would periodically update them.” According to Carlin, Lynch and Yates knew that this was how Carlin was handling the investigation and supported this structure. Carlin said that he also explicitly communicated this to the FBI, explaining it to both Giacalone and McCabe. 

IV. Investigative Strategy 
The Midyear team sought to determine whether any individuals were criminally liable under the laws prohibiting the mishandling of classified information, which are summarized in Chapter Two. To do so, the team employed an investigative strategy that included three primary lines of inquiry: collection and  examination of the emails that traversed former Secretary Clinton’s servers and other relevant evidence, interviews of relevant witnesses, and analysis of whether classified information was compromised by hostile cyber intrusions. 55 

A. Collection and Examination 
of Emails that Traversed 
Clinton’s Servers and 
Other Relevant Evidence 
The Midyear team sought to collect and review any emails that traversed Clinton’s servers during her tenure as Secretary of State, as well as other evidence that would be helpful to understand classified information contained in those emails. This included a review of the 30,490 work-related emails and attachments to those emails that former Secretary Clinton’s attorneys had produced to the State Department. 

The team also attempted to recover or reconstruct the remaining 31,830 emails that Clinton’s attorneys determined were personal and did not produce to the State Department. As described above and in Chapter Five, before the Midyear investigation began, these emails had been deleted and “wiped” from former Secretary Clinton’s then current server. The Midyear team also believed that some work-related emails could have been deleted from Clinton’s servers before her attorneys reviewed them for production to the State Department. 

The Midyear investigators sought to recover and review deleted emails by obtaining and forensically analyzing, among other things, Clinton’s servers and related equipment; other devices used by Clinton, such as Blackberries and cellular telephones; laptops and other devices that had been used to backup Clinton’s emails from the server; and the laptops used by Clinton’s attorneys to cull her personal emails from her work-related emails. The team also obtained email content or other information from the official government or private email accounts of certain individuals who communicated with Clinton by email, originated the classified email chains that were ultimately forwarded to Clinton, or transferred Clinton’s emails to other locations. 

As described in Chapter Five, the Midyear team did not seek to obtain every device or the contents of every email account that it had reason to believe a classified email traversed. Rather, the team focused the investigation on obtaining Clinton’s servers and devices. Witnesses stated that, due to what they perceived to be systemic problems with handling classified information at the State Department, to expand the investigation beyond former Secretary Clinton’s server systems and devices would have prolonged the investigation for years. They further stated that the State Department was the more appropriate agency to remediate classified spills by its own employees. 

Analysts examined both the original 30,490 emails produced by former Secretary Clinton to the State Department and the emails recovered through other means to identify potentially classified information. Once the analysts identified information that they suspected to be classified, the team sought formal classification review from government agencies with equities in the information. The analysts also examined the emails for evidence of criminal intent. For example, they searched for: 

 Classification markings to assess whether participants in classified email chains were on notice that the information contained in them was classified; 

 Statements by former Secretary Clinton or others indicating whether Clinton used private servers for the purpose of evading laws regarding the proper handling of federal records or classified information; 

 Statements by former Secretary Clinton or others indicating whether they knew that emails contained information that was classified—even if they were not clearly marked—when they sent or received them on unauthorized systems; 

 Evidence as to whether former Secretary Clinton or others forwarded classified information to persons without proper clearances or without the need to know about it; and 

 Documentation showing whether originators of classified emails had received classified information in properly marked documents before transferring the information to unclassified systems without markings. 

B. Witness Interviews 
The Midyear team told us that witness interviews covered several areas of investigative interest. First, the team interviewed individuals involved with setting up and administering former Secretary Clinton’s servers to understand her intent in using private servers and to assess what measures they used to protect the servers from intrusion. These witnesses also helped FBI analysts understand the server structures to inform subsequent analyses. Additionally, they helped FBI investigators identify additional sources of evidence, such as devices containing backups of Clinton’s emails.[Man I am pissed,Serving the public was never meant to be a damn career,what a s#*t show they have made our country DC] 

Second, the Midyear team interviewed individuals who introduced, transmitted, or received information on unauthorized systems, including the originators of classified information, Clinton’s aides who forwarded the originators’ emails to her, and Clinton herself. The originators included State Department employees and employees of other government agencies. The team interviewed these witnesses to, among other things, assess: (1) whether they believed the information contained in the emails was classified; (2) how or from where they originally received the classified information (and whether based on those circumstances they should have known that the information contained in the emails was classified); and (3) why they sent the information on unclassified systems. 

Third, the Midyear team interviewed individuals with knowledge of how and why 31,830 of former Secretary Clinton’s emails were deleted from her servers and 57 other locations.[What lie did they serve up there ?DC] The team sought to assess whether Clinton or her attorneys deleted or directed the deletion of emails for an improper purpose, such as to avoid FOIA or Federal Records Act (FRA) requirements. 

Fourth, the Midyear team interviewed State Department employees with knowledge of the State Department’s policies and practices regarding federal records retention. The team sought to determine whether Clinton’s use of a private server was sanctioned by the State Department, as well as what measures the State Department put in place to protect Clinton’s private server from intrusion. 

C. Intrusion Analysis 
The FBI also conducted intrusion analyses to determine whether any classified information had been compromised by domestic hostile actors or foreign adversaries. Agents and analysts specializing in forensics examined the servers, devices, and other evidence to assess whether unauthorized actors had attempted to log into, scan, or otherwise gain access to the email accounts on the servers and, if so, whether their efforts had been successful. They also examined various FBI data sets to assess whether emails containing classified information had been compromised.

In this chapter, we address the decision of the FBI and the Department to publicly acknowledge an investigation following the public referral from IC IG, including the allegation that former Lynch instructed former Director Comey to refer to the Midyear investigation as a “matter.” We also discuss public statements by former President Barack Obama about the Midyear investigation, which raised concerns about White House influence on the investigation. 

As we describe in Chapter Six, Comey cited the events set forth in this chapter as two of the factors that influenced his decision to deliver a public statement announcing the closing of the Midyear investigation on July 5, 2016, without coordinating with the Department. 

Public Acknowledgement 
of the Investigation 
Statements about the Investigation 
in Department and FBI Letters to 
Congress in August and 
September 2015 
Following the public referral to the FBI from the IC IG in July 2015, the Department and the FBI received questions from the media and Congress asking whether they had opened a criminal investigation of former Secretary Clinton. According to emails exchanged in late August 2015, there was a significant disagreement between ODAG and FBI officials regarding whether to acknowledge that a criminal investigation had been opened. FBI officials, according to the emails, wanted to acknowledge “opening an investigation into the matter,” while ODAG officials approved language “neither confirming nor denying the existence of any ongoing investigation,” based on longstanding Department policy. FBI and Department letters sent to Congress on August 27 and September 22, 2015, and a letter sent by the FBI General Counsel to the State Department on September 22, 2015, used the “neither confirm nor deny” language.[Remember the ODAG is deferring to the 'career staff',so the shadows had more pull then the investigators DC] 

Contemporaneous emails show that former Director Comey disagreed with this approach. In an August 27, 2015 email to Deputy Director (DD) Giuliano, Chief of Staff James Rybicki, and FBI Office of Public Affairs (OPA) Assistant Director (AD) Mike Kortan, he stated, “I’m thinking it a bit silly to say we ‘can’t confirm or deny an investigation’ when there are public statements by former Secretary Clinton and others about the production of materials to us. I would rather be in a place where we say we ‘don’t comment on our investigations.’” Rybicki told the OIG that Comey thought that the Department and FBI needed to say more about the investigation because the IC IG referral was made publicly, and refusing to acknowledge an investigation would “stretch...any credibility the Department has.” 

September 28, 2015 Meeting 
between Attorney General Lynch 
and Director Comey 
In late September and early October 2015, Comey and Lynch each had upcoming media and congressional appearances. Anticipating that they would be asked whether the Department and FBI had opened an investigation into former Secretary Clinton, Comey asked to meet with Lynch to coordinate what they would say. Comey told the OIG that it was the first time the two of them would be asked questions about the investigation publicly, and he wanted to discuss how they should talk about it given that there had been news coverage of the referral and “a lot of public discussion about that the FBI is already looking into this.” 

The meeting was held on September 28, 2015, and lasted approximately 15 minutes. Participants in the meeting included Lynch, Axelrod, and Toscas from the Department, and Comey, Rybicki, and then DD Giuliano from the FBI. 

Comey’s Account of the Meeting 
Comey told the OIG that during this meeting AG Lynch agreed they needed to confirm the existence of the investigation, but she said not to use the word “investigation,” and instead to call it a “matter.” Comey said that Lynch seemed slightly irritated at him when she said this, and that he took it as a direction. Comey stated: 

And I remember saying, “Well, what should I call it?” And she said, “Call it a matter.” And I said, “Why would I do that?” And she said, “I just want you to do that and so I would very much appreciate it if you would not refer to it as an investigation.” And the reason that gave me pause is, it was during a period of time which lasted, where I knew from the open source that the Clinton campaign was keen not to use the word investigation.... And so that one concerned me and I remember getting a lump in my stomach and deciding at that moment should I fight on this or not. 

Comey told the OIG that he decided not to fight this instruction from the AG, but that it “made his spider sense tingle”[I kid you not, that made me laugh DC] and caused him to “worry...that she’s carrying water for the Clinton campaign.” As described in Chapter Six, Comey told the OIG and testified before Congress that this instruction from Lynch was one of the factors that influenced his unilateral decision to make a public statement on July 5, 2016, without coordinating with the Department.56 However, Comey also said to us that he had no other reason to question Lynch’s motives at that time, stating, “In fact my experience with her has always been very good and independent, and she always struck me as an independent-minded person.” 

Comey stated that one of the reasons he remembered this meeting so well was that Toscas made a comment after the meeting about the “Federal Bureau of Matters,” indicating to Comey that Toscas “had the same reaction I did to it.” He said that Toscas did not say explicitly that he shared Comey’s concerns about the meeting, but was “signaling” agreement to him through “body language and humor.” [Is that what you think,I think he was mocking you and letting you know who was in charge DC]

Rybicki and Giuliano did not specifically recall the discussion that took place at the meeting, other than that AG Lynch told Comey to refer to the investigation as a “matter.” Giuliano stated, “I don’t remember that specific meeting. I do remember the topic. And I do remember thinking that (A) it’s ridiculous, and (B) quite honestly, I didn’t care what they called it.... It wasn’t going to change what we did.” He recalled discussions with the Midyear team after the meeting with Lynch, telling the OIG that “a lot of people got wrapped around the axle” about the issue and “thought that that was kind of getting into the politics of the investigation.” He also stated that Comey was “definitely troubled by it.” 

However, Rybicki said that he did not recall Comey being troubled by the meeting or expressing concern that the instruction from Lynch was an effort to coordinate with the Clinton campaign. Rybicki also said that he personally did not come away from the meeting with the view that Lynch was biased. Rybicki did recall Toscas joking about the “Federal Bureau of Matters.” 

Lynch’s Recollection of the Meeting 
Lynch told the OIG that Comey expressed concern during the meeting about how to comply with the Department’s longstanding policy of neither confirming nor denying ongoing criminal investigations in the face of direct questions about the number of agents assigned to the case and the resources dedicated to it, because answering those questions implicitly would acknowledge that there was an open investigation. Lynch said that providing testimony about the allocation of resources or the way that the Department works a case is a normal practice, but that in her view, they were not ready to publicly confirm an investigation. 

Lynch stated that her discussion with Comey was framed in terms of how they could testify about the resources dedicated to the investigation without breaking Department policy. Lynch said that Comey was seeking guidance on how to handle those issues, particularly given that the referral was public, and that detailed information about the investigation had been discussed in the press. 

Lynch said that she was aware of numerous letters from Members of Congress requesting information about the investigation, and that her meeting with Comey took place around the same time as a telephone call she had with Senator Charles Grassley, who wanted to discuss the Department’s handling of Bryan Pagliano, a State Department employee who set up one of Clinton’s servers, in order to inform Congress’s decision as to whether to grant him immunity to compel his testimony before Congress. 57 Lynch told the OIG: 

Senator Grassley was asking me literally will I confirm that there is a criminal investigation of Secretary Clinton, who are the other targets, who are the subjects, has a grand jury been impaneled, has this young man Pagliano been given immunity, would I give him a copy of the immunity order, and all the things that, that Oversight typically asks for. 

So I knew, and I certainly had the view, that we had to be clear and open with Oversight. You know, whether it’s me or the Director. But consistent with our law enforcement obligations, there are some doors that we do not open. And I did not think that we were ready to open that door on the Hill at that time. 

Lynch said that her concerns about opening the door to detailed questions about the investigation informed her view that the Department should not confirm that there was an investigation. She said that she recalled stating at the meeting with Comey, “They don’t need us to tell them that there is an investigation. They need us to confirm that there is an investigation. And there is a difference.” She explained: 

And once we confirm it publicly, either by saying yes there is an investigation, or by talking about it in a way that confirms it, the next series of questions is going to be is it criminal. And it’s all going to be about is the Secretary a subject or a target. And there were others involved as well. There are other people beyond her who may or may not be named, but, you know, you start having these discussions. When will it be over? What are you finding? All those things that in fact Grassley did ask. 

The OIG asked Lynch if she instructed or told Comey, “I want you to call it a matter.” Lynch said that she did not and would not have, because that was not how she spoke to people. She told the OIG that she remembered saying the following at the meeting: 

Well I, I do remember saying, you know, we typically say we have enough resources to handle the matter.... I don’t know if I used other words like the case, you know, the inquiry, or something like that. But I do remember saying that, and I think I may have been saying that because, again, I was always careful not to talk about an investigation. 

I was getting questioned about the referral...and is it going to lead to an investigation and, you know, we have it, we acknowledge it, we’re going to handle it. And that’s all I can say kind of thing. 

And so I know that in addition to saying...yes, everyone knows there’s an investigation. They don’t need us to tell them that. They need us to confirm it, and we don’t do that. And here’s why we don’t do that. I remember making those statements. And I remember saying but of course you’ve got to...respond. And one way to respond is just to say...you’ve got what you need to handle the matter. 

Lynch said that she thought that there had been agreement at the meeting about what to say. Her takeaway was that they were going to take steps not to confirm that there was an official investigation open and would be careful not to do so in how they discussed it. Lynch stated, “It wasn’t a long meeting. It was that, it wasn’t contentious. Nobody seemed upset. So it was more of a discussion.” She said that she did not recall Comey or anyone else expressing disagreement, or Comey asking, “Why on earth would I do that?” 

Lynch said that the decision to avoid confirming an investigation was not made with any political motive in mind, and that she did not coordinate messaging with the Clinton campaign. Lynch told the OIG that she was surprised to learn from Comey’s later congressional testimony that he interpreted the discussion at this meeting as evidence of potential political bias. She stated: 

I was surprised. I was disappointed, somewhat angry. And mostly surprised that he had never raised it either at the time or later, that if it was a concern—I was surprised that if he thought that it was a problem, he was okay also handling things in that way. I just had never viewed him as someone who was reluctant to raise issues or concerns, given that I had known him for, for some time . 

Lynch recalled Toscas making a joke about the “Federal Bureau of Matters” to one of the agents who was sitting beside him, and people laughing. She said that she took this as a joke, as good-natured “ribbing” or “teasing,” and that the laughter told her that others in attendance also took it as a joke. 

Axelrod told us that the discussion about whether to acknowledge an “investigation” was just one small part of that meeting. He said that Lynch suggested using the term “matter” as a way of “threading the needle” to avoid violating Department policy while also not appearing evasive. According to Axelrod, no one from the FBI raised objections during the meeting, and the tone of the discussion was collegial. He said that he thought that Comey and Lynch had reached a “mutual agreement that using the term ‘matter’ was the best way to thread the needle.” Axelrod told the OIG that he was surprised to hear Comey’s later congressional testimony that he (Comey) felt uncomfortable with the discussion, which Axelrod said was not consistent with his recollection of Comey’s reaction in the room, and did not “square with...his recollection of the facts.” 

Toscas’s Notes and 
Recollection of the Meeting 
Toscas took detailed notes at the September 28 meeting, which he provided to the OIG. Toscas said that his notes were unusually lengthy for such a brief meeting because AAG Carlin was out of town and he was asked to attend in Carlin’s place, and he wanted to be able to tell Carlin what happened. 

Referencing his notes, Toscas testified to the OIG at length about what took place during the meeting. According to Toscas, Comey told Lynch that he planned to acknowledge at a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) roundtable that the FBI had received the referral from the IC IG and that it was being properly staffed and receiving all necessary resources. Comey stated that he planned to say that the FBI does not comment on its investigations per longstanding policy, but that all of its investigations are done professionally and timely. Toscas said that Comey assured Lynch that he would not say that they had opened an investigation, but that this would be implicit in what he said, and there would be news reports afterwards saying that there was an investigation. 

According to Toscas, Lynch replied that she preferred “to discuss it in terms of a matter.... This is the way I do it and then it avoids this issue because we should neither confirm nor deny.” Toscas said that he interpreted Lynch’s statement as expressing her preference rather than telling Comey what he should do. Toscas stated he did not recall Lynch instructing Comey to call it a matter, and he thought he would have remembered that if it had occurred. He also said that he did not interpret Lynch’s comment as her “trying to shade [the investigation] into something it wasn’t for some particular reason.” However, he acknowledged that he was not the FBI Director, and that Comey may have had a different perspective.

Toscas said that after Lynch’s comment, Axelrod stated that they needed to coordinate what to say with a letter sent by the FBI General Counsel to the State Department the previous week and attached to a public filing in FOIA litigation, in which the FBI took “great pains to not call this an investigation, so as not to confirm the existence of an investigation.” According to Toscas, the Department and the FBI had used the same language in other letters to Congress, and Lynch had a call scheduled later that day with Senator Charles Grassley in which she planned to tell him that it would be premature to acknowledge or share information about any investigation. 

Toscas said that Axelrod’s statement led to a back and forth between Comey and Axelrod, during which Comey proposed modifying the letters to Congress to acknowledge that the FBI had opened an investigation. Toscas said that he was not sure if Comey was “toying with Axelrod at that point because I don’t think we would ever reissue letters that...clearly state normal positions.” Toscas said that Comey then asked Axelrod directly, “Why not use the word, you know we’re trying to treat it like any other case and would we do that ordinarily?” In response, Axelrod again mentioned the need to be consistent with the letters that were sent the previous week. 

Toscas told the OIG that he mentioned at the meeting that the Department opens only a small fraction of the referrals it receives from the intelligence community as criminal investigations, and that the Department may not want to publicly acknowledge an investigation into former Secretary Clinton because it could serve as precedent for other referrals. Toscas said he also made clear to the group that Midyear was a criminal investigation, and that the prosecutors had referred to it as an investigation in letters to counsel and in search warrant applications. 

Toscas said that Comey concluded the meeting by agreeing to call it a matter, stating, “OK, I think that will work.” This statement also appeared in Toscas’s contemporaneous notes. Toscas told the OIG that there was no indication at the time that Comey was concerned about the meeting or that the meeting had led him to question Lynch’s impartiality. 

Asked whether he made a comment to Comey about the “Federal Bureau of Matters,” Toscas said that he did not specifically recall doing so but may have. He said that, if he did, he intended it as a joke rather than as a criticism of Lynch. He told the OIG: 

I don’t know if I ribbed [Comey] walking out. You know he’s a friend of mine.... In any event, maybe I said that, maybe I didn’t. It wouldn’t faze me if I did, because it was in line with what I was saying to them [about “investigation” being part of the FBI’s name]. But it makes it appear as though I was sort of knocking the AG [Lynch] in the way they reported it, which is obviously why some goofball felt that they should talk about that to the newspapers.... 58 

October 1, 2015 Comey 
Meeting with Media 
In a “pen and pad” with reporters on October 1, 2015, Comey used the term “matter” in response to questions about whether the FBI had opened an investigation. According to a transcript of the appearance, Comey told reporters that he recently had a closed session with HPSCI and would say publicly what he told the committee: that the FBI had received a referral involving former Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email account and the possible exposure of classified information through that account, but that he was limited in what he could say because the FBI does not talk about its ongoing work. Comey stated, “I am following this very closely and I get briefed on it regularly.... I am confident that we have the resources and the personnel assigned to the matter, as we do all our work, so we’re able to do it as we do all our work in a professional, prompt and independent way.” Asked about the timeline for completing any investigation, Comey stated, “Again, I’m not going to talk about this particular matter.... Part of doing our work well is we don’t talk about it while we do it.” 

Following Comey’s appearance, various news articles reported that Comey had acknowledged the existence of an investigation into former Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server. 59 Comey received an email containing news clips summarizing several of these articles and forwarded it to Rybicki, stating, “Will leave it to you to tell DOJ that I never used the word investigation.” Rybicki replied, “Already covered. I read back your statement to them and told them this is exactly the type of confusion we were concerned about as we were crafting.” 

Reaction to White 
House Statements about 
the Midyear Investigation 
On Sunday, October 11, 2015, an interview of then President Barack Obama was aired on the CBS show 60 Minutes. During this interview, Obama characterized former Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server as a “mistake,” but stated that it did not “pose a national security problem” and was “not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.” Obama also stated that the issue had been “ginned up” because of the presidential race. Two days later, on October 13, 2015, Obama’s Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, was asked whether Obama’s comments “should be read as an attempt to steer the direction of the FBI investigation.” Earnest replied that Obama made his comments based on public information, and they were not intended to influence an independent investigation. 

Former President Obama’s comments caused concern among FBI officials about the potential impact on the investigation. Former EAD John Giacalone told the OIG, “We open up criminal investigations. And you have the President of the United States saying this is just a mistake.... That’s a problem, right?” Former AD Randy Coleman expressed the same concern, stating, “The FBI had a group of guys in here, professionals, that are conducting an investigation. And the...President of the United States just came out and said there’s no there there.” Coleman said that he would have expected someone in FBI or Department leadership to contact one of Obama’s national security officials, and “tell him or her, hey knock it off.” Michael Steinbach, the former EAD for the National Security Branch, told the OIG that the comments generated “controversy” within the FBI. Steinbach stated, “You’re prejudging the results of an investigation before they really even have been started.... That’s...hugely problematic for us.” 

Department prosecutors also were concerned. Responding to an email from Laufman about Obama’s 60 Minutes interview, Toscas stated, “Saw this. And as one of the prosecutors and I discussed last week, of course it had no—and will never have any—effect whatsoever on our work and our independent judgment.” Prosecutor 4 told the OIG that Obama’s statement was the genesis of the FBI’s suspicions that the Department’s leadership was politically biased. This prosecutor stated, “I know that the FBI considered those statements inappropriate. And that it...generated a suspicion that there was a political bias...going on from the Executive Branch.” 

Asked about former President Obama’s statements, Lynch stated, “I never spoke to the President directly about it, because I never spoke to him about any case or investigation. He didn’t speak to me about it either.” She told the OIG that she did not think the President should have made the comment on 60 Minutes. She stated, “I don’t know where it came from. And I don’t know, I don’t know why he would have thought that either, to be honest with you. Because, to me, anyone looking at this case would have seen a national security component to it. So I don’t, I truly do not know where he got that from.” [Talk about rat's running for cover,throwing each other under the bus DC]

Former President Obama’s Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, made additional comments about the Midyear investigation during a press conference in early 2016. On January 29, 2016, in response to a question about whether the White House thought that former Secretary Clinton would be indicted, Earnest stated: 

That will be a decision that is made by the Department of Justice and prosecutors over there. What I know that some officials over there have said is that she is not a target of the investigation. So that does not seem to be the direction that it’s trending, but I’m certainly not going to weigh in on a decision or in that process in any way. That is a decision to be made solely by independent prosecutors. But, again, based on what we know from the Department of Justice, it does not seem to be headed in that direction. 

After this press conference, Melanie Newman, the Director of the Department’s Office of Public Affairs (OPA), received a transcript of Earnest’s statements about the investigation and forwarded it to Axelrod and three other Department officials. Newman stated in the email to these officials, “I’ve spoken to the White House and asked that they clarify this, to make clear they have no insight into this investigation. And if they don’t correct it, I will. I’m waiting to hear back.” This email also was forwarded to Lynch. 

Asked about this email, Newman said that she spoke to Earnest that day. Newman said that Earnest told her that he had based his comments on what he had read in news stories, not conversations with anyone in the Department. She said that no one in the White House ever reached out to her about the Midyear investigation, nor was she aware of White House staff reaching out to anyone else in the Department, noting, “They were very, very, very careful about engaging with us on that topic.” Axelrod similarly told the OIG that Earnest’s comments implied that the White House had received a briefing on the Midyear investigation, which he said “never happened.” 

Lynch’s Chief of Staff stated that Department officials were “very upset” about Earnest’s statement, because “as far as we knew, no one at Department of Justice had spoken to anyone in the White House about it.” The Chief of Staff told the OIG that they were particularly concerned by Earnest’s statement that former Secretary Clinton was not a target. The Chief of Staff said that she spoke to officials in the White House Counsel’s Office to tell them that the Department did not know where Earnest was getting his information, and to ask them to talk to Earnest. The Chief of Staff did not specifically recall Lynch’s reaction to this  statement, but said that she was “Probably very upset.... Anytime there was ever any suggestion that the White House, or that DOJ had improperly done something in an investigation, or discussed something of...a political nature, she would not be happy about it.” 

Prosecutors again were concerned by these comments. On January 29, 2016, Toscas sent the following email to Laufman, seeking to assure the team that the investigation would not be influenced by White House statements: 

As discussed, I spoke with ODAG and they are not aware of anybody from DOJ sharing any such information or assessment with the White House, as the below statements appear to suggest. I want to reiterate what I’ve told you and the team throughout our work on this investigation—the explicit direction we received from the AG and DAG on multiple occasions is that they have total confidence in the team of prosecutors who are working on this case and they have instructed us to proceed with this matter as we would any other, without interference of any kind, and with the independence we have in all of our cases. They have never wavered from that and have never said or done anything to send or suggest a contrary message. With respect to the below statements that erroneously imply that the Department has shared information about, or an assessment of, this matter with the White House, we should not and will not allow such irresponsible statements to have any effect at all on our work. We will continue to thoroughly and professionally investigate this matter as we would any other—and, as always—and as you, John [Carlin], and I have said repeatedly—we will follow the facts wherever they lead. Thanks. 

Toscas emailed Laufman a second time, stating, “Please feel free to share this with the whole team (if you haven’t already).” During his interview with the OIG, Toscas described Earnest’s statements as “goofy” and “ridiculous,” expressing frustration that he had to address comments by the White House when preparing Lynch to testify before Congress because of the perception of political bias that they created. 

Asked about Earnest’s statements, prosecutors told the OIG that the only interactions they had with the White House concerning the investigation were with the White House Counsel’s Office to obtain a classification review of documents in a Special Access Program (SAP) controlled by the White House and to interview a National Security Council staffer. Prosecutor 1 told the OIG that he was not aware of contacts between Department leadership and the White House Counsel’s Office or White House staff. Notes taken by Laufman indicate that on January 30, 2016, one of the prosecutors reached out to their point of contact in the White House Counsel’s Office and asked about Earnest’s comments. According to these notes, this prosecutor was told that the content of the discussions between the White House Counsel’s Office and the Midyear team about the classification review and the interview of the staffer was limited to a small group of people in the White House Counsel’s Office, and that nothing that the prosecutors had discussed with the White House Counsel’s Office would be known to Earnest.

Lynch testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 9, 2016. Asked about the investigation, Lynch stated that she had never discussed the investigation with former President Obama or anyone in the White House. Lynch stated, “It’s my hope that when it comes to ongoing investigations that we all would stay silent. And I can assure you that neither I nor anyone from the Department has briefed to Mr. Earnest or anyone at the White House about this matter or other law enforcement matters.... I’m simply not aware of the source of his information.”60 

Lynch told the OIG that she recalled that Newman spoke with the White House Communications Office after Earnest’s comments and was clear that they were inappropriate and needed to be corrected. Asked whether she perceived these comments as an effort to direct where the investigation was going or felt influenced by them, she said that she did not. Lynch said that she also had a discussion with the White House Counsel after she testified, and that during this discussion he acknowledged that the comments should not have happened. 

However, former President Obama again made public comments about the Midyear investigation in an interview with FOX News Sunday on April 10, 2016. Obama stated that while former Secretary Clinton had been “careless” in managing her emails while she was Secretary of State, she would never intentionally do anything to endanger the security of the United States with her emails. He also stated that he would not interfere in the FBI’s investigation into her private email server. Obama stated, “I guarantee that there is no political influence in any investigation conducted by the Justice Department, or the F.B.I.—not just in this case, but in any case.”61 [What a lying sack of crap,what he just uttered is the definition of subtle political influence via media you POS. DC]

CHAPTER FIVE: INVESTIGATIVE METHODS USED IN THE INVESTIGATION The Midyear team used several types of investigative methods and made various strategic decisions during the course of its investigation. Some of these decisions have been the subject of criticism and allegations that they were based on improper considerations.

Chapter 3
44 As described in Chapter Five, the FBI discovered three servers that for different periods stored work-related emails sent or received by Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State. 
45 See U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Review of the Terrorist Attacks on U.S. Facilities in Benghazi, Libya, September 11-12, 2012, 113th Cong, 2d sess., 2014, S. Rept. 113-134, https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/sites/default/files/publications/113134.pdf (accessed May 7, 2018). 
46 See U.S. Department of State Office of the Inspector General (State IG), Office of the Secretary: Evaluation of Email Records Management and Cybersecurity Requirements, ESP-16-03 (May 2016), https://oig.state.gov/system/files/esp-16-03.pdf (accessed May 7, 2018), 3. 
47 See State IG, Office of the Secretary, 4. 
48 According to documents we reviewed, BleachBit is a “freely available software that advertises the ability to ‘shred’ files. ‘Shredding’ is designed to prevent recovery of a file by overwriting the content.” 
49 See U.S. House of Representatives, Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi, Final Report of the Select Committee on the Events Surrounding the 2012 Terrorist Attack in Benghazi, 114th Cong., 2d sess., 2016, H. Rept. 114-848, https://www.congress.gov/congressional-report/114th-congress/house-report/848/1 (accessed May 7, 2018).
50 JAMES COMEY, A HIGHER LOYALTY: TRUTH, LIES, AND LEADERSHIP at 162 (Amy Einhorn, ed., 1st ed. 2018).
51 Strzok was promoted to a Section Chief in the Counterintelligence Division in February 2016, and to Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) in the fall of 2016. 
52 A Deputy Assistant Director in the Counterintelligence Division was between the Section Chief and Coleman in the reporting chain but had limited involvement in the Midyear investigation.
53 Anderson now is the Principal Deputy General Counsel.
54 Other senior FBI officials involved in the Midyear investigation received additional briefings as needed. The Deputy Director, EAD, and AD met on a daily basis regarding significant matters affecting the Counterintelligence Division, and these meetings at times included significant developments in the Midyear investigation. McCabe said he was briefed when issues arose. In addition, the Lead Analyst and Strzok briefed Giacalone on the Midyear investigation on a weekly basis. 

55 This section does not contain an exhaustive list of investigative efforts in the Midyear investigation, but rather is intended to be an overview of the Midyear team’s investigative strategy. We discuss the specific investigative steps used during the Midyear investigation in Chapter Five.
56 See U.S. Senate, Select Committee on Intelligence, Open Hearing with Former FBI Director James Comey, 115th Cong., 1st sess., June 8, 2017, https://www.intelligence.senate.gov/hearings/open-hearing-former-fbi-director-james-comey# (accessed May 8, 2018). 
57 Based on notes and Department emails, the OIG determined that Lynch’s call with Senator Grassley was scheduled for later that same day, September 28, 2015. According to talking points prepared for this call, Lynch intended to tell Senator Grassley that the Department could neither confirm nor deny the existence of any ongoing investigation or persons or entities under investigation, consistent with longstanding Department policy. The talking points stated, “This policy, which has been applied across Administrations, is designed to protect the integrity of our investigations and to avoid any appearance of political influence.” 

58 See Matt Apuzzo et al., In Trying to Avoid Politics, Comey Shaped an Election, N.Y. TIMES, Apr. 23, 2017, at A1 (referencing two sources who reportedly heard Toscas state, “I guess you’re the Federal Bureau of Matters now.”).
59 See, e.g., Pete Williams, FBI Director Acknowledges Agency Looking Into Clinton Emails, NBC NEWS, Oct. 1, 2015, http://nbcnews.to/1LmHuMM (accessed Jan. 18, 2018).
60 U.S. Senate, Committee on the Judiciary, Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice, 114th Cong., 2d sess., March 9, 2016, https://www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings/oversight-of-theus-department-of-justice. 
61 See Transcript, President Barack Obama on FOX News Sunday, Apr. 10, 2016, at http://www.foxnews.com/transcript/2016/04/10/exclusive-president-barack-obama-on-fox-newssunday.html (accessed Mar. 22, 2018).

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