GOP senator sets deadline to release sought-after emails between Obama and Hillary

(WISN video screenshot/Obama White House Flickr)

As Democrats were busy Thursday voting to launch a “formal” impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump, a top Republican in the GOP-led Senate launched his own informal inquiry into former President Barack Hussein Obama and his first secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton.

I write to request email communications between former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama,” Sen. Ron Johnson, the chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, wrote in a letter to Archivist of the United States David Ferriero.

View the whole letter below:

In explaining why he seeks emails between the two, he cited communications between disgraced former FBI special agent Peter Strzok and disgraced former FBI Director James Comey’s chief of staff, James Rybicki, in which Strzok referenced these very same emails.

“Jim – I have the POTUS — HRC emails [Director Comey] requested at end of briefing yesterday. I hesitate to leave them, please let me know a convenient time to drop them off,” Strzok reportedly wrote in an email of his own on June 28, 2016.

“Based on this communication, it appears that multiple emails exist between Secretary Clinton and President Obama,” Johnson’s letter continued.

He added that since the Department of Justice has rejected his requests for access to these emails on the basis that they “are not in a position” to produce emails that contain “equities of other branch entities,” he’s chosen to rely on the Presidential Records Act to obtain them.

Signed into law in 1978, the act mandates the preservation of all presidential records, which in the modern age also includes emails.

The senator has set a deadline of Nov. 14, 2019.

What remains unclear is why Strzok and Rybicki’s discussion of the emails concerns him. It may have to do with the fact that the discussion occurred before then-Director Comey effectively acquitted Clinton of all charges vis-à-vis the case surrounding her illicit use of a private email server to transmit classified State Department intelligence.

What’s also known is that Johnson has been pressing the DOJ for access to Obama and Clinton’s alleged emails since at least early last year.

In a letter to then-Acting Attorney General Rod Rosenstein sent on Jan. 31, 2018, he wrote of communications by Strzok in which he’d expressed frustration over the Clinton investigation.

Based on both the timing of the communications, as well as other events that were transpiring at the time, the senator feels it’s fundamental that he be allowed to read the emails between Obama and Clinton.

“On April 10, 2016, Fox News aired an interview with President Obama — taped earlier in the week in Chicago — in which President Obama noted that he ‘continued to believe that [Secretary Clinton] has not jeopardized America’s national security,'” his letter reads.

“According to an early draft of Director Comey’s exoneration statement, Secretary Clinton emailed with President Obama while in the ‘territory of sophisticated adversary.’ Notes from the FBI’s interview with Secretary Clinton confirm that she emailed President Obama from Russia. Although it is unclear whether Mr. Strzok’s frustration was related to the President’s comments, the timing of the communication raises questions about the FBI’s handling of the Clinton email server investigation.”

Look:

While Johnson admitted in his letter that it was “unclear whether Mr. Strzok’s frustration was related to the President’s comments,” it’s a fact that some of the former FBI official’s findings in the Clinton case belied the narrative that she was innocent.

“A May 2016 email from Strzok … said ‘we know foreign actors obtained access’ to some Clinton emails, including at least one ‘secret’ message ‘via compromises of the private email accounts’ of Clinton staffers,” Fox News notes.

But there’s more.

“Interviews with intelligence community officials released this past August indicated that senior FBI leaders ‘seemed indifferent to evidence of a possible intrusion by a foreign adversary’ into Clinton’s non-government email server, and that State Department officials allegedly sought to ‘downgrade classified material found on the server,’ according to Senate investigators probing the matter,” Fox’s report continued.

Now couple this with the latest findings. In an administrative review of the Clinton investigation published by the State Department last month, the department found that nearly 600 security incidents occurred during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

“[The] administrative review of the HRC emails resulted in the adjudication of 91 valid violations attributable to 38 individuals. Additionally, APD adjudicated 497 valid violations where no individual was found to bear culpability, resulting in a ”valid, but not culpable’ determination,” the report reads.

View the full findings below:

“It was [the department’s] determination that the use of a private email system to conduct official business added an increased degree of risk of compromise as a private system lacks the network monitoring and intrusion detection capabilities of State Department networks,” the report continued.

“While the use of a private email system itself did not necessarily increase the likelihood of classified information being transmitted on unclassified systems, those incidents which then resulted in the presence of classified information upon it carried an increased risk of compromise or inadvertent disclosure.”

Viewed together, all these findings raise the question of why Clinton was let off the hook, especially when her actions had clearly negatively impacted the government in numerous ways. And all this, in turn, explains why Johnson is hellbent on getting some answers.

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Vivek Saxena

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