Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said reports that the FBI has recovered emails deleted from Hillary Clinton’s personal server reinforce the need for a third-party search for messages.
“The FBI should ... provide clarity on how it will handle the emails now that they have been recovered from the server. Allowing an independent authority to search for records that were requested by Congress, the Inspector General, the press, and the public years ago, and then providing the records to the appropriate requesters, would be a welcome move in transparency,” Grassley said in a statement Wednesday.
Grassley’s comments follow a widely circulated Bloomberg report that the FBI, which is probing the security of the unusual email setup, has “recovered personal and work-related e-mails from the private computer server used by Hillary Clinton during her time as secretary of state.” The New York Times, citing unnamed government officials, also reported on the recovery of deleted messages.
Grassley is frustrated with a letter he received from the Justice Department Tuesday that declines to confirm its investigation of Clinton’s email server, which was prompted by concerns about the presence of classified information. Justice similarly would not respond to several questions from Grassley and Senate Homeland Security Committee Chairman Ron Johnson about Bryan Pagliano, the former Clinton aide who helped set up her server. Grassley and Johnson have been exploring the possibility of providing immunity for Pagliano in order to seek information from him.
“The Justice Department is giving us less information than normal when they should be giving us more, so that we can make an informed decision about whether to seek an immunity order. You know it is getting a little absurd when someone at the Justice Department is apparently leaking details to the press about an investigation that the department officially refuses to admit to Congress that it is conducting,” Grassley said.
It is at least the second time this week that Grassley has signaled frustration with the Justice Department’s refusal to share information about its probe. He told Politico that the FBI is “behaving like it’s above the law” after it rebuffed a judge’s request for information.
Clinton has said she deleted roughly 30,000 emails that her team decided were personal in nature. She turned over roughly the same number of work-related emails late last year to the State Department, which it has been publicly releasing—some with heavy redactions—in monthly batches under a court order.
Clinton’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.
Grassley, who has stepped up his probe of Clinton’s email arrangement, also said he plans to deepen his inquiry following the reports of the recovery of deleted messages.
“In light of the details reported in the media, the committee will be seeking more information about the State Department’s attempts to regain possession of the email records that should have remained at the State Department in the first place,” he said.
Grassley is not the only Republican to call for some kind of third-party review of Clinton’s messages. Rep. Trey Gowdy, chairman of House Select Committee on Benghazi, has similarly called for such a step in the past.
However, Gowdy said through an aide that he’s not seeking information from the FBI. "Chairman Gowdy has not asked the FBI about its investigation into Secretary Clinton's unusual and unprecedented email arrangement nor has the Bureau offered a briefing to the committee,” spokesman Jamal Ware said in response to a question about the published reports on the FBI’s recovery of emails.