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Email Scandal: Sasse Grills Comey on Mills Immunity

Katie has been following the latest email scandal developments on Capitol Hill, but I thought this video might add some useful color. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse questioned FBI Director James Comey and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson yesterday, seeking information on the Justice Department's grant of limited immunity to top Clinton consigliere Cheryl Mills in exchange for producing a crucial piece of evidence in the Bureau's criminal probe of Hillary Clinton's email scheme. His questions are succinct and precise.  As Hugh Hewitt suggests, other lawmakers should take notes. Watch:


Sasse didn't extract any major revelations from Comey, but the FBI chief did explain that the immunity offer was necessary because without it, Mills would have fought investigators tooth and nail in an effort to withhold her computer.  A subpoena "would likely entangle us in litigation over privilege for a very long time," he said. Recall that Team Clinton has insisted throughout this ordeal that they've been fully cooperative. They have not. They deleted thousands of work-related emails, they only produced the (non-destroyed) records under a series of court orders, they refused to cooperate with the State Department's IG, and now here's Comey saying that because of Mills' highly unusual, hazy, overlapping roles under the Clinton umbrella, they "likely" would have fought hard in court to preserve Mills' ability to hinder the investigation.  Bill McGurn's Wall Street Journal column this week cites former US prosecutor Andy McCarthy's analysis in spelling out how...fragrant this entire arrangement appears to be:

There are two ways a witness can get immunity: Either she invokes the Fifth Amendment on the grounds she might incriminate herself, or, worried something on the laptop might expose her to criminal liability, her lawyers reveal what this might be before prosecutors agree to an immunity deal. As with so much else in this investigation, the way the laptop was handled was out of the ordinary. Normally, immunity is granted for testimony and interviews. The laptop was evidence. Standard practice would have been for the FBI to get a grand-jury subpoena to compel Ms. Mills to produce it...Now we learn about the multiple immunity deals. Immunity in exchange for information that will help make the case against higher-ups is not unusual. Even so, the Mills deal carries a special stink. To begin with, Ms. Mills was pretty high up herself. As Mrs. Clinton’s chief of staff, she was in the thick of operations. In 2012, while working at State, she traveled to New York to interview candidates for a top job at the Clinton Foundation. More disturbing still, not only was Ms. Mills granted immunity for the content on her laptop, she was permitted to act as Mrs. Clinton’s attorney even though she herself was also a witness in the investigation.

This was allowed in part because she told the FBI she knew nothing of Mrs. Clinton’s private server until after she’d left the State Department. But this claim is suspect and contradicted by emails that have since emerged. These include one to Huma Abedin asking, “hrc email coming back—is server ok?” The special treatment accorded Ms. Mills also reeks on a more fundamental level. As a rule, the Justice Department is aggressive about going after lawyers for any perceived conflict of interest. This would include, for example, a lawyer who wanted to represent different parties in a trial. By giving Ms. Mills a pass to serve as Mrs. Clinton’s attorney in an investigation in which she was a material witness, Justice allowed her to shield her communications with Mrs. Clinton under attorney-client privilege. Indeed, Ms. Mills invoked that privilege during her own FBI interview.

Comey testified today that Mills was, at least for a time, a subject of the probe herself.  McGurn concludes his piece with this question for Comey: "You publicly said there was no case for criminal charges. So what did Cheryl Mills need immunity for?"  Incidentally, if you keep watching the Sasse clip past his email scandal line of questioning, he inquires about the recent Inspector General report that hundreds of immigrants were accidentally given US citizenship.  He asks Jeh Johnson for the exact number of people affected by this error (Johnson can only offer an estimate), and wants to know if any of them were from "special interest countries" such as "Iran, Syria or Libya."  Johnson replies that doesn't know, prompting Sasse to politely but firmly ask how that could be possible, adding that the IG report stated that at least two of the individuals in question had been referred to the FBI at some point.  I'll leave you with Comey confirming to a House panel today that the DOJ has received Congress' criminal complaints regarding Mrs. Clinton's apparent perjury during her famous marathon testimony before the Benghazi committee -- and this:

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