Top Clinton aide granted immunity deal in FBI probe

Top Clinton aide granted immunity deal in FBI probe
© Greg Nash

Top Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton2016 pollsters erred by not weighing education on state level, says political analyst Could President Trump's talk of a 'red wave' cause his supporters to stay home in midterms? Dem group targets Trump in M voter registration campaign: report MORE aide Cheryl Mills received an immunity deal during the FBI’s investigation into the former secretary of State’s private email server, lawmakers familiar with the agreement said Friday.

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"This is beyond explanation. The FBI was handing out immunity agreements like candy,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzMatt Schlapp: Trump's policies on Russia 'two or three times tougher than anything' under Obama Tucker Carlson: Ruling class cares more about foreigners than their own people Fox's Kennedy chides Chaffetz on child migrants: 'I’m sure these mini rapists all have bombs strapped to their chests' MORE (R-Utah) said in a statement.

“I've lost confidence in this investigation and I question the genuine effort in which it was carried out. Immunity deals should not be a requirement for cooperating with the FBI."

The Associated Press first reported the deal.

Democrats quickly pushed back on what they termed "inaccurate Republican leaks" on the deal. 

According to Oversight Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, the deal was "limited" and does not immunize Mills "for any statements she made to the FBI, Congress, or other investigators."

Mills and Heather Samuelson, who were acting as Clinton's attorneys, turned over their computers to the FBI as part of its probe into whether Clinton illegally transmitted classified information through the server.

Mills and Samuelson had used the laptops to sort out what they believed to be Clinton's personal emails, before turning over the remainder of her work emails to the State Department in December of 2014. 

The immunity deal promised that the Justice Department would not prosecute Mills or Samuelson based on information obtained from the laptops, committee Democrats report. 

A lawyer for Mills and Samuelson said in a statement that she advised them to take the deal "because of the confusion surrounding the various agencies’ positions on the after-the-fact classification decisions."

"As the government indicated in these letters, the DOJ and FBI considered my clients to be witnesses and nothing more. Indeed, the Justice Department assured us that they believed my clients did nothing wrong," Beth Wilkinson said Friday. 

Mills was Clinton’s chief of staff during her tenure at Foggy Bottom and has become one focus of the committee’s probe into whether Clinton ordered the deletion of emails that were under congressional subpoena.

In 2014, according to the FBI’s notes on its investigation, Mills instructed the IT firm that managed Clinton’s server to delete a set of archived emails. Mills told investigators Clinton had decided she no longer needed access to emails older than 60 days.

But the technician apparently forgot the request and didn’t comply until after the House Benghazi Committee had issued a subpoena ordering that all records relating to the 2012 attacks be preserved.

Clinton and Mills told the FBI that they had no knowledge of the technician deleting the emails. 

The Clinton campaign quickly criticized Oversight Republicans for timing the leak to damage the Democratic nominee's bid for the White House. 

"Three days before debate, House GOP selectively leaks details from inquiry that was closed months ago w/no charges," campaign spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted when news that Chaffetz had revealed the deal first broke.

Former State Department IT worker Bryan Pagliano also received immunity during the investigation, which concluded by recommending no criminal charges against Clinton.

The Oversight Committee on Thursday morning reviewed the terms of that agreement as part of its investigation into the server, according to a Democratic aide.

This story was last updated at 3:17 p.m.