WASHINGTON, D.C. — The FBI has provided Congress with classified documents related to its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails, as Republican lawmakers probe why prosecutors chose not to pursue a case against her.
Congressional staffers were poring over the papers Tuesday but it was unclear whether the documents would be made public. The cache included notes on Clinton’s interview with investigators and witness interviews.
“The FBI has turned over a number of documents related to their investigation of former Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal email server,” said a spokesperson for the House Oversight and Government Affairs Committee led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.
“Committee staff is currently reviewing the information that is classified secret. There are no further details.”
Democrats on the committee blasted the review as a partisan attempt by Republicans to revive the email scandal after the Department of Justice declined to pursue charges.
“Republicans are now investigating the investigator in a desperate attempt to resuscitate this issue, keep it in the headlines, and distract from Donald Trump’s sagging poll numbers,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the panel.
In a letter to the committee Tuesday, the FBI said because of the intense interest in Clinton’s emails, it wanted to again explain Director James Comey’s rationale for declining to recommend prosecution.
“The FBI did find evidence that Secretary Clinton and her colleagues were extremely careless in their handling of certain, very sensitive, highly classified information,” wrote Jason V. Herring, acting assistant director. “The director did not equate ‘extreme carelessness’ with the legal standard of ‘gross negligence’ that is required by the statute.”
Herring noted that the FBI believes only one person has been charged for gross negligence in the handling of national defense information during the nearly 100 years that the statute has been law. In that case, he noted, there were “indications of espionage and disloyalty” to the U.S.
The email probe has continued to ripple across the presidential race.
Trump has put Clinton’s handling of the emails at the center of his bid, mockingly referring to her as “crooked Hillary.”
An aide indicated Clinton’s campaign would likely welcome a declassified version of the FBI documents being made public — if it were released in full, to avoid selective leaks that would be designed to hurt her.
Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called any release of the documents a “mistake.”
“With the exception of the classified emails that had been found on the private server, I can see little legitimate purpose to which Congress will put these materials,” Schiff said.
Instead, he said, he expects the reports “will simply be leaked for political purposes,” much as happened, he said, with a House special committee’s investigation into the attacks in Benghazi, Libya.