The Justice Department “negotiated” an agreement with Hillary Clinton’s legal team that ensured the FBI did not have access to emails on her private servers relating to the Clinton Foundation, former FBI special agent Peter Strzok testified during a closed-door appearance before the House Judiciary Committee last summer, according to a newly released transcript.
Republicans late last year renewed their efforts to probe the Clinton Foundation, after tax documents showed a plunge in its incoming donations after Clinton’s 2016 presidential election. The numbers fueled longstanding allegations of possible “pay-to-play” transactions at the organization, amid a Justice Department probe covering foundation issues.
Under questioning from Judiciary Committee General Counsel Zachary Somers, Strzok acknowledged that Clinton’s private personal email servers contained a mixture of emails related to the Clinton Foundation, her work as secretary of state and other matters.
“Were you given access to [Clinton Foundation-related] emails as part of the investigation?” Somers asked
“We were not. We did not have access,” Strzok responded. “My recollection is that the access to those emails were based on consent that was negotiated between the Department of Justice attorneys and counsel for Clinton.”
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Although the FBI eventually took possession of the servers, Strzok continued, the possession was “based upon the negotiation of Department of Justice attorneys for consent.”
“A significant filter team” was employed at the FBI, Strzok said, to “work through the various terms of the various consent agreements.” Limitations imposed on agents’ searches included date ranges, and names of domains and people, Strzok said, among other categories.
The agreement was reached, Strzok said, because “according to the attorneys, we lacked probable cause to get a search warrant for those servers and projected that either it would take a very long time and/or it would be impossible to get to the point where we could obtain probable cause to get a warrant.”
Strzok did not elaborate on whether prosecutors made any effort to secure a search warrant, which could have delineated precisely what agents could and could not search.
But Strzok later said that agents had access to the “entire universe” of information on the servers when using search terms to probe their contents. He also told Somers that “we had it voluntarily,” although it was unclear…