The New York Times reported last week that Obama’s Justice Department granted immunity to the contractors who destroyed Hillary Clinton’s emails while they were under subpoena by Congress.
While that may be concerning enough, the fact that they felt bold and entitled enough to still refuse to answer questions from the FBI should be absolutely enraging. Not even Congress’ top examiners into the email case – Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Trey Gowdy – were aware.
It was news to them. Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, had no idea until the Times learned it. Same for Gowdy, head of the Benghazi committee.
“If there is a reason to withhold the immunity agreement from Congress — and by extension, the people we represent — I cannot think of what it would be,” Gowdy said in a statement. “I look forward to asking the Bureau about any witnesses who were granted immunity or claimed a privilege preventing them from answering questions.”
Chaffetz will start asking those questions tonight — in a rare Monday evening hearing before the Oversight Committee. Among the witnesses called are top officials who deal with Congress for the FBI and the Justice Department.
FBI director James Comey admitted in his July 5, 2016 testimony that Clinton handled classified material in an “extremely careless” way. He has been relentlessly – and rightly – harangued for what is seen as preferential treatment of the former Secretary of State.
Byron York’s piece with the Washington Examiner proffers some interesting questions for the members of the Oversight Committee.
Who actually gave the order to delete Clinton’s emails? And: Did that order come after — not before — that material was under a subpoena from Congress? And: Who decided to give the deleter immunity? And: What questions did the deleter refuse to answer? And: What does immunity mean if the witness granted immunity still refuses to answer questions?
They may get the opportunity.
Called to testify — actually subpoenaed to testify — will be Paul Combetta, the technician for Platte River Networks, the Colorado contractor hired by Clinton to handle her email system. Combetta is the man who had the infamous “oh s—t” moment described in the FBI report in which he allegedly realized he had forgotten to carry out a December 2014 order to destroy emails and instead carried it out sometime in March 2015, after the material was under congressional subpoena.
He’s also the one who received the immunity and refused to answer all questions directed to him about a conference call with Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, and her top operative, Cheryl Mills.
Another recipient of FBI immunity is Bryan Pagliano. He’s a former State Department tech worker and set up Clinton’s private email system. His immunity has been known for a bit.
Combetta’s has not.
The new revelation of Combetta’s immunity is particularly troubling to Rep. Gowdy.
“They gave immunity to the trigger man,” Gowdy told Fox News on Friday. “I mean, that’s why those of us who used to do it for a living didn’t like to give immunity … They immunized the one person you most want to prosecute for the destruction of government records.”
At this point, the level of scandal coming out of Hillary Clinton’s camp isn’t even a huge surprise. We’ve come to expect scandal. The interest now will be in how Congress handles the latest outrage, moving forward.
Watch Rep. Gowdy’s remarks on the immunity revelation below.