GOP senator caught in Ukraine scandal wants to focus on Obama and Hillary emails
The 2016 election is three years in the rearview and multiple agencies have cleared Hillary Clinton and the State Department in the email saga that burdened her campaign.
Yet Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), chair of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, is still intent on seeing Clinton's emails, specifically "all email communications" between Clinton and President Barack Obama, according to a letter he sent on Thursday to the archivist of the United States.
Johnson said he had previously sought all communications between Clinton and Obama "while she was located in the 'territory of a sophisticated adversary,'" but had been turned down by the Justice Department in January 2018. The DOJ at that time said it did not have the ability to produce such a message because it was not a "Department document."
"During the FBI's investigation of classified information on former Secretary Clinton's private email server, the FBI possessed and reviewed emails sent and received between Secretary Clinton and and President Obama," Johnson wrote on Thursday. "Specifically, on June 28, 2016, FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok communicated the following message to FBI Director James Comey's Chief of Staff, James Rybicki."
Johnson then quoted a message from Strzok, who was forced from the Justice Department after officials unearthed personal texts between himself and a colleague with whom he was having an affair, which contained language critical of Trump and several Democratic political figures. (An inspector general report later concluded Strzok's political views had not impacted or biased his professional work for the FBI, or the projects to which he'd been assigned.)
"Jim — I have the POTUS-HRC emails D3 requested at end of briefing yesterday," Strzok wrote in the message Johnson quoted Thursday. "I hesitate to leave them, please let me know a convenient time to drop them off."
According to Johnson, the message from Strzok to Rybicki suggested there were "multiple emails" between Clinton and Obama, which should be made available to Congress under the Presidential Records Act. It was unclear what Johnson hoped to find in the missives.
"Given that DOJ acknowledged they 'are not in a position' to produce emails to the Committee that contain 'equities of other executive branch entities,'" he wrote, "I ask that, pursuant to the Presidential Records Act, you please provide all email communications between Secretary Clinton and President Obama."
Johnson gave the National Archives until 5 p.m. on Nov. 14 to comply with the request.
Johnson's letter comes one week after the State Department released a report finding that there "was no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information" when Clinton communicated with staffers over a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state.
It also comes amid a growing impeachment inquiry that imperils Donald Trump's presidency, with more and more Americans in support of the effort.
Johnson himself is caught up in the inquiry, as he was discovered to have met with a former Ukrainian diplomat who has been pushing anti-Clinton conspiracy theories.
Johnson's demand for Clinton's emails with Obama contrasts with the Trump administration's stonewalling efforts in the House impeachment inquiry.
So far, administration officials have refused to turn over evidence, and the White House has tried to block current and former staffers from testifying in the impeachment probe. Some aides have defied the Trump administration and testified before Congress despite White House warnings.
Trump, for his part, has repeatedly asserted executive privilege in the past, not only in the impeachment inquiry but in multiple other probes, in an attempt to block investigators seeking details on his behavior and associates.
Federal courts are currently hearing cases about whether the Trump administration must turn over subpoenaed documents.
So far, several judges have ruled that Trump's accounting firm must turn over his tax returns, and that the State Department must turn over records pertaining to Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who has been accused of acting as a shadow diplomat in the growing Ukraine scandal.
Published with permission of The American Independent. Attribution: Emily Singer.