Donald Trump’s campaign and congressional Republicans are pushing to re-open the Hillary Clinton email case – at the Justice Department, as well as in the court of public opinion – in the wake of newly released FBI documents which are fueling claims her team may have destroyed evidence.
The latest call came Tuesday from former New York City mayor and top Trump surrogate Rudy Giuliani, who urged the FBI to review its own findings and the department to appoint a special prosecutor to take over the case.
“She acted with criminal intent,” Giuliani said – a charge Clinton’s team denies.
Giuliani said a special prosecutor should also investigate allegations that Clinton Foundation donors got special access to the State Department during and after Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, which the Clinton campaign also denies.
“I don’t trust the Justice Department to review the pay-to-play foundation scandal or the national security [email] scandal,” Giuliani, a former federal prosecutor, said in response to a question from FoxNews.com. “This is [the kind] of case in which attorneys general have appointed a special prosecutor.”
At the same time, the Republican chairman of the House committee investigating Clinton’s email practices asked a federal prosecutor Tuesday to determine whether Clinton and others working with her played a role in the deletion of thousands of her emails by a Colorado technology firm overseeing her private computer server in 2015. The written request by Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, asked the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, Channing Phillips, to look at whether they illegally destroyed records or covered up evidence.
Clinton and her longtime aide and lawyer, Cheryl Mills, told FBI investigators during questioning they had no knowledge of the technology company’s deletions.
In a separate letter, Chaffetz — the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman — warned the Denver-based tech firm, Platte River Networks, that one of its engineers who deleted Clinton’s electronic files last year could face federal charges of obstructing evidence for erasing the material. That’s because the congressional inquiry into the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, in which four Americans were killed, had issued a formal order to preserve such records.
The top Democrat on Chaffetz’s committee, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said the letters are politically motivated, intended to help Trump.
Speaking to reporters on a plane en route to Tampa, Fla., Hillary Clinton also countered Tuesday afternoon that “the FBI resolved all of this.”
“Their report answered all the questions,” she said. “I believe I have created so many jobs in the sort of conspiracy theory machine factory because honestly they never quit. They keep coming back and here’s another one.”
Clinton’s campaign dismissed Chaffetz’s outline of the email deletions as a “conspiracy theory” debunked by the FBI investigation. “This is yet another example of the congressman abusing his office by wasting further taxpayer resources on partisan attacks,” Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said Tuesday.
But the moves by the GOP led-House committee and Trump campaign amount to new political complications for Clinton’s presidential campaign, which was spared a legal ordeal in July when FBI Director James Comey upbraided Clinton for careless email practices but declined to seek criminal charges after the bureau’s investigation.
Despite the Clinton campaign’s bid to downplay the revelations, FBI notes from the investigation and the bureau’s interview with Clinton – released Friday before the long holiday weekend – have fueled Republicans’ criticism of her and her team’s conduct.
Perhaps most striking was a section in the FBI files showing that a Platte River engineer told agents “he believed he had an `oh, sh-t’ moment,” and deleted archived emails sometime during the last week of March 2015. The FBI report said the engineer used a program BleachBit to delete the files in ways thought to make them unrecoverable.
According to the FBI, Mills had instructed the engineer in December 2014 to delete all emails from the server older than 60 days old. But the engineer apparently forgot to delete the files and didn’t realize his mistake until March 2015, the FBI said. That was three weeks after Clinton’s email revelation and the House Benghazi committee’s order that Clinton and her tech consultants retain all of her email records.
The report said that the engineer “was aware of the existence of the (Benghazi committee) preservation request and the fact that it meant he should not disturb Clinton’s email data on the PRN server.”
On the conference call Tuesday, Giuliani said the new details from FBI lay out “probably the strongest case I’ve ever seen for criminal intent.”
He said the FBI should review its conclusion not to seek criminal charges “for its own good and the sake of its reputation.”
Separately, the Trump campaign on Monday called for the FBI to “make all of the relevant information surrounding the wiping of Clinton’s server public, including witness accounts from employees of Platte River Networks, which carried out the deletions.”