A Congress full of lawyers thinks the immunity deals made by the FBI with at least five of Hillary Clinton’s aides are, let’s say, quite unusual. Another way to put it: the deals stink.
The conclusion many House members are coming to is that the FBI mishandled the process, granting immunity unnecessarily for forms of “cooperation” the agency would just compel, by typical means (e.g., seizure of electronics), from ordinary citizens.
The House Oversight Committee keyed on the deals for two of Clinton’s top aides this week:
Oversight Committee Republicans seethed after the disclosure that Clinton’s lawyer Cheryl Mills was granted protection from prosecution for turning over to the FBI the laptop she used while helping sort Clinton’s “work-related” emails from her “personal messages.” The work messages were slated to be made public, while the personal ones were deleted. Also receiving legal protection was Heather Samuelson, a Clinton campaign staffer-turned-legal assistant who made the initial determination on how to categorize the emails.
If that sounds to you like being granted immunity merely for not obstructing the investigation, well, some in Congress seem to have the same view:
“If the FBI wanted any other American’s laptops, they’d just go get them — they wouldn’t get an immunity deal,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an oversight panel member, said in a phone interview. “But everyone associated with the Clinton gets a different set of standards applied to them… It’s the strangest stuff I have ever seen.”
Politico reports that the FBI also failed to include language in the immunity deals that would require the Clinton lieutenants to respond to questions in other official investigations — like those of Congress.
Republicans were also incensed that the immunity deals, which now cover five Clinton staffers at the heart of the controversy, did not require witnesses to cooperate with Congress, sources who reviewed them told POLITICO. Such agreements sometimes include language forcing the recipients to answer other investigative entities, but the Justice deals did not.
This does seem pretty pointed. Rick Moran makes this observation at American Thinker:
No one under Clinton is going to be held responsible for the illegal deletions of emails or the mishandling of classified data, so how can you hold Clinton solely responsible?
Where it looked as if, at one time, Clinton aides Abedin and Mills would, at the very least, be charged with mishandling classified information, the FBI made sure that no one would be held accountable.
Think about it. What the network of immunity deals means is that no one can be motivated by the threat of prosecution to make further damning disclosures. No one has to worry about taking the fall, so no one’s going to talk.
That’s basically the opposite of what immunity deals are supposed to be for. They’re not used to make silence convenient; they’re supposed to be used competitively to free up information, so the justice system can get to the truth. The truth is supposed to be laid out for some responsible third-party, a checks-and-balances entity, even if it’s just a grand jury or a humble trial jury. If charges aren’t brought, the people are entitled to know why. Congress, or a state legislature, can also serve as the check and balance on the executive, by demanding transparency and answers from it.
The executive branch doesn’t get to serve as law enforcement arm and judicial branch, and then deflect queries from the legislature — the people — by protecting the principals with immunity deals and redacting its own disclosures.
But that’s exactly what Obama’s FBI and DOJ have done. They’ve set up a protected loop for Hillary and her aides to nestle within. They’ve fixed it so that if we want to get to the bottom of Hillary’s shenanigans, we’ll have to bring down Comey and Lynch first: prove that they acted improperly, and therefore the product of their actions should not be accorded the respect of law.
This frankly is not a convincing argument that there’s nothing to see in the Hillary investigation.