The Justice Department "negotiated" an agreement with Hillary Clinton's legal team that made sure that the FBI did not have access to emails on her private servers regarding Clinton Foundation, former FBI special agent Peter Strzok testimony during a closed door look before the House's Rights Committee last summer, according to a newly released transcript.
Republicans last year renewed their efforts To test the Clinton Foundation, after tax documents showed a leap in its incoming donations following Clinton's 2016 presidential election. The numbers fueled long-lasting claims about possible Pay-to-play transactions on the organization, in the middle of a justice department probe covers foundation issues.
During the question from the Attorney General Advocate Zachary Somers, Strzok acknowledged that Clinton's private personal email servers contained a mix of emails related to the Clinton Foundation, her work as Secretary of State and other issues.
"Have you given access to [Clinton Foundation-related] emails as part of the survey? "Somers asked
"We were not. We did not have access," replied Strzok. "My reminder is that access to these emails was based on consent negotiated between the Justice Department and Clinton's lawyer."
Although the FBI eventually took possession of the servers, Strzok continued that the possession was "based on negotiations by the Ministry of Justice for consent."
"A significant filter team" was employed by the FBI, Strzok said "working through the various terms of the various consent agreements." Restrictions on agents' searches included date ranges, and names of domains and individuals, Strzok said, among other categories.
The agreement was reached, Strzok said because "according to the lawyers, we were unlikely to have a reason to get a search warrant for these 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 get likely cause for a warrant. "
Strzok did not elaborate on whether prosecutors made an effort to secure a search warrant that could have delimited exactly what agents could and could not seek.
But Strzok later said that agents had access to the "whole universe" with information on the servers when they used keywords to probe their content. He also told Somers that "we had it voluntarily," although it was unclear whether he meant all the emails on the servers – including those related to the Clinton Foundation.
Former Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee until 2017 and is now a Fox News contributor, said the event signaled that agents wanted intentional blindness.
"They had no interest in pursuing the truth."
"What is bizarre about this is in any other situation, it is not possible that they will allow the potential perpetrator to choose what the FBI will see," said Chaffetz, noting that the FBI was aware that the servers contained classified information in unclassified settings. "The FBI should be the one to sort through these emails – not Clinton lawyers."
DOJ's goal, Chaffetz said, was to "make sure they didn't hear evil, not see evil – they had no interest in pursuing the truth."
Chaffetz added that DOJ & # 39; s behavior, including its granting of immunity to Clinton assistants early in the investigation, signaled a clear double standard: "They did not go to an agreement with anyone in Trump's orbit. They grabbed it. weapons and agents – and just went in there and took it. "
"The Clinton Foundation, however, should not communicate with the state," Chaffetz continued. "The basis – with her name on it – is not supposed to communicate with senior officials in the state department."
The Clinton Foundation did not respond to Fox News & # 39; comment comments.
Republican led concerns that the DOJ, during the Obama administration, was too cozy with the Clinton team in the presidential campaign in 2016, has grown higher in recent days. Earlier this week, Fox News only reviewed an internal map prepared by federal investigators working on the so-called "Midyear Exam" probe in Clinton's emails. The chart contained the words "NOTE: Do not willing to charge" next to a key clause on mistreatment of classified information.
The notation seemed to conflict with former FBI director James Comey's repeated claims that his team had decided that Clinton should not consider criminal charges himself.
But Strzok in his closed door interview refused that DOJ exercised unpleasant influence over the FBI and insisted that DOJ lawyers were involved in an advisory capacity working with agents.
Fox News also confirmed the chart served as a critical tip who laid the foundations of the Republican Republic of John Paul Clcliffe's explosive question of former lawyer Lisa Lisa Page last year, when Side agreed with Ratcliffe's characterization that DOJ had told the FBI that "you will not impose gross negligence."
A transcript of the site's comments was published Tuesday as part of a major document release by the ranked Republican at the House Rights Committee, Georgia Rep. Doug Collins.
Separately in the closed-door session, Strzok defended his affair with Page, repeatedly that the relationship produced a security risk when challenged by GOP helpers.
Strzok, who was fired from the agency after several months of investigation into anti-Trump text messages between him and Page, confirmed that he was involved in an extramarital affair when asked about it during his pre-committee interview on June 27, 2018. Strzok was also asked by Art Baker, GOP's investigative adviser to the committee, whether this affair could have made him "vulnerable to potential recruitment" of "hostile intelligence[s]. "
"Yes, I don't think I'd characterize it that way," Strzok said. "I think it's not so much a particular act as it is the way that action can be used to force or otherwise get someone to do something. I can tell you that the inexorable affair would in no way have the power to force me to do nothing but comply with the law and make honest and competent inquiry. "
Fox News & # 39; Brooke Singman and Catherine Herridge contributed to this report.