FBI Turns Over Secret Clinton Email Documents To GOP Lawmakers Fulfilling a demand from Republicans in Congress, the FBI has shared documents about its closed investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server. Some worry the move sets a bad precedent.
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FBI Turns Over Secret Clinton Email Documents To GOP Lawmakers

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FBI Turns Over Secret Clinton Email Documents To GOP Lawmakers

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

The FBI has shared secret documents from its investigation of Hillary Clinton with members of Congress. Republican lawmakers had asked for the material after the Justice Department closed a national security investigation of Clinton with no criminal charges. Here to talk about the issue is NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. Welcome to the studio.

CARRIE JOHNSON, BYLINE: Thanks, Audie.

CORNISH: So what exactly did people on Capitol Hill want from federal investigators?

JOHNSON: Last month Republicans on the Hill demanded the FBI director turn over any recordings or transcripts of the three-and-a-half-hour interview that Hillary Clinton had done at FBI headquarters. It turns out that interview was not recorded. There was not a word-for-word transcript. But there are some notes agents took of the session, and the FBI director back then said he tried to share what he could. Today the FBI sent a summary with some interview notes and some of the emails at issue to members of Congress.

CORNISH: Now, have you heard any reaction yet from Republicans?

JOHNSON: The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee confirms it has received these documents from the FBI, and the panel says it's reviewing this material but that it's labeled secret at this point. Remember; the FBI director concluded that Hillary Clinton was extremely careless to use a personal server for her email when she was serving as secretary of state, but the director said there's no evidence she lied to federal agents or destroyed any documents so no charges.

CORNISH: Now, is this unusual? I mean how common is it for the Justice Department to share so much information about a case that they decided not to bring?

JOHNSON: In fact, Audie, the FBI decision today to release some of this material at least to members of Congress is extremely controversial. Obama administration lawyers had been going back and forth for days about whether this was a good idea at all, and some veterans of the Justice Department, including Adam Schiff, a Democratic lawmaker from California and a former prosecutor, say this whole idea sets a terrible precedent. He's worried that it may influence witnesses not to cooperate in further investigations, that it could change the way that prosecutors and FBI agents deliberate about whether to bring charges, and at the very least, it will lead members of Congress to demand information about any number of sensitive investigations that were closed with no charges, from public corruption to national security.

CORNISH: Now, even though the FBI's investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server is over, there is still a lot of interest in her email messages obviously. And I understand there was another development regarding those emails today.

JOHNSON: Another development. The FBI recovered tens of thousands of emails from Hillary Clinton's personal email server in the course of this investigation. Federal agents have now turned over those materials to the State Department, and the State Department says it's going to prepare them for release to Judicial Watch.

Judicial Watch is a conservative nonprofit group that's been scouring the emails that have been released so far for any evidence of wrongdoing by Hillary Clinton. They're looking for any connections between the State Department and the Clinton Foundation. This new pool of emails could be a target-rich environment for them moving forward as the presidential campaign comes to an end.

JOHNSON: That's NPR's Carrie Johnson. Carrie, thank you.

JOHNSON: You're welcome.

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