One of the Justice Department officials who interviewed Hillary Clinton in July as part of the government’s investigation into her email practices has contributed to President Obama’s presidential campaigns, The Daily Caller can reveal.
David H. Laufman is named in the notes taken during Clinton’s July 2 interview. Since December 2014 he has served as chief of the counterespionage section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
A former CIA analyst, Laufman joined several other DOJ colleagues and FBI section chief Peter Strzok during Clinton’s three-and-a-half hour interview, notes from the interrogation show.
The White House, Justice Department and FBI have all set a high standard for the Clinton email investigation. All three entities have claimed that the probe was free of political influence and that investigators were independent and nonpartisan.
But Federal Election Commission records show that Laufman has at least some political leanings.
He has contributed $850 to Obama’s two presidential campaigns. He gave $300 directly to the campaign on April 22, 2012 and another $300 to the Obama Victory Fund on the same day. In January 2008, he contributed $250 to Obama’s campaign. Notably, he has not contributed to Hillary Clinton’s campaigns, either this cycle or in 2008.
Just three days after Laufman and other federal officials interviewed Clinton, FBI Director James Comey held a surprise press briefing in which he announced his decision not to charge Clinton and others with mishandling classified information.
Comey said that while Clinton’s email practices were “extremely careless,” he would not recommend charges because no “reasonable” federal prosecutor would pursue a case based on the evidence collected during the investigation.
Days later, to little surprise, Attorney General Loretta Lynch accepted Comey’s recommendation.
The decision not to charge Clinton in the case has angered many Republicans. Some claim that available evidence clearly shows the Clinton violated federal law by sending, receiving and maintaining classified material on her email server.
And one Republican, South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy, has criticized the structure of the Clinton interview itself.
“I didn’t see any questions about intent,” Gowdy said last month after reviewing the notes from Clinton’s interview. The FBI does not have a full transcript of the Clinton session because it does not record interviews.
Laufman’s full role in the investigation and interview is not entirely clear. The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment and more information. A Politico article published in April speculated that he was overseeing the investigation as chief of the DOJ’s counterespionage unit.
That office supervises the investigation and prosecution of national security cases involving espionage, sabotage, neutrality, and atomic energy, according to the DOJ’s website.
Administration has claimed investigation is nonpartisan, apolitical
The Obama administration has faced questions over the integrity of the government’s handling of the investigation. And its case has not been helped by Obama’s comments on the matter or by a controversial meeting Lynch had with Bill Clinton just days before Hillary Clinton’s FBI interview.
In a “60 Minutes” interview last October, Obama said that he didn’t think Clinton’s email setup “posed a national security problem.” The comments were reportedly criticized by some in the FBI who lamented that Obama appeared to put his finger on the scales of justice.
Lynch unannounced meeting with Bill Clinton has only added to those concerns. She met in secret with the former president for 30 minutes on board her airplane while it was waiting on the tarmac at the Phoenix airport. Both Lynch and Clinton claimed that the email investigation was not discussed. But Lynch did acknowledge that the timing of the meeting called the integrity of the email investigation into question.
Lynch sought to reassure the public that the investigation was free from political influence on July 1, a day before Hillary Clinton’s interview.
“I’ve always indicated, the matter is being handled by career agents and investigators with the Department of Justice, they’ve had it since the beginning, they are independent,” the Obama appointee said at a forum hosted by the Aspen Institute.
“And as I’ve always said that this matter will be handled by the career people who are independent. They live from administration to administration,” Lynch continued.
That same day, White House press secretary Joshua Earnest claimed that the email investigation was not politicized.
“This is an independent investigation that is intentionally being shielded from any sort of political interference,” Earnest said during the White House’s daily press briefing.
Comey also provided assurances that the federal investigation was not a political football.
“Only facts matter, and the FBI found them here in an entirely apolitical and professional way. I couldn’t be prouder to be part of this organization,” Comey said during his July 5 announcement regarding his decision not to recommend charges.
Other than his contributions to Obama, Laufman appears to have no other overt political leanings listed in the public record. He has also worked in the past for Republican administrations.
Laufman served as assistant U.S. Attorney in the eastern district of Virginia during the George W. Bush administration. He also served as deputy to the assistant attorney general from 2001 to 2003.
Just prior to re-joining the Justice Department, Laufman operated his own white collar defense law firm and was a partner at the New York City-based law firm, Kelley Drye.