Hillary Clinton’s campaign press secretary is defending immunity agreements that two of the candidate’s lawyers struck with the Justice Department in order to cooperate with the federal investigation into Clinton’s private email server.
And in offering his defense, Brian Fallon, the Clinton spokesman, falsely claimed that the lawyers cooperated fully with the FBI during their interviews.
“These were routine immunity agreement that were provided,” Fallon told Fox News’ Bret Baier during an interview on Tuesday.
“They came after both of these two lawyers sat down and answered every question the FBI had. They submitted to those interviews completely voluntarily.”
But that assertion is false because, according to The Washington Post, Cheryl Mills, Clinton’s attorney and her State Department chief of staff, reportedly got up and walked out of her first interview with federal investigators back in April because she disapproved of questions she was asked.
The immunity agreements were first revealed two weeks ago, nearly two months after FBI director James Comey announced that he would not recommend that charges be filed against Clinton for mishandling classified information.
As part of the agreements, the Justice Department granted immunity to Mills and Heather Samuelson, another Clinton State Department aide who now works as the former secretary of state’s lawyer, in exchange for access to the laptop computers they used to review Clinton’s emails before they were given to the State Department in Dec. 2014.
But Comey, who answered questions about the compacts during a hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee last week, did not mention other wrinkles in the immunity agreements. As was revealed on Monday, the DOJ made “side agreements” with Mills and Samuelson to not only destroy their laptop computers after the investigation but to limit the search of the devices to records created before Jan. 31, 2015.
That timeline limitation may have prevented federal investigators from looking into whether the lawyers ordered any deletions of Clinton’s emails. It’s entirely possible that they did since a computer technician hired by Clinton to manage her server deleted backups of her emails on March 31, 2015.
Paul Combetta, the technician, took part in a conference call with Mills and other Clinton lawyers that same day. It is not known what was said in that conference call because Combetta refused to discuss it with the FBI. He was also granted Justice Department immunity despite lying to investigators about deleting the email backups.
Mills was interviewed twice by the FBI, once on April 9 and again on May 28. As The Post reported, Mills and her attorney left the first interview in protest because Mills was asked about the process she used to review Clinton’s emails. Mills resumed the interview shortly after.
The FBI’s notes of the interview make reference to the disruption.
Mills has refused to discuss her work on the Clinton email production, claiming that it is protected by attorney-client privilege.
During his interview with Baier, Fallon blamed Republicans for focusing on the immunity agreements.
“It’s just because the Justice Department provided things to Congress and Republican members of Congress are leaking it out about a month or so away from the general election,” Fallon said.
He offered no explanation for why the Clinton campaign did not reveal the immunity agreement’s sooner.