Peter Strzok's role in Clinton email investigation takes a sinister turn

Former FBI counter-intelligence expert Peter Strzok, demoted by Robert Mueller following a series of anti-Trump texts to his mistress, was the individual responsible for changing the wording in Director Comey's statement on Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information from "grossly negligent" to "extremely careless."

That single change probably kept Hillary Clinton out of jail.

It has also been revealed that Strzok was the FBI agent who interviewed both Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's two top aides.  Mills and Abedin made misleading statements to the FBI in that interview but went unpunished. 

That a demonstrably partisan investigator has been at the center of an investigation that could lead to the impeachment of a president of the United States makes it impossible for Robert Mueller to claim that his investigation is unbiased and independent.

First, Strzok giving Clinton a "get out of jail" edit to Comey's statement.

CNN:

Electronic records show Peter Strzok, who led the investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server as the No. 2 official in the counterintelligence division, changed Comey's earlier draft language describing Clinton's actions as "grossly negligent" to "extremely careless," the sources said.

The drafting process was a team effort, CNN is told, with a handful of people reviewing the language as edits were made, according to another US official familiar with the matter.

The shift from "grossly negligent" to "extremely careless," which may appear pedestrian at first glance, reflected a decision by the FBI that could have had potentially significant legal implications, as the federal law governing the mishandling of classified material establishes criminal penalties for "gross negligence."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, raised questions over why the change was made after receiving documents from the FBI last month, but the identity of who was behind the edit has not been reported until now.

CNN has also learned that Strzok was the FBI official who signed the document officially opening an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, according to sources familiar with the matter. As the No. 2 official in counterintelligence, Strzok was considered to be one of the bureau's top experts on Russia.

But the news of Strzok's direct role in the statement that ultimately cleared the former Democratic presidential candidate of criminal wrongdoing, now combined with the fact that he was dismissed from special counsel Robert Mueller's team after exchanging private messages with an FBI lawyer that could be seen as favoring Clinton politically, may give ammunition to those seeking ways to discredit Mueller's Russia investigation.

How about some more "ammunition," CNN?

Daily Caller:

The FBI agent who was fired from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation team for sending anti-Donald Trump text messages conducted the interviews with two Hillary Clinton aides accused of giving false statements about what they knew of the former secretary of state's private email server.

Neither of the Clinton associates, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, faced legal consequences for their misleading statements, which they made in interviews last year with former FBI section chief Peter Strzok.

At the time, Strzok was the FBI's top investigator on the fledgling investigation into Russian interference in the presidential campaign. He was appointed to supervise that effort at the end of July 2016, just weeks after the conclusion of the Clinton email probe. CNN reported on Monday that as the FBI's No. 2 counterintelligence official, Strzok signed the documents that officially opened the collusion inquiry.

Mills and Abedin must have been relieved when they figured out that the agent interviewing them was a friendly.

Summaries of the interviews, known as 302s, were released by the FBI last year.

A review of those documents conducted by The Daily Caller shows that Mills and Abedin told Strzok and Laufman that they were not aware of Clinton's server until after she left the State Department.

"Mills did not learn Clinton was using a private server until after Clinton's [Department of State] tenure," reads notes from Mills' May 28, 2016 interview. "Mills stated she was not even sure she knew what a server was at the time."

Abedin also denied knowing about Clinton's server until leaving the State Department in 2013.

"Abedin did not know that Clinton had a private server until about a year and a half ago when it became public knowledge," the summary of Strzok's interview with Abedin states.

But undercutting those denials are email exchanges in which both Mills and Abedin either directly discussed or were involved in discussing Clinton's server. (RELATED: Chaffetz: Cheryl Mills 'Lied To Everybody' About Clinton's Server)

"hrc email coming back – is server okay?" Mills asked in a Feb. 27, 2010 email to Abedin and Justin Cooper, a longtime aide to Bill Clinton who helped set up the Clinton server.

"Ur funny. We are on the same server," Cooper replied.

Mills and Abedin were also involved in an Aug. 30, 2011 exchange in which State Department official Stephen Mull mentioned that Clinton's "email server is down."

And in a Jan. 9, 2011 email exchange, Cooper told Abedin that Clinton's server had been malfunctioning because "someone was trying to hack us."

"Had to shut down the server," wrote Cooper, who told the FBI in his interviews that he discussed Clinton's server with Abedin in 2009, when it was being set up.

In his congressional testimony last year, Comey gave both aides a pass on lying to the FBI:

"Having done many investigations myself, there's always conflicting recollections of facts, some of which are central [to the investigation], some of which are peripheral," Comey told Jason Chaffetz, a former Utah congressman who served on the committee last year.

Chaffetz was not buying Comey's dismissive response.

"I think she lied to everybody," he said of Mills in an interview on Fox News the night of the Comey hearing.

"There's direct evidence that she actually did know [about the server]," said Chaffetz, who added that Comey's defense of Mills "makes no sense."

It "makes sense" now.

Abedin and Mills lied through their teeth because if they told the truth, they both feared getting caught up in Hillary's legal troubles.  They might have gone to jail themselves if Strzok hadn't changed the language in Comey's recommendation. 

Even if you buy the narrative that all of this isn't "evidence," but rather "supposition," the appearance of impropriety is overwhelming.  Don't you think we deserve a lot more from a special counsel charged with the extraordinary task of investigating a president for impeachable offenses?

Former FBI counter-intelligence expert Peter Strzok, demoted by Robert Mueller following a series of anti-Trump texts to his mistress, was the individual responsible for changing the wording in Director Comey's statement on Hillary Clinton's handling of classified information from "grossly negligent" to "extremely careless."

That single change probably kept Hillary Clinton out of jail.

It has also been revealed that Strzok was the FBI agent who interviewed both Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's two top aides.  Mills and Abedin made misleading statements to the FBI in that interview but went unpunished. 

That a demonstrably partisan investigator has been at the center of an investigation that could lead to the impeachment of a president of the United States makes it impossible for Robert Mueller to claim that his investigation is unbiased and independent.

First, Strzok giving Clinton a "get out of jail" edit to Comey's statement.

CNN:

Electronic records show Peter Strzok, who led the investigation of Hillary Clinton's private email server as the No. 2 official in the counterintelligence division, changed Comey's earlier draft language describing Clinton's actions as "grossly negligent" to "extremely careless," the sources said.

The drafting process was a team effort, CNN is told, with a handful of people reviewing the language as edits were made, according to another US official familiar with the matter.

The shift from "grossly negligent" to "extremely careless," which may appear pedestrian at first glance, reflected a decision by the FBI that could have had potentially significant legal implications, as the federal law governing the mishandling of classified material establishes criminal penalties for "gross negligence."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, raised questions over why the change was made after receiving documents from the FBI last month, but the identity of who was behind the edit has not been reported until now.

CNN has also learned that Strzok was the FBI official who signed the document officially opening an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, according to sources familiar with the matter. As the No. 2 official in counterintelligence, Strzok was considered to be one of the bureau's top experts on Russia.

But the news of Strzok's direct role in the statement that ultimately cleared the former Democratic presidential candidate of criminal wrongdoing, now combined with the fact that he was dismissed from special counsel Robert Mueller's team after exchanging private messages with an FBI lawyer that could be seen as favoring Clinton politically, may give ammunition to those seeking ways to discredit Mueller's Russia investigation.

How about some more "ammunition," CNN?

Daily Caller:

The FBI agent who was fired from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation team for sending anti-Donald Trump text messages conducted the interviews with two Hillary Clinton aides accused of giving false statements about what they knew of the former secretary of state's private email server.

Neither of the Clinton associates, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, faced legal consequences for their misleading statements, which they made in interviews last year with former FBI section chief Peter Strzok.

At the time, Strzok was the FBI's top investigator on the fledgling investigation into Russian interference in the presidential campaign. He was appointed to supervise that effort at the end of July 2016, just weeks after the conclusion of the Clinton email probe. CNN reported on Monday that as the FBI's No. 2 counterintelligence official, Strzok signed the documents that officially opened the collusion inquiry.

Mills and Abedin must have been relieved when they figured out that the agent interviewing them was a friendly.

Summaries of the interviews, known as 302s, were released by the FBI last year.

A review of those documents conducted by The Daily Caller shows that Mills and Abedin told Strzok and Laufman that they were not aware of Clinton's server until after she left the State Department.

"Mills did not learn Clinton was using a private server until after Clinton's [Department of State] tenure," reads notes from Mills' May 28, 2016 interview. "Mills stated she was not even sure she knew what a server was at the time."

Abedin also denied knowing about Clinton's server until leaving the State Department in 2013.

"Abedin did not know that Clinton had a private server until about a year and a half ago when it became public knowledge," the summary of Strzok's interview with Abedin states.

But undercutting those denials are email exchanges in which both Mills and Abedin either directly discussed or were involved in discussing Clinton's server. (RELATED: Chaffetz: Cheryl Mills 'Lied To Everybody' About Clinton's Server)

"hrc email coming back – is server okay?" Mills asked in a Feb. 27, 2010 email to Abedin and Justin Cooper, a longtime aide to Bill Clinton who helped set up the Clinton server.

"Ur funny. We are on the same server," Cooper replied.

Mills and Abedin were also involved in an Aug. 30, 2011 exchange in which State Department official Stephen Mull mentioned that Clinton's "email server is down."

And in a Jan. 9, 2011 email exchange, Cooper told Abedin that Clinton's server had been malfunctioning because "someone was trying to hack us."

"Had to shut down the server," wrote Cooper, who told the FBI in his interviews that he discussed Clinton's server with Abedin in 2009, when it was being set up.

In his congressional testimony last year, Comey gave both aides a pass on lying to the FBI:

"Having done many investigations myself, there's always conflicting recollections of facts, some of which are central [to the investigation], some of which are peripheral," Comey told Jason Chaffetz, a former Utah congressman who served on the committee last year.

Chaffetz was not buying Comey's dismissive response.

"I think she lied to everybody," he said of Mills in an interview on Fox News the night of the Comey hearing.

"There's direct evidence that she actually did know [about the server]," said Chaffetz, who added that Comey's defense of Mills "makes no sense."

It "makes sense" now.

Abedin and Mills lied through their teeth because if they told the truth, they both feared getting caught up in Hillary's legal troubles.  They might have gone to jail themselves if Strzok hadn't changed the language in Comey's recommendation. 

Even if you buy the narrative that all of this isn't "evidence," but rather "supposition," the appearance of impropriety is overwhelming.  Don't you think we deserve a lot more from a special counsel charged with the extraordinary task of investigating a president for impeachable offenses?

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