Chaffetz Asks FBI, 'What Information Do You Believe That Congress Does Not Have the Right to See?

By Susan Jones | September 13, 2016 | 6:23am EDT
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. (AP File Photo)

( - The chairman of the House Oversight committee on Monday said the FBI must produce its full investigative file on Hillary Clinton's use of a personal server and email address to the United States Congress.

"And I mean the full file, not just the parts the FBI deemed relevant," Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told the FBI's congressional liaison on Monday. “We decide what's relevant, not the Department of Justice, not the FBI. We're entitled to the full file," Chaffetz said.


The FBI announced in July that it would not bring criminal charges against Clinton for conducting government business, some of it classified, on a private server and email account.

On Sept. 2, the FBI released a redacted summary of Clinton’s July 2, 2016 interview with the FBI involving allegations that she mishandled classified information. The FBI also released a redacted summary of its investigation.

On Monday, Chaffetz issued a subpoena for the rest of the investigative material, including witness statements, but not before explaining the rights of Congress to an FBI representative.

"What information do you believe that Congress does not have the right to see?" Chaffetz asked Jason Herring, the acting assistant FBI director for congressional affairs.

"There's more to it than a simple answer," Herring said.

"What is it that you believe we don't have the right to see?" Chaffetz asked again. "See, this is the way our government works. We get to do oversight. That's why, since 1814, this committee has been doing that.

"There's executive privilege -- Let me help you," Chaffetz continued. "There's executive privilege. Has the president invoked executive privilege in this case?"

"No," Herring said.

"The answer's no. Good. That's right," Chaffetz agreed. "The answer's no. Is there any other situation?"

"Look, when it comes to classified information and the the executive order -- not all the information that we have in our files belongs to us," Herring said. "We defer to other agencies when it comes to access to their classified information."

"But you were the ones that put redactions on personal identifiable information, correct?" Chaffetz asked.
"We did on the personal identifiable information, that's correct," Herring replied. (The FBI files released to the public on Sept. 2 blanked out the names of some email recipients along with other, presumably classified, information.)

"Where in the Constitution does it say that I can't see that?" Chaffetz asked.

"Doesn't address it specifically in the Constitution," Herring admitted.

"So can you cite any legal case, any precedent, that says that Congress can't look at personal identifiable information?" Chaffetz asked.

"I cannot cite any legal case," Herring said.

Did-- Are you aware that Congress is exempt from the Privacy Act?

"I am," Herring said.

"Does the FBI treat congressional document requests as FOIA requests?"

"No," Herring replied.

"Will the FBI provide Congress all of the 302s (investigative files)?" Chaffetz asked again.

"All of the 302s?" Herring asked. "You have one set that you've been provided already. The rest of them are coming through the FOIA process."

"Wait, wait, wait!" Chaffetz interrupted. "FOIA process. You mean I gotta fill out a FOIA request?"

"You can," Herring said. "Not necessary."

"When -- Here's the problem. You handpicked the 302s to give to us," Chaffetz said. "But the reality is, you should give us all the 302s."

"Let me say this," Herring said. "I think that the Director (FBI Director James Comey) made principled decisions about what to say to Congress when he was here and also what to provide to Congress. As far as the--

"Wait!" Chaffetz said. "Where do I find that? Do we just let everybody in government decide, based on their own individual principles, that's what -- See, it's trust but verify is how it works. You don't get to decide what I get to see. I get to see it all. I was elected by 800,000 people to come to congress and see classified information. I was elected by my colleagues here to be the chairman of this committee.

"That's the way our Constitution works.  Will the FBI provide to Congress the full file with no redactions of personal idenfiable information?" Chaffetz asked again.

"I cannot make that commitment sitting here today," Herring said.

"Then I'm going to issue a subpoena and I'm going to do it right now. So let's go. I've signed this subpoena," Chaffetz said, holding it up. "We want all the 302s and we would like the full file. You can accept service on behalf of the FBI?"

"Certainly," Herring agreed.

"You are hereby served. We have a duty and a responsibility. You can cite no precedent. Nothing in the Constitution. No legal precedent. You know this is important to us. You now have your subpeona. We would all like to see this information."

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