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23 Sep, 2016 22:35

‘Like candy’: Clinton staffers given immunity deals by FBI – GOP lawmaker

‘Like candy’: Clinton staffers given immunity deals by FBI – GOP lawmaker

Hillary Clinton’s former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and two other staff members, were granted partial immunity deals in exchange for their cooperation with the FBI, according to a Republican congressman.

“No wonder they couldn’t prosecute a case. They were handing out immunity deals like candy,” House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) told Associated Press on Friday.

The now-closed FBI investigation was over Clinton’s use of a private email server when she was secretary of state.

Chaffetz, who has been looking into Clinton’s email practices, and who requested the immunity agreements from the Justice Department, said they showed Mills had given federal investigators access to her laptop on the condition that whatever they found couldn’t be used against her.

Chaffetz told AP he was “absolutely stunned” that the FBI cut a deal with someone as close to the investigation as Mills, and said by including the emails recovered from the laptops in the immunity agreements, “the Justice Department exempted key physical evidence from any potential criminal case against the aides.”

Mills had been among Clinton’s closest confidants and voluntarily appeared last year for a lengthy interview as part of the House GOP’s investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attacks that left four Americans dead.

The Justice Department issued the House Oversight Committee chair copies of the agreements, but they remain under seal.

Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon accused House Republicans of “trying to make something out of nothing” by requesting the files, and timing the request “just three days before the first presidential debate.”

“Congressman Chaffetz continues to abuse his office by wasting taxpayer dollars to try to second-guess the FBI in what amounts to a desperate attempt to boost Donald Trump’s chances against Hillary Clinton,” Fallon said.

But Chaffetz said he disclosed the immunity deal Friday, because that’s when he first learned of it from the FBI.

A total of five Clinton staffers received immunity deals, including John Bentel, then-director of the State Department’s Office of Information Resources Management, and Clinton aide Heather Samuelson, according to Chaffetz. Others granted immunity were Bryan Pagliano, a tech expert who set up Clinton’s email server, and Paul Combetta, a computer specialist for a private firm that later maintained Clinton’s email setup.

FBI Director James Comey said in July his agents hadn’t found evidence to support any criminal charge or direct evidence that Clinton’s private sector server had been hacked.

Chaffetz is due to question Comey about the immunity deals when the FBI director testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. Chaffetz is also a member of that panel.