- The Washington Times - Friday, September 23, 2016

The FBI offered Cheryl Mills, one of the closest confidantes of Hillary Clinton, a limited immunity deal, granting her protection in order to get ahold of her computer and recover some of the former State Department secretary’s email messages, members of Congress said Friday after getting a peek at the agreement.

And later Friday the FBI released still more details of its investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s mishandling of classified information, including that one of the contractors hired to wipe her server of all contents referred to it as the “Hillary coverup operation.”

The revelations heightened the already sizable controversy surrounding Mrs. Clinton’s secret email account, kept on a server at her home in New York, where she improperly handled top secret information and shielded her messages from public view for nearly six years, defying federal record-keeping rules.

“At its heart, Clinton’s secret server was an end run around government transparency laws designed to hide corruption between the Clinton Foundation and her State Department, an arrangement which ultimately put our national security and sensitive diplomatic efforts at risk,” said Trump spokesman Jason Miller in the wake of the revelations.

But Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” program, blamed Republicans for “making Hillary look bad” in releasing some of the documents.

“We have asked FBI to release all information that they have shared with the Republicans, so we can get the full picture,” he said.

The FBI recommended against charging Mrs. Clinton with mishandling classified information, with Director James B. Comey saying that she did mishandle classified information but saying she was too technologically bungling to know how badly she was risking national security, and too inept to understand the material she was handling was supposed to be classified.

In the course of its investigation the FBI granted immunity to a handful of people, the agency revealed last week to Congress — including Ms. Mills, who was granted limited protection for her computer, but not for any statements or testimony she gave.

“No wonder they couldn’t prosecute a case. They were handing out immunity deals like candy,” Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, Utah Republican, told The Associated Press after revealing the Mills deal.

Fearing the reports could damage Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the committee, released a statement saying Mr. Chaffetz was blowing the case out of proportion.

“It’s beyond disappointing — but not surprising in light of the election — that Republicans are rushing to leak inaccurate information about this very limited agreement between Ms. Mills and the Justice Department,” he said.

He said Ms. Mills was only granted immunity for her computer, which she used to go through Mrs. Clinton’s emails in 2014 — nearly two years after Mrs. Clinton left office — to determine which ones she should have left as official work records.

Unlike Bryan Pagliano, Mrs. Clinton’s top tech staffer who was also granted immunity by the FBI but has refused to cooperate with congressional probes into Mrs. Clinton’s emails, Ms. Mills has cooperated. The Oversight Committee voted this week to recommend the House cite Mr. Pagliano for contempt of Congress after he twice refused to appear to testify.

Mr. Chaffetz told The Associated Press that the FBI also granted immunity deals to Clinton aide Heather Samuelson and John Bentel, who was a top tech staffer at the State Department while Mrs. Clinton was there.

The White House said Friday it wasn’t going to second-guess Mr. Comey for the immunity deals.

“The reason that President Obama nominated Director Comey to lead the FBI a few years ago is based on his reputation and commitment to putting politics aside and focusing on his responsibilities as a public servant,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “The president’s got a lot of confidence in the ability of senior officials at the FBI to make decisions based on their judgment, not on the politics.”

Dave Boyer contributed to this article.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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