FBI Concerned About Preventing Damage from Leakers
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch today released 29 pages of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) documents related to the June 27, 2016, tarmac meeting between former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and former President Bill Clinton. The documents show that FBI officials were more concerned about leaks than the actual meeting itself. The new documents also show that then-FBI Director Comey seemed to learn of the meeting from news reports.
The new documents were obtained by Judicial Watch in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:16-cv-02046)) filed after the Justice Department failed to comply with a July 7, 2016, FOIA request seeking:
- All FD-302 forms prepared pursuant to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server during her tenure.
- All records of communications between any agent, employee, or representative of the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding, concerning, or related to the aforementioned investigation. This request includes, but is not limited to, any related communications with any official, employee, or representative of the Department of Justice, the Executive Office of the President, the Democratic National Committee, and/or the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.
- All records related to the meeting between Attorney General Lynch and former President Bill Clinton on June 27, 2016.
The new FBI documents show FBI officials were concerned about a leak that Bill Clinton delayed his aircraft taking off in order to “maneuver” a meeting with the attorney general. The resulting story in the Observer is seemingly confirmed and causes a flurry of emails about the source of the article. FBI official(s) write “we need to find that guy” and that the Phoenix FBI office was contacted “in an attempt to stem any further damage.” Another FBI official, working on AG Lynch’s security detail, suggests instituting non-disclosure agreements. The names of the emails authors are redacted. There are no documents showing concern about the meeting itself.
The FBI originally informed Judicial Watch they could not locate any records related to the tarmac meeting. However, in a related FOIA lawsuit, the Justice Department located emails in which Justice Department officials communicated with the FBI and wrote that they had communicated with the FBI. As a result, by letter dated August 10, 2017, from the FBI stated, “Upon further review, we subsequently determined potentially responsive documents may exist. As a result, your [FOIA] request has been reopened…”
On June 27, 2016, Attorney General Loretta Lynch met with former President Bill Clinton on board a parked plane at Sky Harbor International Airport in Phoenix, Arizona. The meeting occurred during the then-ongoing investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s email server, and only a few days before she was interviewed the Justice Department and FBI. (Judicial Watch filed a request on June 30 that the U.S. Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General investigate that meeting.)
The tarmac meeting also came just days before former FBI Director James Comey held the July 5, 2016, press conference in which he announced that no charges would be filed against Mrs. Clinton. In his subsequent, May 3, 2017, testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Comey said the Lynch-Clinton tarmac meeting was the “capper” among “a number of things” that had caused him to determine that Department of Justice leadership “could not credibly complete the investigation and decline prosecution without grievous damage to the American people’s confidence in the justice system.”
“These new FBI documents show the FBI was more concerned about a whistleblower who told the truth about the infamous Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting than the scandalous meeting itself,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The documents show the FBI worked to make sure no more details of the meeting would be revealed to the American people. No wonder the FBI didn’t turn these documents over until Judicial Watch caught the agency red-handed hiding them. These new documents confirm the urgent need to reopen the Clinton email scandal and criminally investigate the resulting Obama FBI/DOJ sham investigation.”