The Senate committee has been seeking the memos for some time as it investigates whether Comey chose to absolve Clinton of criminal liability before the election-year probe was complete and before she was even interviewed. Comey ultimately concluded that while Clinton’s handling of classified emails was careless, there was not enough evidence of intent to warrant criminal charges.
Comey had announced in July 2016 that the FBI was declining to pursue charges against Clinton for what it called the careless transmission of classified documents on her private email server. The FBI then re-opened the email case in late October 2016, shocking the political world because it was so close to Election Day, after a new trove of emails was found on an associate’s computer.
Comey then announced a second time he did not plan to pursue criminal charges, a move that came just two days before Clinton lost to Trump in the election. The FBI’s handling was roundly criticized by both Clinton and Trump, and was one of the reasons cited when Trump fired Comey as director earlier this year. Clinton has also blamed Comey in part for her loss in the election.
The new documents being transmitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee are expected to shed light on how the FBI made those decisions, who was involved and whether the decision to clear Clinton was made before she was even interviewed by FBI agents in spring 2016.
The release of the new documents comes as new FBI Director Christopher Wray attempts to build his own relationship with Congress amid multiple oversight investigations.
The release also comes hours after new documents came to light in a federal lawsuit showing exactly when FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe recused himself from the Clinton email investigation, which was codenamed “Mid Year.” McCabe was forced to step aside due to questions about a possible conflict of interest involving hundreds of thousands of dollars of money that flowed to his wife’s political campaign from a Clinton ally.
Those documents (below), released under a FOIA lawsuit to the conservative group Judicial Watch, show McCabe did not recuse himself from the long-running investigation until Nov. 1, 2016, just six days before the probe was officially ended and eight days before Donald Trump was elected president over Clinton.
“As of today I am voluntarily recusing myself from the ongoing Mid Year investigation,” McCabe wrote. “I will continue to respond to congressional requests for historical information as needed.”
By the time McCabe recused himself, he had supervised the case for months after becoming deputy director of the bureau in February 2016. The decision followed newspaper articles that specifically questioned whether he had a conflict of interest because his wife Jill McCabe’s 2015 Virginia state Senate campaign had accepted nearly $700,000 from Clinton ally and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Documents obtained under Virginia Open Records law show McCabe attended a March 2015 meeting with his wife and McAuliffe to secure the governor’s support for her campaign, and the money flowed after that.
McCabe first became involved in the Clinton email case when, as assistant FBI director of the Washington Field Office, he provided resources to the case and then formally supervised it starting in February 2016 when he became deputy director.