The FBI on Tuesday gave Congress notes about its three-hour interview with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the investigation into her private email setup, following a demand from GOP lawmakers.
The notes are classified as secret and are not expected to be made public. However, the FBI’s summary of the Clinton interview will likely become a hot commodity on Capitol Hill, where Republican lawmakers are alleging that the Democratic presidential nominee lied under oath.
“Ultimately, the FBI did not recommend prosecution based on an assessment of the facts and review of how these statutes have been charged in the past,” Jason Herring, the FBI’s acting assistant director for congressional affairs,told the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which requested the materials.
A spokesperson with the Oversight Committee confirmed that the panel had received “a number of documents” related to the Clinton email investigation and said that staffers were reviewing them. The spokesperson declined to offer additional details.
The documents were expected to include a federal form summarizing the more than three-hour interview with Clinton at the bureau’s headquarters in early July, known as an FD-302. The interview with Clinton was not recorded and she did not swear an oath before answering the bureau’s questions, in keeping with the FBI’s policy, so the FD-302 form is likely the best accounting of the interview.
“It’s a very long 302,” FBI Director James Comey told the Oversight Committee in July.
During his appearance on Capitol Hill, Comey testified that Clinton did not lie during her interview. Even though the Democratic presidential nominee did not swear an oath, it would still be a crime to lie to the bureau during an interview.
In addition to its file about the Clinton interview, the FBI is believed to have transmitted details to the committee about the multiple other interviews carried out as part of the federal investigation. Those interviews reportedly included high-ranking Clinton aides such as Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin.
An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment.
Dozens of Republicans lawmakers had demanded that the FBI hand over the report about Clinton’s interview, raising questions about the bureau’s investigation.
GOP lawmakers said they were shocked by the FBI’s decision not to recommend criminal charges against Clinton last month and have accused Comey, a Republican, of instituting a two-tiered system of justice.
Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch defended the decision on Capitol Hill last month, and Herring, in his letter on Tuesday, reiterated much of their arguments.
Clinton and her team were “extremely careless,” the FBI official maintained, but their behavior did not meet the legal hurdles for an indictment.
Democrats had opposed the call to give the FBI materials to Capitol Hill, claiming that Republicans were merely trying to prolong a politically damaging saga for Clinton.
The move could set a precedent, warned Rep, Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), and discourage people from participating in future interviews with the FBI. Handing over the notes also serves little purpose, Schiff maintained, since the case is closed and Congress has no power to reopen it.
“And make no mistake, if these statements are released to Congress, they will be released,” said Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, in a statement on Monday. “The history of the partisan Benghazi investigation made it clear that any information that can be leaked by the majority to the prejudice of Secretary Clinton, will be leaked.”
Top Oversight Committee Democrat Elijah Cummings (Md.) said Republicans were motivated by an urge to keep the spotlight on Clinton’s emails and “distract from Donald Trump’s sagging poll numbers.”
While Comey has said that Clinton did not lie to the FBI, GOP lawmakers said they have found multiple instances in which she appeared to make misstatements during a sworn-oath testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi last December.
Lawmakers have asked the FBI to open a probe into possible perjury charges and outlined for prosecutors how she may have broken with the truth.