Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley on Thursday accused the FBI of “improperly commingling” unclassified material and classified material in the documents it turned over related to the Clinton email investigation.
“As I have expressed to the FBI in the past, it is inappropriate to unnecessarily mingle classified and unclassified information,” Chairman Grassley writes in a letter to the Senate Security Director.
Grassley goes on to explain how this is an improper method of document production because it limits the access to some staffers who do not hold a proper security clearance.
To remedy the problem, Grassley asked the Security Director (with the help of the FBI) to sort through the items and pull out the unclassified materials
“Accordingly, as you have done on similar occasions in the past, please provide the Judiciary Committee with a copy of the unclassified FBI documents from the production,” Grassley writes. “ Out of an abundance of caution, my staff has asked the FBI to work with your office to confirm that the FBI interview summaries contained in the binders sent yesterday that do not contain the proper classified markings are, in fact, unclassified.”
The Chairman also asked the Security Director to properly redact any of the portion marked classified materials found in the binder containing the FBI investigative notes.
“For those documents that are portion marked, please provide the Committee with unclassified copies by redacting the information that has been marked as classified. This request applies only to the documents authored by the FBI in the first binder,” Grassley’s letter states.
While it is unclear exactly what is contained within the “first binder” referenced above, we can make some educated guesses based on some of the other information contained in this letter.
Earlier in the letter, Grassley writes a “substantial amount of the material appears to be unclassified.” He then mentions how the “FBI 302 interview summary of Huma Abedin and several other witnesses appear to be entirely unclassified….” Next, he describes how “the Letterhead Memorandum summarizing the FBI’s investigation is 32 pages long, but has fewer than a dozen and a half paragraphs marked SECRET.”
Finally, later in the letter, Grassley made it clear that his directive (to redact and re-sort) did not apply to a second binder of materials that he says contains the classified emails recovered from Clinton’s server.
The materials described in Grassley’s letter seem to fit with the various reports over the past few days that Congress would receive an overall investigative summary of the evidence; summary reports of interviews, or 302 forms; and copies of emails containing classified material found on Clinton’s private server.
It is still unclear whether Grassley’s efforts to separate the classified material from the unclassified material will help in getting at least some of the materials released publicly.
As was mentioned yesterday, FBI Acting Assistant Director Jason Herring wrote a letter accompanying the release of the material to Congress that included a stern warning about leaking any of the material to the public.
“These materials are nonpublic and contain classified and other sensitive material. For that reason, these materials may not be further disseminated or disclosed, in part or in full, without obtaining the FBI’s concurrence,” Herring wrote.
READ the Letter: