Trump Suggests Clinton Received FBI 'Immunity' Over Emails

Friday, September 30, 2016

Almost three months after the FBI declined to recommend charges be brought against Hillary Clinton for her use of a private email account while serving as secretary of state, Donald Trump on Thursday suggested that the Democratic candidate for president "probably" received "immunity" in the case.

Trump provided no specific evidence for his assertion, and ABC News has found no information to corroborate it.

Trump leveled the claim at a campaign rally in New Hampshire while referring to testimony given Wednesday by FBI Director James Comey to the House Judiciary Committee about the bureau's investigation of Clinton.

After first decrying the immunity deals given to some of Clinton's associates, the Republican nominee turned to Clinton herself.

"They probably gave her immunity, too," Trump said. "Do you think Hillary got-- yeah she got the immunity. She had something."

Comey was ardent in his defense of the FBI on Wednesday, repudiating suggestions that the investigation was carried out in a partisan manner and justifying the use of immunity for five Clinton aides -- with two of the deals limited in scope. He called such deals necessary to access information in order "to see if you can make a case against your subjects."

"Our focus was on the subject," Comey said. "The subject at that point was Hillary Clinton."

A federal law enforcement official said Trump's claim "doesn't make sense."

"We do not carry water for one side or the other. That's hard for people to see because so much of our country, we see things through sides," Comey told the House committee. "We are not on anybody's side."

Pressed by Rep Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas, about the frequency of immunity agreements, Comey explained that the investigation acted in an standard way and described the goal of immunity, to "work up" towards higher-level individuals, making it unlikely Clinton would have received a similar arrangement.

"Fairly typical in a complex white collar case especially as you try and work your way up towards your subject," said Comey. "So my overall reaction is, this looks like ordinary investigative process to me."

Comey additionally called an agreement made to obtain laptops from former Clinton staffers Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson, "a fairly normal tool in investigations."

Those two deals were limited to information acquired from the computers and did not entirely pardon Mills and Samuelson.

As is now a regular part of his stump speech, Trump on Thursday invoked the FBI's finding that Clinton had cellular phones destroyed with a hammer, asking, as he has at earlier rallies, whether anyone in the crowd "has destroyed their phone with a hammer."

He appeared equally perturbed by the lack of public testimony by former State Department IT employee Bryan Pagliano, who repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination when called to speak with the House Select Committee on Benghazi last year.

Pagliano was later granted immunity by the FBI in exchange for his cooperation with their investigation but then failed to appear in front of the House Oversight Committee two weeks ago after being subpoenaed earlier in September.

"You saw what happened about taking the Fifth Amendment and her ringleaders getting immunity deals," said Trump in New Hampshire Thursday. "We'll call them, really, the 'FBI immunity five.' Nobody has ever seen it."

Additional reporting by Mike Levine.

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