The federal agents involved in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server were required to sign a strict non-disclosure agreement that subjected them to lie detector tests, Fox News reported on Thursday.
The unusual "Case Briefing Acknowledgement," the existence of which was confirmed by the FBI, was intended to keep a record of the agents involved in the investigation and prevent outside leaks of sensitive information.
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Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley wrote a letter to FBI director James Comey on July 1 raising questions about the non-disclosure agreement. FBI agents are already prohibited from discussing ongoing investigations, and sources told Fox News that the additional non-disclosure contract is used only in rare cases that are highly sensitive. Fox News reported:
The measures show the extent to which the bureau has gone to keep additional details of the politically sensitive case from going public. While Comey has provided some information on why the FBI did not opt to pursue charges, Attorney General Loretta Lynch repeatedly ducked questions on specifics of the case at a House hearing Tuesday.
A recently retired FBI agent, who declined to speak on the record, citing the sensitivity of the matter, said a "Case Briefing Acknowledgement" is reserved for "the most sensitive of sensitive cases," and can have a "chilling effect" on agents, who understand "it comes from the very top and that there has to be a tight lid on the case."
In the letter, Grassley raised concerns that the contract could have a chilling effect on whistleblowers who may have disagreed with Comey’s decision not to recommend criminal charges against Clinton:
"In light of all these inconsistencies, it is even more troubling that the FBI tried to gag its agents with a non-disclosure agreement on this matter, in violation of whistleblower protection statutes," Grassley said in the strongly worded letter. "…you indicated that agents working on this case were required to sign a non-disclosure agreement that failed to exempt protected whistleblowing. Only after I wrote to you did you advise your FBI agents that they are still free to speak with Congress regarding waste, fraud, and abuse."
In a letter responding to Grassley, the FBI said the purpose of the non-disclosure agreement was "to maintain an official record of all persons knowledgeable of this highly unusual investigation, and to remind individuals of their obligations to protect classified and sensitive information." The bureau also said that no agents objected to signing the agreement.
The existence of the contract was first reported by the New York Post earlier this week.