Why did the DOJ coddle a witness in the Clinton email investigation?
The FBI's Labor Day weekend document dump regarding its investigation of Hillary Clinton gives those who thought the result was predetermined much to complain about. The FBI's notes confirm that her former chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, was among the several lawyers representing Clinton in her FBI interview. Mills was hip-deep in the events at the heart of the FBI's criminal investigation and was herself a material witness who had previously sat for her own interview. Yet not only was she allowed by the Department of Justice to participate as counsel in Clinton's interview, her communications with Clinton and other material witnesses also were actively protected by the Department of Justice throughout the criminal and civil investigations.
Typically, the DOJ would look askance where a material witness sought to act as a lawyer for the subject of a federal criminal investigation. In Mills's case, Justice lawyers went out of their way to accommodate this highly unusual dual-hat role. For those who wonder whether Clinton's FBI interview was all for show, Mills's participation as a lawyer should be Exhibit A.
Mills, who was a regular correspondent with Clinton on Clinton's home-brewed email, testified as a fact witness about her personal knowledge of Clinton's email setup in both the FBI investigation and related civil depositions. At the same time, Mills purported to represent Clinton as her lawyer. Mills was not, however, a lawyer for Clinton during her tenure at the State Department. Her title was "Chief of Staff and Counselor." But the "counselor" position was, according to Mills's testimony in one of the many Clinton email FOIA cases, "not a lawyer role"; it was a "policy role." Mills contends that, after leaving the State Department in 2013, she was hired by Clinton as her personal lawyer to coordinate the response to State's demand for return of her emails.