A staffer for a committee led by Iowa U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley in 2016 worked to unearth emails deleted by Hillary Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State and presidential candidate, according to the special counsel report released this week to the public.
Barbara Ledeen, a longtime Republican operative, searched for the deleted emails at the behest of Michael Flynn, who was acting on the request of then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, Flynn said, according to the special counsel report.
At the time, Trump faced Clinton in the presidential election and Ledeen was working under Grassley on the U.S. Senate judiciary committee. The committee was investigating alleged links between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Ledeen had attempted to discover Clinton’s emails before being asked by Flynn, the report said. She reported her progress to Flynn throughout 2016.
In September of 2016, Ledeen claimed to have found a batch of emails on the dark web recovered from Clinton’s private email server. A tech adviser determined they were not authentic, the report says.
Grassley’s office said Ledeen’s efforts to recover the emails were conducted on her personal time and were not authorized by the judiciary committee. Staff did not learn of her efforts until she had completed her search, and she was instructed not to continue, Grassley’s office said.
Ledeen’s work on the judiciary committee dealt only with nominations, never oversight, Grassley’s office said.
She has never been a Grassley employee, the office said, she only worked on the judiciary committee staff while the senator was chairman.
The Guardian first reported Ledeen’s efforts in 2017.
Ledeen still works for the Senate judiciary committee, according to the federal government affairs database LegiStorm.
After the election, Flynn became Trump’s national security adviser. He resigned 24 days later, after reports surfaced he lied about his contact with Russian officials during the campaign. He later pleaded guilty to lying to investigators as part of the special counsel’s investigation; he has not yet been sentenced.