Facing “invitations” from FBI Director James Comey to appear for interviews, four of Hillary Clinton’s top aides during her tenure as President Obama’s Secretary of State during his first term, have retained the same attorney to represent them in what may be a pivotal moment in the investigation of her unorthodox use of a private email server to conduct official State Department communication.

The FBI is thought to be entering the final stages of its investigation after nearly 150 agents have spent months examining physical and digital evidence, including 30,000 official emails Mrs. Clinton created or received in her capacity as Secretary, as well as 30,000 more she deemed “personal” and had deleted.

The revelation comes on the same day the State Department announced the suspension of its internal review into the matter after seeking guidance from the FBI.

Spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said the Department was told to “follow standard practice,” which is to put internal reviews “on hold while there is an ongoing law enforcement investigation underway.”

IT specialist Bryan Pagliano, who was not only employed at State, but paid privately by Clinton to manage the server at her residence in Chappaqua, New York, has been granted immunity by the FBI.

The four Clinton aides who will be interviewed by the FBI are: chief of staff, Cheryl Mills, and her deputy, Heather Samuelson; deputy chief of staff Jake Sullivan; and spokesman Philippe Reines.

The strategy provides the opportunity to present a united front and cohesive narrative, but may pose problems should any of them deviate from an agreed-upon account of Clinton’s email practices at State.

In addition, their counsel, Beth Wilkinson, the former assistant U.S. attorney who prosecuted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, will be able to glean information from each of the interviews that may have bearing on the others.

A former U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Tennessee, Bill Killian, however, calls the strategy “fraught with danger,” adding “I’ve rarely seen a situation where a lawyer can provide a common defense to multiple people without there being a conflict of interest at some point.”

 

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