DEM 2016 Clinton Emails
DEM 2016 Clinton Emails

The former chief of staff of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was granted immunity from prosecution for cooperating with the FBI probe into Clinton's use of a private email server for government business while she was secretary of state.

Jason Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said Friday that Cheryl Mills was granted immunity after giving investigators access to Clinton's laptop computer on the condition that any findings could not be used against her.

Two other Clinton staff members were also given immunity, to the dismay of Congressman Chaffetz, who said he was "absolutely stunned" the FBI would reach an agreement with someone as close to the investigation as Mills.

Clinton Email
FILE - Cheryl Mills speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 3, 2015.

"No wonder they couldn't prosecute a case. They were handing out immunity deals like candy," he said.

The FBI closed the year-old case in July after director James Comey said investigators did not uncover evidence to support a criminal charge or evidence that Clinton's server had been hacked.

Information about the immunity was disclosed by the FBI on Friday to Chaffetz and fellow oversight committee member Jim Jordan.

Upcoming debate

The Clinton campaign maintains the disclosure was intentionally made three days before the presidential debate between Clinton and Republican opponent Donald Trump.

The two candidates are temporarily winding down their activities on the campaign trail in order to prepare for Monday's debate. Trump is scheduled to make one campaign appearance Saturday in Virginia, while Clinton is not scheduled to appear at a campaign event until Oct. 5.

Monday's presidential debate, the first of three, will show both Clinton and Trump on the same stage together for the first time.

The televised debate will be watched by tens of millions of viewers who will scrutinize both candidates for strengths and weaknesses.

Clinton and Trump are taking much different approaches to their preparations for the debate, which may be the most widely watched since Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan squared off in 1980.

Clinton is cramming on a thick portfolio of information that has been compiled after months of research on Trump.

Trump is taking the non-traditional approach, shunning briefing materials in favor of viewing Clinton videos and honing ideas into short responses.

With his theme of making America great again, Trump hopes to seize an opportunity to further narrow the polling gap with Clinton.

Clinton would consider the debate a success if she can reassure her supporters she is the best candidate by emphasizing the need for a more inclusive economy.