Hillary clinton email

Hillary clinton email DEFAULT

While serving as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, Hillary Clinton said she exclusively used a private email account to send both personal messages and communications related to official State Department business.[1][2] By managing her email in this manner, Clinton potentially violated record-keeping, transparency, and security regulations.[3][4][5]

There were three lines of inquiry into Clinton's emails:

  1. Several journalists and watchdog groups filed Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for Clinton's records, including her emails. The resulting federal court cases led to greater scrutiny of Clinton's private email server usage.[6]
  2. The House Select Committee on Benghazi, which investigated how the State Department handled the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, requested information about the management of Clinton's private email server and communications related to Benghazi.[7]
  3. In August 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) began an investigation to determine whether classified documents were mishandled in relation to Clinton's private email server.[8]


  • On May 25, 2016, the Office of the Inspector General of the State Department (OIG) released a report regarding email records management and cybersecurity standards in the agency, which found that Clinton should have preserved all federal records she sent or received on her personal email server. "At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act," the OIG reported.[9]
  • The FBI announced on July 5, 2016, that it was recommending to the U.S. Department of Justice that no criminal charges be filed against Clinton. FBI Director James Comey said in a statement, "Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case."[10] On July 6, 2016, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that she had accepted the FBI's recommendation and no charges would be brought against Clinton by the Justice Department.[11]
  • On October 28, 2016, Comey announced in a letter to several members of Congress that the FBI had found “emails that appear to be pertinent” to the agency's investigation of Clinton's private email server use in an unrelated case. A week later, on November 6, 2016, Comey submitted another letter to Congress stating that the emails had been reviewed and the FBI maintained that Clinton should not be charged.[12][13]
  • Regulations governing electronic document storage

    Protocol for the retention and security of official government documents is governed by several regulations: the Federal Records Act, guidelines issued by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Section 1924 under Title 18 of the United States Code.[14] Some of these rules were changed to more directly address electronic records after Clinton left her position as secretary of state in 2013.

    Regulations in place during Clinton's tenure as secretary of state

    • The Federal Records Act contains the following guidelines for record management:
    The head of each Federal agency shall make and preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the agency and designed to furnish the information necessary to protect the legal and financial rights of the Government and of persons directly affected by the agency’s activities.[15][16]
    • The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) also offers guidance on record retention. In 1995, its regulations stipulated the following:
    Agencies with access to external electronic mail systems shall ensure that Federal records sent or received on these systems are preserved in the appropriate recordkeeping system and that reasonable steps are taken to capture available transmission and receipt data needed by the agency for recordkeeping purposes.[17][18][16]
    • The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was created to "foster democracy by ensuring public access to agency records and information."[19] Anyone can make a FOIA request for official government documents. If the information requested falls under one of nine exemption categories"There are nine categories of exempt information and each is described below.

      Exemption 1: Information that is classified to protect national security.
      Exemption 2: Information related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency.
      Exemption 3: Information that is prohibited from disclosure by another federal law.
      Exemption 4: Trade secrets or commercial or financial information that is confidential or privileged.
      Exemption 5: Privileged communications within or between agencies.
      Exemption 7: Information compiled for law enforcement purposes that [meets one of six other criteria listed on the FOIA website].
      Exemption 8: Information that concerns the supervision of financial institutions.
      Exemption 9: Geological information on wells."[20]

      —The FOIA website, it is not required to be disclosed. "Information that is classified to protect national security" is an example of an exemption category.[20]
    • 18 U.S.C. § 1924 makes it criminal for an employee or contractor of the United States to "knowingly" remove classified documents or retain them at "an unauthorized location."[21]

    Regulations established after Clinton's tenure as secretary of state

    In September 2013, NARA issued new guidance covering email usage. According to NARA, "agency employees must ensure that all Federal records sent or received on personal email systems are captured and managed in accordance with agency recordkeeping practices."[22] The guidance also noted federal employees should not use personal email accounts for official business except where there is an emergency or issue with accessibility.[23]

    In November 2014, President Barack Obama signed into law the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014, which modernized regulations governing electronic document storage. The law updated the Federal Records Act to explicitly include electronic records in the definition of federal records and clarified the duties of federal officials who maintained non-government email systems.[24] One significant change in the law required federal employees who used "a non-official electronic messaging account" to copy the employee's official account when sending messages or forward the record no later than 20 days after it was created.[25]

    Potential liability

    Clinton's potential criminal liability arose under 18 U.S.C. § 1924, the issue being whether she "knowingly" retained classified documents on her private email server.[26] According to the Associated Press on August 31, 2015, experts in government secrecy law believed there was little chance criminal charges would be filed against Clinton. “[T]o prove a crime, the government would have to demonstrate that Clinton or aides knew they were mishandling the information — not that she should have known. A case would be possible if material emerges that is so sensitive Clinton must have known it was highly classified, whether marked or not. … But no such email has surfaced,” the AP noted.[27]

    Anne Tompkins, the former U.S. attorney who prosecuted Gen. David Petraeus under 18 U.S.C. § 1924, also suggested that it was unlikely Clinton could be prosecuted. “The key element that distinguishes Secretary Clinton’s email retention practices from Petraeus’ sharing of classified information is that Petraeus knowingly engaged in unlawful conduct, and that was the basis of his criminal liability,” Tompkins stated.[28]

    On August 31, 2015, former Vice President Dick Cheney said he found it incredible that Clinton did not know the dangers of maintaining her email on a private server. "I know from my own experience that when you go into those kinds of jobs, you're briefed on the enormous importance of being very careful with how you handle classified information. In fact, it looks to me like she approached it in a sort of amateurish, nonprofessional way," Cheney said. Referencing a 2015 data security breach at the Office of Personnel Management, Cheney said of hackers, “They've got my personnel records. How can they not have her emails?”[29]

    Politico conducted a survey of recent federal investigations into the mishandling of classified information and concluded on April 11, 2016, that nearly all of those prosecuted included an “aggravating circumstance” not apparent in Clinton’s use of a private email server. “Between 2011 and 2015, federal prosecutors disposed of 30 referrals from investigators in cases where the main proposed charge was misdemeanor mishandling of classified information .... Prosecution was declined in 80 percent of those cases. Of the six where charges were filed, all the defendants apparently pled guilty, the data show. The cases indicate that a strong dose of prosecutorial discretion is involved, partly because the laws on mishandling classified information are written broadly,” Josh Gerstein of Politico noted.[30]

    Clinton's private email server

    Prior to being sworn in as secretary of state on January 21, 2009, Clinton and her aides decided that she would use a private email account while working for the State Department.[31][32] According to Clinton's 2015 presidential campaign website, she elected to use a private email account "as a matter of convenience," since previous secretaries of state had done the same. It allowed her to "reach people quickly and keep in regular touch with her family and friends more easily given her travel schedule."[2]

    On January 13, 2009, Justin Cooper, an aide to the Clintons, registered the domain clintonemail.com and linked it to a server at the Clintons' home address in Chappaqua, New York. Cooper was initially responsible for the system, although he had "no security clearance and no particular expertise in safeguarding computers."[33] Clinton also hired Bryan Pagliano—the former IT director of Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign and a State Department employee—to manage the server as a "lead specialist." The Washington Post reported that Pagliano was frequently called on to address server issues. After Hurricane Sandy hit New York in October 2012 and the system crashed, Clinton hired Platte River Networks to manage the server and provide "better security, durability, and a more professional setup."[33]

    At some point after Clinton finished her service as secretary of state, the server was transferred to a data center in New Jersey.[34] According to U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) in March 2015, Clinton "unilaterally decided to wipe her server clean and permanently delete all emails from her personal server."[35] David Kendall, Clinton's attorney, said that Clinton "chose not to keep her non-record personal emails" but "has maintained and preserved copies" of work-related communications.[35] On August 12, 2015, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reportedly took possession of the email server.[34]

    The Washington Post reported on September 12, 2015, that personal correspondence from Clinton's server could be recoverable. Platte River Networks, the company that managed the server beginning in 2013, said it had “no knowledge of the server being wiped.”[36] Datto, Inc., a private technology company hired by Platte River to produce backups of Clinton’s email accounts, announced on October 6, 2015, that it would provide the FBI with the data it had preserved from those accounts. Clinton consented to the release.[37]

    On October 7, 2015, the Associated Press reported that hackers located in China, South Korea and Germany had attempted to infiltrate Hillary Clinton’s private email server in 2013. The cyberattacks were blocked by a “threat monitoring” service. It is not yet known whether the attempted attacks were targeted or a “nuisance” attack directed at servers around the world.[38]

    Discovery of Clinton's private email server

    News that Clinton used a private email account while working for the State Department first broke in March 2013 after a hacker, using the handle "Guccifer," allegedly gained access to the email account of Sidney Blumenthal, an advisor to Clinton. Guccifer provided screenshots to media outlets showing Blumenthal sent numerous messages related to national security to [email protected], which many media outlets correctly presumed belonged to Clinton.[39][40][41]

    State Department officials contacted Clinton in the summer of 2014 after they discovered they did not have access to many of her emails. State Department spokesman John Kirby said, "In the process of responding to congressional document requests pertaining to Benghazi, State Department officials recognized that it had access to relatively few email records from former Secretary Clinton. State Department officials contacted her representatives during the summer of 2014 to learn more about her email use and the status of emails in that account.”[42] In October 2014, the State Department requested the work-related emails of Clinton and other former secretaries of state after the State Department noted it also "did not have extensive email records from prior Secretaries of State."[42]

    The following month, the House Select Committee on Benghazi requested access to Clinton's emails regarding the 2012 attack in Benghazi. Clinton provided 300 emails. An additional set of emails, produced from other officials' email accounts, had been provided to the committee in August 2014 by the State Department.[1] On December 5, 2014, Clinton released 30,490 printed emails to the State Department. Another 31,830 emails were determined to be private and not released.[1]

    Nearly three months later, on March 2, 2015, Michael Schmidt of The New York Times reported that Clinton "exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state...and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record."[43]

    Clinton's public disclosures

    Hillary Clinton's first public statement regarding her private email server on March 10, 2015
    The day after Schmidt's story was published in The New York Times, Clinton tweeted, "I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible."[1]

    During a press conference at the United Nations to discuss women's rights on March 10, 2015, Clinton made her first public address regarding the issue of her private email server. She said, "I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two."[44]

    Clinton also noted that majority of the emails she sent were delivered to government employees with government addresses. Such messages were captured on the State Department system. She also provided the State Department with 55,000 pages' worth of emails per their request after she left office as secretary of state, but she retained personal emails unrelated to State Department business. Clinton also claimed she requested that the State Department make these emails available to the public.[44]

    Clinton's full remarks regarding her private email server on March 10, 2015
    There are four things I want the public to know.

    First, when I got to work as secretary of state, I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department, because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.

    Looking back, it would’ve been better if I’d simply used a second email account and carried a second phone, but at the time, this didn’t seem like an issue.

    Second, the vast majority of my work emails went to government employees at their government addresses, which meant they were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department.

    Third, after I left office, the State Department asked former secretaries of state for our assistance in providing copies of work- related emails from our personal accounts. I responded right away and provided all my emails that could possibly be work-related, which totalled roughly 55,000 printed pages, even though I knew that the State Department already had the vast majority of them. We went through a thorough process to identify all of my work-related emails and deliver them to the State Department. At the end, I chose not to keep my private personal emails — emails about planning Chelsea’s wedding or my mother’s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes.

    No one wants their personal emails made public, and I think most people understand that and respect that privacy.

    Fourth, I took the unprecedented step of asking that the State Department make all my work-related emails public for everyone to see.

    I am very proud of the work that I and my colleagues and our public servants at the department did during my four years as secretary of state, and I look forward to people being able to see that for themselves.

    Again, looking back, it would’ve been better for me to use two separate phones and two email accounts. I thought using one device would be simpler, and obviously, it hasn’t worked out that way.[16]

    —Hillary Clinton[44]

    Public apology

    On September 8, 2015, Clinton apologized for using the private email server while serving as secretary of state. She said, “I take responsibility and I am trying to be as transparent as I possibly can.”[45] Clinton told ABC News that her conduct had been a “mistake,” but she also said, “I am confident by the end of this campaign, people will know they can trust me, and that I will be on their side and I will fight for them and their families. But I do think I could have and should have done a better job answering questions earlier. I really didn’t, perhaps, appreciate the need to do that.”[45]

    Clinton had previously avoided apologizing in an interview with NBC News' Andrea Mitchell on September 4, 2015. When Mitchell asked Clinton if she was sorry, she responded, "Well, I certainly wish that I had made a different choice and I know why the American people have questions about it and I want to make sure that I answer those questions. Starting with the fact that my personal email use was fully above board, it was allowed by the State Department, as they have confirmed, but in retrospect, it certainly would have been better.”[46] CNN senior political commentator David Axelrod commented that Clinton’s evolving responses to the email investigation lengthened the process. “She's trying to bring this thing to an end so she can be heard on other subjects, but she needs a consistent answer,” said Axelrod.[47][48]

    State Department's disclosures

    First batch of emails released

    On May 22, 2015, the State Department made public 296 emails related to Benghazi between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2012. They included initial exchanges between Clinton and her aides about when she should make a statement regarding the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens following the attack on the embassy. Two weeks later, Jacob Sullivan, a Clinton aide, sent a detailed 24-page study of every statement Clinton made after the attacks, assuring her, "You never said spontaneous [sic] or characterized the motives. In fact you were careful in your first statement to say we were assessing motive and method."[49][50]

    Clinton also received emails from Sullivan and other advisers on the fragile environment in Libya. In one 2011 email, Sullivan warned Clinton of a "credible threat against the hotel that our team is using," requiring relocation of the personnel. A 2012 email from the former ambassador to Libya, Gene Cretz, said there was "concern here that continuing rivalries among the militias remains dangerous from the perspective of the havoc they can wreak with their firepower and their continued control of select turf."[50] Other emails pertained to missing intelligence and the Clinton team's impression of an interview with Wall Street Journal reporter Monica Langley.[50]

    Second batch of emails released

    On May 27, 2015, Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued a court order requiring the State Department to release copies of Clinton's emails in batches every month beginning on June 30, 2015.[51]

    The second batch was released on June 30, 2015, totaling about 3,000 pages.[52] These emails revisited the relationship between Clinton and her unofficial adviser Blumenthal. Clinton had previously attempted to secure a job for Blumenthal at the State Department in 2009, but the effort was blocked by the Obama administration. In addition to offering advice on Libya, Blumenthal also provided commentary on the Northern Ireland peace process, politics in Iran and Britain, and climate change.[53]

    The emails also showed a disconnect between Clinton and the Obama administration in the early months of her tenure. In July 2009, Clinton sent an email to her aides inquiring whether there was a Cabinet meeting that day as she had heard "on the radio." She added, "Is there? Can I go?"[53]

    Although the Obama administration said it was unaware of Clinton's private email server use, this second batch revealed that Clinton communicated with Obama aide David Axelrod and offered White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel her email address. Axelrod told CNN, "I knew it wasn't a government address. I didn't know that she used it exclusively."[54]

    Third batch of emails released

    On July 31, 2015, a third batch of "heavily redacted" emails was released.[55]Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus said of the release, "Today's email dump shows Hillary Clinton put even more sensitive government information at risk on her secret email server than previously known. Hillary Clinton's reckless attempt to bypass public records laws put our national security at risk and shows she cannot be trusted in the White House."[56]

    The majority of emails covered discussions between Clinton's aides on domestic and world events and more personal messages from Washington insiders. Staffers also discussed retrospectives on Clinton's image and the "political spinning of a major cabinet official with an eye on the presidency."[56]

    Fourth batch of emails released

    A fourth batch of emails was released by the State Department on August 31, 2015. Featuring approximately 7,000 pages of emails, it included more correspondence between Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal. In one exchange, Clinton disagreed with Blumenthal over whether Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission could be addressed legislatively. Clinton believed it would likely take a constitutional amendment to change.[57] Hundreds of the emails were redacted and retroactively classified.

    Fifth batch of emails released

    In the fifth batch of emails released on September 30, 2015, Clinton and her aides discussed the relative security of government-issued email accounts and those on private servers in June 2011. "NO ONE uses a State-issued laptop and even high officials routinely end up using their home email accounts to be able to get their work done quickly and effectively," one aide wrote. Cheryl Mills, Clinton's chief of staff, was more cautious. "I am not sure we want to telegraph how much folks do or don't do off state mail (because) it may encourage others who are out there," Mills wrote, referring to the suspected hack of senior U.S. government officials' Gmail accounts by Chinese hackers.[58]

    Another exchange saw Clinton displeased with the move to change "mother and father" to "parent one and parent two" on State Department forms. “I’m not defending that decision, which I disagree [with] and knew nothing about, in front of this Congress. I could live [with] letting people in nontraditional families choose another descriptor so long as we retained the presumption of mother and father," Clinton wrote in the exchange.[59]

    Sixth batch of emails released

    On October 30, 2015, the State Department released a sixth batch of emails totaling 7,000 pages.[60] Although one exchange involved discussions of embassy security in Afghanistan and Pakistan, most emails related to the daily operations of managing Clinton's schedule.[60][61]

    The New York Times reported on the same day that the White House intended to prevent communications between President Obama and Clinton from being released. "There is a long history of presidential records being kept confidential while the president is in office. It is a principle that previous White Houses have vigorously defended as it goes to the core of the president’s ability to receive unvarnished advice and counsel," said a White House official.[62] William Burck, who served as deputy counsel for former President George W. Bush, described the decision as "very reasonable." He said, “Direct communications by the president and his senior advisers are really at the very center of what is trying to be protected by executive privilege and the separation of powers."[62]

    Seventh batch of emails released

    The State Department released a seventh batch of emails totaling nearly 8,000 pages on November 30, 2015. This release included 328 emails that were later deemed “Confidential,” the lowest designation for classified information.[63] Most of the emails came from Clinton's final years at the State Department in 2012 and 2013.[64]

    An email sent in November 2012 demonstrated Clinton's team was sensitive to transmitting classified documents online. In this email, an aide informed Clinton that a courier had been sent to deliver a memo because it "was classified so we could not email to you."[65]

    Eighth batch of emails released

    On December 31, 2015, the State Department released approximately 5,500 pages of emails. Per a court order, the agency was supposed to have released 82 percent of Clinton's emails by this date, but only 76 percent were made available online. "We have worked diligently to come as close to the goal as possible, but with the large number of documents involved and the holiday schedule we have not met the goal this month. To narrow that gap, the State Department will make another production of former Secretary Clinton’s email sometime next week," read a press release from the agency.[66]

    Ninth batch of emails released

    The State Department released another 3,000 pages of emails on January 8, 2016, after it missed a production deadline the previous week. In one email, after Jake Sullivan informed Clinton that staff members were having difficulty sending a document with talking points to her through secure fax, Clinton recommended he turn it into a "nonpaper" without an "identifying heading and send nonsecure." Because portions of this email exchange were redacted, it is unknown whether the talking points document contained classified information.[67]

    In another email, Clinton questioned a State Department staffer's use of personal email to provide information about Libya and Muammar Qadhafi. "Is he in [the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs] currently? Or was he in Embassy? I was surprised that he used personal email account if he is at State," Clinton wrote.[67]

    Tenth batch of emails released

    On January 29, 2016, the State Department released approximately 2,000 pages of emails, although it failed to meet its court-ordered deadline for complete production.[68] This batch did not include 22 emails which the Obama administration identified as containing "top secret" material.[68]

    Eleventh batch of emails released

    The State Department released 1,000 pages of emails on February 13, 2016. Eighty-four of the emails contained redacted text that has now been deemed classified.[69]

    The released emails included discussion of a growing insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, then-Sen. John Kerry's visit to Pakistan following the death of Osama bin Laden and Israeli-Palestinian relations.[69]

    Twelfth batch of emails released

    On February 19, 2016, the State Department released 1,100 additional pages of emails. This twelfth batch included 64 retroactively classified emails and exchanges about the U.S. military intervention in Libya, Clinton’s authority to direct foreign policy and commentary on Vice President Joe Biden’s performance in a 2012 vice presidential debate.[70]

    Thirteenth batch of emails released

    In its penultimate release on February 26, 2016, the State Department made public nearly 1,600 pages of emails. Eighty-eight documents were classified as "confidential."[71] According to VICE News, these emails "cover a wide-range of topics, including the CIA's torture program, the Keystone pipeline, US-Israel relations, the Arab Spring in Egypt, the death of Osama bin Laden, climate change, Guantanamo detainees, and Wikileaks document leaks."[72]

    Fourteenth batch of emails released

    The State Department issued its final release of Clinton's emails on February 29, 2016, encompassing 3,871 pages. Altogether, there were 52,402 pages of emails released; 2,101 of those were retroactively categorized as containing classified information. The Washington Post reported, "Nearly all of the emails were classified by the State Department at the 'confidential' level, the lowest level of sensitivity, but 44 were classified at the 'secret' level. An additional 22 emails were withheld from public release entirely because they were deemed 'top secret,' the most sensitive level of classification."[73][74]

    Suspension of internal investigation

    Reuters reported on April 2, 2016, that the State Department suspended its plans for an internal investigation of how classified information was handled on Clinton’s private email server at the request of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). "The internal review is on hold, pending completion of the FBI's work. We'll reassess next steps after the FBI's work is complete,” said State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau.[75]

    Office of the Inspector General of the State Department

    On February 3, 2016, Steve Linick, the inspector general for the State Department, noted in a memorandum that his office's review of the records of five secretaries of state — Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry — had identified several instances where potentially sensitive material had been sent to the personal accounts of Powell and aides to Rice.[76]

    Powell, after reviewing the emails under consideration, dismissed the assertion. He called the classification "an absurdity" in an interview with The New York Times. He added that if diplomats could not discuss policy in unclassified emails, then "we might as well shut the department down."[76]

    Rice's chief of staff, Georgia Godfrey, made a similar claim, saying the emails sent to Rice's aides were "diplomatic conversations" that contained "no intelligence information.” Godfrey also said that that Rice did not use email or have a private email account while secretary of state.[76]

    Report on Records Management and Cybersecurity Requirements

    On May 25, 2016, the Office of the Inspector General of the State Department (OIG) released a report regarding email records management and cybersecurity standards in the agency.[9][77] In addition to providing an overview of past and current electronic records management practices, the OIG evaluated if the five most recent secretaries of state, including Clinton, properly complied with these regulations.

    Clinton declined the OIG's request for an interview.[9] In an interview on May 26, 2016, Clinton discussed why she did not cooperate with the investigation, saying, “I have talked about this for many, many months. I testified for 11 hours before the Benghazi committee. I have answered numerous questions. We have posted information on our website and the information that we had is out there. It’s been clearly public and my email use was widely known throughout the department, throughout the government, and I have provided all of my work related emails, and I’ve asked that they be made public."[78]

    Clinton's email usage and compliance with records management requirements

    According to the OIG, Clinton should have preserved all federal records she sent or received on her personal email server. "At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act," the OIG found.[9]

    Although the OIG noted that Clinton's production of 55,000 pages of emails "mitigated" this noncompliance, it also found that Clinton's production was "incomplete."

    The full text of this section of the report is reproduced below.

    Former Secretary Clinton did not use a Department email account and has acknowledged using an email account maintained on a private server for official business. As discussed above, in December 2014, her representative produced to the Department 55,000 hard-copy pages of documents, representing approximately 30,000 emails that could potentially constitute Federal records that she sent or received from April 2009 through early 2013. Secretary Clinton’s representative asserted that, because the Secretary emailed Department officials at their government email accounts, the Department already had records of the Secretary’s email preserved within its recordkeeping systems.

    As previously discussed, however, sending emails from a personal account to other employees at their Department accounts is not an appropriate method of preserving any such emails that would constitute a Federal record. Therefore, Secretary Clinton should have preserved any Federal records she created and received on her personal account by printing and filing those records with the related files in the Office of the Secretary. At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the Department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.

    NARA agrees with the foregoing assessment but told OIG that Secretary Clinton’s production of 55,000 pages of emails mitigated her failure to properly preserve emails that qualified as Federal records during her tenure and to surrender such records upon her departure. OIG concurs with NARA but also notes that Secretary Clinton’s production was incomplete. For example, the Department and OIG both determined that the production included no email covering the first few months of Secretary Clinton’s tenure—from January 21, 2009, to March 17, 2009, for received messages; and from January 21, 2009, to April 12, 2009, for sent messages. OIG discovered multiple instances in which Secretary Clinton’s personal email account sent and received official business email during this period. For instance, the Department of Defense provided to OIG in September 2015 copies of 19 emails between Secretary Clinton and General David Petraeus on his official Department of Defense email account; these 19 emails were not in the Secretary’s 55,000-page production. OIG also learned that the 55,000-page production did not contain some emails that an external contact not employed by the Department sent to Secretary Clinton regarding Department business. In an attempt to address these deficiencies, NARA requested that the Department inquire with Secretary Clinton’s “internet service or email provider” to determine whether it is still possible to retrieve the email records that might remain on its servers. The Department conveyed this request to Secretary Clinton’s representative and on November 6, 2015, the Under Secretary for Management reported to NARA that the representative responded as follows:

    With regard to her tenure as Secretary of State, former Secretary Clinton has provided the Department on December 5, 2014, with all federal e-mail records in her custody, regardless of their format or the domain on which they were stored or created, that may not otherwise be preserved, to our knowledge, in the Department’s recordkeeping system. She does not have custody of e-mails sent or received during the first few weeks of her tenure as she was transitioning to a new address, and we have been unable to obtain these. In the event we do, we will immediately provide the Department with federal record e-mails in this collection.

    With regard to Secretary Clinton’s immediate staff, OIG received limited responses to its questionnaires, though two of Secretary Clinton’s staff acknowledged occasional use of personal email accounts for official business. However, OIG learned of extensive use of personal email accounts by four immediate staff members (none of whom responded to the questionnaire). During the summer of 2015, their representatives produced Federal records in response to a request from the Department, portions of which included material sent and received via their personal email accounts. The material consists of nearly 72,000 pages in hard copy and more than 7.5 gigabytes of electronic data. One of the staff submitted 9,585 emails spanning January 22, 2009, to February 24, 2013, averaging 9 emails per workday sent on a personal email account. In this material, there are instances where the four individuals sent or received emails regarding Department business using only their personal web-based email accounts.

    Accordingly, these staff failed to comply with Department policies intended to implement NARA regulations, because none of these emails were preserved in Department recordkeeping systems prior to their production in 2015. As noted above, NARA has concluded that these subsequent productions mitigated their failure to properly preserve emails that qualified as Federal records during their service as Department employees. However, OIG did not attempt to determine whether these productions were complete. None of these individuals are currently employed by the Department.[9][79]

    Reactions to the OIG report

    Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said in a statement on May 25, 2016, "While political opponents of Hillary Clinton are sure to misrepresent this report for their own partisan purposes, in reality, the Inspector General documents just how consistent her email practices were with those of other Secretaries and senior officials at the State Department who also used personal email." Fallon added that "there were reports about individuals in this office coming forward and suggesting there were hints of an anti-Clinton bias inside" the OIG.[80]

    The following day, Clinton said in an interview, “This report makes clear that personal email use was the practice for other secretaries of state. It was allowed. And the rules have been clarified since I left."[78]

    The Republican National Committee quickly responded with Chair Reince Priebus saying in a statement, "This detailed inquiry by an Obama appointee makes clear Hillary Clinton hasn’t been telling the truth since day one, and her and her aides’ refusal to cooperate with this probe only underscores that fact. Although Clinton has long claimed her practices were like those of other Secretaries of State and allowed, the report states she was in clear violation of the Federal Records Act. And her incredible 2010 email exchange with a top aide ruling out a State Department email address only further underscores her motivation was secrecy, not convenience."[81]

    Donald Trump also called the report "bad news" for Clinton. He said that he was not certain he would be running against Clinton in the general election because of questions over her private email server use.[82]

    Bernie Sanders declined to comment on the report. His campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, said in an interview, "Well, I think the report speaks for itself. This is obviously an area where the senator has chosen not to go. He's tried to keep this campaign on the issues."[83]

    Federal lawsuits related to FOIA requests

    As of September 2015, there were approximately 35 federal cases related to FOIA requests for emails sent or received by Clinton while she was secretary of state.[6] One claim by Vice News investigative reporter Jason Leopold predated Clinton's public recognition of her private email server. Leopold sued the State Department in January 2015 arguing it failed to timely respond to his November 4, 2014, FOIA request for "any and all records that were prepared, received, transmitted, collected and/or maintained by" the agency between January 21, 2009, and February 1, 2013, that related to Clinton.[84]

    In May 2015, the State Department proposed releasing 55,000 pages of Clinton's emails on January 15, 2016, but Judge Rudolph Contreras of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected this plan.[85][86] Instead, on May 27, 2015, Contreras ordered the State Department to produce batches of Clinton's emails every 30 days beginning June 30, 2015.[87]

    Acknowledging the number of pending FOIA-related lawsuits, Contreras encouraged the parties to seek consolidation of the cases in July 2015. He said,"These are very unusual circumstances, and it would not take a wild imagination to think that there will be some discovery in these FOIA cases, and if six different judges start ordering six different forms of discovery, that's going to be impossible to manage for everybody. So give that some thought."[6] Efforts to consolidate these cases were formalized two months later. On September 3, 2015, the State Department requested that schedules for production be managed by one "coordinating judge," bringing “order” to the process.[88][89] Judge Reggie Walton, Contreras' colleague on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, expressed skepticism that the cases could be consolidated. "Some information I’ve heard indicates there may be a reluctance on the part of judges to go along with that because [some cases] are so far along," said Walton.

    In a report released on January 8, 2016, the Office of the Inspector General found the State Department had given “inaccurate and incomplete” answers to inquiries about Clinton’s records. “We know we must continue to improve our FOIA responsiveness and are taking additional steps to do so,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the State Department, said.[90]

    The State Department requested a one-month extension to release the final batch of Clinton's emails on January 22, 2016. Lawyers for the agency argued a blizzard in Washington, D.C., had delayed production. The extension request also noted that 7,254 pages of emails that should have been sent to other agencies for review had never been transmitted, further delaying the process.[91]

    A lawyer for Leopold, Ryan James, said in response to the request, "It's baffling why State needs a month to make up for only three days of snow-related office closures."[91] Judge Contreras scheduled a status hearing for February 9, 2016, to discuss the production schedule. [92] At the hearing, Contreras chastised the government for not meeting the original deadline and putting him "between a rock and a hard place." He ordered the agency to produce "a detailed explanation" for the delay.[93]

    Depositions and discovery

    On April 5, 2016, State Department lawyers requested that only "limited discovery" be granted in the case brought by Judicial Watch, including narrowing the scope of what could be asked in depositions of Clinton’s staffers. The Daily Beast reported that the “State’s lawyers proposed that the group only be allowed to ask questions about ‘the reasons for the creation of the clintonemail.com system,’ and not about how classified information was handled on the system or any issues related to protecting it from hackers.”[94]

    Federal district judge Emmet Sullivan said on May 4, 2016, that it “may be necessary” to depose Clinton about her private email server as part of discovery in the Judicial Watch case relating to Clinton aide Huma Abedin’s simultaneous employment with the State Department and outside organizations. Sullivan added that “questions surrounding the creation, purpose, and use of the clintonemail.com server must be explored through limited discovery.”[95]

    Sullivan decided May 26, 2016, that the recorded depositions of Mills and other members of Clinton's staff would not be released because the content of those depositions would otherwise be available. “The public has a right to know details related to the creation, purpose and use of the clintonemail.com system. Thus, the transcripts of all depositions taken in this case will be publicly available. It is therefore unnecessary to also make the audiovisual recording of Ms. Mills' deposition public,” Sullivan wrote.[96]

    Mills was deposed on May 27, 2016, and a transcript of the deposition was released on May 31, 2016.[97] Mills characterized Clinton's private email use as “a continuation of a practice that she had been using as a senator” and indicated that it "would have been smarter for" Clinton to have used a different system given the complications created when responding to FOIA request.[98]

    Bryan Pagliano, the State Department employee who set up Clinton’s private email server, declined to participate in a deposition scheduled for June 6, 2016. In a filing on June 1, 2016, Pagliano’s lawyers said that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment rights. “Judicial Watch may move to unseal the materials at any time. Furthermore, in the event of a leak or data breach at the court reporting company, Mr. Pagliano would be hard-pressed to prevent further dissemination and republication of the video. Given that there is no proper purpose for videotaping the deposition in the first place, Judicial Watch’s preference should yield to the significant constitutional interests at stake,” they wrote.[99]

    2017 rulings

    In a separate suit, also filed by Judicial Watch, Judge Amit Mehta of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the State Department did not conduct an appropriate search of the official state.gov email accounts of three of Clinton's aides: Huma Abedin, Cheryl Mills, and Jake Sullivan. Judge Mehta ordered the State Department to conduct a supplemental search of those accounts, with an order to update the court by September 22, 2017.[100]

    Judge James E. Boasberg of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia dismissed, for the second time, a lawsuit filed by Judicial Watch and Cause for Action against the U.S. State Department. Both groups initially filed a lawsuit in 2015 claiming that former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton unlawfully removed federal records from the State Department and that the Department had failed to retain agency records, in violation of the Federal Records Act (FRA). Judge Boasberg dismissed that suit as moot, holding that the two groups were required to “allege an ongoing injury under the FRA, which they could do only if the Secretary and Archivist had been ‘unable or unwilling’ to recover emails that might be federal records.” The D.C. CircuitreversedThe action of an appellate court overturning a lower court's decision., but on remandTo return a case or claim to a lower court for additional proceedings. Judge Boasberg again ruled that the case was moot. He wrote, “Defendants and the FBI have recited chapter and verse of their efforts to recover Secretary Clinton’s emails. Those efforts went well beyond the mine-run search for missing federal records … and were largely successful, save for some emails sent during a two-month stretch. Even then, the FBI pursued every imaginable avenue to recover the missing emails. Plaintiffs, significantly, cast no real doubt on that conclusion. So now, when the Government avers that there are no enforcement steps left for the Attorney General, the Court takes such conclusion seriously. It thus finds that Defendants have ‘secur[ed] custody of all emails that the Attorney General could have recovered in an enforcement action,’ … such that the suit is mootAn issue having no practical significance, but which is academic or hypothetical..”[101]

    House Select Committee on Benghazi

    Formation and initial investigation

    The House Select Committee on Benghazi was established on May 8, 2014, to investigate and issue a report on the "policies, decisions, and activities that contributed to" the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the death of four Americans—Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty, and Tyrone Woods.[102] Since Clinton was secretary of state during the attack, the committee initiated a review of her communications related to the incident.

    On March 4, 2015, the committee subpoenaed Clinton to produce any and all documents about Libya between January 1, 2011, and December 31, 2012.[103]

    The subpoena's production request read:

    For the time period of January 1, 2011 through December 31, 2012, any and all documents and communications in your possession, and/or sent from or received by the email addresses "[email protected]," "[email protected]," or any other email address or communications device used by you or another on your behalf, referring or relating to:

    (a) Libya (including but not limited to Benghazi and Tripoli);

    (b) weapons located or found in, imported or brought into, and/or exported or removed from Libya;

    (c) the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 and September 12, 2012; or

    (d) statements pertaining to the attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 and September 12, 2012.[16]

    In an interview on CNN on July 7, 2015, Clinton said she "never had a subpoena."[104] The following day, U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the committee's chair, issued a statement in a press release to "correct the inaccuracy." He said, “The committee has issued several subpoenas, but I have not sought to make them public. I would not make this one public now, but after Secretary Clinton falsely claimed the committee did not subpoena her, I have no choice in order to correct the inaccuracy. The committee immediately subpoenaed Clinton personally after learning the full extent of her unusual email arrangement with herself, and would have done so earlier if the State Department or Clinton had been forthcoming that State did not maintain custody of her records and only Secretary Clinton herself had her records when Congress first requested them.” The press released included the March 4, 2015, subpoena to Clinton.[105]

    A spokesman from Clinton's campaign, Nick Merrill, clarified Clinton's statement. Merrill said, "She was asked about her decision to not to retain her personal emails after providing all those that were work-related, and the suggestion was made that a subpoena was pending at the time. That was not accurate. In fact, Trey Gowdy did not issue a subpoena until March, months after she she'd done that review. Further, the subpoena was specifically asking for documents pertaining to Libya and the attacks on our facility in Benghazi, documents which, along with tens of thousands of others, she had already given to the Department of State."[106]

    Depositions of Clinton aides

    Fox News, "Trey Gowdy on efforts to retrieve Hillary Clinton's emails," March 15, 2015.
    The committee continued to investigate Clinton's email practices, issuing subpoenas to testify to Bryan Pagliano, the former Clinton staffer who set up her private email server, and Cheryl Mills, Clinton's former chief staff. On August 31, 2015, Pagliano said that he did not intend to answer any questions after the committee subpoenaed him. Clinton’s campaign released the following statement in response: “We have been confident from the beginning that Hillary Clinton's use of a personal email was allowed and that she did not send or receive anything marked classified, facts confirmed by the State Department and the Inspector General. She has made every effort to answer questions and be as helpful as possible, and has encouraged her aides, current and former, to do the same, including Bryan Pagliano."[107]

    In his deposition for the House Select Committee on Benghazi on September 10, 2015, Pagliano formally invoked the Fifth Amendment. Gowdy said the committee’s Republicans had prepared 19 pages of questions for Pagliano. “He has a right to not answer questions that he thinks may incriminate him," said Gowdy, "and you have a right to glean any inference you want from the fact that he has."[108]

    U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), a member of the committee, called Pagliano’s deposition “political theater.” In a statement released on September 10, 2015, Cummings said, “Mr. Pagliano’s testimony has nothing to do with the Benghazi attacks and everything to do with Republicans’ insatiable desire to derail Secretary Clinton’s presidential bid. If Chairman Gowdy actually wanted to find out what Mr. Pagliano knows, he would follow the lead of Senate Republicans and consider immunity – something Democrats would support.”[109]

    Cheryl Mills, an advisor to Clinton, testified before the Select Committee on Benghazi on September 3, 2015. The committee rejected Mills’ request to testify in public, but Cummings asked the committee to release a copy of Mills’ testimony. “The entire public does not deserve to have leaks that are taken out of context, and leaving the wrong impression,” Cummings said.[110]

    McCarthy's statement on committee purpose and partisan conflict

    On September 29, 2015, U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) suggested that the Select Committee on Benghazi could take credit for causing Clinton’s poll numbers to drop. He said, “Everybody thought Hillary Clinton was unbeatable right? But we put together a Benghazi Special Committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Cause she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened had we not fought and made that happen.”[111]

    "Admit," Clinton's first national TV ad, October 6, 2015
    Speaker of the HouseJohn Boehner(R-Ohio) repudiated McCarthy's statements on October 1, 2015. He said, "The House established the Select Committee on Benghazi to investigate what happened before, during, and after the terrorist attack in Benghazi, and to ensure that justice is finally served. This investigation has never been about former Secretary of State Clinton and never will be.”[112]

    Although Gowdy maintained that the committee was not formed with the intention of investigating Clinton individually, Clinton’s supporters have pointed to McCarthy’s statement as evidence to the contrary. “Kevin McCarthy’s admission that the Benghazi Committee is a taxpayer funded political hit job to bring down Hillary Clinton should be the final straw for the media, for Members of Congress, for taxpayers and for the families of the four Americans who died in the Benghazi tragedy,” said David Brock, the founder of Media Matters, on September 30, 2015.[111] In an interview on October 5, 2015, Clinton commented, "This committee was set up, as they have admitted, for the purpose of making a partisan, political issue out of the deaths of four Americans. I would have never done that! And if I were president — and there were Republicans or Democrats who were thinking about that — I would have done everything to shut it down."[113]

    On October 6, 2015, Clinton's campaign highlighted McCarthy's comments in its first national ad. “The Republicans finally admit it,” the ad’s narrator says before McCarthy's comments on the House Select Committee on Benghazi play. The narrator continues, “The Republicans have spent millions attacking Hillary because she’s fighting for everything they oppose, from affordable healthcare to equal pay. She’ll never stop fighting for you and the Republicans know it.”[114][115]

    The following day, Gowdy wrote a 13-page letter to Cummings accusing him of leaking information to the press to create a “false narrative” beneficial to Clinton. Gowdy also noted the committee intended to release 1,500 of Clinton’s emails relating to Benghazi in the coming week. A substantial number of these emails include correspondence between Clinton and her informal political adviser, Sidney Blumenthal, who Gowdy said was motivated by money in providing advice to Clinton on Libya.[116] Cummings called the letter a “desperate attempt to save face” after McCarthy "admitted on national television that the Select Committee is a taxpayer-funded political campaign to attack Secretary Clinton's bid for president."[117]

    In an interview that aired on CNN on October 11, 2015, Bradley Podliska, a major in the Air Force Reserve and former investigator for the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said he intended to file a lawsuit against that committee for unlawfully terminating him because he was "trying to conduct an objective, non-partisan, thorough investigation.”[118] The committee responded in a statement that Podliska was terminated “because he himself manifested improper partiality and animus in his investigative work” by targeting members of the Obama administration.[119]

    U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), said on October 14, 2015, that he too believed the committee was working to damage Clinton politically. “This may not be politically correct, but I think that there was a big part of this investigation that was designed to go after people and an individual, Hillary Clinton," Hanna said.[120]

    Clinton's deposition

    Clinton testified before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on October 22, 2015. Although U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) briefly asked Clinton about the operation of her private email server near the end of the 11-hour hearing, most lines of questioning focused on what kind of access Ambassador Chris Stevens had to Clinton, what security measures Stevens had requested and the nature of Clinton’s communications with her informal political adviser, Sidney Blumenthal. When asked if the committee learned anything new from the hearing, Gowdy said, “I don’t know that she testified that much differently today than she has the previous times she’s testified."[121][122][123]

    Final committee reports

    The proposed majority report for the House Select Committee on Benghazi was released on June 28, 2016. The 800-page document concluded that President Obama, then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, and then-Secretary of State Clinton, among others, failed to provide proper military support and protection to the Americans serving in Benghazi.[124][125]

    The report also criticized Clinton's private email server use and the "shameful" obstruction that occurred throughout the investigation. The report stated "that what may appear at first blush to be a lack of competence on behalf of the State Department now appears fully intentional and coordinated. Delaying the production of documents sought by letter, informal request or subpoena has decided political advantages for those opposing the investigation.”[124]

    Clinton commented on the report, "I understand that after more than two years and $7 million spent by the Benghazi Committee out of taxpayer funds, it had to today report it found nothing — nothing — to contradict the conclusions of the independent accountability board or the conclusion of the prior, multiple congressional investigations carried out on a bipartisan basis in the Congress. So while this unfortunately took on a partisan tinge, I want us to stay focused on what I’ve always wanted us to stay focused on, and that is the important work of diplomacy and development."[126]

    A day earlier, the Democratic members of the House Select Committee on Benghazi released a minority report on the investigation into the events surrounding Benghazi. The report concluded that there was nothing that the Obama administration could have done to prevent the attack or save the Americans who were killed. It also noted that the "State Department’s security measures in Benghazi were woefully inadequate as a result of decisions made by officials in the Bureau of Diplomatic Security, but Secretary Clinton never personally denied any requests for additional security in Benghazi."[127][128]

    FBI investigation

    Recommendation to investigate

    According to The New York Times on July 23, 2015, two inspectors general (IGs) requested that the Department of Justice launch an investigation to determine whether classified emails were mishandled in connection with Hillary Clinton's private email server.[129] When The New York Times first reported the story, it said the IGs' request was for a criminal investigation "into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state." Editors later corrected the story to reflect that the request was for an inquiry, rather than a criminal investigation, and that it was directed at "whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state" rather than at Clinton individually.[130]

    Clinton's spokesman, Nick Merrill, responded to the story on July 24, 2015, writing, “Contrary to the initial story, which has already been significantly revised, Clinton followed appropriate practices in dealing with classified materials. As has been reported on multiple occasions, any released emails deemed classified by the administration have been done so after the fact, and not at the time they were transmitted.”[131]

    The Washington Post reported on August 4, 2015, that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had begun to move forward with a preliminary investigation.[132] The inquiry's focus was on the security of Clinton's private email server and whether any classified information had been compromised. In an "unusual move," The New York Times noted, the investigation was being coordinated from the FBI's headquarters rather than a field office "to keep it closely held in Washington in the agency's counterintelligence section."[133]

    Initial investigation

    Clinton's campaign stated on August 11, 2015, that Clinton would release to the FBI her private email server and a thumb drive with copies of thousands of her emails. The announcement came on the same day members of Congress were told that “top secret” information was found on Clinton’s email system.[134] On August 19, 2015, Clinton’s campaign suggested that the “core” of the investigation was the product of a “dysfunctional system used by agencies to designate and safeguard classified documents.” Campaign spokesman Brian Fallon explained, “[Clinton] was at worst a passive recipient of unwitting information that subsequently became deemed as classified. … That’s why we are so confident that this review will remain a security-related review. We think that furthermore this matter is mostly just shining a spotlight on a culture of classification that exists within certain corners of the government, especially the intelligence community.”[135]

    Emmet Sullivan, a federal judge, requested that the State Department work with the FBI to determine whether documents could be restored from Clinton's private email server.[136][137] In a letter dated August 21, 2015, James A. Baker, general counsel for the FBI, responded, "At this time, consistent with long-standing Department of Justice and FBI policy, we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of any ongoing investigation, nor are we in a position to provide additional information at this time."[138]Bloomberg reported on September 22, 2015, that the FBI had been able to recover some messages from Clinton's private email server.[139]

    FOX News reported on January 11, 2016, that the FBI had expanded its investigation to include “the possible 'intersection' of Clinton Foundation donations, the dispensation of State Department contracts and whether regular processes were followed.” Clinton, however, denied the investigation involved issues of public corruption, saying, “No, there’s nothing like that that is happening.”[140]

    The FBI confirmed in a letter made public on February 8, 2016, that it was conducting an investigation related to Clinton's private email server while secretary of state. Baker wrote that the FBI could not say more “without adversely affecting on-going law enforcement efforts.”[141]

    Interviews with Clinton's aides

    The Washington Post reported on March 2, 2016, that Bryan Pagliano, the State Department staffer who helped set up Clinton's private email server, had been granted immunity in exchange for his cooperation in a criminal investigation into whether classified material had been mishandled.[142] On March 6, 2016, Clinton said of Pagliano's involvement in the investigation, "It's a security review. I'm delighted that he has agreed to cooperate, as everyone else has. And I think that we'll be moving toward a resolution."[143]

    The Los Angeles Times reported on March 27, 2016, that the FBI's investigation was in its final stage with interviews being scheduled for Clinton’s aides.[144] The following day, The Washington Post reported that there were 147 individuals working on the FBI investigation and noted that such a large number could indicate that the agency wanted to bring the matter to a close as soon as possible or that the investigation was more wide-ranging than publicly stated.[145]Politico stated later that afternoon that the number of investigators had been “greatly exaggerated,” according to their source.[146]

    On March 30, 2016, a source told NBC News said that there were only 12 full-time agents working on the matter.[147]

    Four of Clinton’s top aides, including her former chief of staff Heather Mills and deputy chief of staff Jake Sullivan, hired the same lawyer to represent them during the investigation. “The united front suggests they plan to tell investigators the same story — although legal experts say the unusual joint strategy still presents its own risks, should the interests of the four aides begin to diverge as the probe moves ahead,” Politico reported on April 1, 2016.[148]

    Conclusion of investigation

    FBI Director James Comey said on April 21, 2016, that the 2016 Democratic National Convention was not “a hard stop” deadline for the completion of the agency’s investigation into Clinton’s private email server. He continued, “We aspire to do all our investigations in two ways – well and promptly, especially investigations that are of great interest to the public. We want to do them promptly. I get that people care about this investigation, and so we're working very hard to ensure it's well and promptly. But as between the two, if we have to choose, we will do it well. But again we aspire to do it well and promptly.”[149]

    On July 1, 2016, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch stated that she would accept whatever recommendation the FBI made at the conclusion of its investigation.[150] Lynch's announcement came several days after she briefly met with former President Bill Clinton at an airport in Phoenix on June 27, 2016, "raising questions about whether the independence of the Justice Department...might have been compromised.”[151] When asked about the meeting, Lynch said that she and Bill Clinton primarily discussed his grandchildren. She added, however, "I certainly wouldn’t do it again.”[150]

    Hillary Clinton participated in a voluntary interview with the FBI on July 2, 2016. “I’ve been eager to do it, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to assist the department in bringing its review to a conclusion,” Clinton said in an interview after the meeting. The Republican National Committee released a statement remarking that Clinton had “just taken the unprecedented step of becoming the first major party presidential candidate to be interviewed by the F.B.I. as part of a criminal investigation surrounding her reckless conduct."[152]

    Final recommendation

    James Comey, the director of the FBI, announced on July 5, 2016, that the agency found that "no charges [were] appropriate in this case."[10] He said in a statement, "Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. ... In looking back at our investigations into mishandling or removal of classified information, we cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges on these facts. All the cases prosecuted involved some combination of: clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information; or vast quantities of materials exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct; or indications of disloyalty to the United States; or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here."[10]

    On July 7, 2016, Comey testified before the House Oversight Committee for more than four hours on his agency’s investigation and recommendation. "I think she was extremely careless. I think she was negligent—that I could establish. What we can't establish is that she acted with the necessary criminal intent,” Comey said. He noted that there were three emails found on her system marked as classified with the letter “C,” but added that Clinton “may not have been as sophisticated as people assume” as to recognize what the marking meant.[153]

    Asked at the hearing how he would discipline an employee who exhibited the same behavior as Clinton, Comey said, “They might get fired, they might lose their clearance, it might get suspended for 30 days. There would be some discipline."[154] U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) also questioned Comey on whether the FBI had investigated if Clinton lied under oath about her private email server. Comey responded that he would need a referral from Congress to do so and Chaffetz pledged that such a request would be made.[155]

    Decision of Justice Department

    U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced on July 6, 2016, that the Justice Department would not pursue charges against Clinton. She said in a statement, “Late this afternoon, I met with FBI Director James Comey and career prosecutors and agents who conducted the investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email system during her time as Secretary of State. I received and accepted their unanimous recommendation that the thorough, year-long investigation be closed and that no charges be brought against any individuals within the scope of the investigation."[11][156] Lynch was scheduled to speak about the matter before the House Judiciary Committee on July 12, 2016.[157]

    Aftermath of FBI investigation

    Allegations of perjury

    The chairmen of the House Oversight and Government Reform and Judiciary Committees, U.S. Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), submitted a joint letter to the Justice Department requesting that it investigate Clinton for perjury. The letter provided four examples where Clinton allegedly lied under oath about her private email server, making statements that were “incompatible” with the conclusions of the FBI investigation.[158]

    On August 18, 2016, USA Today reported that the House Judiciary Committee would hold a hearing in September where they would question the FBI on allegations that Clinton perjured herself. FBI Director James Comey was expected to be a witness.[159]

    Discovery of additional emails

    The FBI's investigation resulted in the discovery of 14,900 emails that were not previously disclosed. U.S. District Judge James E. Boasberg of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ordered the State Department to submit a new schedule for their release by September 23, 2016, expediting a previously planned rolling production set to begin mid-October as part of a FOIA-related lawsuit by Judicial Watch. “We’re pleased the court accelerated the State Department’s timing. We’re trying to work with the State Department here, but let’s be clear: They have slow-walked and stonewalled the release of these records,” said Tom Fitton, the president of Judicial Watch. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said, “State has not yet had the opportunity to complete a review of the documents to determine whether they are agency records or if they are duplicative of documents State has already produced through the Freedom of Information Act.”[160]

    Judge William Dimitrouleas of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida also ordered the State Department to determine whether the 14,900 emails uncovered by the FBI included communications between Clinton and the White House in the days before and after the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi. It was given until September 13 to locate and release any emails it found as part of another lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch.[161]

    The State Department announced in a hearing on September 6, 2016, that it had may have found approximately 30 emails which related to Benghazi. It requested that it have until the end of September to review and redact the documents where appropriate. Judge Amit P. Mehta of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia called on the State Department to explain the following week why it would take so long.[162]

    FBI report and notes from Clinton's interview released

    On September 2, 2016, the FBI released a 58-page report on its investigation into Clinton's private email server, including 11 pages of notes taken during the agency's interview with Clinton. "We are making these materials available to the public in the interest of transparency and in response to numerous Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests," the FBI National Press Office said in a statement.[163]

    According to the report, Clinton "did not recall receiving any emails she thought should not be on an unclassified system. She "relied on State officials to use their judgment when emailing her and could not recall anyone raising concerns with her regarding the sensitivity of the information she received at her email address."[164] Clinton also said that when she received a document marked with a "C," she had not been certain that it was an indication of its classification.

    Clinton was also asked about her knowledge of records management practices in the interview. Clinton "stated she received no instructions or direction regarding the preservation or production of records from State" when she was leaving office, although she suffered a concussion and blood clot in December 2012 and "could not recall every briefing she received" around that time.[164]

    Additional investigation notes were released by the FBI on October 17, 2016. It was reported in one interview that Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy attempted to have one of Clinton's emails declassified as part of a "quid pro quo" arrangement with an FBI official interested in increasing aid to station FBI agents overseas in sensitive areas. Another interview, however, indicated that it was the FBI employee who suggested that he would "look into the email matter" if Kennedy "would provide authority concerning the FBI's request to increase its personnel in Iraq." Both the FBI and the State Department denied that there was a "quid pro quo" arrangement.[165]

    The FBI official in question, who was later identified as Brian McCauley, was interviewed by The Washington Post on October 18, 2016. McCauley said that although he had offered a favor for a favor to Kennedy in order to send two more bureau employees to Baghdad, Iraq, he declined once he realized that Kennedy's request related to a communication about Benghazi, Libya.[166]

    Another FBI agent who worked under both Condoleezza Rice and Clinton said that Clinton “frequently and ‘blatantly’ disregarded" security protocols. The agent said that Clinton would arrive at diplomatic functions with her top adviser Huma Abedin rather than ambassadors "who were insulted and embarrassed by this breach of protocol.”[167] The FBI notes also revealed that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) connected a Senate staffer and third party with Judicial Watch, a conservative watchdog group, on a project to determine if Clinton's email server had been hacked. Ultimately, Judicial Watch spent $32,000 searching for evidence online, eventually turning over materials found in the private investigation to the FBI.[168]

    Ethical questions

    Common Good VA, the political action committee of Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), donated nearly $500,000 to the unsuccessful state Senate campaign of Jill McCabe, the wife of former FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe. Because McCabe helped oversee the Clinton email investigation and McAuliffe is a longtime Clinton ally, the ethics of the contribution were questioned.[169] "FBI officials said that after that meeting with the governor in Richmond on March 7, Mr. McCabe sought ethics advice from the bureau and followed it, avoiding involvement with public corruption cases in Virginia, and avoiding any campaign activity or events. Mr. McCabe’s supervision of the Clinton email case in 2016 wasn’t seen as a conflict or an ethics issue because his wife’s campaign was over by then and Mr. McAuliffe wasn’t part of the email probe, officials said," The Wall Street Journal reported on October 24, 2016.[169]

    Additional emails discovered in unrelated case

    See also: Reactions to Comey's letter on Clinton email investigation

    On October 28, 2016, Comey announced in a letter to 16 members of Congress serving on oversight and intelligence committees that the FBI had found “emails that appear to be pertinent” to the agency's investigation of Clinton's private email server use in an unrelated case. "I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation," Comey wrote. The number, authors, and content of the emails were not disclosed.[12]

    The New York Times later reported that the emails had been discovered on devices seized from Clinton aide Huma Abedin and her husband, former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (R-N.Y.), as part of a separate investigation regarding inappropriate communications sent by Weiner to a minor.[170] Comey had not been briefed about the emails until several weeks after their discovery.[171]

    Clinton held a press conference on October 28, 2016, where she said that more information should be disclosed. "Voting is already under way in our country. So the American people deserve to get the full and complete facts immediately. The director himself has said he doesn’t know whether the emails referenced in his letter are significant or not. I’m confident whatever they are will not change the conclusion reached in July. Therefore it’s imperative that the bureau explain this issue in question, whatever it is, without any delay," Clinton said.[172]

    On October 30, 2016, The Washington Post reported that the FBI had obtained a warrant to search the computer of Weiner.[171]

    Comey submitted another letter to members of Congress on November 6, 2016, notifying them that the review of the additional emails had been completed. "Since my letter, the FBI investigative team has been working around the clock to process and review a large volume of emails from a device obtained in connection with an unrelated criminal investigation. During that process, we reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State. Based on our review, we have not changed our conclusions that we expressed in July with respect to Secretary Clinton," Comey wrote.[173]

    On August 23, 2018, Paul Sperry reported for RealClearInvestigations that only 3,000 of the 694,000 emails had been reviewed for classified or incriminating information, despite Comey's statement that all communications on Weiner's laptop had been reviewed. According to Sperry, that review produced additional evidence showing classified material had been improperly stored and transmitted on an unsecured device, but the FBI did not contact other U.S. intelligence agencies for further review.[174]

    Inspector general's review of Comey's actions

    Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, announced on January 12, 2017, that he was opening an investigation into how Comey handled public disclosures about Clinton's private email server investigation following requests for an inquiry from members of Congress and the public.[175] Comey's July 2016 press conference where he called Clinton's conduct "extremely careless" and the letter he submitted to Congress in October 2016 about potentially new information in the investigation would be under review, along with whether the timing and audience of other disclosures were appropriate.[175][176]

    On May 9, 2017, President Donald Trump, on the recommendations of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, fired Comey for his handling of the investigation into Clinton's private email server use.[177][178]

    Rosenstein wrote in a memo, "[Comey] was wrong to usurp the Attorney General's authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution. It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement. At most, the Director should have said the FBI had completed its investigation and presented its findings to federal prosecutors. ... Compounding the error, the Director ignored another longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation."[178]

    In a letter to Comey, which referenced a separate FBI investigation into possible ties between Trump associates and Russia, Trump wrote, "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau."[178]

    IG releases report on Comey’s handling of Clinton email investigation

    On June 14, 2018, Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department’s inspector general, released a 500-page report on James Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state. The report found that Comey and other FBI officials deviated from FBI and Justice Department procedures and made several errors in judgment in handling the investigation. Horowitz said in the report, “While we did not find that these decisions were the result of political bias on Comey’s part, we nevertheless concluded that by departing so clearly and dramatically from FBI and department norms, the decisions negatively impacted the perception of the FBI and the department as fair administrators of justice.”[179]

    The report also stated that Horowitz found a “troubling lack of any direct, substantive communication” between Comey and Attorney General Loretta Lynch before Comey announced on July 5, 2016, that no charges would be filed against Clinton and before he notified Congress on October 28, 2016, that the FBI had found emails relevant to the agency's investigation of Clinton's private email server.[179]

    The report stated, “We found it extraordinary that, in advance of two such consequential decisions, the FBI director decided that the best course of conduct was to not speak directly and substantively with the attorney general about how best to navigate those decisions.”[179]

    Strzok and Page text messages

    The report also addressed text messages sent between Peter Strzok, an investigator on both the Clinton email case and the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign, and FBI lawyer Lisa Page. On August 8, 2016, Page wrote, “[Trump’s] not ever going to become president, right? Right?!” Strzok replied, “No. No he won’t. We’ll stop it.”[180]

    Horowitz said in the report, “We did not find documentary or testimonial evidence that improper considerations, including political bias, directly affected the specific investigative actions we reviewed.” He added, “The conduct by these employees cast a cloud over the entire FBI investigation.”[179]


    • Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said of the report, “It’s a damning indictment of former FBI Director Comey and the Department of Justice’s mishandling of the investigation.”[180]
    • Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) said in a joint statement, “The stark conclusion we draw after reviewing this report is that the FBI’s actions helped Donald Trump become President. As we warned before the election, Director Comey had a double-standard: he spoke publicly about the Clinton investigation while keeping secret from the American people the investigation of Donald Trump and Russia.”[180]
    • Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.): “The report also conclusively shows an alarming and destructive level of animus displayed by top officials at the FBI. Peter Strzok’s manifest bias trending toward animus casts a pall on this investigation. ... This report confirms investigative decisions made by the FBI during the pendency of this investigation were unprecedented and deviated from traditional investigative procedures in favor of a much more permissive and voluntary approach. This is not the way normal investigations are run. Voluntariness and consent in the former were replaced with search warrants, subpoenas, and other compulsory processes in the latter. Many of the investigators and supervisors were the same in both investigations but the investigatory tactics were not.”[181]

    In September 2015, Clinton said that she did not believe that the inquiries into her private email server had damaged her campaign. “It's a distraction, certainly. But it hasn't in any way affected the plan for our campaign, the efforts we're making to organize here in Iowa and elsewhere in the country. And I still feel very confident about the organization and the message that my campaign is putting out,” Clinton said.[182] As Clinton's poll numbers declined during this period and the FBI launched its own investigation into Clinton's server, some political commentators suggested that Clinton's campaign was compromised by the issue.[183][184]

    Public opinion polls

    Prior to March 2015, when Clinton's private email server was first reported in The New York Times, Clinton's favorability hovered between 55 and 59 percent, according to national polls sponsored by CNN. Immediately after the news broke, Clinton's numbers dipped slightly to 53 percent.[185] Subsequent polls by Langer Research for ABC News and The Washington Post saw Clinton's numbers descend to 52 percent in July 2015 and 45 percent in August 2015.[186] September 2015 polls by Quinnipiac University and Fox News measured her favorability rating at 41 percent and 38 percent, respectively.[187][188]

    Clinton's favorability ratings had a substantial partisan gap as of September 2015. For example, the Quinnipiac University national poll conducted in September 2015 saw Clinton's favorable rating among Democrats at 84 percent. In comparison, 90 percent of Republicans had an unfavorable opinion of Clinton in the same poll.[187]

    Several polls have also measured how trustworthy voters find Clinton. In a July 2015 Quinnipiac University national poll, 57 percent of respondents said Clinton was "not honest or trustworthy.[189] In the swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, 60 percent of respondents did not find Clinton to be honest and trustworthy, according to another Quinnipiac poll in August 2015.[190]

    When directly asked to offer an opinion on the inquiries into Clinton's private email server, 46 percent of U.S. voters said in August 2015 that Clinton should suspend her campaign until the issue was settled. A nearly equal number—44 percent—said she should not.[191]

    Although the FBI concluded its investigation and Clinton secured the Democratic presidential nomination in the year since, Clinton's poll numbers on honesty and trustworthiness have not shifted. In a USA Today/Suffolk University national poll released on September 8, 2016, only 31.3 percent of voters said that she was "honest and trustworthy." Trump, however, registered an even lower rating on this question with 30.6 percent of respondents saying the same.[192] When voters were asked to compare the two candidates' honesty in a poll released by CNN on September 6, 2016, however, 50 percent of respondents said Trump was "more honest and trustworthy" than Clinton. Only 35 percent said the reverse.[193]

    In an interview on CBS' "60 Minutes" in October 2015, President Barack Obama called Clinton's use of a private email server "a mistake that she has acknowledged."[194] He noted that he had not been aware of the arrangement at the time, but did not believe "it posed a national security problem. He added, “The fact that for the last three months this is all that's been spoken about is an indication that we're in presidential political season."[194]

    Comments from other presidential candidates during the primaries


    Although Clinton's Democratic competitors avoided making judgments on the legality of Clinton's private email server use, some noted its impact on her presidential campaign and voter perception. On August 25, 2015, Lincoln Chafee suggested that Clinton was "obviously" politically vulnerable because of the inquiries into her private email server. “It’s a huge issue. It just is, and you see it in the news and reflected in the polls. Voters want choices, and that’s what we should have," Chafee said, adding, "your character, your past record, your vision for the future" are what voters would consider.[195]

    Martin O'Malley said in August 2015 that journalists had "legitimate" questions to ask Clinton and her lawyers, but that he planned to focus instead on ideas and policies in his own campaign.[196]

    Bernie Sanders took a similar approach in an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell on August 31, 2015. He declined to say whether Clinton compromised national security. "Well, there is a process going on now. We will learn more about it. But this campaign that I am running, let me reiterate, is not against Hillary Clinton or anybody else," said Sanders.[197]

    At the first Democratic presidential debate on October 13, 2015, moderator Anderson Cooper asked Sanders to comment on the email investigation. Sanders responded, "Let me say - let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right, and that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn e-mails."[198] Cooper then turned to O'Malley who said, "I believe that now that we're finally having debates, Anderson, that we don't have to be defined by the email scandal, and how long - what the FBI's asking about. Instead, we can talk about affordable college, making college debt free, and all the issues."[198]


    The Republican presidential field has generally been critical of Clinton's conduct, with some candidates calling her actions "criminal."

    Carly Fiorina has been one of Clinton's most vocal critics. On July 27, 2015, Fiorina suggested that Clinton’s private email server usage demonstrated Clinton's lack of understanding of technology or cybersecurity, two subjects the “next president must understand.”[199] The following month, in an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, Fiorina said that Clinton had "lied about some key things" like "her emails" and "her server."[200]

    Fiorina discusses Clinton's private email server in August 2015 on Fox Business.
    In September 2015, Fiorina expressed skepticism that Clinton was ignorant of how her work-related emails should have been handled. Speaking about Clinton’s choice to employ Bryan Pagliano, a State Department staffer, to work on her private email server, Fiorina added, “[T]hat actually takes a lot of work and lot of effort. And so I don't think it's plausible for her to say, 'Oh, I wasn't paying any attention.' She clearly was paying attention.”[201]

    George Pataki expressed similar doubts that Clinton was unaware of the consequences of using a private email server. He tweeted on July 27, 2015, “Every ‘grandmother with two eyes and a brain’ knows storing sensitive classified information on a home server is dangerous @HillaryClinton.”[202][203]

    In an interview on MSNBC on August 24, 2015, Chris Christie said Clinton "deserves to be pounded" for her use of a private email server. "The fact is she doesn’t think she’s accountable to the American people because she won’t answer questions," he added.[204] On September 13, 2015, Christie suggested that one issue with Clinton's conduct was how she handled herself after the private email server was discovered. He said, “What really matters, as Hillary Clinton is finding out, is how you react to a crisis. Not that there never will be any crises, but how you react to it. When we had a crisis, the next day I went out and took questions for an hour and 15 minutes, no holds barred. Let’s wait to see if Mrs. Clinton every does one-fifth of that on her crisis.”[205]

    Calling himself “fluent in Clinton-speak" during the Voters First Forum on August 3, 2015, Lindsey Graham suggested that the Clintons were untrustworthy. “When Bill says he didn't have sex with that woman, he did. When [Hillary] says, 'I'll tell you about building the pipeline when I get to be president,' it means she won't. And when she tells us, 'Trust me, you have all the emails you need,' we haven't even scratched the surface,” Graham said.[206]

    In July 2015, Rand Paul it was the Obama administration that was interested in her conduct and not “Republicans making a political point.” Paul added, “Even she knew there was a rule. They actually admonished one of her ambassadors because he wasn't using the proper server. I don't understand how she can skate by and act as if she wasn't aware of the law.” Paul also said that the “Clintons think they live above the law. They think they live differently than all the rest of America, and I think this is going to come back to bite her, and it already is.”[207][208]

    In July 2015, Donald Trump said Clinton's conduct was "criminal" and "far worse" than what Gen. David Petraeus was prosecuted for.[209]

    See also

    1. Wall Street Journal, "Timeline: Hillary Clinton’s Email Chain," March 10, 2015
    2. 2.02.1Hillary for America, "Updated: The Facts About Hillary Clinton’s Emails," accessed September 16, 2015
    3. National Review, "Yes, Hillary Clinton Broke the Law," March 3, 2015
    4. The New York Times, "Judge Says Hillary Clinton Didn’t Follow Government Email Policies," August 21, 2015
    5. Wired, "Why Clinton’s Private Email Server Was Such a Security Fail," March 4, 2015
    6., "Feds move to consolidate lawsuits over Hillary Clinton emails," September 1, 2015
    7. CNN, "Benghazi attack timeline," August 6, 2013
    8. The Washington Post, "FBI looking into the security of Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail setup," August 4, 2015
    9. of Inspector General, "Evaluation of Email Records Management and Cybersecurity Requirements," accessed May 26, 2016
    10. Bureau of Investigation, "Statement by FBI Director James B. Comey on the Investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s Use of a Personal E-Mail System ," July 5, 2016
    11. 11.011.1U.S. Department of Justice, "Statement from Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Regarding State Department Email Investigation," July 6, 2016
    12. 12.012.1NBC News, "FBI to Re-Open Investigation Into Hillary Clinton's Email Server," October 28, 2016
    13. NPR, "FBI Affirms July Decision Not To Charge Clinton, After Review Of Weiner Emails," November 6, 2016
    14. NPR, "Fact Check: Hillary Clinton, Those Emails And The Law," April 2, 2015
    15. GPO, "§ 3101. Records management by agency heads; general duties," accessed September 17, 2015
    16. This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributable to the original source.
    17. National Review, "Yes, What Hillary Did Was Illegal—and Has Been for 20 Years," March 5, 2015
    18. HeinOnline, "60 Fed. Reg. 44641 1995," accessed September 23, 2015
    19. GPO.gov, "Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments of 1996," accessed September 23, 2015
    20. 20.020.1FOIA.gov, "Frequently Asked Questions," September 25, 2015
    21. GPO.gov, "Title 18–Crimes and Criminal Procedure," accessed September 25, 2015
    22. Archives.gov, "NARA Bulletin 2013-03," September 9, 2013
    23. Wall Street Journal, "Hillary Clinton’s Personal Email Use Came Before Recent Rule Changes," March 3, 2015
    24. National Archives, "National Archives Welcomes Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014," December 1, 2014
    25. Congress.gov, "H.R.1233 - Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments of 2014," accessed October 2, 2015
    26. TIME, "The Legal Question Over Hillary Clinton’s Secret Emails," July 29, 2015
    Sours: https://ballotpedia.org/Hillary_Clinton_email_investigation

    Hillary Clinton emails - what's it all about?

    Anthony Zurcher
    North America reporter
    @awzurcheron Twitter

    Hillary Clinton has been cleared for a second time by the FBI over her use of a private email server while secretary of state. What's it all about?

    In July, an FBI investigation concluded no "reasonable prosecutor" would bring a criminal case against Mrs Clinton, but that she and her aides were "extremely careless" in their handling of classified information.

    Then the FBI surprised everyone, 11 days before the election, by announcing it was examining newly discovered emails sent or received by Hillary Clinton.

    Two days before voting booths opened across the nation, FBI Director James Comey announced he was standing by his original assessment - that Mrs Clinton should not face criminal charges.

    What's the deal with Hillary Clinton's emails?

    Shortly before she was sworn in as secretary of state in 2009, Hillary Clinton set up an email server at her home in Chappaqua, New York. She then relied on this server, home to the email address [email protected], for all her electronic correspondence - both work-related and personal - during her four years in office.

    She also reportedly set up email addresses on the server for her long-time aide, Huma Abedin, and State Department Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills.

    She did not use, or even activate, a state.gov email account, which would have been hosted on servers owned and managed by the US government.

    Mrs Clinton's email system became a national story the first week of March 2015, when the New York Times ran a front-page article on the subject. The article said that the system "may have violated federal requirements" and was "alarming" to current and former government archive officials.

    According to Mrs Clinton, the primary reason she set up her own email was for "convenience". During a press conference at the UN, she said that she preferred to carry only one smartphone with one email address, rather than have two devices - one for work and one for personal affairs.

    At the time, according to reports, government-issued Blackberry phones were unable to access multiple email accounts.

    "I thought using one device would be simpler, and obviously, it hasn't worked out that way," she said.

    Sceptics have countered that the real reason Mrs Clinton established her own email system was because it gave her total control over her correspondence.

    With her email setup, she became the sole arbiter of what should and shouldn't be provided to the government, made public via freedom of information requests or turned over to interested parties, such as the congressional committee investigating the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.

    According to the State Department inspector general report, in 2010 Mrs Clinton told her deputy chief of staff that one of her concerns with email is that she did not "want any risk of the personal being accessible".

    An FBI investigation found that Mrs Clinton used "numerous personal devices" while in office and relied on several email servers. Clinton staffers told the FBI that they destroyed some of the replaced devices with a hammer while they could not account for others.

    Was this against the law?

    Probably not. Mrs Clinton's email system existed in a grey area of the law - and one that has been changed several times since she left office.

    When she became secretary of state, the controlling interpretation of the 1950 Federal Records Act was that officials using personal email accounts must ensure that official correspondence is turned over to the government. Ten months after she took office, a new regulation allowed the use of private emails only if federal records were "preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system".

    Mrs Clinton maintains that this requirement was satisfied because most of her emails from her personal account went to, or were forwarded to, people with government accounts, so they were automatically archived. Any other emails were turned over to State Department officials when they issued a request to her - and several of her predecessors - in October 2014.

    She said it is the responsibility of the government employee "to determine what's personal and what's work-related" and that she's gone "above and beyond" what she was asked to do.

    In November 2014 President Barack Obama signed the Presidential and Federal Records Act Amendments, which require government officials to forward any official correspondence to the government within 20 days. Even under this new law, however, the penalties are only administrative, not criminal.

    The State Department inspector general report, released in May 2016, found that Mrs Clinton's email system violated government policy and that she did not receive permission prior to instituting it - approval that would not have been granted had she asked. Such transgressions, however, do not constitute criminal conduct.

    FBI director James Comey announced the results of a separate FBI investigation on 5 July and concluded that that while "there is evidence of potential violations" of criminal statues covering the mishandling of classified information, "our judgement is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case". It referred the matter to the Justice Department, which closed the case against Mrs Clinton and her aides with no charges.

    The State Department has since resumed its investigation into whether Mrs Clinton or her aides violated government policy in their handling of classified information. If it determines that they did, the punishment could include a formal letter of reprimand or loss of security clearance.

    How many emails are we talking about?

    Image source, Getty Images

    According to Mrs Clinton, she sent or received 62,320 emails during her time as secretary of state. She, or her lawyers, have determined about half of those - 30,490, roughly 55,000 pages, were official and have been turned over to the State Department.

    Mrs Clinton said the other emails are private - relating to topics like her daughter's wedding, her mother's funeral and "yoga routines".

    At Hillary Clinton's request, the State Department released the first set of emails sent on her private account in May 2015, with many relating to the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi.

    In early August 2015, she signed an affidavit swearing she had turned over all copies of government records from her time in office.

    The FBI found "several thousand" work-related emails that were not turned over to the State Department, although it concluded that the emails were deleted prior to 2014 and were not intentionally removed "in an effort to conceal them".

    About 3,000 emails are expected to be released in the run-up to election day, but many more will not be processed until after 8 November.

    Have other politicians engaged in similar activities?

    Mrs Clinton is far from alone. Other politicians and officials - both in federal and state governments - sometimes have relied on personal email for official business. Colin Powell, secretary of state under President George W Bush, told ABC he used a personal email account while in office, including to correspond with foreign leaders.

    The State Department inspector general report found that many of Mrs Clinton's predecessors - including Mr Powell - were also not in compliance with federal recordkeeping requirements, although the rules governing their actions were less detailed when they were in office.

    The New York Times reported that Mr Powell had once advised Mrs Clinton at a dinner party to use private email, although not while handling classified information. But he later denied he had ever done such a thing.

    Outside of Washington, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush - a 2016 candidate for the US presidency - relied on a private email address ([email protected]). Like Mrs Clinton, he has selected which correspondence to make public.

    Image source, Getty Images

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, another former Republican presidential aspirant, faced questions over his staff's use of private email addresses when he was Milwaukee County executive.

    Government Executive magazine conducted a poll in February 2015 of 412 high-level federal workers and found that 33% of those surveyed said they use personal email for government business "at least sometimes".

    Mrs Clinton differs from these examples not in manner but in extent - because she used her personal email address exclusively. And, unlike Mr Bush and Mr Walker, her actions were governed by federal law.

    So why is this a controversy?

    Image source, Getty Images

    This became a big deal in large part because Mrs Clinton is asking the US public to trust that she is complying with both the "letter and the spirit of the rules", in the words of her spokesperson, Nick Merrill.

    The New York Times story was prompted by information provided to the paper by the congressional Benghazi committee, and conservative critics allege that there is no way to prove that she is being forthcoming in providing their investigation with all the relevant material.

    Her "convenience" explanation has been difficult for some to swallow, given that as secretary of state she travelled with an extensive entourage capable of carrying her additional phone. And in February 2015, she told a television interviewer that she now carries multiple devices - an iPhone and a Blackberry, as well as an iPad and an iPad mini.

    In addition, critics on both the left and the right have expressed concern that her reliance on a "homebrew" email system made her communications more susceptible to hackers and foreign intelligence services.

    Exactly how secure was her email?

    During her press conference, Mrs Clinton said that that there "were no security breaches" of her server and that robust protections put in place "proved to be effective and secure".

    Independent cybersecurity analysts have said that expert hackers can break into email servers without leaving any evidence, however. And commercially available security systems are no match for government-protected systems - but even those aren't invulnerable, as a November 2014 intrusion into the State Department's email system proved.

    She has repeatedly said that no classified material was transmitted via her email account and that she sent only one email to a foreign official - in the UK.

    But in July 2015, the inspector general of the US intelligence community, Charles McCullough, told Congress she had sent at least four messages that contained information derived from classified material. A month later, Mr McCullough revealed that two of the emails contained information deemed "top secret" - the highest classification level.

    Responding to building pressure, Mrs Clinton finally agreed in August 2015 to hand over the private server she used for a preliminary FBI investigation into the security of classified information contained among her emails.

    She also said she would hand over memory sticks containing copies of the emails.

    By the time the final batch of Clinton emails were released in March 2016, the total number of emails receiving an after-the-fact classified designation had surpassed 2,000.

    In May 2016 the Romanian hacker Guccifer, in US prison on felony hacking charges, told Fox News that he had successfully accessed Mrs Clinton's email server several times - an assertion the Clinton campaign denies and the State Department and prosecutors said there is no evidence to support.

    The July 2016 FBI report found no "direct evidence" of unauthorised access to her email servers, according to James Comey, but that the lack of robust security meant that "it is possible that hostile actors gained access".

    Wait, the State Department was hacked?

    Image source, White House

    Indeed, it was. According to sources cited by CNN, the November 2014 attack was the "worst ever" cyberattack on a government agency , requiring department IT workers to shut down its entire unclassified email system for a weekend.

    The US government suspects Russian hackers were behind the attack - and were also responsible for similar efforts against the White House, postal service and other agencies.

    Although Mrs Clinton wasn't affected by that particular incident, some of her personal correspondence was revealed in March 2013 when a confidante, Sidney Blumenthal, had his aol.com address compromised by the hacker named Guccifer (later revealed to be a Romanian named Marcel-Lehel Lazar).

    Although Guccifer only exposed emails Mr Blumenthal sent to Mrs Clinton, not her replies, it did reveal the secretary of state's private email address two years before the New York Times made it a national story.

    What about the new twist?

    The FBI announced at the end of October that it had discovered new emails "in connection with an unrelated case... that appear to be pertinent to the investigation".

    Director James Comey said investigators would determine whether the emails contain classified information.

    It emerged that the newly discovered emails were being examined as part of an FBI investigation into disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner, estranged husband of top Clinton aide Huma Abedin.

    Two days before election day, Comey announced he had not changed his original conclusion that Mrs Clinton should not face criminal charges for her handling of classified information, following a review of the newly discovered emails.

    Sours: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-31806907
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    Clinton Emails: Closing The Loop On A Prominent Story

    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton boards her campaign plane at Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport on November 6, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images hide caption

    toggle caption
    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton boards her campaign plane at Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport on November 6, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.

    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    I wrote last week about what we in my office informally call "missing stories," those stories that NPR listeners and readers feel have been under-covered. Newsrooms have to set priorities, of course, and they can't cover everything. But this week's "missing story" is a particularly notable omission.

    Late Friday, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley released a letter he had received from the State Department earlier in the week, in which the department said it had concluded its investigation, begun in 2016, into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails. The quick takeaway from the report, as reported by AP: The investigation found "no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information." It did find that 38 current or former employees, in 91 cases, sent classified information (some of it classified after the fact) that ended up in Clinton's personal email. Some of them may face discipline.

    NPR intensely covered the Clinton email issue prior to the 2016 election. And it covered this most recent development in the 3-year-old saga, but you wouldn't know that from looking at NPR.org, as a reader pointed out to the Public Editor's office. There's no digital story. No newsmagazine report. Astute listeners would have heard reports in six newscasts, at 8 p.m., 9 p.m. and 11 p.m. (all ET) on Friday, Oct. 18, and at 2 a.m., 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 19. Newscast transcripts are not archived online, however.

    To any NPR news consumer who didn't happen to catch a newscast, most of which were in off hours, this important development in the story is invisible.

    Newsroom leaders told me they stand by the decision to cover the story only in the newscasts, given the crush of other important news and an exceedingly stretched staff.

    "It was a combination of things: timing and stretched resources and in the scheme of all the news of late, it just didn't rise up to our re-allocating resources. A judgment call, but not one that we would second guess given all the other things coming over the transom," Edith Chapin, NPR's vice president and executive editor, told me in an email.

    Sarah Gilbert, NPR's vice president for news programming, added (by email): "That part of the week's news agenda was dominated by reaction to [acting White House Chief of Staff Mick] Mulvaney admitting and then retracting quid pro quo on Ukraine, the Doral G7 announcement and reversal, and the crisis in Syria. In this context, newscast coverage of a 9-page State Dept. report that concluded 'there was no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information' was adequate."

    Are all those other stories important? Yes, and arguably far more newsworthy at this time when the president faces an impeachment inquiry. And the State Department finding perhaps felt anti-climactic, given that the FBI had already long ago closed its own investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server, saying there was no criminal act. NPR covered that at the time.

    Those affected most by the new development are the senders of the now-classified emails. That said, as recently as Sept. 30, NPR had prominent reports in both Morning Edition and All Things Considered about how the State Department had revived the probe, contacting about 150 current or former employees whose emails had ended up in Clinton's private email. The net effect of that action, and NPR's reporting on it, was to keep alive an issue that President Trump has used to stir up his supporters against Clinton in particular and Democrats in general.

    The end of­­­­­­ the State Department's investigation is a final period on the whole saga that got so much attention in the lead-up to the 2016 election. I think NPR has an obligation here to close the loop after three years (or at least on the newsmagazine reports from Sept. 30). Since there's no other report in the NPR online archive, this one will have to do.

    Sours: https://www.npr.org/sections/publiceditor/2019/10/23/772328703/clinton-emails-closing-the-loop-on-a-prominent-story
    Rep. Gowdy questions State Department Official on Hillary Clinton Emails (C-SPAN)

    Hillary Clinton email controversy

    American political controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton's conduct while Secretary of State

    During her tenure as United States Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton drew controversy by using a private email server for official public communications rather than using official State Department email accounts maintained on federal servers. Clinton's server was found to hold over 100 emails containing classified information, including 65 emails deemed "Secret" and 22 deemed "Top Secret". An additional 2,093 emails not marked classified were retroactively designated confidential by the State Department.[1][2][3]

    Some experts, officials, and members of Congress contended that Clinton's use of a private messaging system and a private server violated federal law, specifically 18 U.S. Code § 1924, regarding the unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or materials, as well as State Department protocols and procedures, and regulations governing recordkeeping. Clinton claimed that her use complied with federal laws and State Department regulations, and that former secretaries of state had also maintained personal email accounts (however Clinton was the only secretary of state to use a private server).[4] News reports by NBC and CNN indicated that the emails discussed "innocuous" matters already available in the public domain. For example, the CIA drone program has been widely discussed in the public domain since the early 2000s; however, the existence of the program is technically classified, so sharing a newspaper article that mentions it would constitute a security breach, according to the CIA.[5][6]

    The controversy was a major point of discussion and contention during the 2016 presidential election, in which Clinton was the Democratic nominee. In May, the State Department's Office of the Inspector General released a report about the State Department's email practices, including Clinton's. In July, FBI director James Comey announced that the FBI investigation had concluded that Clinton had been "extremely careless" but recommended that no charges be filed because Clinton did not act with criminal intent, the historical standard for pursuing prosecution.[7]

    On October 28, 2016, eleven days before the election, Comey notified Congress that the FBI had started looking into newly discovered emails. On November 6, Comey notified Congress that the FBI had not changed its conclusion.[8] Comey's timing was contentious, with critics saying that he had violated Department of Justice guidelines and precedent, and prejudiced the public against Clinton.[9] The controversy received more media coverage than any other topic during the presidential campaign.[10][11][12] Clinton and other observers argue that the reopening of the investigation contributed to her loss in the election. Comey said in his 2018 book A Higher Loyalty that his decision may have been unconsciously influenced by the fact that he considered it extremely likely that Clinton would become the next president.[13]

    On June 14, 2018, the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General released its report on the FBI's and DOJ's handling of Clinton's investigation, finding no evidence of political bias and lending support for the decision to not prosecute Clinton.[14] A three-year State Department investigation concluded in September 2019 that 38 individuals were "culpable" in 91 instances of sending classified information that reached Clinton's email account, though it found "no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information".[15]


    Clinton's use of BlackBerrys[edit]

    Prior to her appointment as Secretary of State in 2009, Clinton and her circle of friends and colleagues communicated via BlackBerry phones.[16] State Department security personnel suggested this would pose a security risk during her tenure.[17] The email account used on Clinton's BlackBerry was then hosted on a private server in the basement of her home in Chappaqua, New York, but that information was not disclosed to State Department security personnel or senior State Department personnel.[18]

    Setting up a secure desktop computer in her office was suggested, but Clinton was unfamiliar with their use[19] and opted for the convenience of her BlackBerry,[20] not the State Department, government protocol of a secured desktop computer. Efforts to find a secure solution were abandoned by Clinton,[21] and she was warned by State Department security personnel about the vulnerability of an unsecured BlackBerry to hacking.[22] She affirmed her knowledge of the danger, and was reportedly told that the Bureau of Diplomatic Security had obtained intelligence about her vulnerability while she was on a trip to Asia, but continued to use her BlackBerry outside her office.[16]

    Domain names and email server[edit]

    A screenshot of the default Outlook Web App login page that is displayed when navigating to Clinton's email service

    At the time of Senate confirmation hearings on Hillary Clinton's nomination as Secretary of State, the domain names clintonemail.com, wjcoffice.com, and presidentclinton.com were registered to Eric Hoteham,[23] with the home of Clinton and her husband in Chappaqua, New York, as the contact address.[24][25] The domains were pointed to a private email server that Clinton (who never had a state.gov email account) used to send and receive email, and which was purchased and installed in the Clintons' home for her 2008 presidential campaign.[26]

    The email server was located in the Clintons' home in Chappaqua, New York, from January 2009 until 2013, when it was sent to a data center in New Jersey before being handed over to Platte River Networks, a Denver-based information technology firm that Clinton hired to manage her email system.[27][28][29][30][31]

    The server itself runs a Microsoft Exchange 2010[32][33] server with access to emails over the internet being delivered by Outlook Web App. The web page is secured with a TLS certificate to allow information to be transmitted securely when using the website. However, for the first two months of its use – January 2009 through March 29, 2009 – the web page was reportedly not secured with a TLS certificate, meaning that information transmitted using the service was unencrypted and may have been liable to interception.[16]

    Initial awareness[edit]

    As early as 2009, officials with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) expressed concerns over possible violations of normal federal government record-keeping procedures at the State Department under then-Secretary Clinton.[34]

    In December 2012, near the end of Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, a nonprofit group called Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, or CREW, filed a FOIA request seeking records about her email. CREW received a response in May 2013: "no records responsive to your request were located."[16] Emails sent to Clinton's private clintonemail.com address were first discovered in March 2013, when a hacker named "Guccifer" widely distributed emails sent to Clinton from Sidney Blumenthal, which Guccifer obtained by illegally accessing Blumenthal's email account.[35][36][37] The emails dealt with the 2012 Benghazi attack and other issues in Libya and revealed the existence of her clintonemail.com address.[35][36][37]

    Blumenthal did not have a security clearance when he received material from Clinton that has since been characterized as classified by the State Department.[38][39]

    In the summer of 2014, lawyers from the State Department noticed a number of emails from Clinton's personal account, while reviewing documents requested by the House Select Committee on Benghazi. A request by the State Department for additional emails led to negotiations with her lawyers and advisors. In October, the State Department sent letters to Clinton and all previous Secretaries of State back to Madeleine Albright requesting emails and documents related to their work while in office. On December 5, 2014, Clinton lawyers delivered 12 file boxes filled with printed paper containing more than 30,000 emails. Clinton withheld almost 32,000 emails deemed to be of a personal nature.[16] Datto, Inc., which provided data backup service for Clinton's email, agreed to give the FBI the hardware that stored the backups.[40]

    As of May 2016, no answer had been provided to the public as to whether 31,000 emails deleted by Hillary Clinton as personal have been or could be recovered.[41]

    A March 2, 2015 New York Times article broke the story that the Benghazi panel had discovered that Clinton exclusively used her own private email server rather than a government-issued one throughout her time as Secretary of State, and that her aides took no action to preserve emails sent or received from her personal accounts as required by law.[42][43][44] At that point, Clinton announced that she had asked the State Department to release her emails.[45] Some in the media labeled the controversy "emailgate."[46][47][48]

    Use of private server for government business[edit]

    According to Clinton's spokesperson Nick Merrill, a number of government officials have used private email accounts for official business, including secretaries of state before Clinton,but none have set up their own private domain to house their private email account.[49]

    State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said that: "For some historical context, Secretary Kerry is the first secretary of state to rely primarily on a state.gov email account."[42] John Wonderlich, a transparency advocate with the Sunlight Foundation, observed while many government officials used private email accounts, their use of private email servers was much rarer.[50] A notable exception was during the Bush administration, when dozens of senior White House officials conducted government business via approximately 22 million emails using accounts they had on a server owned by the Republican National Committee.[51]

    Dan Metcalfe, a former head of the Justice Department's Office of Information and Privacy, said this gave her even tighter control over her emails by not involving a third party such as Google and helped prevent their disclosure by Congressional subpoena. He added: "She managed successfully to insulate her official emails, categorically, from the FOIA, both during her tenure at State and long after her departure from it—perhaps forever," making it "a blatant circumvention of the FOIA by someone who unquestionably knows better."[42][52]

    According to Harf, use by government officials of personal email for government business is permissible under the Federal Records Act, so long as relevant official communications, including all work-related emails, are preserved by the agency. The Act (which was amended in late 2014 after Clinton left office to require that personal emails be transferred to government servers within 20 days) requires agencies to retain all official communications, including all work-related emails, and stipulates that government employees cannot destroy or remove relevant records.[42] NARA regulations dictate how records should be created and maintained, require that they must be maintained "by the agency" and "readily found," and that the records must "make possible a proper scrutiny by the Congress."[42] Section 1924 of Title 18 of the United States Code addresses the deletion and retention of classified documents, under which "knowingly" removing or housing classified information at an "unauthorized location" is subject to a fine, or up to a year in prison.[42]

    Experts such as Metcalfe agree that these practices are allowed by federal law assuming that the material is not supposed to be classified,[49][53] or at least these practices are allowed in case of emergencies,[43] but they discourage these practices, believing that official email accounts should be used.[42]

    Jason R. Baron, the former head of litigation at NARA, described the practice as "highly unusual" but not a violation of the law. In a separate interview, he said, "It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario—short of nuclear winter—where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business."[43][54][55] Baron told the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2015 that "any employee's decision to conduct all email correspondence through a private email network, using a non-.gov address, is inconsistent with long-established policies and practices under the Federal Records Act and NARA regulations governing all federal agencies."[56]

    May 2016 report from State Department's inspector general[edit]

    In May 2016, the Department's Office of the Inspector GeneralSteve A. Linick released an 83-page report about the State Department's email practices.[57][58][59] The Inspector General was unable to find evidence that Clinton had ever sought approval from the State Department staff for her use of a private email server, determining that if Clinton had sought approval, Department staff would have declined her setup because of the "security risks in doing so."[57] Aside from security risks, the report stated that "she did not comply with the Department's policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act."[60] Each of these findings contradicted what Clinton and her aides had been saying up to that point.[61][62][63] The report also stated that Clinton and her senior aides declined to speak with the investigators, while the previous four Secretaries of State did so.[57]

    The report also reviewed the practices of several previous Secretaries of State and concluded that the Department's record keeping practices were subpar for many years.[57] The Inspector General criticized Clinton's use of private email for Department business, concluding that it was "not an appropriate method" of document preservation and did not follow Department policies that aim to comply with federal record laws. The report also criticized Colin Powell, who used a personal email account for business, saying that this violated some of the same Department policies.[57] State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the report emphasized the need for federal agencies to adapt "decades-old record-keeping practices to the email-dominated modern era" and said that the Department's record-retention practices had been improved under the current Secretary of State John F. Kerry, Clinton's successor.[57] The report also notes that the rules for preserving work-related emails were updated in 2009.[64]

    Inspector General Linick wrote that he "found no evidence that staff in the Office of the Legal Adviser reviewed or approved Secretary Clinton's personal system," and also found that multiple State employees who raised concerns regarding Clinton's server were told that the Office of the Legal Adviser had approved it, and were further told to "never speak of the Secretary's personal email system again."[65][66][67][17]

    Clinton campaign spokesman Brian Fallon issued a statement saying: "The report shows that problems with the State Department's electronic record-keeping systems were long-standing" and that Clinton "took steps that went much further than others to appropriately preserve and release her records."[57] However, the Associated Press said, "The audit did note that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had also exclusively used a private email account. ... But the failings of Clinton were singled out in the audit as being more serious than her predecessor."[68] The report stated that "By Secretary Clinton's tenure, the department's guidance was considerably more detailed and more sophisticated, Secretary Clinton's cybersecurity practices accordingly must be evaluated in light of these more comprehensive directives."[68]

    Server security and hacking attempts[edit]

    Encryption and security[edit]

    In 2008, before Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State, Justin Cooper, a longtime aide to Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, managed the system. Cooper had no security clearance or expertise in computer security.[69] Later, Bryan Pagliano, the former IT director for Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign, was hired to maintain their private email server while Clinton was Secretary of State.[70][71] Pagliano had invoked the Fifth Amendment during congressional questioning about Clinton's server. In early 2016, he was granted immunity by the Department of Justice in exchange for cooperation with prosecutors.[72] A Clinton spokesman said her campaign was "pleased" Pagliano was now cooperating with prosecutors.[73] As of May 2016, the State Department remained unable to locate most of Pagliano's work-related emails from the period when he was employed by that department under Secretary Clinton.[74]

    Security experts such as Chris Soghoian believe that emails to and from Clinton may have been at risk of hacking and foreign surveillance.[75]Marc Maiffret, a cybersecurity expert, said that the server had "amateur hour" vulnerabilities.[76] For the first two months after Clinton was appointed Secretary of State and began accessing mail on the server through her BlackBerry, transmissions to and from the server were apparently not encrypted. On March 29, 2009, a digital certificate was obtained which would have permitted encryption.[16]

    Former Director of the Defense Intelligence AgencyMichael T. Flynn,[77] former United States Secretary of DefenseRobert Gates,[78][79] and former deputy director of the Central Intelligence AgencyMichael Morell[80][81] have said that it is likely that foreign governments were able to access the information on Clinton's server. Michael Hayden, former Director of the National Security Agency, Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency said "I would lose all respect for a whole bunch of foreign intelligence agencies if they weren't sitting back, paging through the emails."[82]

    Hacking attempts[edit]

    Clinton's server was configured to allow users to connect openly from the Internet and control it remotely using Microsoft's Remote Desktop Services.[76]

    It is known that hackers were aware of Clinton's non-public email address as early as 2011.[83] Secretary Clinton and her staff were aware of hacking attempts in 2011, and were reportedly worried about them.[84]

    In 2012, according to server records, a hacker in Serbia scanned Clinton's Chappaqua server at least twice, in August and in December 2012. It was unclear whether the hacker knew the server belonged to Clinton, although it did identify itself as providing email services for clintonemail.com.[76] During 2014, Clinton's server was the target of repeated intrusions originating in Germany, China, and South Korea. Threat monitoring software on the server blocked at least five such attempts. The software was installed in October 2013, and for three months prior to that, no such software had been installed.[85][86]

    According to Pagliano, security logs of Clinton's email server showed no evidence of successful hacking.[87] The New York Times reported that "forensic experts can sometimes spot sophisticated hacking that is not apparent in the logs, but computer security experts view logs as key documents when detecting hackers," adding the logs "bolster Mrs. Clinton's assertion that her use of a personal email account ... did not put American secrets into the hands of hackers or foreign governments."[75][87][88]

    In 2013, Romanian hacker Marcel Lehel Lazăr (aka "Guccifer") distributed private memos from Sidney Blumenthal to Clinton on events in Libya that he had acquired by hacking Blumenthal's email account.[89][90] In 2016, Lazăr was extradited from Romania to the U.S. to face unrelated federal charges related to his hacking into the accounts of a number of high-profile U.S. figures,[91] pleading guilty to these charges.[92][93] While detained pending trial, Lazăr claimed to the media that he had successfully hacked Clinton's server, but provided no proof of this claim.[94] Officials associated with the investigation told the media that they found no evidence supporting Lazăr's assertion,[95] and Clinton press secretary Brian Fallon said "There is absolutely no basis to believe the claims made by this criminal from his prison cell."[96][97] FBI Director James Comey later stated in a congressional hearing that Guccifer admitted his claim was a lie.[98]

    According to security researchers at Secureworks the email leak was caused by Threat Group-4127, later attributed to Fancy Bear, a unit that targets governments, military, and international non-governmental organizations. The researchers report moderate confidence that the unit gathers intelligence on behalf of the Russian government.[99]

    Deletion of emails[edit]

    In 2014, months prior to public knowledge of the server's existence, Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills and two attorneys worked to identify work-related emails on the server to be archived and preserved for the State Department. Upon completion of this task in December 2014, Mills instructed Clinton's computer services provider, Platte River Networks (PRN), to change the server's retention period to 60 days, allowing 31,830 older personal emails to be automatically deleted from the server, as Clinton had decided she no longer needed them. However, the PRN technician assigned for this task failed to carry it out at that time.[100]

    After the existence of the server became publicly known on March 2, 2015,[43] the Select Committee on Benghazi issued a subpoena for Benghazi-related emails two days later. Mills sent an email to PRN on March 9 mentioning the Committee's retention request.[100] The PRN technician then had what he described to the FBI as an "oh shit moment," realizing he had not set the personal emails to be deleted as instructed months earlier. The technician then erased the emails using a free utility, BleachBit, sometime between March 25 and 31.[101]Bloomberg News reported in September 2015 that the FBI had recovered some of the deleted emails.[102]

    Since this episode, Clinton critics have accused her or her aides of deleting emails that were under subpoena, alleging the server had been "bleached" or "acid-washed" by a "very expensive" process[103] in an effort to destroy evidence, with candidate Donald Trump stating the day before the 2016 election that "Hillary Clinton erased more than 30,000 emails as part of a cover-up."[104] Trump reiterated his position as late as August 2018, asking "Look at the crimes that Clinton did with the emails and she deletes 33,000 emails after she gets a subpoena from Congress, and this Justice Department does nothing about it?"[105]

    Classified information in emails[edit]

    In various interviews, Clinton has said that "I did not send classified material, and I did not receive any material that was marked or designated classified."[106] However, in June and July 2016, a number of news outlets reported that Clinton's emails did include messages with some paragraphs marked with a "(c)" for "Confidential."[107][108] The FBI investigation found that 110 messages contained information that was classified at the time it was sent. Sixty-five of those emails were found to contain information classified as "Secret;" more than 20 contained "Top-Secret" information.[109][110] Three emails, out of 30,000, were found to be marked as classified, although they lacked classified headers and were only marked with a small "c" in parentheses, described as "portion markings" by Comey. He added it was possible Clinton was not "technically sophisticated" enough to understand what the three classified markings meant[111][112][113] which is consistent with Clinton's claim that she wasn't aware of the meaning of such markings.

    Clinton personally wrote 104 of the 2,093 emails that were retroactively[115][116][117] found to contain information classified as "confidential."[57][118] Of the remaining emails that were classified after they were sent, Clinton aide Jake Sullivan wrote the most, at 215.[115]

    According to the State Department, there were 2,093 email chains on the server that were retroactively marked as classified by the State Department as "Confidential," 65 as "Secret," and 22 as "Top Secret."[119][120]

    An interagency dispute arose during the investigation about what constitutes “classified” status when information acquired and considered “owned” by intelligence agencies is also independently and publicly available through “parallel reporting” by the press or others. In one reported instance, an email chain deemed by the intelligence community to contain classified information included a discussion of a New York Times article that reported on a CIA drone strike in Pakistan; despite wide public knowledge of the drone program, the CIA — as the "owning agency" — considers the very existence of its drone program to be classified in its entirety. Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative AffairsJulia Frifield noted, "When policy officials obtain information from open sources, ‘think tanks,’ experts, foreign government officials, or others, the fact that some of the information may also have been available through intelligence channels does not mean that the information is necessarily classified.”[121][5]

    State Department inspector general reports and statements[edit]

    A June 29, 2015, memorandum from the Inspector General of the State Department, Steve A. Linick, said that a review of the 55,000-page email release found "hundreds of potentially classified emails."[122] A July 17, 2015, follow-up memo, sent jointly by Linick and the Intelligence Community (IC) inspector general, I. Charles McCullough III, to Under Secretary of State for ManagementPatrick F. Kennedy, stated that they had confirmed that several of the emails contained classified information that was not marked as classified, at least one of which was publicly released.[122]

    On July 24, 2015, Linick and McCullough said they had discovered classified information on Clinton's email account,[123] but did not say whether Clinton sent or received the emails.[123] Investigators from their office, searching a randomly chosen sample of 40 emails, found four that contained classified information that originated from U.S. intelligence agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA).[123] Their statement said that the information they found was classified when sent, remained so as of their inspection, and "never should have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system."[123]

    In a separate statement in the form of a letter to Congress, McCullough said that he had made a request to the State Department for access to the entire set of emails turned over by Clinton, but that the Department rejected his request.[123][124] The letter stated that none of the emails were marked as classified, but because they included classified information they should have been marked and handled as such, and transmitted securely.[124]

    On August 10, 2015, the IC inspector general said that two of the 40 emails in the sample were "Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information" and subsequently given classified labels of "TK" (for "Talent Keyhole," indicating material obtained by aerial or space-based imagery sources and NOFORN).[125] One is a discussion of a news article about a U.S. drone strike operation.[125] The second, he said, either referred to classified material or else was "parallel reporting" of open-source intelligence, which might still be classified by the government "owning agency" that sourced the information by secret means even though the same information was also available in the public domain.[125][126][127] Clinton's presidential campaign and the State Department disputed the letter, and questioned whether the emails had been over-classified by an arbitrary process. According to an unnamed source, a secondary review by the CIA and the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency endorsed the earlier inspectors general findings concluding that the emails (one of which concerned North Korea's nuclear weapons program) were "Top Secret" when received by Clinton through her private server in 2009 and 2011, a conclusion also disputed by the Clinton campaign.[128]

    The IC inspector general issued another letter to Congress on January 14, 2016. In this letter he stated that an unnamed intelligence agency had made a sworn declaration that "several dozen emails [had been] determined by the IC element to be at the CONFIDENTIAL, SECRET, and TOP SECRET/SAP levels." Other intelligence officials added that the several dozen were not the two emails from the previous sample and that the clearance of the IC inspector general himself had to be upgraded before he could learn about the programs referenced by the emails.[129][130][131] NBC News reported on January 20, 2016 that senior American officials described these emails as "innocuous" because—although they discussed the CIA drone program that is technically classified TOP SECRET/SAP—the existence of the CIA drone program had been widely known and discussed in the public domain for years. These officials characterized the IC inspector general as unfair in how he had handled the issue.[132]

    On January 29, 2016, the State Department announced that 22 documents from Clinton's email server would not be released because they contained highly classified information that was too sensitive for public consumption. At the same time, the State Department announced that it was initiating its own investigation into whether the server contained information that was classified at the time it was sent or received.[133]

    In February 2016, State Department IG Linick addressed another report to Under Secretary of State Kennedy, stating his office had also found classified material in 10 emails in the personal email accounts of members of former Secretary Condoleezza Rice's staff and in two emails in the personal email account of former Secretary of State Colin Powell.[134][135] None of the emails were classified for intelligence reasons.[136] PolitiFact found a year earlier that Powell was the only former secretary of state to use a personal email account.[137] In February 2016, Clinton's campaign chairman issued a statement claiming that her emails, like her predecessors,' were "being inappropriately subjected to over-classification."[134]

    FBI investigation[edit]

    July 2015 – Security referral[edit]

    The State Department and Intelligence Community (IC) inspector generals' discovery of four emails containing classified information, out of a random sample of 40, prompted them to make a security referral to the FBI's counterintelligence office, to alert authorities that classified information was being kept on Clinton's server and by her lawyer on a thumb drive.[123][124] As part of the FBI's Midyear investigation,[138] at the request of the IC inspector general, Clinton agreed to turn over her email server to the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as thumb drives containing copies of her work-related emails. Other emails were obtained by the United States House Select Committee on Benghazi from other sources, in connection with the committee's inquiry. Clinton's own emails are being made public in stages by the State Department on a gradual schedule.[139][140][141]

    The New York Times ran a front-page story on July 24, 2015 with the headline "Criminal Inquiry Sought In Clinton's Use of Email," with the lead sentence stating, "Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open a criminal investigation into whether Hillary Rodham Clinton mishandled sensitive government information on a private email account she used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday."[142] Shortly after the publication of the story, the Inspectors General of the Intelligence Community and the Department of State issued a statement clarifying, "An important distinction is that the IC IG did not make a criminal referral - it was a security referral made for counterintelligence purposes."[143] The Times later made two corrections, first that Clinton was not a specific target of the referral, then later that the referral was not "criminal" in nature.[144][145][142]

    Clinton's IT contractors turned over her personal email server to the FBI on August 12, 2015,[31] as well as thumb drives containing copies of her emails.[146][147]

    In a letter describing the matter to Senator Ron Johnson, Chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Clinton's lawyer David E. Kendall said that emails, and all other data stored on the server, had earlier been erased prior to the device being turned over to the authorities, and that both he and another lawyer had been given security clearances by the State Department to handle thumb drives containing about 30,000 emails that Clinton subsequently also turned over to authorities. Kendall said the thumb drives had been stored in a safe provided to him in July by the State Department.[148]

    August 2015 – Investigation continues; email recovery[edit]

    On August 20, 2015, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan stated that Hillary Clinton's actions of maintaining a private email server were in direct conflict with U.S. government policy. "We wouldn't be here today if this employee had followed government policy," he said, and ordered the State Department to work with the FBI to determine if any emails on the server during her tenure as Secretary of State could be recovered.[149][150][151]

    Platte River Networks, the Denver-based firm that managed the Clinton server since 2013, said it had no knowledge of the server being wiped. "Platte River has no knowledge of the server being wiped," company spokesman Andy Boian told the Washington Post. "All the information we have is that the server wasn't wiped."[152] When asked by the Washington Post, the Clinton campaign declined to comment.[152]

    In September 2015, FBI investigators were engaged in sorting messages recovered from the server.[153] In November 2015, the FBI expanded its inquiry to examine whether Clinton or her aides jeopardized national security secrets, and if so, who should be held responsible.[154][155]

    Conflicting media sources sized the FBI investigation from 12[156] to 30 agents[157] as of March 2016.

    May–July 2016 – Public statements[edit]

    In May 2016, FBI Director James Comey said he was "not familiar with the term 'security inquiry'" as the Clinton campaign was characterizing the probe, adding that the word investigation is "in our name" and "We're conducting an investigation ... That's what we do. That's probably all I can say about it."[158][159] Comey noted in his 2018 memoir that he did not publicly contradict Clinton's characterization of the investigation as a "security inquiry" while it was underway[160] despite being directly prompted by a reporter to do so in May 2016.[159] In April 2017 it became known that the FBI had, in fact, opened a criminal investigation on July 10, 2015, telling The New York Times they had received a "criminal referral," although the following day they issued a public statement: "The department has received a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information. It is not a criminal referral."[161]

    In late June 2016, it was reported that Bill Clinton met privately with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on her private plane on the tarmac at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Officials indicated that the 30 minute meeting took place when Clinton became aware that Lynch's plane was on the same tarmac at the airport. When the meeting became public, Lynch stated that it was "primarily social" and "there was no discussion of any matter pending for the department or any matter pending for any other body." Lynch was criticized for her involvement in the meeting and was called on by some critics to recuse herself from involvement in the FBI's investigation of the email case. In response, she stated "The F.B.I. is investigating whether Mrs. Clinton, her aides or anyone else broke the law by setting up a private email server for her to use as secretary of state," but "the case will be resolved by the same team that has been working on it from the beginning" and "I will be accepting their recommendations."[162][163][164]

    On July 1, 2016, the New York Times reported in the name of a "Justice Department official" that Attorney General Loretta Lynch will accept "whatever recommendation career prosecutors and the F.B.I. director make about whether to bring charges related to Hillary Clinton's personal email server."[162]

    Clinton maintained she did not send or receive any confidential emails from her personal server. In a Democratic debate with Bernie Sanders on February 4, 2016, Clinton said, "I never sent or received any classified material." In a Meet the Press interview on July 2, 2016, she stated: "Let me repeat what I have repeated for many months now, I never received nor sent any material that was marked classified."[165][166][167]

    July 2016 – Investigation concludes[edit]

    On July 5, 2016, FBI Director Comey announced in a statement he read to press and television reporters at FBI headquarters in Washington, DC, that the FBI had completed its investigation and was referring it to the Justice Department with the recommendation "that no charges are appropriate in this case."[168][169][170] He added, "Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case."[168][169]

    With regard to mishandling of classified information, Comey said, "there is evidence that they [Clinton and her team] were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information." The investigation found 110 emails that should have been regarded as classified at the time they were sent; another 2,000 emails were retroactively classified which means they were not classified at the time they were sent.[168][171] Comey said that "any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton's position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding ... should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation."[172][173]

    The FBI learned that Clinton used her personal email extensively while outside the United States, both sending and receiving work-related emails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. The FBI did not find "direct evidence that Secretary Clinton's personal e-mail domain ... was successfully hacked;" they assessed it "possible that hostile actors gained access" to it.[168][170] Investigators found that State Department employees often used private emails to conduct business. Comey noted, "We also developed evidence that the security culture of the State Department in general, and with respect to use of unclassified e-mail systems in particular, was generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government."[174]

    On July 6, 2016, Lynch confirmed that the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of private email servers while secretary of state would be closed without criminal charges.[175]

    The New York Times reported in April 2017 that during the investigation the FBI was provided documents acquired by Dutch intelligence hackers which had previously been stolen by Russian intelligence. The classified documents were purported to be written by a Democratic operative who asserted Lynch would not allow the Clinton investigation to go too far, though it was not clear if the writer actually had insight into Lynch's thinking. The Times reported the documents raised concerns by Comey that if Lynch announced the closure of the investigation, and Russia subsequently released the document, it would cause some to suspect political interference. This reportedly led Comey, a longtime Republican, to decide to announce the closure himself, though some in the Obama Justice Department were skeptical of this account. In June 2021 it became known that the Trump Justice department had acquired by court order the phone logs of the four Times reporters who had written the article together, as part of a leak investigation.[176][177][178]

    October 2016 – Additional investigation[edit]

    In early October 2016, FBI criminal investigators working on a case involving former Congressman Anthony Weinersending sexually explicit texts to a fifteen-year-old girl discovered emails from Weiner's estranged wife, Huma Abedin, vice chair of Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign, that they considered potentially relevant to the Clinton server investigation. FBI officials reportedly decided to disclose the development despite its potential effect on the pending presidential election to preempt the possibility that it would be leaked in another way.[179]

    On October 28, 2016, Comey informed Congress that "in connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear pertinent to the investigation." He said the FBI will take "appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information, as well as to assess their importance to our investigation." He added that the FBI "cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant."[180] The FBI obtained a new search warrant to allow them to review Abedin's emails.[179]

    Comey informed Congress of this additional investigation despite having been advised by Justice Department officials that such an announcement would violate department policies and procedures, including a policy not to comment on investigations close to an election.[181] Comey later explained, in a letter to FBI employees, "We don't ordinarily tell Congress about ongoing investigations, but here I feel an obligation to do so given that I testified repeatedly in recent months that our investigation was completed." Law enforcement sources added that he feared he would be accused of concealing relevant information if he did not disclose it.[181]

    News of this renewed investigation being revealed shortly before the U.S. presidential election led to the announcement being described as an "October surprise,"[182] and prompted statements from both the Democratic and Republican campaigns. Donald Trump repeated his characterization that Hillary Clinton's email usage as secretary of state was "worse than Watergate."[183][184] Clinton called for the FBI to immediately release all information about the newly discovered emails and said she was confident the FBI would not change its earlier conclusion that there is no basis for criminal prosecution.[185] Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said she was "shocked" by the letter, saying it "played right into the political campaign of Donald Trump."[181]

    On November 6, in another letter to Congress, Comey stated that, after working "around the clock" to review all of the newly discovered emails, the FBI had not changed the conclusion it reached in July.[186][187][188] An unnamed government official added that the newly discovered emails turned out to be either personal or duplicates of emails previously reviewed, and that Comey's letter represents a conclusion of the investigation.[189] The following day, stock and currency markets around the world surged in response.[190][191][192]

    On November 12, during a conference call to top donors, Hillary Clinton attributed her presidential election loss to Comey's announcements, saying they stopped her momentum.[193] In January 2017, the US Justice Department started an investigation of Comey's announcements.[194] A 2019 study found that Comey's letter substantially increased Trump's probability of winning the 2016 election.[195]

    Senate probes Loretta Lynch interference[edit]

    According to Comey's June 8, 2017, testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch had asked him to downplay the investigation into Clinton's emails by calling it a "matter" rather than an investigation. He said the request "confused and concerned" him. He added that Lynch's tarmac meeting with Bill Clinton also influenced his decision to publicly announce the results of the FBI probe.[196][197][198]

    On June 23, 2017, several members of the Senate Judiciary Committee opened a bipartisan inquiry into whether former Attorney General Lynch interfered in the FBI's investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server.[199][200]

    Internal State Department investigation[edit]

    On July 7, 2016, the internal State Department resumed its review of whether classified information had been mishandled. The review had been suspended until the completion of the Justice Department investigation.[201][202] The United States Department of State finished its investigation in September 2019, citing 588 security violations. The review found that 38 current and former State Department officials – some of whom may be punished – were culpable of mishandling classified information, but in 497 cases the culpability could not be established. The material was considered classified then or later, but none of the violations involved information marked classified. The investigation found Clinton's use of personal email server increased the risk of compromising State Department information, but "there was no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information".[203][204]

    Department of Justice Inspector General's report[edit]

    Main article: Inspector General report on FBI and DOJ actions in the 2016 election

    The Inspector General of the Department of Justice (IG) launched an investigation into how the DOJ and FBI had handled the investigation into Clinton's email. On June 14, 2018, the IG issued a report that was highly critical of Comey's actions.[14] Regarding his July press conference, in which he criticized Clinton even while announcing the investigation was over, the IG said it was "extraordinary and insubordinate for Comey to conceal his intentions (about the press conference) from his superiors," and that "we found none of his reasons to be a persuasive basis for deviating from well-established Department policies."[205] Comey's October decision to send a letter notifying Congress that the investigation had been re-opened one week before the election was described as "ad-hoc" and "a serious error in judgment."[205] However, in June 2018 the IG concluded that the decision to not prosecute Clinton was not affected by bias and "was consistent with the Department’s historical approach in prior cases under different leadership, including in the 2008 decision not to prosecute former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for mishandling classified documents."[206][207]

    The IG report also commented on "highly classified information" in a purported Russian intelligence document obtained by the FBI that included an unconfirmed allegation that Attorney General Loretta Lynch assured a Clinton staffer that she would prevent the FBI investigation from digging too deeply into Clinton's affairs. The FBI long considered the document unreliable and a possible forgery, and Comey told IG investigators he knew the information was not true.[208] The IG report stated: "Comey said that he became concerned that the information about Lynch would taint the public's perception of the [Clinton] investigation if it leaked, particularly after DCLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 began releasing hacked emails in mid-June 2016," explaining why Comey chose to bypass Lynch and deputy AG Sally Yates to announce the FBI investigation findings himself.[209] The Washington Post also stated that "current and former officials" told them that Comey relied on the questionable document in making his July decision to announce on his own without his superiors approval that the investigation was over.[208]

    Opinions of journalists and experts[edit]

    According to the New York Times, if Clinton was a recipient of classified emails, "it is not clear that she would have known that they contained government secrets, since they were not marked classified."[106][123] The newspaper reported that "most specialists believe the occasional appearance of classified information in the Clinton account was probably of marginal consequence".[26] Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, said that inadvertent "spillage" of classified information into an unclassified realm is a common occurrence.[26]

    Reuters' August 2015 review of a set of released emails found "at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails," which include what the State Department identifies as "foreign government information," defined by the U.S. government as "any information, written or spoken, provided in confidence to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts." Although unmarked, Reuters' examination appeared to suggest that these emails "were classified from the start."[106]J. William Leonard, a former director of the NARA Information Security Oversight Office, said that such information is "born classified" and that "[I]f a foreign minister just told the secretary of state something in confidence, by U.S. rules that is classified at the moment it's in U.S. channels and U.S. possession."[106] According to Reuters, the standard U.S. government nondisclosure agreement "warns people authorized to handle classified information that it may not be marked that way and that it may come in oral form." The State Department "disputed Reuters' analysis" but declined to elaborate.[106]

    The Associated Press reported, "Some officials said they believed the designations were a stretch—a knee-jerk move in a bureaucracy rife with over-classification."[125]Jeffrey Toobin, in an August 2015 New Yorker article, wrote that the Clinton email affair is an illustration of overclassification, a problem written about by Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan in his book Secrecy: The American Experience.[210] Toobin writes that "government bureaucracies use classification rules to protect turf, to avoid embarrassment, to embarrass rivals—in short, for a variety of motives that have little to do with national security."[210] Toobin wrote that "It's not only the public who cannot know the extent or content of government secrecy. Realistically, government officials can't know either—and this is Hillary Clinton's problem. Toobin noted that "one of Clinton's potentially classified email exchanges is nothing more than a discussion of a newspaper story about drones" and wrote: "That such a discussion could be classified underlines the absurdity of the current system. But that is the system that exists, and if and when the agencies determine that she sent or received classified information through her private server, Clinton will be accused of mishandling national-security secrets."[210]

    In an analysis of the Clinton email controversy published by the Brookings Institution, Richard Lempert wrote that "security professionals have a reputation for erring in the direction of overclassification."[211] Elizabeth Goitein, co-director of the liberty and national security program at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, says that "The odds are good that any classified information in the Clinton emails should not have been classified," since an estimated 50 percent to 90 percent of classified documents could be made public without risking national security.[211] Nate Jones, an expert with the National Security Archive at George Washington University, said: "Clinton's mistreatment of federal records and the intelligence community's desire to retroactively overclassify are two distinct troubling problems. No politician is giving the right message: Blame Clinton for poor records practices, but don't embrace overclassification while you do it."[211]

    Russian intelligence and Comey's pronouncements[edit]

    A number of journalists (Philip Ewing[209] and Jane Mayer[212]Karoun Demirjian and Devlin Barrett)[208] have commented on the connection between the alleged Russian intelligence document given to the FBI that suggested Attorney General Loretta Lynch would prevent the FBI investigation from digging too deeply into Clinton's affairs (see above), and Comey's July announcement of the FBI investigation findings by himself without Lynch's permission,[209][212] which was later called "extraordinary and insubordinate" by the Department of Justice Inspector General's report.[206] "Current and former officials" told Washington Post reporters Demirjian and Barrett that “Comey relied on the document in making his July decision to announce on his own,” because he feared its contents would be leaked, tainting the public's perception of the FBI investigation.[208] This was despite the fact that Comey himself told investigators “he knew from the first moment” that the document “wasn't true”[209] and the FBI was later unable to corroborate the document.[209]

    Ewing and Mayer note the document's effect on the election. According to Ewing, "to the degree" that the document "was intended to help disrupt the election, it worked".[209] Jane Mayer describes the work of political scientist Kathleen Hall Jamieson who argues that Comey’s "damaging public pronouncements" on Clinton’s handling of classified e-mails" in July and later ten days before the election can "plausibly be attributed to Russian disinformation".[212] While it is difficult to determine how many voters Clinton lost from the pronouncements, Mayer also quotes the Democratic ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, who states that if "the fake intelligence" motivated Comey, then the document was "probably was the most measurable" and "the most significant way in which the Russians may have impacted the outcome of the election."[212]

    House Oversight Committee hearing[edit]

    On July 7, 2016, Comey was questioned for 5 hours by the United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Comey stated that there was "evidence of mishandling" of classified information and that he believed that Clinton was "extremely careless; I think she was negligent." He defended the FBI's recommendation against bringing charges because it "... would have been unfair and virtually unprecedented ..."[213][214]

    Responses and analysis[edit]

    Clinton's initial response[edit]

    Clinton addressing email controversy with the media at the UN Headquarterson March 10, 2015

    Clinton's spokesman Nick Merrill defended Clinton's usage of her personal server and email accounts as being in compliance with the "letter and spirit of the rules."

    Clinton herself stated she had done so as a matter of "convenience."[215]

    On March 10, 2015, while attending a conference at the headquarters of the United Nations in Manhattan, Clinton spoke with reporters for about 20 minutes.[216] Clinton said she had used a private email for convenience, "because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two."[217][218] It was later determined that Clinton had used both an iPad and a BlackBerry while Secretary of State.[217][219][220][221]

    Clinton turned over copies of 30,000 State Department business-related emails from her private server that belonged in the public domain; she later explained that she instructed her lawyer to err on the side of disclosure, turning over any emails that might be work-related. Her aides subsequently deleted about 31,000 emails from the server dated during the same time period that Clinton regarded as personal and private.[222][223][224] State Department employees do have the right to delete personal emails.[225]

    Clinton has used humor to try to shrug off the scandals.[16][226] In August 2015, when asked by a reporter whether she had "wiped" her server, Clinton laughed and said: "What? Like with a cloth or something? I don't know how it works digitally at all."[227] In September 2015, Clinton was asked in an interview with Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show about the content of the emails. She laughed it off, saying there was nothing interesting and joking that she was offended people found her emails 'boring.'[228]

    Later responses[edit]

    Clinton's responses to the question, made during her presidential campaign, evolved over time.[210][229] Clinton initially said that there was no classified material on her server. Later, after a government review discovered some of her emails contained classified information, she said she never sent or received information that was marked classified.[210] Her campaign claimed other emails contained information that is now classified, but was retroactively classified by U.S. intelligence agencies after Clinton had received the material.[230] See also the section above on the May 2016 IG report for a number of Clinton statements that were contradicted by the report, and how she and her supporters responded afterward.

    Campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said: "She was at worst a passive recipient of unwitting information that subsequently became deemed as classified."[230] Clinton campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Palmieri has "stressed that Clinton was permitted to use her own email account as a government employee and that the same process concerning classification reviews would still be taking place had she used the standard 'state.gov' email account used by most department employees."[125][231] Palmieri later stated: "Look, this kind of nonsense comes with the territory of running for president. We know it, Hillary knows it, and we expect it to continue from now until Election Day."[27]

    In her first national interview about the 2016 presidential race, on July 7, 2015, Clinton was asked by CNN's Brianna Keilar about her use of private email accounts while serving as Secretary of State. She said:

    Everything I did was permitted. There was no law. There was no regulation. There was nothing that did not give me the full authority to decide how I was going to communicate. Previous secretaries of state have said they did the same thing ... Everything I did was permitted by law and regulation. I had one device. When I mailed anybody in the government, it would go into the government system.[232]

    On September 9, 2015, Clinton apologized during an ABC News interview for using the private server, saying she was "sorry for that."[233] Appearing on NBC's Meet the Press on September 27, 2015, Clinton defended her use of the private email server while she was secretary of state, comparing the investigations to Republican-led probes of her husband's presidential administration more than two decades ago, saying, "It is like a drip, drip, drip. And that's why I said, there's only so much that I can control."[234]

    Clinton and the State Department said the emails were not marked classified when sent. However, Clinton signed a non-disclosure agreement which stated that classified material may be "marked or unmarked."[235][236][237] Additionally, the author of an email is legally required to properly mark it as classified if it contains classified material, and to avoid sending classified material on a personal device, such as the ones used exclusively by Clinton.[238]

    Clinton maintained that she did not send or receive any confidential emails from her personal server. In a Democratic debate with Bernie Sanders on February 4, 2016, Clinton said, "I never sent or received any classified material." In a Meet the Press interview on July 2, 2016, Clinton stated: "Let me repeat what I have repeated for many months now, I never received nor sent any material that was marked classified."[165][166][167]

    In an interview with Fox News in late July 2016, Clinton stated "Director Comey said my answers were truthful, and what I've said is consistent with what I have told the American people, that there were decisions discussed and made to classify retroactively certain of the emails." The Washington Post awarded Clinton four "Pinocchios", its worst rating, for her statement saying "While Comey did say there was no evidence she lied to the FBI, that is not the same as saying she told the truth to the American public."[239][240][241]

    In her 2017 book What Happened?, Clinton argued that the email controversy and FBI Director James Comey's actions contributed to her loss. A 2019 study in the journal Perspectives on Politics found little evidence to support the hypothesis.[242]

    In Venice at the "Hillary: The Hillary Clinton Emails", a work on display in a balcony jutting out over a supermarket at the Despar Teatro Italia during the 58th Biennale of Visual Arts, Clinton made a surprise visit on Tuesday September 10, 2019, to this work of political theater and performance art. The exhibition created by the American poet and artist Kenneth Goldsmith was displayed from May 9, 2019, until November 24, 2019, curated by Francesco Urbano Ragazzi. During her appearance, she said that the attention given to her emails was one of the "strangest" and most "absurd" events in U.S. political history, adding, "Anyone can go in and look at them. There is nothing there. There is nothing that should have been so controversial."[243]

    Democratic response[edit]

    In August 2015, the New York Times reported on "interviews with more than 75 Democratic governors, lawmakers, candidates and party members" on the email issue.[244] The Times reported, "None of the Democrats interviewed went so far as to suggest that the email issue raised concerns about Mrs. Clinton's ability to serve as president, and many expressed a belief that it had been manufactured by Republicans in Congress and other adversaries."[244] At the same time, many Democratic leaders showed increasing frustration among party leaders of Clinton's handling of the email issue. For example, Edward G. Rendell, former governor of Pennsylvania, a Clinton supporter, said that a failure of the Clinton campaign to get ahead of the issue early on meant that the campaign was "left just playing defense."[244] Other prominent Democrats, such as Governor Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut, were less concerned, noting the campaign was at an early stage and that attacks on Clinton were to be expected.[244]

    At the October 2015 primary debate, Clinton's chief rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, defended Clinton, saying: "Let me say this. Let me say something that may not be great politics. But I think the secretary is right. And that is that the American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails!"[245][246] Sanders later clarified that he thought Clinton's emails were a "very serious issue,"[247] but Americans want a discussion on issues that are "real" to them, such as paid family and medical leave, college affordability, and campaign finance reform.[246]

    "But her emails!" became a meme during and following the 2016 election, often used in a joking or mocking way.[248] Clinton herself echoed the phrase in June 2018, when the Justice Department's Inspector General issued a report on how the investigation of her use of email was conducted. It revealed that FBI Director Comey had used a personal email account to conduct FBI business; Clinton's response was a Twitter comment, "But my emails!"[249]

    Republican response[edit]

    Republican National Committee chairmanReince Priebus said, in a statement regarding the June 30, 2015 email releases, "These emails ... are just the tip of the iceberg, and we will never get full disclosure until Hillary Clinton releases her secret server for an independent investigation."[250]Trey Gowdy said on June 29, 2015, that he would press the State Department for a fuller accounting of Clinton's emails, after the Benghazi panel retrieved 15 additional emails to Sidney Blumenthal that the department had not provided to the Committee.[251]

    On September 12, 2015, Republican Senators Charles Grassley and Ron Johnson, chairmen of the Senate Judiciary and Homeland Security committees, respectively, said they would seek an independent review of the deleted emails, if they were recovered from Clinton's server, to determine if there were any government related items among those deleted.[152]

    Comparisons and media coverage[edit]

    Analyses by Columbia Journalism Review, the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, and the Shorenstein Center at the Harvard Kennedy School show that the Clinton email controversy received more coverage in mainstream media outlets than any other topic during the 2016 presidential election.[10][11][12] The New York Times coverage of the email controversy was notoriously extensive; according to a Columbia Journalism Review analysis, "in just six days, The New York Times ran as many cover stories about Hillary Clinton's emails as they did about all policy issues combined in the 69 days leading up to the election (and that does not include the three additional articles on October 18, and November 6 and 7, or the two articles on the emails taken from John Podesta)."[10] In attempting to explain the lopsided coverage, the Columbia Journalism Review speculates, "In retrospect, it seems clear that the press in general made the mistake of assuming a Clinton victory was inevitable, and were setting themselves as credible critics of the next administration."[10]

    Media commentators drew comparisons of Clinton's email usage to past political controversies. Pacific Standard Magazine published an article in May 2015, comparing email controversy and her response to it with the Whitewater investigation 20 years earlier.[252]

    In August 2015, Washington Post associate editor and investigative journalistBob Woodward, when asked about Clinton's handling of her emails, said they remind him of the Nixon tapes from the Watergate scandal.[253] On March 9, 2015, liberal columnist and Clinton supporter Dana Milbank wrote that the email affair was "a needless, self-inflicted wound" brought about by "debilitating caution" in "trying to make sure an embarrassing e-mail or two didn't become public," which led to "obsessive secrecy." Milbank pointed out that Clinton herself had justifiably criticized the George W. Bush administration in 2007 for its "secret" White House email accounts.[254][255]

    On Fox News Sunday, political analystJuan Williams contrasted the media coverage of Clinton's emails to the coverage of the 2007 Bush White House email controversy which he claimed received "just about zero press coverage."[256] PolitiFact found Williams' assertion to be "mostly false," concluding "We found hundreds of articles and television transcripts referencing the issue. Still, Williams has something of a point that compared to the extensive recent coverage of Clinton's use of private email, media coverage of the 2007 Bush White House email controversy was thin."[256]

    The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel published an editorial opining that "the only believable reason for the private server in her basement was to keep her emails out of the public eye by willfully avoiding freedom of information laws. No president, no secretary of state, no public official at any level is above the law. She chose to ignore it, and must face the consequences."[257][258] Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry wrote in The Week that "Clinton set up a personal email server, in defiance or at least circumvention of rules, with the probable motive of evading federal records and transparency requirements, and did it with subpar security."[259]

    On November 2, 2016, Fox News anchor Bret Baier reported that according to Fox's anonymous sources the FBI had discovered that Clinton's private server had been hacked by "five foreign intelligence agencies."[260][261][262] Baier further reported that according to an anonymous source an FBI investigation of the Clinton Foundation was "likely" to lead to an indictment of Hillary Clinton.[260][261] On November 4, 2016, he acknowledged that his assertions were a mistake, saying, "indictment obviously is a very loaded word," and that he was sorry.[263][260][261]

    House Select Committee on Benghazi[edit]

    Main article: United States House Select Committee on Benghazi

    On March 27, 2015, Republican Congressman Trey Gowdy, Chairman of the Select Committee on Benghazi, asserted that some time after October 2014, Clinton "unilaterally decided to wipe her server clean" and "summarily decided to delete all emails."[264][265] Clinton's attorney, David E. Kendall, said that day that an examination showed that no copies of any of Clinton's emails remained on the server. Kendall said the server was reconfigured to only retain emails for 60 days after Clinton lawyers had decided which emails needed to be turned over.[266]

    On June 22, 2015, the Benghazi panel released emails between Clinton and Sidney Blumenthal, who had been recently deposed by the committee. Committee chairman Gowdy issued a press release criticizing Clinton for not providing the emails to the State Department.[267] Clinton had said she provided all work-related emails to the State Department, and that only emails of a personal nature on her private server were destroyed. The State Department confirmed that 10 emails and parts of five others from Sidney Blumenthal regarding Benghazi, which the Committee had made public on June 22, could not be located in the Department's records, but that the 46 other, previously unreleased Libya-related Blumenthal emails published by the Committee, were in the Department's records. In response, Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill, when asked about the discrepancy said: "She has turned over 55,000 pages of materials to the State Department, including all emails in her possession from Mr. Blumenthal."[268] Republican Committee members were encouraged about their probe, having found emails that Clinton failed to produce.[268][269] Clinton campaign staff accused Gowdy and Republicans of "clinging to their invented scandal."[269]

    In response to comments that House Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy made on September 29, 2015, about damaging Clinton's poll numbers,[270] Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi threatened to end the Democrats' participation in the committee.[271][272][273] Representative Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced an amendment to disband the committee, which was defeated in a party-line vote.[274] On October 7, the editorial board of The New York Times called for the end of the committee.[275] Representative Alan Grayson (D-FL) took step towards filing an ethics complaint, calling the committee "the new McCarthyism", alleging it was violating both House rules and federal law by using official funds for political purposes.[276]Richard L. Hanna, (R-NY),[277] and conservative punditBill O'Reilly acknowledged the partisan nature of the committee.[278]

    Hillary Clinton's public hearing before the House Select Committee on Benghazi

    On October 22, 2015, Clinton testified before the Committee and answered members' questions for eleven hours before the Committee in a public hearing.[279][280][281]

    The New York Times reported that "the long day of often-testy exchanges between committee members and their prominent witness revealed little new information about an episode that has been the subject of seven previous investigations ... Perhaps stung by recent admissions that the pursuit of Mrs. Clinton's emails was politically motivated, Republican lawmakers on the panel for the most part avoided any mention of her use of a private email server."[279] The email issue did arise shortly before lunch, in "a shouting match" between Republican committee chair Trey Gowdy and two Democrats, Adam Schiff and Elijah Cummings.[279] Late in the hearing, Republican Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio accused Clinton of changing her accounts of the email service, leading to a "heated exchange" in which Clinton said that she had erred in making a private email account, but denied having dealt with anything marked classified, instead seeking "to be transparent by publicly releasing her emails."[279]

    Freedom of Information lawsuits[edit]

    Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of State[edit]

    Judicial Watch, a conservative activist group, filed a complaint against the Department of State in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on September 10, 2013, seeking records under the federal Freedom of Information Act relating to Clinton aide Huma Abedin (a former deputy chief of staff and former senior advisor at the State Department).[282][283] Judicial Watch was particularly interested in Abedin's role as a "special government employee" (SGE), a consulting position which allowed her to represent outside clients while also serving at the State Department. After corresponding with the State Department, Judicial Watch agreed to dismiss its lawsuit on March 14, 2014.[282] On March 12, 2015, in response to the uncovering of Clinton's private email account, it filed a motion to reopen the suit, alleging that the State Department had misrepresented its search and had not properly preserved and maintained records under the act.[282] U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan granted the motion to reopen the case on June 19, 2015.[284][285]

    On July 21, 2015, Judge Sullivan issued supplemental discovery orders, including one that Clinton, Abedin, and former Deputy Secretary of State Cheryl Mills disclose any required information they had not disclosed already, and promise under oath that they had done so, including a description of the extent Abedin and Mills had used Clinton's email server for official government business.[286][287]

    On August 10, 2015, Clinton filed her declaration, stating "I have directed that all my emails on clintonemail.com in my custody that were or potentially were federal records be provided to the Department of State," and that as a result of this directive, 55,000 pages of emails were produced to the Department on December 5, 2014.[288][289][290] She said in her statement that Abedin did have an email account through clintonemail.com that "was used at times for government business," but that Mills did not.[288][289][290] The statement was filed as Clinton faced questions over fifteen emails in exchanges with Blumenthal that were not among the emails she gave to the department the previous year. She did not address the matter of those emails in the statement.[289] On September 25, 2015, several additional emails from her private server[291] surfaced which she had not provided to the State Department.[291][292][293] These emails between Clinton and General David Petraeus, discussing personnel matters, were part of an email chain that started on a different email account before her tenure as Secretary of State,[291][292][293] but continued onto her private server in late January 2009 after she had taken office.[291][292][293] The existence of these emails also called into question Clinton's previous statement that she did not use the server before March 18, 2009.[294]

    In February 2016, Judge Sullivan issued a discovery order in the case, ruling that depositions of State Department officials and top Clinton aides were to proceed.[295] On May 26, 2016, Judicial Watch released the transcript of the deposition of Lewis Lukens,[296] on May 31, 2016, the transcript of Cheryl Mills,[297] on June 7, 2016, the transcript of Ambassador Stephen Mull,[298] and on June 9, 2016, Karin Lang, Director of Executive Secretariat Staff.[299]

    In March 2020, federal district court judge Royce Lamberth ruled that Clinton must provide a deposition.[300] A three-judge panel of the DC Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously overturned Lamberth's ruling the following August. The full DC Circuit Court unanimously declined to hear an appeal in October, allowing the panel decision to stand.[301]

    The testimony of Clarence Finney, who worked in the department responsible for FOIA searches, said that he first became curious about Clinton's email setup after seeing the Texts from Hillary meme on the Internet.[302]

    Jason Leopold v. U.S. Department of State[edit]

    In November 2014, Jason Leopold of Vice News made a Freedom of Information Act request for Clinton's State Department records,[303][304] and, on January 25, 2015, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking to compel production of responsive documents.[303][304][305] After some dispute between Leopold and the State Department over the request, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras ordered rolling production and release of the emails on a schedule set by the State Department.[303][306][307]

    Over the next several months, the State Department completed production of 30,068 emails, which were released in 14 batches, with the final batch released on February 29, 2016.[308] Both the Wall Street Journal and WikiLeaks independently set up search engines for anyone who would like to search through the Clinton emails released by the State Department.[309][310]

    It was revealed in October 2017 that during the 2016 US Presidential election, Cambridge Analytica funder and GOP mega-donor Rebekah Mercer had proposed creating a searchable data base for Hillary Clinton emails in the public domain and then forwarded this suggestion to several people, including Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix, who personally emailed a request to Julian Assange for Clinton's emails.[311] Assange responded to the report by saying he denied Nix's request.[312]

    The emails showed that Blumenthal communicated with Clinton while Secretary on a variety of issues including Benghazi.[250][313][314][315]

    Associated Press v. U.S. Department of State[edit]

    On March 11, 2015, the day after Clinton acknowledged her private email account, the Associated Press (AP) filed suit against the State Department regarding multiple FOIA requests over the past five years. The requests were for various emails and other documents from Clinton's time as secretary of state and were still unfulfilled at the time.[316][317][318] The State Department said that a high volume of FOIA requests and a large backlog had caused the delay.[316][319]

    On July 20, 2015, U.S. District Judge Richard J. Leon reacted angrily to what he said was "the State Department for four years dragging their feet."[319] Leon said that "even the least ambitious bureaucrat" could process the request faster than the State Department was doing.[320]

    On August 7, 2015, Leon issued an order setting a stringent schedule for the State Department to provide the AP with the requested documents over the next eight months.[318] The order issued by Leon did not include the 55,000 pages of Clinton emails the State Department scheduled to be released in the Leopold case, or take into account 20 boxes given to the State Department by Philippe Reines, a former Clinton senior adviser.[318]

    Other suits and coordination of email cases[edit]

    In September 2015, the State Department filed a motion in court seeking to consolidate and coordinate the large number of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits relating to Clinton and Clinton-related emails. There were at the time at least three dozen lawsuits pending, before 17 different judges.[321][322]

    In a U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia order issued on October 8, 2015, Chief U.S. District Judge Richard W. Roberts wrote that the cases did not meet the usual criteria for consolidation but: "The judges who have been randomly assigned to these cases have been and continue to be committed to informal coordination so as to avoid unnecessary inefficiencies and confusion, and the parties are also urged to meet and confer to assist in coordination."[322]

    In 2015, Judicial Watch and the Cause of Action Institute filed two lawsuits seeking a court order to compel the Department of State and the National Archives and Records Administration to recover emails from Clinton's server. In January 2016, these two suits (which were consolidated because they involved the same issues) were dismissed as moot by U.S. District Judge James Boasberg, because the government was already working to recover and preserve these emails.[323]

    In March 2016, the Republican National Committee filed four new complaints in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia stemming from Freedom of Information Act requests it had filed the previous year. These new filings brought the total number of civil suits over access to Clinton's records pending in federal court to at least 38.[324]

    In June 2016, in response to the Republican National Committee's complaints filed in March 2016, the State Department estimates it will take 75 years to complete the review of documents which are responsive to the complaints.[325] It has been observed that a delay of this nature would cause the documents to remain out of public view longer than the vast majority of classified documents which must be declassified after 25 years.[326]

    In December 2018, judge Royce Lamberth of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia called Clinton's use of a private server for government business "one of the gravest modern offenses to government transparency".[327]

    See also[edit]


    1. ^Myers, Steven Lee (May 11, 2016). "Use of Unclassified Email Systems Not Limited to Clinton". The New York Times.
    2. ^"22 Hillary Clinton Emails Dubbed Top Secret". NPR.org.
    3. ^https://www.usnews.com/news/politics/articles/2016-02-29/state-dept-wins-dispute-over-clinton-email-on-north-korea
    4. ^"PolitiFact - Hillary Clinton said 'my predecessors did the same thing' with email". @politifact.
    5. ^ abDeYoung, Karen (December 19, 2011). "Secrecy defines Obama's drone war". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 23, 2020.
    6. ^Aftergood, Steven (June 11, 2013). "DoD Warns Employees of Classified Info in Public Domain". Federation of American Scientists.
    7. ^"Why the FBI Let Hillary Clinton Off the Hook". Time.
    8. ^Schouten, Fredreka, Kevin Johnson & Heidi Przybyla (November 6, 2016). "FBI declares it is finally done investigating Hillary Clinton's email". USA Today.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
    9. ^Gerstein, Josh (November 6, 2016). "Will Comey survive the Clinton email flap?". Politico. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
    10. ^ abcdWatts, Duncan J.; Rothschild, David M. (December 5, 2017). "Don't blame the election on fake news. Blame it on the media". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
    11. ^ ab"News Coverage of the 2016 National Conventions: Negative News, Lacking Context". Shorenstein Center. September 21, 2016. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
    12. ^ ab"Partisanship, Propaganda, and Disinformation: Online Media and the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election | Berkman Klein Center". cyber.harvard.edu. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
    13. ^"Fact-check: Comey didn't say he reopened Clinton investigation because of poll numbers". Politico. Retrieved April 18, 2018.
    14. ^ ab"Highlights of DOJ inspector general report on handling of Clinton email probe". CBS News. June 14, 2018. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
    15. ^"38 people cited for violations in Clinton email probe". AP NEWS. October 19, 2019.
    16. ^ abcdefgRobert O'Harrow Jr. (March 27, 2016). "How Clinton's email scandal took root". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 28, 2016.
    Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hillary_Clinton_email_controversy

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