FBI Probe Provides Further Details On Private Server In Clinton’s Chappaqua Home

Clinton Email

The call by two Inspectors General for an investigation into the presence of classified information on Hillary Clinton’s private server has led to further information being obtained now that the FBI is investigating the matter. The Washington Post reports:

The inquiries are bringing to light new information about Clinton’s use of the system and the lengths to which she went to install a private channel of communication outside government control — a setup that has emerged as a major issue in her campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination.

For instance, the server installed in her Chappaqua, N.Y., home as she was preparing to take office as secretary of state was originally used by her first campaign for the presidency, in 2008, according to two people briefed on the setup. A staffer who was on the payroll of her political action committee set it up in her home, replacing a server that Clinton’s husband, former president Bill Clinton, had been using in the house.

The inquiries by the FBI follow concerns from government officials that potentially hundreds of e-mails that passed through Clinton’s private server contained classified or sensitive information. At this point, the probe is preliminary and is focused on ensuring the proper handling of classified material…

Critics say Clinton’s private server arrangement put her discussions with some aides outside the reach of government investigators, congressional committees and courts seeking public records from the State Department.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote a letter to FBI Director James B. Comey on July 24 asking him what steps his office had taken to ensure that classified information held on Kendall’s thumb drive, and once kept on Clinton’s server, was being properly secured. A State Department official said that once the agency identified classified material in the e-mails in May, it instructed Clinton’s lawyers on “appropriate measures for physically securing” the e-mails.

Even after Clinton’s use of a private server was confirmed there had been questions as to the actual physical location, as Clinton had been vague on this matter. Thus there have been many media accounts of the scandal referring to a “home-brew” server in Clinton’s basement, along with other stories speculating on locations ranging from New York City to other states. This story verifies the presence in Clinton’s home, along with further discussion of support and security for the server.

The presence of classified information on the server in her private home, along with on a thumb drive held by her attorney, raise further questions as to whether federal law is being complied with regarding handling of classified information. Contrary to initial reports in The New York Times, which were subsequently corrected, this is not currently a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton. However this does raise speculation as to whether Clinton could be subject to criminal penalties after any investigation is completed. An op-ed at The Washington Post compared this to the classified information which was illegally poses sed by former Clinton national security adviser Sandy Berger:

A Justice Department investigation ensued and in 2005 Berger reached a plea agreement in which he was allowed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified material instead of a felony. He was sentenced to two years of probation and 100 hours of community service and was stripped of his security clearance for three years. Prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed on a $10,000 fine, but the judge raised it to $50,000. In 2007, in order to shut down a disbarment investigation by the District of Columbia bar, he relinquished his license to practice law.

That was for unlawfully removing and retaining just five classified documents.

Clinton has apparently been caught removing at least five e-mails containing what we now know to be classified information and retaining them on her personal server in her home in Chappaqua, N.Y., after she left office. And in the weeks ahead, that number will probably grow to the hundreds, if not thousands.

The inspector general reviewed only a small sample of 40 e-mails Clinton turned over to the State Department. Yet in that tiny sample, he found that five e-mails contained classified information. Five classified e-mails in a sample of just 40 is a rate of one out of eight e-mails that contained classified information. Clinton has handed over some 30,000 official e-mails to the State Department that she had been keeping on her private server. That means there could be some 3,750 classified e-mails that she removed and retained…

Worse still, Clinton’s apparent violation of the law is ongoing. Her lawyer, David Kendall, reportedly has a thumb drive containing all her official e-mails, including hundreds if not thousands containing classified information. That means that to this day, she apparently continues to unlawfully possess unsecured classified documents and has taken no action to return that thumb drive to the federal government, much less the server on which they were originally unlawfully stored.

Clinton claims that she “did not send nor receive anything that was classified at the time.” But the inspector general found classified intelligence from five separate intelligence agencies — the Central Intelligence Agency, the National Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — in Clinton’s e-mails. Taking intelligence from classified documents and putting it in unclassified e-mails does not make the information unclassified. Indeed, that is arguably an additional offense. There is a separate classified e-mail system — called the SIPRNet — for classified communications. Clinton was required by law to use that system for any e-mails containing classified information.

Clinton supporters are trying to write off these stories as right-wing attacks, but the fact is that Clinton knowingly violated the rules in effect as of 2009 regarding use of private email and in failing to turn over any email sent on private systems while still in office. The fact checking sites have repeatedly stated that Clinton’s statements have been false regarding the email on many  points. The Washington Post Fact Checker has given Clinton and her defenders Three Pinocchios for their claims on at least two separate occasions (here and here). The top Freedom of Information Act official at the Justice Department has stated that Clinton was in violation of the rules and the State Department’s top Freedom of Information Act officer has called her use of a private server unacceptable. Not only did she violate rules regarding use of private email, she also destroyed around 30,000 email messages and edited others, which includes email related to Libya and Terrorism and was not personal email as she previously claimed. This is a scandal created by Hillary Clinton’s own actions, not by her opponents, and can have serious political repercussions should Clinton be the Democratic nominee.

Update: The New York Post is reporting that this is actually a criminal investigation but they base their report on anonymous sources, casting doubt on the accuracy.

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