The FBI has released documents relating to its investigation of the private email server used by Hillary Clinton during her time as secretary of state, including notes of its interview with her.
The information was given to Congress last month and made public on Friday afternoon, ahead of the holiday long weekend. The documents were released in response to Freedom of Information Act requests from a slew of media organizations.
“Today the FBI is releasing a summary of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s July 2, 2016 interview with the FBI concerning allegations that classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on a personal e-mail server she used during her tenure,” the bureau said in a statement. “We also are releasing a factual summary of the FBI’s investigation into this matter.”
“This report recounts the information collected in this investigation,” the FBI said in the first of two documents. “It is not intended to address potential inconsistencies in, or the validity of, the information related herein.”
That 47-page document is a summary of the investigation, which began in July 2015, at the request of the US Intelligence Community Inspector General. The second is an 11-page summary of the FBI’s interview with Clinton at the beginning of July.
The bureau determined that 81 email chains contained classified information at the time they were sent between 2009 and 2013, and 68 of them remained classified.
The FBI’s investigation “did not find evidence confirming that Clinton’s email accounts or mobile devices were compromised by cyber means,” says the report, but notes that there were “investigative limitations” that prevented FBI from conclusively determining if the information was compromised, because not all devices and computer components were obtained.
“Clinton could not recall any briefing or training” at the State Department “related to the retention of federal records or handling of classified information,” the interview summary said.
While she was aware that she was an original classification authority, she could not recall how often she used that authority or “any training or guidance provided by State” on how to use it.
Clinton and the FBI also discussed the United State’s drone program and how she communicated with the Pentagon, and the CIA when “nominating an individual for a drone strike.”
She used a password-protected Blackberry, but the State Department did not provide her with a secure device, despite requesting one, according to the interview summary. Clinton “was aware” that President Barack Obama had such a device, and “it seemed convenient.”
“Her request was not out of concern for the sensitivity of the information on her then-current device,” the summary noted.
The former secretary of state appeared to pass the buck with regards to any classified material she received on her private server. She also assumed that the State Department’s servers would capture any communications sent to employees at their state.gov accounts, thus putting her in compliance with the Federal Records Act.
“Clinton did not recall receiving any emails she thought should not be on an unclassified system,” the interview summary said. “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.”
While Clinton “did not explicitly request permission” to use her private server, she said that “everyone at State knew she had a private email address because it was displayed to anyone with whom she exchanged emails.” She estimated that “at least a hundred, if not several hundred” State Department employees had her email address.
Clinton did not have “any specific routine” for deleting emails, she told investigators.
During the interview, the two FBI investigators discussed specific emails with Clinton, as well as the context surrounding them.
The interview summary backed up FBI Director James Comey’s July testimony on Capitol Hill that Clinton “was actually sophisticated enough to understand” that the marking “C” in parentheses denoted a document was classified. She told investigators that she did not know what the mark meant and “could only speculate it was referencing paragraphs marked in alphabetical order,” the notes said. She also said she did not pay attention to the “level” of classified information and took all classified information seriously. When discussing a specific email with the FBI, she questioned the classification level.
Clinton used a total of 20 mobile devices ‒ 13 Blackberries, two other phones and five Apple iPads ‒ during her four years as secretary of state, none of which were provided by the government.
“When Clinton’s BlackBerry device malfunctioned, her aides would assist in obtaining a new BlackBerry,” the summary said. “After moving to the new device, her old SIM card was disposed of by her aides. Clinton did not recall how any data stored on the device was destroyed. Clinton’s aides would also assist in setting up the new BlackBerry and implementing any security features.”
According to the report “Abedin and Hanley indicated the whereabouts of Clinton’s devices would frequently become unknown once she transitioned to a new device.” Justin Cooper, aide who set up the first server in 2007, recalled two instances “where he destroyed Clinton’s old mobile devices by breaking them in half of hitting them with a hammer.”
Clinton told the FBI that “she occasionally received odd looking email, but never noticed an increase in these types of emails that would be a cause for concern,” the interview summary said.
The investigation discovered that Clinton didn’t have a computer in her State office, and because the use of mobile devices was prohibited in the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) where her computer was located, she would go to a balcony on another floor to check her devices.
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