The private server used by Hillary Clinton during her tenure as a secretary of state contained at least two emails with highly classified information, according to U.S. officials.
One of the emails referenced secret U.S. drone operations, and a second may have improperly referenced highly sensitive material, reported the Associated Press, citing anonymous U.S. officials familiar with the correspondence.
“If you had been reckless with the nation’s secrets, what would have happened to you?”
On Monday, I. Charles McCullough III, the intelligence community inspector general, told Congress that two of 40 emails audited from a random sample of 30,000 turned over by Clinton contained “Top Secret” information, a high-level government classification.
In the exchange about drones, a Clinton adviser appears to reference classified material while inferring that certain details in a news article about the Central Intelligence Agency’s drone operations in Pakistan and other countries were correct. The CIA’s drone program is officially secret, but it is also well-known and has been heavily covered by the press.
While some officials believe the second email improperly points back to highly classified material, according to the AP, others say the copy may be a case of “parallel reporting,” suggesting that Clinton’s staff could have acquired the information without having learned about it through classified documents.
The officials, who reportedly work in intelligence and other agencies, told the AP that they have found no evidence that Clinton herself sent or received the emails. The AP further notes that “nothing in the emails she received makes direct reference to communications intercepts, confidential intelligence methods or any other form of sensitive sourcing.”
During a news conference earlier this year, Clinton told reporters: “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.” On Friday, a Clinton spokesperson told the New York Times: “If, however, some material unknowingly ended up somewhere on the State Department’s unclassified email system, we want to continue to be as helpful as possible in getting to the bottom of that.’’
The State Department has noted that the emails received by Clinton were not marked as classified and investigators are uncertain as to whether the employees were aware of the designation.
Severals emails from Clinton’s staff, which are now in the public domain, appear to have contained sensitive information. The State Department censored, for instance, details in an email exchange about Egypt between Clinton and Jeffrey Feltman, then a U.S. diplomat for the Middle East. The redactions are marked B-1.4, indicating that they were blacked out for national security reasons.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation interviewed Platte River Networks, the Denver-based company that managed Clinton’s home server, last week. The bureau also questioned David Kendall, Clinton’s lawyer, over the contents of a thumb drive allegedly containing copies of her work emails. Officials reiterated that the inquiries were not part of criminal investigation and that Clinton was not being targeted.
The FBI is reportedly pursuing State Department employees who may have transmitted classified material from the government’s secured system to Clinton’s unsecured personal account. The investigation will require the FBI to access the email accounts of many current and former State Department officials, according to the Times.
One of the emails referenced secret U.S. drone operations, and a second may have improperly referenced highly sensitive material.
The scandal appears to have taken a toll on Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, as her conservative opponents have seized the opportunity to paint the former secretary as a dodgy and unreliable candidate.
At a campaign stop on Wednesday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said the “nation’s top secrets” may have been on Clinton’s server. “If you had been reckless with the nation’s secrets, what would have happened to you?” he asked veterans in the audience.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker suggested in a statement this week that a “criminal offense” may have been committed. “[Clinton] cannot be trusted to keep America’s secrets or its citizens safe, and therefore cannot be trusted to be commander in chief,” he said.
Walker’s sentiments echo what Republican frontrunner Donald Trump told CNN host Jake Tapper during a June interview: “The fact is that what she has done is criminal. …What she did is far worse than what General Petraeus did, and he’s gone down in disgrace.” Petraeus was found to have given classified information to his mistress in email drafts on Gmail.
A new poll published this week by Monmouth University shows that 52 percent of registered voters believe Clinton’s emails should be criminal investigated, while 41 percent opposed the idea.
Photo by Marc Nozell/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)