By Bonnie K. Goodman
The FBI finally decided to make public why they decided against criminal charges for former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton usage of a private email server. On Friday afternoon, Sept. 2, 2016, the FBI released their report on Clinton and their notes of her interview with the bureau. The documents equal to 58 pages, 47 are the FBI report to the Department of Justice, while 11 pages represent the notes on Clinton’s interview. The documents give insight on not only the scandal but also Clinton’s state of mind during and after her tenure.
The FBI introduced the document release by saying in their statement, “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. We also are releasing a factual summary of the FBI’s investigation into this matter.” The FBI was inundated with Freedom of Information Act requests and the agency felt forced to release the documents.
The interview notes show that Clinton opted out of responses nearly 40 times, 39 times she answered does not “recall” or “remember” to the FBI’s questions. Clinton also made herself ignorant of the State Department’s rules regarding classified information. The Democratic nominee said, she “could not recall any briefing or training by State related to the retention of federal records or handling classified information.”
The report reiterated, “six dozen email chains contained classified information” and that there were attempts to hack Clinton’s private server, the FBI was uncertain if any of the attempts were successful. The report proved that Clinton acts with her server were “extremely careless.”
There report included a lot of information previously unknown to the public that does not look good for Clinton and contradict much of what she told the public. The company that managed the server Platte River Networks deleted Clinton’s server only after the New York Times ran a story on March 2, 2015, about the server and the House Benghazi Committee retention order on March 3. Although Clinton maintained, she knew nothing about the deletion.
The government and public is lucky there are any emails retained since Clinton initially only wanted her emails kept for 60 days then the server would be set to delete them automatically. Clinton aide and Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills was responsible for dealing with the PRN and requested in March 2015 the emails mass deletion.
According to the report, “In a follow-up FBI interview on May 3, 2016, (name redacted) indicated he believed he had an ‘oh s***’ moment and sometime between March 25-31, 2015, deleted the Clinton archive mailbox from the PRN server and used BleachBit to delete the exported .PST files he had created on the server system containing Clinton’s emails.”
Clinton did use just a single BlackBerry as she claimed, but rather had multiple devices, 13 in fact under two phone numbers, all of which accessed her private email server. When Clinton got a new device, she had a former aide of her husband Bill Clinton, Justin Cooper destroy the device often with a hammer or breaking it in two.
Clinton also had her BlackBerry at her State Department, which was in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF). Clinton was not allowed even to bring the device in, but she often kept in her desk drawer. Former Assistant Secretary of State for State Diplomatic Security Service Eric Boswell, however, said he “never received any complaints about Clinton using her personal BlackBerry inside the SCIF.”
Despite Clinton insisting, she did not use a regular desktop computer only her BlackBerry or an iPad; there were personal computers in the SCIF from Clinton’s two homes in New York and Washington.
Clinton made out she did not understand the classified notations (C) markings on State Department emails documents and said she relied on her staff and aides to determine which documents were classified. When asked by the FBI about the C markings Clint on acted confused and like she did not understand its meaning.
The report said, “Clinton did not recall receiving any emails she thought should not be on an unclassified system. She relied on State official 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.”
Clinton however, was cunning enough to try to circumvent the classified system when at the State Department. In 2011, she told her aide, Jake Sullivan when he had problems faxing her through a secure fax, “If they can’t, turn into nonpaper w no identifying heading and send nonsecure.”
The former Secretary of State also blamed the State Department for the way she preserved her emails, saying that she did not receive any direction in early 2013 when she was leaving her post. Although Clinton also admitted, she barely remembers her briefings at that point, because of her concussion in 2012. Clinton also expressed that she never believed she had classified information on her private server and was not advised what needed to be done in case any were discovered.
Republican nominee Donald Trump has spent much of the campaign attacking Clinton usage of a private server and risking national security issued a statement upon the documents’ release. Trump said with indignation, “Hillary Clinton’s answers to the FBI about her private email server defy belief. I was absolutely shocked to see that her answers to the FBI stood in direct contradiction to what she told the American people. After reading these documents, I really don’t understand how she was able to get away from prosecution.”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was “pleased” the FBI released the documents but called it a “devastating indictment” for Clinton. Priebus stated “Clinton’s answers either show she is completely incompetent or blatantly lied to the FBI or the public. Either way, it’s clear that, through her own actions, she has disqualified herself from the presidency.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI also attacked the report and interview notes, saying in a statement, “These documents … cast further doubt on the Justice Department’s decision to avoid prosecuting what is a clear violation of the law.”
Clinton’s national press secretary Brian Fallon issued a statement defending his boss, saying,
“While her use of a single email account was clearly a mistake, and she has taken responsibility for it, these materials make clear why the Justice Department believed there was no basis to move forward with this case.”