What a difference an Inspector General’s report makes. Prior to today the silence and secrecy around the FBI investigation of Clinton’s private server meant there was relatively little detailed information in the public domain. And that meant that Clinton and her team could say almost anything about the matter without fear of contradiction.
For instance, she could claim, as she did last March, “I fully complied with every rule that I was governed by.” She could claim (again from last March) that she set up the server because “I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.” She could claim, as she did two weeks ago, “I’m more than ready to talk to anybody, anytime.” And she could claim, as she did early on, that her private server was perfectly secure because it was guarded by the Secret Service. Well, Hillary can’t say any of those things after today. From the Associated Press:
Despite guidelines to the contrary and never seeking approval, Clinton used mobile devices to conduct official business on her personal email account and private server. She never sought approval from senior information officers, who would have refused the request because of security risks, the audit said.
“By Secretary Clinton’s tenure, the department’s guidance was considerably more detailed and more sophisticated,” it concluded. “Secretary Clinton’s cybersecurity practices accordingly must be evaluated in light of these more comprehensive directives.”
That’s the set up. Clinton is being held to the standards that were in place when she was in office. The report concludes she violated those standards. From Politico, which also has an early copy of the report:
“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,” the report states. “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.”
So that’s one headline coming out of this report. Here is another one, also from Politico. Clinton and her personal aides did not cooperate with the investigation:
The report states that its findings are based on interviews with current Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessors – Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, but that Clinton and her deputies declined the IG’s requests for interviews.
Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and Huma Abedin are among those who did not cooperate with the investigation.
We’ve actually known since February that Cheryl Mills had declined to speak to the IG, but (so far as I know) it was not know that Clinton, Mills and Sullivan were also refusing to cooperate.
There are two more significant tidbits of information being reported today which come from the IG report. The first was broken into a separate story by Politico. It’s a reference to a 2010 email chain in which Clinton and Huma Abedin discuss getting her a State Department email account but Hillary appears reluctant:
“In November 2010, Secretary Clinton and her Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations discussed the fact that Secretary Clinton’s emails to Department employees were not being received,” the report said. “The Deputy Chief of Staff emailed the Secretary that “we should talk about putting you on state email or releasing your email address to the department so you are not going to spam.” In response, the Secretary wrote, “Let’s get separate address or device but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.”
Recall that when all this started Clinton claimed she did the whole thing for “convenience” because she did not want to be forced to carry two devices. From this one email exchange it seems that was not true. Confronted with the fact that her private mail account was winding up in the spam folder of her subordinates Clinton was ready to consider a “separate…device” but not willing to give up her private server.
Finally, Associated Press reporter Ted Bridis has one more email, this one from 2011, in which Clinton’s IT person (presumably Bryan Pagliano) says the server is being “attacked again.” That sounds like pretty clear confirmation that someone, on at least two occasions, did try to gain access to the server. Bridis’ tweet contains a screenshot from the report. I’ve transcribed what it says below:
'We were *attacked* again,' IT person said in 2011 (corrects 'hacked' to 'attacked,' as excerpt noted). https://t.co/F9scT8PaXM
— Ted Bridis (@tbridis) May 25, 2016
On January 9, 2011, the non-Departmental advisor to President Clinton who provided technical support to the Clinton email system notified the Secretary’s Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations that he had to shut down the server because he believed that “someone was trying to hack us and while they did not get in i didnt [sic] want to let them have the chance to.” Later that day the advisor again wrote to the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, “we were attacked again so I shut [the server] down for a few min.” On January 10, the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations emailed the Chief of Staff and the Deputy Chief of Staff for Planning and instructed them not to email the Secretary “anything sensitive” and stated that she could “explain more in person.”
So two years in to running the private server, Clinton’s staff are now concerned about “anything sensitive” which might be accessed by hackers able to get in to her account. And yet, Clinton has claimed she was never sent anything which she knew to be sensitive. If so, why was the warning necessary?
Update: The NY Times report adds an additional bit of information. The IG determined in his report that the emails she turned over to the State Department were incomplete:
Mrs. Clinton belatedly turned over 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department, which she said were all the records “in her custody.”
But investigators determined that her production of those records was “incomplete,” and they found gaps in the documents that she turned over.
Also, The Hill has some additional information about who cooperated with the IG investigation:
Only five of the 26 current and former Clinton aides responded to questionnaires sent by the watchdog office. Clinton herself turned down a request to be interviewed.
In addition to Clinton, four close staffers conducted “extensive use of personal email accounts,” the inspector general said, adding up to nearly 72,000 pages worth of messages. In doing so, they also violated the State Department’s record-keeping policies.