FBI versus Hillary Clinton: Seven points of contention
FBI Director James Comey undercut some of the main arguments Hillary Clinton has made in defence of her use of an unauthorised private email system while she was US secretary of state.world Updated: Jul 06, 2016 09:09 IST
FBI Director James Comey undercut some of the main arguments Hillary Clinton has made in defence of her use of an unauthorised private email system while she was US secretary of state.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation began investigating Clinton’s email system after government watchdogs found that some of her messages contained classified government secrets last year.
Comey is recommending that Clinton not face criminal charges. But in an unusual step, he used a news conference to give a public rebuttal on Tuesday of the defences offered by Clinton over the last year. Here are seven times that Comey contradicts Clinton:
On returning work emails
Clinton said in March 2015 that she returned “anything that could be possibly viewed as work related.” She later swore under oath that she returned all her work emails to the State Department in 2014, some 30,000 in all.
The FBI recovered “several thousand” work emails that were not returned to the State Department. Comey has “reasonable confidence” that there was no deliberate effort to withhold these messages.
On classified information
Clinton has repeatedly said she did not send or receive any classified information through her private email system, and that emails being released to the public that were now marked classified were being retroactively “upgraded.”
The FBI found 110 emails in 52 email chains that contained information that was classified at the time the messages were sent. Eight of those chains contained Top Secret information, the highest level of government classification; another 36 chains contained Secret information, and eight contained confidential information.
On classification markings
Clinton has repeatedly said she did not send or receive any emails that were “marked” classified.
A “very small number” of emails were marked as containing classified information. “But even if information is not marked ‘classified’ in an email, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it,” Comey said.
The “security and integrity” of the email system were taken seriously, and “robust protections” were put in place, according to her staff in March 2015.
The system was “not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at departments and agencies of the U.S. government, or even with a commercial service like Gmail.”
Clinton said there is no evidence there was ever a breach of her email system.
It would be unlikely to find “direct evidence” of Clinton’s email system being hacked, but the FBI believes “it is possible that hostile actors gained access.” “Hostile actors” also gained access to some people Clinton corresponded with on her email system.
On approach to government secrets
“I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements,” Clinton said in March 2015.
Clinton and her colleagues were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.”
Clinton has maintained that her email system was allowed and that she did nothing wrong. She has also said it was a “mistake” and apologised for it.
There is no evidence that Clinton and her colleagues intended to break the law, but people who engage in similar activity are “often subject to security or administrative sanctions.”