State Dept. ramps up probe into Clinton email server: report

The State Department reportedly intensified a probe into former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Trump 'lynching' firestorm is sign of things to come Hillary Clinton has said she'd consider 2020 race if she thought she could win: report Nielsen on leaving Trump administration: 'Saying no and refusing to do it myself was not going to be enough' MORE's private email server, contacting dozens of former aides involved in email exchanges that passed through her server.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that as many as 130 former Clinton aides have been contacted by State Department investigators in recent weeks, with many being informed that they have been found "culpable" for transmitting information that should have been classified at a higher level than it was originally sent.

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Former Obama administration officials described the probe to the Post as an extraordinary investigation fueled by political animosity.

But current officials speaking on the condition of anonymity told the newspaper that the probe was structured to avoid the appearance of political bias.

The probe, which reportedly reached the stage where former officials began being contacted shortly after Trump's inauguration, was described by one senior agency official to the Post as having nothing to do with President TrumpDonald John TrumpGraham to introduce resolution condemning House impeachment inquiry Support for impeachment inches up in poll Fox News's Bret Baier calls Trump's attacks on media 'a problem' MORE's vows to investigate Clinton if elected during the 2016 election.

“This has nothing to do with who is in the White House,” the official said. “This is about the time it took to go through millions of emails, which is about 3½ years.”

“The process is set up in a manner to completely avoid any appearance of political bias,” another official told the Post.

Former officials involved in the probe described it as a political vendetta, with one telling the Post it was an "abuse of power" by the Trump administration.

“It is such an obscene abuse of power and time involving so many people for so many years,” they said. “This has just sucked up people’s lives for years and years.”

The State Department did not immediately return a request for comment from The Hill on the investigation.

Trump frequently attacked Clinton during the 2016 campaign for her use of a private email server while at the State Department, with his fans frequently chanting, "Lock her up!" at rallies over her perceived criminal wrongdoing.

A review of Clinton's email server conducted by the FBI in 2016 found that Clinton had not committed any crimes with her operation of a private server but described her email practices as "reckless."