Seven new revelations from FBI’s Clinton probe

FBI Director James Comey shed new light on Hillary Clinton’s private email setup when he announced Tuesday that the FBI would not recommend charges against the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.

{mosads}Here are some of the new details revealed by Comey.

113 emails were classified at the time they were sent

Both Clinton’s presidential campaign and the State Department have repeatedly insisted that none of the approximately 2,000 emails now considered classified was deemed sensitive at the time.   

But Comey on Tuesday said that wasn’t quite the case.

In fact, federal agencies have claimed that 113 emails in more than 50 chains contained sensitive information at the time they were sent or received by her private setup, which she kept at her home in New York. Of those, eight chains contained information considered top secret, the highest level of classification.

Three of the sensitive emails were discovered among the thousands the former secretary of State claimed were purely personal in nature and which she deleted before giving her servers to the FBI last year.

An undisclosed “very small number” of messages “bore markings indicating the presence of classified information,” he said, without divulging additional details.

Thousands of work emails were deleted

Clinton has previously framed the decision to delete half of her machine’s cache of approximately 60,000 messages as an effort to avoid letting her private life become public.

“I chose not to keep my private personal emails — emails about planning Chelsea’s wedding or my mother’s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes,” she said in March 2015 in a widely scrutinized press conference at the United Nations.

But FBI investigators uncovered “several thousand work-related emails that were not in the group of 30,000 that were returned by Secretary Clinton” to the State Department, Comey said on Tuesday.

The bureau found “traces” of those emails on machines connected to the private domain, as well as “fragments” from decommissioned servers and from the email accounts of people who had communicated with her. 

No official emails were ‘intentionally’ deleted

None of the work-related messages was intentionally deleted from Clinton’s machine as part of an effort to evade federal laws, Comey said on Tuesday.

“We found no evidence that any of the additional work-related e-mails were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them,” he said. “Our assessment is that, like many e-mail users, Secretary Clinton periodically deleted e-mails or e-mails were purged from the system when devices were changed.”

Both government systems and commercial services such as Yahoo or Gmail routinely archive old emails. But Clinton’s bespoke setup did not include that feature, Comey said.

While deciding which emails to preserve and which to delete, Clinton’s lawyers also used a search tool and did not go through the emails one by one, as officials from the FBI did as part of their investigation. In doing so, they may have accidentally overlooked some emails that should have been sent to the government.

“So it is not surprising that we discovered emails that were not on Secretary Clinton’s system in 2014, when she produced the 30,000 emails to the State Department,” Comey said.

There were likely more work-related emails that will never be recovered

The FBI could not recover all of the emails that Clinton deleted, so there’s a good chance that other official messages will be lost forever.

“It is also likely that there are other work-related emails that they did not produce to State and that we did not find elsewhere,” Comey said. 

Those messages, he added, are likely “now gone because they deleted all e-mails they did not return to State, and the lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery.”

Clinton used more than one server and multiple mobile devices

The public narrative about Clinton’s setup is that she used a single server throughout her tenure at the State Department, which was given to the FBI as part of its investigation last year.

But the reality is somewhat more complicated. In fact, Clinton changed machines when older ones became out of date, leaving a trail of out-of-order servers behind her. 

“Secretary Clinton used several different servers and administrators of those servers during her four years at the State Department, and used numerous mobile devices to view and send e-mail on that personal domain,” Comey revealed on Tuesday. “As new servers and equipment were employed, older servers were taken out of service, stored and decommissioned in various ways.”

Old servers, such as one that was decommissioned in 2013, contained “email fragments” in the unused “slack” space that investigators combed to try to resurrect some of the old messages.

It’s ‘possible’ she was hacked

FBI officials did not uncover any evidence that Clinton’s private setup may have been hacked by foreigners, terrorists, activists or anyone else.

But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen, according to the head of the FBI.

Hackers have targeted people she communicated with, such as longtime confidant Sidney Blumenthal, and her arrangement was relatively well-known and “readily apparent,” Comey said.  

“It is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account,” he said.

Anyone else might have faced administrative punishments

Clinton was let off the hook in the eyes of the law, but the FBI doesn’t want to send a message that her behavior was OK.

There was “evidence of potential violations” of laws against handling classified information, Comey said.

Just not enough to bring charges.

“Our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,” he told reporters.

“To be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences,” Comey added. “To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions.

“But that is not what we are deciding now.”

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