Seven ways FBI contradicted Clinton’s email claims

Seven ways FBI contradicted Clinton’s email claims
© Greg Nash


The Justice Department this week exonerated Clinton of allegations that she mishandled classified information. 

But in the process, FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyEXCLUSIVE: Trump says exposing ‘corrupt’ FBI probe could be ‘crowning achievement’ of presidency Russia docs order sets Trump on collision with intel community Dem lawmaker jabs Trump call for transparency by asking for his tax returns MORE opened the door to new charges that she lied to Congress and the American public. 

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Republican lawmakers are promising to refer to the FBI potential misstatements that Clinton made under oath during an 11-hour testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi. That referral could lead to a new investigation, once again putting Clinton under the glare of the Justice Department. 

Here are some of the statements Clinton has said on Capitol Hill and elsewhere contradicted by the FBI this week: 

"I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email” 

This is one of the first claims that Clinton made about her email setup, in a press conference at the United Nations shortly after it was revealed last year. 

In fact, more than 2,000 emails now contain information considered classified, but most of that was upgraded after it was sent. 

According to Comey, a total of 113 emails contained information that was classified at the time the messages were sent or received. Among those are eight threads containing 22 emails classified as top secret — the highest tier of classification. 

“There was classified material emailed,” Comey told the House Oversight Committee on Thursday.  

“There was nothing marked classified on my emails, either sent or received”           

After it became clear that a sizable portion of Clinton’s email traffic was classified, the former secretary of State has changed her story. 

Some information may have been classified, but none was marked as such, she said during the Benghazi Committee hearing, repeating a claim she has uttered frequently. 

But the reality is more complicated. 

At least three emails among the more than 30,000 reviewed by the FBI have included some markings indicating information was classified. 

“There were a small number of portion markings on, I think, three of the documents,” Comey testified this week. 

Those markings, however, were incomplete and according to the State Department made out of “human error.” 

Classified documents are supposed to be marked as such at multiple points throughout the document, including at the top and next to each sensitive portion. 

The three emails in Clinton’s inbox did not include the markings at the top of the page, just the ones next to particular sections. And the relevant portions did not actually contain classified information. 

According to Comey, Clinton might have not understood that the section markings — upper-case “C”s in parentheses — indicating that the information was supposed to be confidential, the lower tier of classification. 

“I don't think that our investigation established she was actually particularly sophisticated with respect to classified information and the levels and treatment,” the FBI director told the House Oversight Committee. 

Still, Comey told reporters this week that anyone in Clinton’s position should have understood that dozens of the messages contained sensitive information.  

“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,” he said. 

“It was allowed, but it was not a good choice” 

Clinton has repeatedly described her email setup as permitted under the letter of the rules, though perhaps unwise. This quote came from the middle of her Benghazi Committee testimony. 

Both the State Department’s inspector general and the FBI disagree with that claim.

The department’s internal watchdog released a harshly critical report earlier this year saying that the setup “would not” have been approved, had Clinton sought permission.

Had employees within the FBI had a similar system, Comey testified this week, they might have been subject to a range of punishments up to and including being fired

“You could be walked out or, depending on the nature of the facts, you could be reprimanded,” the FBI director testified in the House.

However, the bureau would not have been able to prosecute them for federal crimes, he added. And there would be no punishments that could be handed down after the official had left office. 

I provided the department … with all of my work-related emails, all that I had” 

Clinton has claimed repeatedly that all of her work-related messages were contained within the roughly 30,000 messages given to the State Department in 2014. Another batch of a similar size was purely personal, she has said, and those messages destroyed. 

This quote also came from the hearing in the Select Committee on Benghazi. 

The FBI managed to recover some of those deleted emails, through inboxes of her colleagues and from electronic breadcrumbs on decommissioned severs that Clinton used

According to Comey, “thousands” of those allegedly personal emails pertained to her work at the State Department. At least of them contained classified information. 

“I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two” 

This is another early claim of Clinton’s, given during her March 2015, press conference explaining why she used a private server out of convenience.

The rationale, she said at the time, was to use just her one BlackBerry device for all email traffic, instead of switching between multiple devices. 

But in fact, Clinton used “multiple devices” throughout her four years as the nation’s top diplomat, according to the head of the FBI chief. 

“The FBI has the server that was used during the tenure of my State Department service” 

The common understanding of Clinton’s setup is that she used a single server throughout all four years, as this quote during the Benghazi Committee hearing seems to assert. 

But the FBI said that she used “several” different machines, which were taken offline as they became outdated and replaced.

“There were no security breaches” 

It’s still unclear precisely what security mechanisms Clinton used to protect her servers from hackers. 

But her presidential campaign has repeatedly said that there is no evidence that the machine was hacked, as she stated in this quote from the 2015 press conference. 

The FBI was not able to uncover any evidence that hackers did break into her system. 

But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. 

Comey told reporters this week that Clinton’s setup was not a secret within the State Department, and that she accessed her email “in the territory of sophisticated adversaries.” Additionally, hackers did break into the email accounts of people who had communicated with Clinton, Comey said, so they might have been able to map out her system as well. 

“Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account,” Comey warned. 

The FBI director declined to identify which of Clinton’s contacts had been hacked, though notorious Romanian hacker Guccifer is known to have breached the email system of longtime Clinton confidante Sidney Blumenthal.