Hillary Clinton may have avoided criminal charges (though it took rewriting the Espionage Act on the fly in order to achieve it), but she couldn’t escape a stinging rebuke of her careless handling of classified information, and the negative impact it had on national security.
In his methodical, 15-minute dissection of Clinton’s behavior, FBI Director James Comey laid bare many of the bold lies Clinton has attempted to foist upon the public. Here are five of the most damning examples:
Clinton Lie #1: She Never Handled Classified Information: “I never sent or received any classified material,” which later morphed into, “I never received nor sent any material that was marked classified, and there is a process for the review of material before it is released to the public, and there were decisions made that material should be classified.”
FBI Response: “Only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of 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. …
From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification”
Clinton lie #2: She Handed Over All of Her Emails: “The State Department asked former secretaries of state for our assistance in providing copies of work-related emails from personal accounts. I responded right away with all my emails that could possibly be work related, which totaled roughly 55,000 printed pages, even though I knew that the State Department already had the vast majority of them.
We went through a thorough process to identify all of my work related e-mails and deliver them to the State Department.”
FBI Response: “The FBI also discovered several thousand work-related emails that were not in the group of 30,000 that were returned by Secretary Clinton to State in 2014. We found those emails in a variety of ways. Some had been deleted over the years, and we found traces of them on devices that supported or were connected to the private email domain. Others we found by reviewing the archived government email accounts of people who had been government employees.”
Clinton Lie #3: Lawyers read through each individual email to make sure it was not work related: “Every one of the more than 60,000 emails were read. Period.”
FBI Response: “The lawyers doing the sorting for Secretary Clinton in 2014 did not individually read the content of her emails. … It is highly likely their search terms missed some work-related e-mails, and that we later found them, for example, in the mailboxes of other officials or in the slack space of a server.
It is also likely that there are other work-related e-mails that they did not produce to State and that we did not find elsewhere, and that are 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 Lie #4: Her Server Was Secure and Was Never Breached: “It was on property guarded by the Secret Service. And there were no security breaches. So I think that the – the use of that server, which started with my husband, certainly proved to be effective and secure.”
FBI Response: “None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers 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. …
We did not find direct evidence that Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail domain, in its various configurations since 2009, was successfully hacked. But, given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence. We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.
Clinton Lie #5: Her Private Server Setup Was for Convenience: “When I got to work as Secretary of State, I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department … because I thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for my personal emails instead of two.”
FBI Response: It turns out to have been more complicated than that. 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. As new servers and equipment were employed, older servers were taken out of service, stored, and decommissioned in various ways. Piecing all of that back together—to gain as full an understanding as possible of the ways in which personal e-mail was used for government work—has been a painstaking undertaking, requiring thousands of hours of effort.
Given these revelations it’s easy to see that the legal cloud may have been lifted (however wrongfully), but the political firestorm still remains. As Clinton so eloquently put it, “Trust is the glue that holds our democracy together.”
So why then does she keep lying? And what happens to our democracy when she’s elected?