Hillary Clinton to Turn Over Private Email Server to Federal Authorities
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Surprise move comes amid concerns about insufficient safeguards to protect secrets.
Hillary Clinton is turning over to federal authorities the private computer server she used to handle her emails when she served as secretary of state, an unexpected move and an attempt to quash concerns that her unorthodox approach included insufficient safeguards to protect government secrets.
A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton’s presidential campaign on Tuesday said she had directed her team to give to the Justice Department both the computer server—which had been kept at her home in Chappaqua, N.Y.—and a thumb drive containing copies of her emails.
Mrs. Clinton’s decision to relinquish her computer server is a surprise twist in a controversy that has shadowed her presidential bid. For months she has rebuffed congressional Republican leaders who have called on her to turn over the server to a neutral third party to verify her assertion that she had given the State Department all her work emails. She also has said the server was wiped clean of more than 31,000 emails that involved personal matters such as wedding plans, vacations and yoga routines.
Her assurances have so far failed to put the issue to rest, and even some Democrats worry that her email practices, in which she used a private account for her official emails, are one reason polling shows fewer people have come to see her as honest and straightforward.
“It’s a welcome development, but it’s hard to believe that the Clinton private server and the thumb drives in the possession of Ms. Clinton’s personal lawyer have just recently been turned over to the authorities,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “That’s a long time for top secret classified information to be held by an unauthorized person outside of an approved, secure government facility,” added Sen. Grassley, who has been inquiring about steps taken to secure any classified material on Mrs. Clinton’s email system.
Mrs. Clinton and her campaign have tried repeatedly to tamp down the controversy. Late last year, after getting a request from the State Department, she turned over about 55,000 pages of her emails—everything in her possession that she said was related to the job. She asked the State Department to make them public, a step she said was in keeping with her desire for transparency.
Addressing the email issue in a news conference in March, Mrs. Clinton said she used a private email system because she wanted the convenience of carrying just one personal device. She also said that she didn’t send or receive classified government information on her private email account.
At that news conference, delivered at the United Nations, she said the server “will remain private…,” indicating that, at the time, she had no plan to release it.
A subsequent review by federal government watchdogs found four emails out of a sample of 40 that contained classified material, although the information hadn’t been marked classified at the time it was sent.
One of the watchdogs—the intelligence community’s inspector general—sent a letter to lawmakers on Tuesday saying two of those four emails contained “top secret” information, a higher classification than previously known.
“Department employees circulated these emails on unclassified systems in 2009 and 2011 and ultimately some were forwarded to Secretary Clinton,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday. “They were not marked as classified.”
But he said the State Department was working with intelligence officials “to resolve whether, in fact, this material is actually classified” and to examine whether the information was being protected and stored appropriately.
Secretary of State John Kerry said in an interview with CBS on Tuesday that it was highly likely that his emails were being intercepted and read by Russia or China, an acknowledgment that there is an extreme level of foreign intelligence interest in collecting communications from the U.S. government’s top diplomat.
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