By Katie Bo Williams
Hillary Clinton repeatedly professed ignorance of the circumstances surrounding her use of a private email server, according to notes from an FBI interview released [today] Friday.
The former secretary of State told officials she could not remember being trained by the State Department on handling or retaining classified information.
She said she did not recall receiving emails she thought should not have been on an unclassified system, relying instead on State officials to use their judgment when emailing her.
She also appeared not to know that a small parenthetical “C” marked at the top of a paragraph meant the information below was considered classified.
Those and other revelations from the FBI’s report are giving new ammunition to Republicans outraged by the Justice Department’s decision not to indict the Democratic presidential nominee.
“Clinton’s answers either show she is completely incompetent or blatantly lied to the FBI or the public,” Republican National Committee (RNC) chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “Either way it’s clear that, through her own actions, she has disqualified herself from the presidency.”
The Clinton campaign said it was “pleased” the documents had been released.
“While her use of a single email account was clearly a mistake and she has taken responsibility for it, these materials make clear why the Justice Department believed there was no basis to move forward with this case,” Clinton spokesperson Brian Fallon said in a statement.
The 11-page report of the FBI’s three-hour interview is likely the most complete record of the conversation, which was neither under oath nor recorded in accordance with FBI policy.
The document is not a transcript, but rather a set of notes made by the official who conducted the July 2 interview.
Some revelations came from the 47-page report summarizing the investigation’s findings, also released Friday.
In one instance, investigators found that a number of Clinton’s private emails were erased several weeks after The New York Times first reported on the existence of the server and her use of it while in office.
According to the FBI’s notes, between March 25 and March 31 of 2015, someone mistakenly deleted Clinton’s archived mailbox from her server and exported files. The name of the person who deleted the emails was redacted.
“In a follow-up FBI interview on May 3, 2016, —— Indicated he believed he had an ‘oh s–t’ moment and sometime between March 25-31, 2015 deleted the Clinton archive mailbox from PRN server and used BleachBit to delete the exported .PST files he had created on the server system containing Clinton’s emails,” the report stated.
BleachBit is a software designed to prevent the recovery of deleted files.
Investigators also found that the State Department issued a guidance to employees not to use their personal emails for work during Clinton’s tenure. Clinton stated she did not recall this specific notice.
She also said she received no direction from State on preserving her records when she left the department in early 2013 — but claimed she could not recall every briefing she received at that time because of a concussion she suffered in late 2012.
In the fall of 2014, when Clinton’s lawyers were preparing her work-related emails to be provided to the State Department, Clinton said she was not consulted on specific emails.
Nor, according to the investigator’s notes, did she “have any conversations regarding procedures if any potentially classified information was discovered during the review of her emails because she had no reason to believe classified information would be found in her email account.”
The report also shows Clinton consulted former Secretary of State Colin Powell on his use of a BlackBerry while in office under President George W. Bush.
Powell warned Clinton to avoid using a BlackBerry to conduct official business, telling her that if it became “public” that she used the device to “do business,” her emails could become “official record and subject to the law.”
“Be very careful. I got around it all by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data,” Powell wrote.
Clinton told the FBI that she understood Powell’s advice to mean that any of her work-related communications would become government record. She claimed that his comments “did not factor into her decision to use a personal email account.”
Building a case to charge Clinton for mishandling classified information hinged on whether investigators could prove that she either intended to do so or had been grossly negligent.
In announcing the investigation’s findings in July, FBI Director James B. Comey said that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring a case based on the agency’s findings — infuriating Republicans.
Far from quelling that anger, the newly-released pages have only intensified calls from the right that Clinton should have faced charges.
“These documents … cast further doubt on the Justice Department’s decision to avoid prosecuting what is a clear violation of the law,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said in a statement.
Friday’s hailstorm of revelations could also give new legs to demands by congressional Republicans that Clinton be denied access to classified information and investigated for perjury.
The FBI probe did not look at whether Clinton violated federal record-keeping laws, and a number of ongoing Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the State Department over her emails remain underway.
The agency declined to comment on the FBI’s findings, but noted that “it is not appropriate to consider pieces of evidence outside of the broader context.”
TLB finds other interesting political news at The Hill.com