Hillary Clinton on Wednesday turned over her private email server used during her service as secretary of State to the Department of Justice, after months of demands from Trey Gowdy and fellow Republicans that she turn over the server. Her decision comes as the FBI begins an investigation into the security of the classified materials sent via her private email account. A federal official confirmed last week that the FBI had begun a review of the security of Clinton’s private email server after a referral last month to the Justice Department from the inspector general overseeing the government’s intelligence community. The inspector general expressed concern about a “potential compromise of classified information.”
Republicans have expressed concerns about potential security risks resulting from Clinton’s use of a private email server since the story broke in March. Concerns have also been raised that Clinton could have used the private account to bury any damaging emails. The development in the FBI inquiry came the same day that a top intelligence official whose office has been reviewing some of Clinton’s e-mails informed congressional leaders that top-secret information had been contained in two e-mails that traveled across the server.
Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill emphasized that Hillary Clinton is cooperating with the FBI investigation but did not say whether the FBI ordered Clinton to turn over the devices and when her attorney had done so. “She directed her team to give her e-mail server that was used during her tenure as secretary to the Department of Justice, as well as a thumb drive containing copies of her e-mails already provided to the State Department,” Merrill said. “She pledged to cooperate with the government’s security inquiry, and if there are more questions, we will continue to address them.”
The Benghazi investigation committee has been requesting Clinton to turn the server over to a third party for examination but has continued to refuse to do so. “For months the Select Committee on Benghazi has called on Secretary Clinton to turn over her server to a neutral, detached third party for independent forensic examination,” the committee’s chairman, Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., said in a statement Tuesday.
Much of the classified information in the e-mail conversations originated with the CIA, according to two government officials familiar with the records. Some of the information was deemed to be classified by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s classification guidelines. The information included references to information related to satellite images and electronic communications, according to the officials. State Department spokesman John Kirby said that while the agency was working to “resolve whether, in fact, this material is actually classified, we are taking steps to ensure the information is protected and stored appropriately.”
In March, Clinton said she had deleted thousands of emails from the server, which she said were not work-related. 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.