Fox News rolled out a series of debunked myths about Hillary Clinton's email use during her tenure at the State Department in order to call for an investigation into whether the Democratic presidential candidate committed “criminal negligence.”
Hillary Clinton Addresses Personal Email Use During Campaign Stop
Clinton Says She “Understands Why” People Care About Her Private Email Use. Speaking at an Iowa campaign stop on August 26, Hillary Clinton told the audience that she “understands why” people care about her use of private email during her time at the State Department. As The New York Times reported:
“I know people have raised questions about my email use as secretary of state, and I understand why,” Mrs. Clinton said Wednesday. “I get it. So here's what I want the American people to know: My use of personal email was allowed by the State Department. It clearly wasn't the best choice. I should've used two emails: one personal, one for work.”
She added: “I take responsibility for that decision, and I want to be as transparent as possible, which is why I turned over 55,000 pages, why I've turned over my server, why I've agreed to -- in fact, been asking to -- and have finally gotten a date to testify before a congressional committee in October.”
“I'm confident that this process will prove that I never sent, nor received, any email that was marked classified,” she said. [The New York Times, 8/26/15]
Fox Guest Pushes Debunked Claims About Clinton's Email Use
CLAIM: Jay Sekulow: The FBI “Grabbed Control Of The Server.” On the August 27 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, the American Center for Law and Justices' Jay Sekulow and host Gregg Jarrett discussed Clinton's recent comments about her emails. Using the opportunity to push debunked talking points about her private use of emails in order to assert that Clinton may have committed “criminal negligence,” Sekulow claimed that the FBI had “grabbed control of the server.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 8/27/15]
CLAIM: Sekulow: Clinton's Server Was Stored “In The Bathroom” Of A Colorado Company. Later in the segment, Sekulow claimed that Clinton's server was stored “in the bathroom” of a Colorado IT company hired by the former secretary of state to maintain her private emails. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 8/27/15]
CLAIM: Sekulow: Investigators Have Found “Hundreds Of Classified Emails” On Clinton's Server. Sekulow also said, “The inspector general, of course, in just their short analysis of just some of those emails, have found hundreds of classified emails.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 8/27/15]
CLAIM: Sekulow: Clinton's Lawyer Lacked Security Clearance To Handle Emails. Sekulow said that Clinton “handed over the thumb drive of the emails to her lawyer who did not have security clearance.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 8/27/15]
FACT: Clinton Voluntarily Handed Over Email Server To The FBI
ABC News: “The Server Was Handed Over Voluntarily.” On August 12, Hillary Clinton's team arranged for the technology company Platte River Networks, which managed her email system previously, to give her private email server to the FBI. ABC News reported that the server “was handed over voluntarily” and was transferred “with no subpoena”:
Barbara Wells, a lawyer for Platte River Networks, the technology company that has managed Clinton's email server since 2013, said the company turned the server over to the FBI Wednesday afternoon at a New Jersey facility.
She said the server was handed over voluntarily, under an agreement between Platte River and Clinton's presidential campaign, with no subpoena. [ABC News, 8/13/15]
FACT: Clinton's Server Was Not Kept In A Bathroom Closet
Denver Post: None Of Clinton's Data Was Ever Stored In A Denver Bathroom. In an August 19 article, The Denver Post reported that Platte River Networks had never stored the server holding Clinton's emails in Denver. The article explained that the server had been moved to “a New Jersey data center” in accordance with “industry best practices” and had never been “in any bathrooms”:
“There never was, at any time, data belonging to the Clintons stored in Denver. Ever,” said Dovetail Solutions CEO [and Platte River Spokesman] Andy Boian, who added that Clinton's server was always in a New Jersey data center. “We do not store data in any bathrooms.”
“We were literally hired in June 2013,” Boian said, “and because we use industry best practices, we had (Clinton's) server moved to a data center in New Jersey. It remained in that spot until last week,” when the FBI picked it up Aug. 12.
Platte River also is not in possession of any Clinton e-mail backups, he said.
“The role of Platte River Networks was to upgrade, secure and manage the e-mail server for both the Clintons and their staff beginning June 2013. Platte River Networks is not under investigation. We were never under investigation. And we will fully comply with the FBI,” he said. [The Denver Post, 8/19/15]
FACT: Emails Were Flagged For Review And May Not Contain Classified Information
305 Of Clinton's Emails Have Been Flagged For Review, But Do Not Necessarily Contain Classified Material. As The Washington Post reported, the attorney for the State Department indicated that the intelligence community responsible for reviewing the emails Clinton turned over to the State Department had identified 305 emails for further review by their agencies, but they “may not ultimately conclude that the e-mails contain classified information” (emphasis added):
A State Department official told a federal judge Monday that 305 more of former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton's e-mail messages have been flagged for further review by intelligence agencies, to see whether they contain classified material that should not be released to the public.
In the status update to the court, an attorney for the State Department indicated that the reviewers from the intelligence community have identified 305 e-mails out of a sample of 20 percent of Clinton's e-mails to send for further review by their agencies. Those agencies may not ultimately conclude that the e-mails contain classified information. [The Washington Post, 8/17/15]
State Department Spokesperson John Kirby: The Review Is “A Healthy Thing,” It “Doesn't Mean That All 300” Emails Will Contain Classified Information. Speaking to reporters, State Department spokesperson John Kirby explained that the review of Clinton's email is “a healthy thing. It's a good thing. It doesn't mean that all 300 are going to end up at some level of upgrade.” As The Washington Post reported:
“What you're seeing here is exactly what we want to see, which is the proper care and scrutiny being applied to this,” State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters Monday. “It's a healthy thing. It's a good thing. It doesn't mean that all 300 are going to end up at some level of upgrade. I suspect some will, and I suspect some won't.” [The Washington Post, 8/17/15]
Classification Review Is Common And “Says Nothing About Whether Classified Information” Was In The Emails. As Buzzfeed noted, reviewing documents for classification is “common in large FOIA requests that involve documents from multiple agencies, and there is a low bar for flagging such documents for consultation”:
However, such referrals are common in large FOIA requests that involve documents from multiple agencies, and there is a low bar for flagging such documents for consultation.
According to Justice Department guidance, any document found in the course of a FOIA review that “originated with another agency, or another component within their agency, or which contain information that is of interest to another agency or component” is to be referred to that other agency for consultation.
The consultation only reveals that the 305 emails either originated with an intelligence agency or contain information of interest to an intelligence agency; it says nothing about whether classified information is contained in the emails. [Buzzfeed, 8/17/15]
FACT: Clinton's Lawyer Has “Top Secret” Security Clearance
Politico: Clinton's Lawyer “Had 'Top Secret' Clearance.” In an August 25 article, Politico reported that Hillary Clinton's lawyer, David Kendall, had "'top secret' security clearance granted by the State Department" so that he could review information relating to the House Benghazi investigation, and that those clearances remain active:
In a new letter to Grassley, Kendall says he got a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance from the Justice Department in November 2013 and a Top Secret clearance from the State Department about a year later. Kendall says his Williams & Connolly law partner, Katherine Turner, also got a Top Secret clearance from State in December 2014.
“These State Department security clearances remain active. We obtained them in order to be able to review documents at the Department of State, to assist former Secretary Clinton in preparing to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi,” Kendall wrote on Monday. [Politico, 8/25/15]