Hillary Clinton - Security Inquiry
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigations conducts investigations, not security inquiries. That's why they are called the FBI and not the FBSI. Current FBI Director James Comey confirmed in a recent interview that he has no idea why Hillary Clinton and her team are using the phrase "security inquiry" to characterize the ongoing federal investigation into Mrs. Clinton and her use of a private e-mail server while she served as Secretary of State under President Obama. In that same interview, Director Comey told reporters that there was no timeline on when the investigation would be completed. FBI investigators have been meeting face to face with top aides in Mrs. Clinton’s inner circle, including Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills.
June 9th, 2000
Hillary Clinton quoted on video, "As much as I’ve been investigated and all of that, you know, why would I? I don’t even want… Why would I ever want to do email? Can you imagine?”
Will one of her aides give the rest up?
Last week, the FBI spoke to her five closest advisers while she was Secretary of State , four of whom remain close to her and have significant positions in her presidential campaign. Huma Abedin, who serves as vice chair of Clinton's presidential campaign and was deputy chief of staff to Clinton at the State Department, Jake Sullivan also her then deputy chief of staff at the State Department and her current senior policy advisor, and Philippe Reines a longtime Clinton aide whose been her spokesperson are still active in her organization. The fourth, Cheryl Mills, a long-time senior aide to Hillary Clinton, was also interrogated but it was reported that she and her lawyer both walked out of those interrogations over questions that were related to the procedure used to produce emails for possible public release by the State Department. The FBI investigator may have been alluding to the Benghazi events. Regardless, both Mills and her lawyer viewed those types of questions as off limits and covered under attorney-client privilege. They did return after a cooling off period to complete the interview. This round of interrogations were voluntary, not under oath, and done in the presence of the same legal team that represented all five aides. It was reported that they were extremely confrontational.
The purpose of the interrogations was to enable federal prosecutors and investigators to determine whether any of these five are targets in the investigation or witnesses, either for the government against Mrs. Clinton or for her. Once concluded, the FBI will decide if they want to charge any of these folks as part of a plan to commit espionage, or if they want to offer them a plea bargain opportunity to be witnesses on behalf of the government in the prosecution against Mrs. Clinton or one of them.
The fifth person interrogated was Bryan Pagliano, an information technology expert, who was employed by the State Department to trouble-shoot former Secretary Clinton's private email server. The server was somewhat problematic and it was his job to keep it up and functioning. He was also personally employed by Hillary; she paid him $5,000 to migrate her regular State Department email account and her secret State Department email account from their secure State Department servers to her personal, secret, non-secure server in her home in Chappaqua, N.Y. These payments were off the books and he did not disclose them on his State Department financial disclosure forms, an act that could lead to fines an possibly prison time. Also recall that when the email scandal first broke, he pled the Fifth. In early March, he was granted immunity in exchange for his testimony, which also means he can no longer invoke Fifth Amendment protections. Whether Pagliano’s immunity deal was sought by his legal team or by the FBI isn't as important as the fact that the government now has the one person who knows the system best on their team. A key part of the investigation into Mrs. Clinton involves whether she knew that the information she sent and received through the private server was classified, whether she was the one instructing her aides to circumnavigate protocols to evade transparency, and what has been hidden or deleted.
Bryan Pagliano was a Schedule C employee at the State Department, which meant that the White House ultimately approved his job, and granted him the official title of information technology specialist for policy and planning. It is unclear still on who if anyonis knew about the secret relationship he had with Mrs. Clinton to work off the books. As part of the investigation and after his pleading the Fifth, the FBI seized his computers but in what appears to be quite the suspicious turn of events, The State Department announced that it suddenly couldn't find any of Bryan's e-mails that coincided with when he worked for Mrs. Clinton. He did have an official State Department account and he did follow the rules in turning everything over upon his departure, but they've seemed to have vanished. This came to light when a Senate Committee reached out State to review them as part of the determination hearing on whether to grant Pagliano immunity. Amazingly enough, the State Department can produce records from both before and after her tenure, but none during it. Reports are that technicians are combing other accounts for message crosses attempting to rebuild some of the file. I don't think anyone believes that this is just a mistake or an oversight From the State Department, it's just too coincidental on too many plains.
2008 - The US Government Publishes Rules for Email Storage
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) issues Bulletin 2008-05, which states that every government email system is supposed to “permit easy and timely retrieval,” and all work emails are supposed to be permanently preserved. Additionally, in the case of a cabinet secretary, permanent records are to be sent to the department’s Records Service Center “at the end of the Secretary’s tenure or sooner if necessary” for safekeeping.
January 15, 2008 – September 30, 2013
Looking back at the time Secretary Clinton was at the State Department reveals some lapses in procedures; intentionally or not, when viewed collectively they create questions. Many people do not know that the State Department had no permanent Inspector General the entire time Hillary was Secretary - this is the longest time any department in government ever went without that role being filled on a permanent basis. With no internal watchdog at the helm, there was a wide opportunity for corruption, no one is saying anything specific, just noting the lack of oversight. Upon being appointed to the position, Hillary Clinton immediately got an email server and had it installed in her house in Chappaqua, New York. This same server (with a new domain name and email addresses) would hold all her emails during her time as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. The set up was the kind of system often used by small businesses, consistIng of two off-the-shelf server computers equipped with antivirus software. They were linked by cable to a local Internet service provider. An IP address associated with the clintonemail.com domain later used by Hillary Clinton was registered to “Eric Hoteham” in February after the installation. This alias name was also connected to the IP address for clintonemail.com, and is connected to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s home address in Chappaqua, New York. No one really knows where the alias came from although some speculated it was a former employee.
Marcel Leher Lazar, the Romanian hacker know worldwide as Guccifer, brought Clinton’s personal email address — HDR22@clintonemail.com — to light in 2013 after he hacked into the AOL account of her friend, Sidney Blumenthal. Up until then, the entire secret network she had created was for all intents invisible to any oversight. The fact that she had a personal system and had everything on it quickly engaged the gears of bureaucracy and her life became changed forever. She held off in turning over the server to the FBI, so they seized it. She alluded that she had deleted nearly half of the messages, claiming them to be personal, however, the FBI recovered them. They discovered many questionable practices on data handling, security, and more. Since then nearly 150 agents have been working on various aspects of the case.
The sheer volume of details on this case could fill a library, and in time America will hopefully see what will emerge from it. As for now, each one of four aides who hasn't made a deal with the FBI are considered pieces on the board. The first pawn is Philippe Reines who was the media gatekeeper for Hillary. He is purported to also be managing a private e-mail account, but not on her server it too is one with no traceability. This fact was brought to light by the media and met with no answers upon scrutiny. The State Department was unable to produce a request under the Freedom of Information Act that showed communications between the Clinton team and any media sources; this communication is what is thought to be on a private email and part of the investigation. The coordination efforts of the Clinton team with the media would be highly sought after by those wishing to see if and how she tried to portray the murder of four Americans in Benghazi among other things.
Jake Sullivan was one of the authors of messages that appeared on several Hillary Clinton email chains that have been labeled "top secret" by the State Department, according to multiple intelligence sources who have seen the correspondence. Mr. Sullivan both initiated and forwarded messages with sensitive information in them which isn't surprising considering his position in the State Department. How he handled them is another story altogether. Reviewing the 1600 emails that are being more heavily scrutinized being deemed confidential his name is everywhere. In at least two instances, Mrs. Clinton had asked Sullivan to send her sensitive information on an unsecured network for convenience. In one instance, a document was scheduled to be sent to Clinton but the secure fax machine appears to have been broken. Mrs. Clinton wrote in an email, “If they can't, turn into nonpaper [with] no identifying heading and send nonsecure. "Non-paper" is a diplomatic term for a discussion draft or memo that does not represent the official position of a government or negotiator. Speculation that this type of behavior showed “intent” and indicated Clinton may have violated laws that cover how classified material is handled.
Huma Abedin is certainly the closest person to Mrs. Clinton, both in her work and in person; The two are never more than a few feet apart. She can be her savior or her figurative executioner dependong on which way the chips fall. The fact that she was interviewed seems to many that the investigation is nearing its end, but nothing has been confirmed. Her interrogation lasted for two hours with the investigators trying to verify information and look for inconsistencies between what she said as compared to the others. One of the primary questions is whether Huma distributed classified material in the Clinton email systems that fell outside the State department's secure classified system. She did have an email account on the private system and regularly emailed Mrs. Clinton and rumors are swirling around Washington on whether she'll be offered a deal to testify against her boss.
Ms. Abedin herself is no secret to questionable events in her life including the infamous "weiner-gate" incidents where her husband was caught being "Carlos Danger" a psyedonym for his on-line sexting trysts. She was also part of a probe where it was discovered that Mrs. Clinton ignored rules while she served as secretary of state and overpaid Abedin for unreported time off to the tune of over $10K.
Investigators considered Ms. Mills, who served as chief of staff while Clinton was secretary of state, to be a mostly cooperative witness. The episode of her walking out demonstrates the level of tension surrounding the ongoing FBI criminal probe. The mishandling of classified information is a serious issues and since it involves a Democratic presidential candidate, there is no room for error. As is customary in these situations, the questioning was conducted jointly by FBI agents and Justice Department prosecutors. Yet when things got dicey, it seems the Justice Department prosecutors worked jointly with Mills' lawyer to block the FBI from asking about Mills’s collusion with Clinton in the delayed provision of thousands of Clinton’s e-mails to State. Even stranger is the fact that this high-profile interview was available to the media, almost as if an invisible hand is leaking parts of it to make a case.
Solidarity? Or safety in numbers?
Four of the aides still on team Hillary have adopted a solidarity strategy; all hiring the same ex-Justice department lawyer to represent them. Beth Wilkinson, a well-connected former assistant U.S. attorney appears to be the glue which will keep the stories straight. This alone appears to be quite risky should something emerge that might pit one aide against another. Heather Samuelson, who sorted Hillary's e-mails and helped determine which were personal or work related along with Mills, Reines, and Sullivan all will have similar testimony when their day in court comes. The strategy of circling the wagons around Mrs. Clinton could be a tactic that works in the voluntary interrogations, however if things look to splinter, each will seek out their own council.
Wilkinson has deep ties to both the DOJ and Washington politics. She is married to David Gregory, a huge Clinton donor and the former host of Meet the Press. She's very experienced in high profile cases prosecuting Manuel Noriega and Timothy McVeigh and she knows just about everyone in the Justice Department. it's uncertain who is paying for the legal expenses of the group at this time.
Those on the outside see the arrangement as evidence that either the DOJ and the FBI are going to allow them to coordinate their stories to "make it go away" or that the Clinton camp is waiting to see what cards the FBI is showing before moving forward. With Sullivan being interrogated on separate issues as compared to Mills and the others, it's an almost certainty that a conflict will arise and force them to each find separate lawyers and most likely a "save their own skin" approach. They are beyond any protection of the Clinton machine at this point and if one cracks, then the entire house collapses.
Calling it espionage and conspiracy
A Federal judge ordered the same five persons who were interrogated to give videotaped testimony in a civil lawsuit against the State Department, which once employed them, in order to determine if there was a “conspiracy” in Hillary Clinton's office to evade federal transparency laws. Stated differently, the purpose of these interrogations is to seek evidence of an agreement to avoid the Freedom of Information Act requirements of storage and transparency of records, and whether such an agreement, if it existed, was also an agreement to commit espionage — the removal of state secrets from a secure place to a non-secure place. The long and the short of it appears that the FBI will be trying to pit everyone against each other to see who jumps at the immunity brass ring first or at all. One would think that the Clinton's track record of having others take the fall would continue, but there are some wild cards to be played still.
Many legal experts, especially those who are aligned with the current administration believe that Clinton will not prosecuted for using the private email system since at the time it wasn't banned. What's looming is whether she or her aides distributed classified material in email systems that fell outside of the secure classified system. Mrs. Clinton has repeatedly denied violating the understanding of the law and has been very vocal throughout the proceedings. Many of the recovered emails are deemed too sensitive to be released and Clinton continues to claim those and any of the others were deemed or marked classified after the fact. Legally it doesn't matter which markings were on the emails since government officials, especially at that level are expected and obligated to secure and protect all sensitive materials.
The Law that is being used for the scrutiny is (18 U.S. Code & 793 subsection f) which makes clear that anyone who has materials “relating to the national defense” cannot lose or give them away. The law is broken if “through gross negligence permits [materials] to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed.”
The FBI is likely to interrogate Mrs. Clinton in the new few weeks. She still maintains her total innocence and expects to be fully exonerate. Yet many would challenge that statement strictly on policy; the FBI just doesn't start an investigation of this level into a person of this level without a high degree of certainty she's guilty. Questions remain, such as will President Obama intervene and save her from the humiliation of being indicted? Does FBI Director Comey have what it takes to obey US law instead of a sitting President? Will Clinton's influence peddling worldwide be considered? Was the server hacked? Will her team take the fall for her if she appears to be found guilty? Will she be quickly dispatched so President Obama has time to pardon her before leaving office? If she goes down, does she take the entire Democratic Party along with her just for spite? What are the voters thinking?
This case and how it plays out will certainly impact American politics for decades. If she is indicted, Mrs. Clinton will be the highest ranking woman in government to achieve that dishonor. Bernie Sanders, the opposition she seemingly can't rid herself of is quietly waiting in the wings hoping for that scenario. He's hoping to flip support from the Super Delegates based on her unworthiness to serve as the nominee on the trust factor and more. Sanders will try to position himself as the savior of the party and hopefully as a future President, even though he only loosely represents real Democrats. So for now, we wait, and wait, and wait some more.