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Highlights of a damning review into Hillary Clinton's emails

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks at a United Food and Commercial Workers International Union hall, Wednesday, May 25, 2016, in Buena Park, Calif. (AP Photo/John Locher)
May 25, 2016 - 2:55 PM

WASHINGTON - A damning audit was released Wednesday into Hillary Clinton's use of email while she was secretary of state, an issue which is being reviewed separately by the FBI as part of a criminal investigation.

It reveals instances where she didn't tell the truth, refused to be questioned, had her account attacked by hackers and skirted her obligations under transparency laws.

This audit was performed by the State Department's inspector general after critics raised two concerns about her use of a private server: Did hackers access her email system? And did she turn over all her emails, allowing them to be preserved and searched as called for by various laws?

The issue has now been thrust into the presidential election, with Clinton likely becoming the Democratic nominee. Her campaign team downplayed it as a partisan issue.

"(Republicans) will attack HRC because she is running for president," her spokesman Brian Fallon tweeted.

"But the IG report makes clear her personal email use was not unique at State."

The report examines the habits of the last five secretaries of state. Others also used private email addresses at work — although they didn't go to the same length in creating their own parallel systems.

Here's what the report says:

—Clinton refused to be interviewed. Several members of her staff also declined to speak with the inspector-general's team. Four other secretaries of state agreed: John Kerry, Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell and Madeleine Albright.

—She didn't tell the truth about handing over all her emails. She said last year that she'd given the government all her work-related messages — 55,000 pages' worth. But there are big gaps. Entire months are missing from early 2009. There's evidence she was using email for work at the time; report authors say they managed to track down 19 messages just to Gen. David Petraeus, which she hadn't turned over.

—This wasn't permitted. When stories surfaced that she'd set up a home system with the email address hdr22@clintonemail.com, Clinton said she was allowed to do so by the State Department. Here's what the report says: "(We) found no evidence that staff in the Office of the Legal Adviser reviewed or approved secretary Clinton's personal system."


—Staff were told to stop asking questions. At least two staffers raised concerns with the director of the department's IT unit. They worried the home setup might fail to satisfy federal records requirements. One said the reply was: "The matter was not to be discussed any further."

—She skirted legal requirements. At a minimum, the report said, Clinton should have handed everything over before leaving government. She instead waited and picked what she sent. "She did not comply with the department's policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act."

—Her setup caused communication problems. Her senior staff informed Clinton that her emails were not being received. One says Clinton was told: "We should talk about putting you on State email or releasing your email address to the department so you are not going to spam."

—Clinton feared for her privacy. She expressed concern about people combing through her personal messages — because government emails are to be preserved, under laws like the Federal Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act. Clinton wrote to staff: "Let's get separate address or device but I don't want any risk of the personal being accessible."

—People tried hacking her server. A non-government employee assisting Clinton had to shut down her server in 2011 and wrote: "Someone was trying to hack us and while they did not get in i didnt (sic) want to let them have the chance." The same day, he wrote: "We were attacked again."

That security question is relevant.

The FBI investigation includes whether state secrets were compromised. A convicted Romanian hacker now reportedly co-operating with U.S. investigators says he managed to get in — although there's no evidence yet.

Clinton's defence is that she never mishandled classified information ''knowingly.''

That last word is potentially key.

Petraeus, the former director of the CIA, was charged under a law that specifically states the crime must be committed knowingly.

The general surreptitiously provided his mistress with access to his personal email so that they could communicate discreetly, in its draft-message folder.

He pleaded guilty, with a plea deal that sentenced him to a $100,000 fine and two years' probation.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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