WASHINGTON DC (August 14, 2019) — Staff from the Intelligence Community Inspector General’s office (ICIG) witnessed efforts by senior Obama State Department officials to downplay the volume of classified e-mails that transited former Secretary Hillary Clinton’s unauthorized server, according to a summary of a bipartisan interview with Senate investigators. The revelations corroborate concerns raised early in the e-mail-classification review that State Department officials sought to use lower-level FOIA exemptions to prevent the release of e-mails that other experts deemed to be classified.
The classified interview was conducted jointly by staff for then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles "Chuck Grassley" (R-IA) and Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-WI) in December. Staff for the committees’ ranking Democrats, Sens Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Claire McCaskill (D-MO), also participated in the interview, which stemmed from news reports last August that China may have been able to hack the server. To investigate the allegations, committee staff interviewed Frank Rucker and Jeanette McMillian of the ICIG. Rucker was tasked in 2015 with protecting classified intelligence-community equities during the State Department’s FOIA review of the server’s contents. He alerted the FBI to suspicious activity on the server that may have been evidence of an intrusion.
Neither the committees nor the FBI were able to confirm whether an intrusion into the server occurred. Notably, Paul Combetta, who administered the server and used software designed to prevent forensic recovery while deleting Clinton’s e-mails, refused to speak with the Justice Department Inspector General (DOJ IG) and Congress. Nonetheless, the committees’ interview with Rucker and McMillian revealed new information about the classification review process conducted and tightly controlled by senior State Department officials.
The interview summary and additional exhibits are being made public today as a part of a joint staff memo to Sens Grassley and Johnson for the investigative record. The documents include a summary of probes by DOJ IG and ICIG into the alleged China hack, as well as additional documentary evidence.
The staff memo, interview summary and additional exhibits are available HERE.