Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email account whilst she was secretary of state.
Whilst some 32,000 or more email got deleted from the server, which potentially contained classified information, Clinton maintains that she did nothing wrong in using a private email account on a home server and denies the account was ever used for classified communications.
The Guardian reports:
While Clinton has long maintained that she did nothing wrong in eschewing State Department email in favor of her own personal address firstname.lastname@example.org, political opponents have alleged that this account was used to shield her from scrutiny under the Freedom of Information Act, as well as by Congress. In a March press conference at the United Nations, Clinton insisted she only used the address for “convenience” so she wouldn’t have to carry two phones.
Clinton subsequently turned over 55,000 pages of emails for release, comprising roughly 30,000 individual messages to the State Department, but deleted 32,000 more emails from her server, stating that they were personal in nature. The former secretary of state also maintained no email to or from her personal account contained classified information. According to the New York Times, government inspectors general identified hundreds of emails that potentially contained classified messages.
The decision on whether to move forward with an investigation lies with the attorney general, Loretta Lynch, and carries risks for the Obama administration. Should an investigation go ahead it might turn up even more embarrassing information about Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state. However, should the Justice Department decide not to investigate it could lead to accusations of a politically motivated cover-up in an election year.
Comment has been sought by the Guardian from the Clinton campaign.
Representative Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the Benghazi committee gave a statement to the Guardian in which he said: “I spoke personally to the State Department Inspector General on Thursday, and he said he never asked the Justice Department to launch a criminal investigation of Secretary Clinton’s email usage.”
The Maryland Democrat added: “Instead, he told me the Intelligence Community IG notified the Justice Department and Congress that they identified classified information in a few emails that were part of the FOIA review, and that none of those emails had been previously marked as classified.”
Trey Gowdy, the chairman of the Benghazi committee struck a different note in a statement. “Committee Members on both sides have been aware of concerns about classified emails within the self-selected records turned over by Secretary Clinton. The Committee appreciates that Inspectors General appointed by President Obama have confirmed this is a serious and nonpartisan national security matter by any objective measure.” In the South Carolina Republican’s opinion, “these issues should be evaluated under the same strict standards that would apply to anyone found to be in possession of classified information outside of an approved system.”