FBI counter-terrorism officials warned in the summer of 2015 that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton doing official business on her home email system potentially compromised national security, according to 300 pages of new evidence released late Sunday.
The warnings came even as Clinton — by then heavily favored to win the Democratic presidential nomination — casually dismissed any problems with the private email system in her New York mansion.
Dramatic behind-the-scenes alarms were triggered by the Clinton’s emails, a fact which is vividly depicted throughout the newly released documents.
Randall C. Coleman, assistant director of the Bureau’s counterintelligence division, approved a memo circulated throughout FBI headquarters that claiming “an activity constituting a federal crime or a threat to national security has or may have occurred,” July 10, 2015, for example.
He ordered “a full investigation” of Clinton’s 30,000 emails based on evidence provided by a July 6, 2015, “811 referral” from the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community (IGIC), who warned of “the potential compromise of classified information.”
According to FBI documents, an 811 referral is “to concentrate solely on detecting and countering foreign intelligence operations, focus on emerging strategic threats, and protecting United States secrets from compromise.”
Coleman said the IGIC’s referral of Clinton emails “allegedly contains information at a classified & SCI level.” The SCI level is the highest level of information gathered by the U.S. intelligence community.
Ultimately, nearly two dozen such documents were found on Clinton’s private server at the heart of her email system.
The FBI’s counterintelligence division considered the information so sensitive that it put all of her emails on its secure enterprise network called SCION, which handles only the nation’s most guarded intelligence.
The FBI titled its entire trove of official internal documents on the Clinton case as the “mishandling of classified, sensitive investigative matter.”
Coleman informed headquarters staff that, based on the referral, the purpose of the division’s investigation was to “detect, obtain information about and to protect against federal crimes or threats to the national security.”
Coleman gave a heads-up to his colleagues in the counterintelligence division that its investigation was sensitive “due to a connection to a current public official, political appointee or candidate,” ostensibly referring to Clinton.
FBI Director James Comey dismissed the case during a nationally televised press conference July 5, 2016, saying there was “no intentional misconduct” by Clinton but adding that she and her top aides were “extremely careless.”
“Given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence,” Comey suggested.
Comey also alerted attendees the FBI believes “that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account.”