FBI releases Hillary Clinton report; provides notes from email server interview

Posted at 1:44 PM, Sep 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-02 14:21:07-04

WASHINGTON — The FBI released Friday the notes from Hillary Clinton’s interview with the bureau along with the report the agency put together on its investigation.

The documents contained numerous instances in which Clinton did not recall specific emails or incidents, including on classified information procedures.

Clinton repeatedly told the FBI she lacked recollection of key events. She said she “could not recall any briefing or training by State related to the retention of federal records or handling classified information,” according to the FBI’s notes of their July 2 interview with Clinton.

Fallout from Clinton’s use of a private email server continues to dog the Democratic presidential nominee’s campaign, as her lead over her Republican counterpart Donald Trump has been cut in half since her post convention bounce last month, according to CNN’s Poll of Polls released Thursday. Trump and other Republicans have stepped up their attacks connecting the emails to questions over whether Clinton gave preferential treatment to donors to her family’s foundation.

The bureau is making the information public in response to numerous Freedom of Information Act requests, including from CNN.

“Today the FBI is releasing a summary of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s July 2, 2016 interview with the FBI concerning allegations that classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on a personal e-mail server she used during her tenure,” the agency said in a statement. “We also are releasing a factual summary of the FBI’s investigation into this matter.”

The notes revealed that Clinton relied heavily on her staff and aides determining what was classified information and how it should be handled.

“Clinton did not recall receiving any emails she thought she should not be on an unclassified system,” the FBI notes said. “She relied on State official to use their judgment when emailing her and could not recall anyone raising concerns with her regarding the sensitivity of the information she received at her email address”

Clinton was also asked about the (C) markings within several documents that FBI Director James Comey testified before Congress represented classified information. The emails that were sent and received from her server containing these markings became the subject of intense debate on the Hill, as her critics seized on them as evidence that she mishandled information.

But Clinton told the FBI she was unaware of what the marking meant.

“Clinton stated she did not know and could only speculate it was referencing paragraphs marked in alphabetical order,” the interview notes stated.

The former secretary of state said she did understand when an email was marked “confidential” at the top, and “asked the interviewing agents if that was what ‘c’ referenced,” according to the notes. The confidential label had been placed there by the FBI after the fact.

Comey in July took the unprecedented step of announcing in a press conference the FBI’s conclusion that there was not enough evidence to merit a criminal prosecution, before handing over his findings to the Justice Department.

The DOJ followed that recommendation and decided no prosecution was merited.

After Comey testified about the decision before Congress, members requested access to his agency’s report. Last month, the bureau gave members of Congress access to the notes, as well as notes from interviews with other Clinton staff and aides, but kept that version of the report classified.

Comey testified that no transcript of the interview exists, only the notes taken on it. Clinton was not under oath.

The FBI’s release Friday did not include the notes of interviews with Clinton’s aides.

Interest in the contents of the report had intensified after it was reported that Clinton told the FBI a conversation with former Secretary of State Colin Powell recommending she use private email helped convince her to do so.

Powell repudiated the idea that he shares any responsibility for her choice in the following days, however, and Clinton told CNN’s Anderson Cooper last month that she takes full responsibility.

“I’ve been asked many, many questions in the past year about emails. And what I’ve learned is that when I try to explain what happened it can sound like I’m trying to excuse what I did,” she told CNN. “And there are no excuses. I want people to know that the decision to have a single e- mail account was mine. I take responsibility for it. I’ve apologized for it. I would certainly do differently if I could.”