Politics & Policy

Clinton Campaign Accuses Obama-Appointed IG of Conspiring with GOP on E-mail Report

Clinton campaigns in Council Bluffs, Iowa, January 5, 2016. (Scott Olson/Getty)

Hillary Clinton’s campaign went on the attack Wednesday morning against a new inspector general’s report that affirms the presence of “several dozen” highly classified e-mails on the former secretary of state’s private server, accusing the government watchdog of spearheading a “very coordinated leak” with Senate Republicans to damage her reputation.

On Tuesday, Fox News reported that last week, intelligence-community inspector general I. Charles McCullough sent an unclassified response to an inquiry from two Republican senators. McCullough’s letter is said to contain two sworn declarations from an “intelligence community element,” asserting that dozens of e-mails found on Clinton’s server were classified — including several judged to contain intelligence on so-called “special access programs,” which exist at a more rarefied level of classification than even the two “top secret” e-mails discovered on the server last summer.

On CNN Wednesday morning, Clinton-campaign spokesman Brian Fallon said McCullough was the ringleader behind an operation to “trump it up and resurface these allegations,” calling the new report “a very coordinated leak” between the inspector general and GOP lawmakers.

“Two months ago there was a Politico report that directly challenged the finding of this inspector general,” Fallon said. “And I don’t think he liked that very much. So I think that he put two Republican senators up to sending him a letter so that he would have an excuse to resurface the same allegations he made during the summer that have been discredited.”

#related#The Politico report Fallon cites claimed that intelligence sources had determined that no “top secret” e-mails were discovered on Clinton’s e-mail server. It was immediately challenged by intelligence-community officials, and Politico itself backtracked in a December 15 story, admitting that two e-mails were, in fact, considered “top secret” at the time they were sent and retained by Clinton. Fallon offered no new evidence to contradict that assertion.

McCullough is an odd target for charges of partisan conspiracy. In 2011, he was appointed by President Obama to be the first inspector general of the intelligence community. Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein, then the chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, called him “superbly qualified for the job” during a confirmation hearing in September of that year. The Democratic Senate confirmed him by a voice vote on November 7, 2011.

— Brendan Bordelon is a political reporter for National Review.

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