James Comey, the FBI director, said in a statement Tuesday that the FBI would not recommend Hillary Clinton for indictment for using a private e-mail address and server for work communication while secretary of state. But he also detailed the findings of the FBI investigation into Clinton’s private server — disproving several of eight major lies she has told multiple times since the investigation into her private server began.
Here are those eight lies, debunked.
1. Lie: She didn’t send or receive any e-mails that were classified “at the time.”
Clinton told this to reporters at a press conference March 10, 2015. She repeated it at an Iowa Democratic fundraiser July 25 and at a Democratic debate February 4, 2016.
Once the investigation into Clinton’s e-mails began, the FBI began retroactively classifying some of the work-related e-mails she had released. So Clinton probably opted to dodge the issue by qualifying her statement, saying that no e-mails she sent were classified “at the time.”
Truth: Comey said that the FBI found at least 110 e-mails that were classified at the time Clinton sent or received them — 52 e-mail chains in all, including eight Top Secret (the highest classification level) chains.
2. Lie: She didn’t send or receive any e-mails “marked classified” at the time.
Clinton made this claim most recently July 3, 2016, on Meet the Press. She first made the claim August 26, 2015, at an Iowa news conference. She repeated it at Fox News town hall March 7, 2016; at a Democratic debate March 9; at a New York news conference March 1; and on Face the Nation May 8.
Clinton again appeared to spin the facts emerging in the investigation. This time, she suggested that even if the FBI were now classifying some of her e-mails, she couldn’t be held responsible since the e-mails lacked any mark of classification at the time they were sent or received. Some wondered what she even meant by “marked” classified, while others pointed out that lack of markings was no defense for mishandling the information — which the secretary of state, of all people, should have judged to be sensitive.
Truth: Comey confirmed suspicions about Clinton’s claim by noting that a “small number” of the e-mails were, in fact, marked classified. Moreover, he added: “Even if information is not marked ‘classified’ in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.”
3. Lie: She turned over all of her work-related e-mails.
Clinton said this on MSNBC September 4, 2015; at a Fox News town hall March 7, 2016; and at a New York press conference March 10.
It’s important to remember that Clinton made this claim about the 30,000 e-mails she and her attorneys chose to provide to the State Department. After turning over paper copies of these 30,000, she and her attorneys then unilaterally deleted another 32,000 that they deemed personal.
Truth: The FBI found “thousands” of work-related e-mails other than those Clinton had provided; they were in various officials’ mailboxes and in the server’s slack space.
Clinton’s attorneys “did not individually read the content of all of her e-mails,” Comey said. “Instead, they relied on header information and used search terms to try to find all work-related e-mails among the reportedly more than 60,000 total e-mails remaining on Secretary Clinton’s personal system in 2014.”
Though Comey denied he saw evidence of ill intent, he said:
It is highly likely their search terms missed some work-related e-mails, and that we later found them. . . . It is also likely that there are other work-related e-mails that they did not produce to State and that we did not find elsewhere, and that are now gone because they deleted all e-mails they did not return to State, and the lawyers cleaned their devices in such a way as to preclude complete forensic recovery.
(Remember the “server-wipe” speculation?)
4. Lie: She wanted to use a personal e-mail account for convenience and simplicity, streamlining to one device.
Clinton said she used one device on CNN July 7, 2015, and at a New York press conference March 10.
Truth: Clinton used multiple servers, administrators, and mobile devices, including an iPad and a Blackberry, to access her e-mail on her personal domain.
“As new servers and equipment were employed, older servers were taken out of service, stored, and decommissioned in various ways,” Comey explained. “Piecing all of that back together — to gain as full an understanding as possible of the ways in which personal e-mail was used for government work — has been a painstaking undertaking, requiring thousands of hours of effort.”
5. Lie: Clinton’s use of a private server and e-mail domain was permitted by law and regulation.
Clinton made this claim in an interview on CNN July 7, 2015; in a campaign statement in July 2015; and at the Democratic primary debates in Las Vegas on October 13, 2015.
Truth: No: A May report issued by the State Department’s inspector general found that it has been department policy since 2005 that work communication be restricted to government servers. While the IG allowed for occasional use of personal e-mail in emergencies, Clinton used her personal e-mail exclusively for all work communication.
6. Lie: All of Clinton’s e-mails were immediately captured by @.gov addresses.
Clinton made this claim at a New York press conference May 10, 2015.
Crucially, Clinton told reporters that she exclusively used her personal e-mail because she thought her messages were always saved in the e-mail threads of senior department officials who used @.gov accounts.
Truth: The State Department did not begin automatically capturing and preserving e-mails until February 2015, two years after Clinton left the State Department.
7. Lie: There were numerous safeguards against security breaches and “no evidence” of hacking.
Clinton made the “safeguards” claim at a New York press conference March 10, 2015, and her former tech aide made the “no evidence” claim March 3, 2016.
Truth: Among the “safeguards” of Clinton’s server were Secret Service members — but this is no safeguard at all where the Internet is concerned.
Further, Comey noted:
None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government — or even with a commercial service like Gmail.
Your Gmail account is more secure than Hillary’s personal e-mail.
Which is to say: Your Gmail account is more secure than Hillary’s personal e-mail.
There is some evidence of a possible breach. Comey said:
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. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.
Clinton’s “no evidence” claim is less of a bald lie than a concealment of strong possibility. She also failed to report several hacking attempts.
8. Lie: Clinton was never served a subpoena on her e-mail use.
Clinton said this in a CNN interview July 7, 2015.
Truth: The next day, July 8, the chair of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, Trey Gowdy, accused Clinton of lying about not receiving a subpoena.
Gowdy said in a statement: “The committee has issued several subpoenas, but I have not sought to make them public. I would not make this one public now, but after Secretary Clinton falsely claimed the committee did not subpoena her, I have no choice in order to correct the inaccuracy.”