Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign maintained Wednesday that she did not send or received marked classified information on her personal email server, even as the FBI begins looking into the security of the server she used as secretary of state.
The federal law enforcement agency has contacted an IT company that helped maintain Clinton's private server, as well as her personal lawyer, who has a copy of Clinton’s emails on a thumb drive, NBC News confirmed.
The FBI inquiry follows security referrals from two inspectors general alerting the Department of Justice that potentially classified information likely ended up on Clinton’s server, as The Washington Post first reported late Tuesday.
The FBI is for the moment only investigating the security of the system, presumably to see if any sensitive information could have been compromised. The agency is not investigating Clinton herself, who is not accused of any wrongdoing.
In response the inquiry, Clinton’s campaign is repeating the assertion that she neither sent nor received known classified information, a claim Clinton herself first made after the her private email server was made public in March.
“She did not send nor receive any emails that were marked classified at the time,” Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill said in a statement Wednesday. “We want to ensure that appropriate procedures are followed as these emails are reviewed while not unduly delaying the release of her emails. We want that to happen as quickly and as transparently as possible.”
It’s now apparent that Clinton likely did receive classified information, but the campaign and the State Department say it was not marked as such at the time. Critics of Clinton say she shouldn't have had sensitive information on her server, regardless of whether it was marked as classified or not.
Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, meanwhile downplayed the FBI inquiry as routine.
“Quite predictably, after the [Intelligence Community inspector general] made a referral to ensure that materials remain properly stored, the government is seeking assurance about the storage of those materials. We are actively cooperating,” he said in a statement.
The former secretary of state has said her system was never breached by hackers and noted that it was kept on property guarded by the Secret Service.
But according to the Post, Clinton’s server was at times maintained by political aides who didn’t have security clearance with extensive IT backgrounds, and the hardware was a hand-me-down from her 2008 presidential campaign.
Republicans are crying foul. “An FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's secret email isn’t some housekeeping measure that has nothing to do with the candidate; it’s the direct result of a reckless decision she made to undermine transparency laws, which has placed our national security at risk," said Republican National Committee press secretary Allison Moore.
Clinton is expected to testify before the House Select Committee on Benghazi in October, when she is likely to face tough questions about her server.