It’s not news that Hillary’s makeshift private email server was very likely hacked by China and other foreign powers while she was Secretary of State. That was revealed about a year ago. But the curious indifference of FBI officials when they were told about it in late 2015 or early 2016 --- that IS news.
The strategy of both the State Department and the FBI apparently was to play it all down. According to a new report from FOX News’ Gregg Re, Senate investigators allege that State Department officials sought to “downgrade classified material found on the server.” The senators conveyed this assertion in a letter, along with evidence in the form of interview transcripts, to Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley.
Now, class, why would the State Department try to lower the classification of Hillary’s emails? (I see all the hands are going up. What a smart class.) Yes, at that time, Hillary was all-in as the anointed Democrat candidate for President. She and the DNC had already decided this, long before. She was going to be the next President of the United States. We’ve already seen the lengths then-FBI Director James Comey went to in order to “save” her; here we see that the State Department was getting into the act. They had to make Hillary’s transgressions look less serious than they were.
In August of 2018, a couple of news articles --- the first in The Daily Caller, and a later one from FOX News --- triggered the Senate investigation. According to the letter to Grassley, the articles “alleged that a Chinese state-owned company hacked former Secretary Clinton’s non-governmental server and inserted code that forwarded nearly all of her emails to the foreign company.” According to a source for FOX News, this company was a front for Chinese intelligence. The source said that the office of inspector general for the intelligence community was so alarmed by this discovery that two officials drove over to inform FBI agents, including Peter Strzok, in person.
One of those IG officials, Frank Rucker, later told Senate investigators that Strzok seemed “aloof and dismissive” and didn’t ask many questions during the hour-long meeting. At that time, Strzok was the deputy assistant of the FBI’s counterintelligence division in charge of the Clinton investigation. (Excuse me, “investigation.”)
The other IG official, Jeanette McMillian, referred to FBI officials as “poker-faced.” Under normal circumstances, one would think they’d be horrified at the thought of China, our most powerful adversary, hacking the emails of the U.S. Secretary of State. Holy cow.
Rucker was the one who had identified an email address in Hillary’s email metadata as a potential “live dropbox” for all her emails, offering a foreign actor easy access. Simply Googling that address turned up a Chinese company called “Shandong Carter Heavy Industry Machinery.” It was later determined, in April of this year, that this address matched a “dummy” address used by Hillary’s IT aide Paul Combetta to create backups of her emails. Peter Strzok, in an email from May of 2016, said: “we know foreign actors obtained access” to some of Hillary’s emails, including at least one “secret” message “via compromises of the private email accounts” of her staffers. (I wonder what compromises he was talking about; at that time, we had yet to learn about Anthony Weiner’s laptop.)
Interestingly, the FBI made it clear that the IG officials would be providing information to them about Hillary’s server, but not the other way around. Apparently, they were keeping their own activities close to the vest.
McMillian told the Senate investigators that State Department officials initially fought back against the intelligence community being involved, but that they eventually relented. She told them that two State Department officials tried to shield some of Hillary’s emails from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act by using the “deliberative process” exemption, rather than saying they were classified.
One of those employees, Austin Evers, has since joined other former Obama administration officials in forming an organization called American Oversight, which, according to the FOX News report, is “dedicated to uncovering ethics issues in the Trump administration.
It appears that while he was in the Obama State Department, Evers was dedicated to covering up ethics issues for Hillary.
Rucker told the Senate investigators that then-Ambassador Patrick Kennedy questioned whether certain emails should be provided to the intelligence community and fought against classifying other emails. (Again, the more emails deemed “classified,” the more serious Hillary’s breach of protocol would be, and State Department officials were obviously determined to cut her as much slack as they could.) This is consistent with some “302” interview notes released in 2016, which allege that Kennedy pressured underlings to change classified email codes so they would be kept from Congress --- and from us.
FOX News first heard about what Kennedy was doing to protect Hillary as far back as August of 2015, though Kennedy denied allegations of classified code tampering in a December 2015 FBI interview. Jason Chaffetz, who was then chairman of the House Oversight Committee, alleged that the FBI discussed with the State Department the possibility of getting more FBI slots for missions overseas in exchange for downgrading the classification of some of the Hillary emails. The FBI has since issued a lengthy statement denying there was any such exchange.
So it seems there were people at the State Department working overtime to protect Hillary, but I don’t know why they felt they had to go to so much trouble. Didn’t they know the FBI, under the control of then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who was under the control of President Obama, was also working overtime to protect her? Didn’t they know Hillary would get a pass from the Justice Department for whatever she had done, even if anybody else –- aside from her aides, of course, who got fabulous immunity deals –- would have been indicted?
Didn’t they know the fix was in?