Over the past two months, the FBI turned over to the State Department seven DVDs containing emails and other material retrieved from Hillary Clinton’s private, unsecured email servers. At least one of those DVDs contained communications that were deemed to be classified.
A Justice Department attorney made the disclosure during a hearing Wednesday in US District Court in Washington, DC, part of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit VICE News filed against the FBI for a wide range of records the bureau recovered from Clinton’s server.
During the 45-minute hearing, DOJ attorney Jennie Kneedler said the FBI sent the State Department two DVDs on July 21: one containing 14,900 documents, and the other containing an unknown number of classified records. It’s unclear whether any of those classified documents are the same communications that have already been identified and reviewed by the State Department, or if they’re an entirely new batch of records. Attorney Ryan James, who is representing VICE News, said Kneedler did not further elaborate.
On Tuesday, the State Department said that about 30 of the deleted emails on the DVDs were related to the attacks at the US diplomatic mission at Benghazi, Libya. That info was disclosed in a near identical FOIA lawsuit filed against the State Department by the public interest group Judicial Watch, whose FOIA lawsuit against the State Department was also where details were first disclosed about the 14,900 deleted emails recovered by the FBI. VICE News and Judicial Watch will obtain the deleted emails from State simultaneously. The FBI is responsible for ensuring that State processes and releases the records to VICE News, Moss said.
On August 5, the FBI sent five more DVDs to the State Department. One of the DVDs, the FBI believes, contains some or all of the 30,000 emails that Clinton’s aides turned over to the State Department in late 2014. It’s unknown what types of records are on the other four DVDs, but US District Court Judge Randolph Moss ordered the government attorneys to disclose that information and provide a timetable for the release of the records by September 23.
The FBI spent a year probing Clinton’s use of a private email server, which stemmed from a so-called “Section 811” referral from the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General (ICIG). The ICIG determined that classified national security information in Clinton’s emails may have been “compromised” and shared with “a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power.”Though FBI Director James Comey called Clinton and her aides “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” he recommended that no one be charged. The FBI officially closed its investigation July 5.