Two top Hillary Clinton aides have given a federal judge assurances that they won’t delete emails related to their work during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.
A lawyer for Clinton, meanwhile, confirmed that the private server that housed Clinton’s emails from 2009 to 2013 was turned over Wednesday to the Justice Department. Colorado-based Platte River Networks had kept the server “in an appropriately secure manner” before turning it over, Clinton lawyer David Kendall said.
The moves come as Clinton attempts to blunt an expanding probe into her use of a personal email account on a private server during her tenure as America’s top diplomat – and take ammunition away from Republicans who have attacked her as untrustworthy during the first five months of her bid for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
Lawyers for Cheryl Mills, who was Clinton’s State Department chief of staff, and Huma Abedin, another top aide, told the State Department on Wednesday that they will follow U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan’s directive that they not delete federal records – which primarily means emails – in their possession.
Sullivan’s order that Mills and Abedin not delete their State Department emails came after the group Judicial Watch grew concerned that Mills planned to delete her emails after producing her work-related documents.
The State Department filed a status report Wednesday confirming that the two aides’ lawyers said they’ll keep their old emails and other records.
Mills attorney Beth Wilkinson said that Mills had only planned to delete her emails because the State Department had asked her to – but, per the judge’s directive, will now keep them.
“We ask you to clarify with Judge Sullivan that it was the State Department that asked for the return of all copies of potential federal records in Ms. Mills’ possession; and going forward it will be the State Department’s responsibility to secure permission from Judge Sullivan to remove any copies of such emails from Ms. Mills’ email account,” Wilkinson wrote to the State Department.
Abedin’s attorney told the department in an email that she, too, won’t erase her old email.
“We want to confirm for the Department that in accordance with your request, Ms. Abedin will not delete any potential federal records in her possession,” Abedin lawyer Miguel Rodriguez wrote.
The FBI took possession of Hillary Clinton’s former email server Wednesday afternoon from Platte River Networks’ data center in New Jersey, according to an attorney representing the company that Clinton used to managed her private email system.
Platte River Networks provided its services beginning in mid-2013, Barbara Wells, the company’s lawyer, said. She declined to comment on whether the company still counts Clinton as a client.
The server no longer contains data, Wells said, since thousands Clinton emails were removed and turned over to the State Department. The Washington Post first reported Thursday that the server was turned over.
A law enforcement official confirmed the FBI now has the server and will begin its examination.
The FBI didn’t use a subpoena to obtain the server, another official said. The Clinton campaign willingly provided it at the FBI’s request.
Even though the server has been wiped of data, FBI officials are confident that technology specialists will be able to recover information from it.
Inspectors general of the intelligence community and the State Department requested the FBI review the security handling of the Clinton emails after uncovering that some emails stored on the private server contained classified information, including some now considered top secret.
The inspectors general didn’t specify what type of classified data was on the emails. A U.S. official said a broad range of classified information could be involved. The range extends from sensitive State Department information to forwarded emails from aides with news stories based on top secret documents released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Even published material can still be considered classified.
The FBI sought possession of the server because it already determined that it wasn’t appropriate for the private company to hold on to a server that may have classified information.
The FBI is conducting an assessment, a preliminary type of investigation to determine what steps to take next.
The examination of the server, along with thumb drives containing emails Clinton has turned over, is expected to take months, law enforcement officials said.
Among the issues investigators are looking at: who sent emails, what classified information was in the emails and whether the server was properly secured while in use.
CNN’s Ariane de Vogue contributed to this report.