President Donald Trump returned to one of his favorite foils early Tuesday morning, tweeting out a report of the latest twist in the Hillary Clinton email saga.
“Wow! The State Department said it has identified 30 Security Incidents involving current or former employees and their handling of Crooked Hillary Clinton’s Emails. This is really big,” Trump said. “Never admitted before. Highly Classified Material. Will the Dems investigate this?”
Facts First: It is true that the State Department recently told Congress about 30 incidents it had found as part of an ongoing security review, but the information is not entirely new, and there’s no telling how egregious those lapses were. There was no mention of “highly classified material” in a letter the agency sent to a senior Republican senator earlier this month.
In the letter to Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who led a congressional oversight inquiry into the email scandal, State Department Assistant Secretary Mary Elizabeth Taylor wrote that investigators have so far issued 23 violations and seven infractions for the security incidents as part of the internal security review of the mishandling of classified information in emails traded on Clinton’s private server when she was secretary of state.
The review began after the FBI recommended against criminal charges in the case in the summer of 2016 and is expected to wrap up by September, Taylor said.
Fifteen current or former employees who violated security protocols in connection with the emails have been identified, Taylor wrote, though she did not name them, citing long-standing policy.
The FBI has previously said that of the 30,000 emails Clinton provided to the State Department from her server back in 2014, 110 contained classified information at the time they were sent or received. Of those, eight of the email chains contained information classified as “top secret” at the time they were sent or received and 36 chains contained “secret” information.
In the Grassley letter, which the senator’s office released publicly on Monday, Taylor said emails received by the State Department “more recently” may change previous findings about past classification determinations.
Taylor did not describe the security violations that had been found or the cases where investigators had reversed a determination, but she gave an example of one possible such case: “For example, if in the course of the review, the panel discovers that a particular ‘classified’ fact had been published in a foreign newspaper on the day of an email and that the emails about that fact had been sourced from that information, it may change the prior adjudication.”
Taylor also noted that the total number of violations and infractions (30 issued so far) would “likely change as the review progresses.”
Individuals who were found to have made a security violation or three or more infractions had the incident marked on a personnel file that could impact their future security clearance designation, and current employees could face HR consequences, Taylor wrote.
The fact that probes into Clinton’s email practices were still making news in 2019 was not lost on Taylor.
“The Department agrees that this review process has been lengthy,” she wrote. “Given the volume of emails provided to the Department from former Secretary Clinton’s private email server, the Department’s process has been necessarily more complicated and complex requiring a significant dedication of time and resources.”