Clinton relents, gives up possession of private email server
Hillary Rodham Clinton has relented to months of demands that she relinquish the personal email server she used while secretary of state, directing the device be given to the Justice Department.
The decision announced Tuesday advances the investigation into the U.S. Democratic presidential front-runner’s use of a private email account as the nation’s top diplomat, and whether classified information was improperly sent via and stored on the home-brew email server she ran from her house in suburban New York City.
Clinton campaign spokesman Nick Merrill said she has “pledged to cooperate with the government’s security inquiry, and if there are more questions, we will continue to address them.”
It’s not clear if the device will yield any information — Clinton’s attorney said in March that no emails from the main personal address she used while secretary of state still “reside on the server or on back-up systems associated with the server.”
Clinton had to this point refused demands from Republican critics to turn over the server to a third party, with attorney David Kendall telling the House committee investigating the deadly 2012 attacks that killed four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, that “there is no basis to support the proposed third-party review of the server.”
The email controversy has proved a distraction to Clinton’s presidential campaign. Polls show her with a commanding lead over her Democratic presidential rivals. But the issue of her use of a personal email server has given Republicans an opportunity to rekindle questions about whether she is trustworthy and they hope that will weaken her as a potential candidate in the November 2016 election.
Republicans jumped on Tuesday’s decision to change course, as well as the additional disclosure that two emails that traversed Clinton’s personal system were subsequently given one of the government’s highest classification ratings.
“All this means is that Hillary Clinton, in the face of FBI scrutiny, has decided she has run out of options,” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “She knows she did something wrong and has run out of ways to cover it up.”
Federal investigators have begun looking into the security of Clintons’ email setup amid concerns from the inspector general for the intelligence community that classified information may have passed through the system.
There is no evidence she used encryption to shield the emails or her personal server from foreign intelligence services or other potentially prying eyes. Kendall has said previously that Clinton is “actively cooperating” with the FBI inquiry.