At Wednesday’s presidential debate presented by CNN and Univision, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton attempted to downplay the seriousness of an ongoing Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into what the FBI called “matters related to former Secretary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server” when she served as Secretary of State.
Debate moderator Jorge Ramos asked Clinton who gave her permission to use private email servers to send 104 emails “that the government now says contain classified information according to The Washington Post analysis,” noting that Clinton had sent a memo to State Department employees requiring them to use official email due to security concerns.
“It wasn’t the best choice. I made a mistake. It was not prohibited. It was not in any way disallowed. And as I have said and as now has come out, my predecessors did the same thing and many other people in the government. But here’s the cut to the chase facts. I did not send or receive any emails marked classified at the time. What you are talking about is retroactive classification. And the reason that happens is when somebody asks or when you are asked to make information public, I asked all my emails to be made public. Then all the rest of the government gets to weigh in,” claimed Clinton in reply.
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She added, “And some other parts of the government, we’re not exactly sure who, has concluded that some of the emails should be now retroactively classified. They’ve just said the same thing to former Secretary Colin Powell. They have said, we’re going to retroactively classify emails you sent personally. … Now I think he was right when he said this is an absurdity. And I think that what we have got here is a case of overclassification. … There was no permission to be asked. It had been done by my predecessors. It was permitted.”
Ramos then pressed Clinton to answer whether she would drop out if she is indicted over the scandal, prompting her to retort, “Oh, for goodness — that’s not going to happen. I’m not even answering that question.”
Meanwhile, Politico is reporting that U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch criticized White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Wednesday for suggesting that Hillary Clinton is not likely to be indicted as a part of the FBI investigation.
“Certainly, it’s my hope when it comes to ongoing investigations, that we would all stay silent. … It is true that neither I nor anyone in the department has briefed Mr. Earnest or anyone in the White House about this matter. I’m simply not aware of the source of his information,” said Lynch.
Earnest subsequently walked back his comments on whether Clinton might be indicted and said, “My comments from that briefing were rooted specifically and entirely on public comments as reported by all of you. … I was making a very specific statement based on what I had read in a wide variety of media accounts. And that is in no way predicated on any secret conversations that I’ve had with the Department of Justice, because I haven’t had any secret conversations with the Department of Justice.”
Retired Defense Intelligence Agency chief Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was appointed by and served under President Obama, urged Clinton to drop out of the race and told CNN, “If it were me, I would have been out the door and probably in jail.”
He added, “This over-classification excuse is not an excuse. If it’s classified, it’s classified.”
[RELATED: DoJ Grants Immunity to Clinton Staffer Behind Private Email Setup]
Department of State staffer Bryan Pagliano, who worked on Clinton’s private email server, was granted immunity last week in exchange for giving testimony on the matter.
CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos said, commenting on the implications of a Clinton subordinate being granted immunity, “The big question is whether there is a grand jury convened. The smart bet is yes. After all, the fact that there are immunity agreements logically means there’s a grand jury investigation in some district. The grand jury is typically the genesis of the government’s subpoena power. The next, bigger question, is whether anyone will be indicted.”
He added, “The person who often has to worry the most during this process is the person who hasn’t been approached at all by the government. That’s a chilling indicator that you may be the target.”
Hillary Clinton specifically said on Monday, according to The Hill, that it is true that neither she nor her lawyers have been told that she is the target of an FBI investigation.
Former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia Joseph E. diGenova told The Daily Caller on Wednesday that he believes that the FBI is also investigating the Clinton Foundation. “The Bureau has between 100 and 150 agents assigned to the case. They would not have that many people assigned to a classified information case. Based on reports that agents are asking questions about the foundation, it seems to me it is the subject of a second prong of the investigation,” he said.
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