Hillary Clinton interviewed by FBI over classified email scandal probe – campaign spokesman
“Secretary Clinton gave a voluntary interview this morning about her email arrangement while she was Secretary. She is pleased to have had the opportunity to assist the Department of Justice in bringing this review to a conclusion,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said after a three and a half hour interview.
“Out of respect for the investigative process, [Clinton] will not comment further on her interview,” Merrill added.
Clinton was interviewed at FBI Headquarters in Washington DC.
Clinton was up for questioning after evidence emerged in March 2015 that, while performing the duties of Secretary of State, she had been using a personal, unsecured email server installed in her New York home. The FBI is investigating whether anyone in Clinton's operation mishandled classified information due to it not being properly protected at the time. Several of Clinton's staff members have already been interrogated over the case, as well as her top aide Huma Abedin.
Clinton released some 30,000 emails from her time as Secretary of State, with 2,028 of them containing confidential information. The use of an external, personal server violated the Federal Records Act which sets out “recordkeeping requirements,” but the investigation is yet to determine whether the presidential candidate should be indicted on criminal charges.
Despite criminal prosecution being unlikely, the ongoing investigation poses a major risk for Democrats only four weeks away from formally nominating the party's presidential candidate.
Republican lawmakers have repeatedly called for an independent investigation into the case, saying that they do not trust the impartiality of the Justice Department in dealing with the case. Donald Trump, the Republican Party's nominee, repeatedly pushed the email scandal issue, stressing that the probe undermines Clinton's bid for office. Nicknaming her “Crooked Hillary,” Trump said she cannot be trusted with the post. Clinton, however, still holds a nine-point lead over Trump, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Friday.
In a Twitter post David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, commented on the timing of the FBI interview and said that Clinton would be better off to “put it behind her” at this point, with the upcoming nomination. He used to serve as the chief strategist for two of Obama’s presidential campaigns.
Timing of FBI interview, between primaries and convention, probably good timing for @HillaryClinton. Best to get it behind her.— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) July 2, 2016
The email scandal “cast a shadow” over Clinton’s campaign, with a report by the US State Department inspector general in May criticizing “systemic weaknesses” found in the cybersecurity in Clinton's office.
The questioning came just a day after Attorney General Loretta Lynch, under scrutiny for a private meeting with Bill Clinton on her plane in Phoenix earlier this week, said she is stepping away from deciding whether Hillary Clinton will be indicted in the classified email investigation. America’s top law officer, Lynch usually oversees FBI investigations and makes decisions over indictments. This time however she said that she intended to accept the findings and recommendations of the prosecutors who have spent months investigating the case.
“This case will be resolved by the team that has been working on it from the beginning,” Lynch added. “Supervisors always review matters, in this case the review will be career people in the DOJ, and also the FBI will review it, up to and including the FBI director, and that will be the finalization of not just the factual findings, but the next steps in this matter,” Lynch told Washington Post columnist Jonathan Capehart on Friday.