FBI Releases One Final Data Dump About Hillary Clinton’s Email Affair

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A few weeks ago the FBI released its final report on Hillary Clinton’s private email server. I commented on it here. But it turns out there’s more. A week ago the FBI released 250 additional pages of interview notes and reports. I had no idea. But Garrett Graff at Politico has read them all and written a lengthy recap of what they say. It’s well worth reading in full, but it fundamentally confirms my sense of the whole affair:

Together, the documents, technically known as Form 302s, depict less a sinister and carefully calculated effort to avoid transparency than a busy and uninterested executive who shows little comfort with even the basics of technology….Reading the FBI’s interviews, Clinton’s team hardly seems organized enough to mount any sort of sinister cover-up.

….Clinton’s staffers—harried as they were and pulled in multiple directions by seemingly daily world crises—seemed simply uninterested in the details of record-keeping, either for Freedom of Information Act purposes or for the Federal Records Act, which governs official papers. Nor did they appear particularly curious even about Clinton’s own email setup. Aides like Mills, Abedin and Sullivan all said that while they knew her email address, they didn’t understand the technology behind it and were “unaware of existence of private server until after Clinton’s tenure.”

On the subject of Clinton herself, Graff concludes that she was completely ignorant of anything related to tech. She didn’t have a desktop computer and had never used one. She wouldn’t upgrade from a BlackBerry to an iPhone. She never learned to use an iPad. She had trouble using a fax machine. She was only interested in reading things on paper. Literally, Clinton’s sole knowledge of the high-tech world was that her BlackBerry allowed her to send and receive email. As for how it did that, the internet might as well have been powered by a magical Hogwarts spell for all she knew.

Ditto on all the classified material that was allegedly put at risk on her BlackBerry. Pretty much everyone at State used personal devices and personal email accounts because the State email system was almost completely dysfunctional. Ever since the invention of email they’ve been well versed in talking around sensitive issues when they communicated on unclassified email systems. And the thousands of emails that were “retroactively” classified are mostly the result of a well-known and longstanding spat between State and the intelligence community about what truly counts as classified. Nearly everyone the FBI interviewed, even those hostile to Clinton, acknowledged that the State email system sucked and that the “classified” information in Clinton’s emails wasn’t really especially sensitive stuff.

Anyway, I think the email story has mostly died off, but Graff’s story is a good coda. It’s probably about as detailed a record as we’re likely to get. Definitely worth a read.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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