The State Department sent a safe to Hillary Clinton’s lawyer in early July in an effort to ensure a thumb drive containing classified emails was being stored securely. The unusual move by State came to light Friday, more than a week after the drive itself was turned over to the Department of Justice.
McClatchy reports that evidence of classified information on Hillary’s personal email sever first turned up in May, earlier than previously known. A debate ensued between the Inspector General for the Intelligence Community and the State Department about whether the material, including copies of Hillary’s emails on a thumb drive kept by her attorney, were properly secured. It is not known what, if any, security precautions were taken between May and July, but in early July the State Department became concerned enough that it delivered a safe to Kendall’s office.
The State Department has previously mentioned that it had physically verified the security of the thumb drive in Kendall’s office, but never mentioned providing a safe. On July 30th, about a week after word of the thumb drive’s existence became public knowledge, a State Department spokesman told Politico, “We’ve provided the lawyers with instructions regarding appropriate measures for physically securing the documents and confirmed via a physical security expert that they are taking those measures.”
Nearly a week later, State spokesman Mark Toner again noted that State had sent a security expert to Kendall’s office. He told CBS News, “We simply cleared the site where they’re being held, made sure that it was a secure facility, and capable of holding what could be classified material.” Again, there was no mention of State providing a safe in which to keep the thumb drive.
Throughout this time the State Department has firmly denied that any material on Hillary’s server was classified at the time it was generated. But two Inspectors General–for State and for the Intelligence Community–have been equally firm in saying some of the emails were classified “when they were generated.”
State’s decision to deliver the safe to Kendall’s office in July could be seen in one of two ways: as an admission by the Agency that there is indeed classified material on the drive, despite what its spokespeople have said publicly, or as an effort by State to placate the Inspectors General.
Earlier this week, Senator Chuck Grassley published a letter from the Intelligence Community Inspector General which indicated that two emails in Hillary’s inbox had been judged to contain Top Secret information. Shortly afterwards, Hillary announced that she had agreed to turn over her email server, which had been wiped clean and was sitting in a data center in New Jersey.
McClatchy reports that the thumb drive in Kendall’s possession was actually turned over on August 6th, a day after stories indicated the FBI was seeking to verify the security of the drive. It’s not clear what prompted the decision to take the drive at that time or why the FBI waited another week to collect the server.
There is no word on whether the State Department has retrieved its safe from Kendall’s office.