Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) downplayed the damage done by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s mis-handling of classified information on her private email server, as FBI director James Comey testified at the House Oversight Committee on Thursday.
Rep. Lieu asked the director to “do a little bit of math here. One percent of 30,000 emails would be 300 emails, is that right?” Comey replied, “I think that’s right.”
Lieu continued his line of questioning, noting that three emails were “one one hundredth of one percent of 30,000” and using words like “tiny” and “little” to describe a classified marking.
He did not ask whether missing such classification on an email was acceptable, but rather whether it was possible.
What Lieu did not acknowledge is Comey’s prior statement that “even if information is not marked ‘classified’ in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.”
Comey, later in the hearing, reiterated his finding that there was extreme carelessness in Clinton’s handling of classified information.
In addition, Comey was asked in questioning later in the hearing if lives could have been put at risk if Clinton’s server had been hacked. He stated that responding directly to that would require an explanation that he could not go into during the hearing, due to the sensitive nature of the classified information.
Comey did, however, say of a potential hack, “[T]here’s no doubt that it would have potentially exposed information that was classified, information that was classified because it could damage the United States of America.”
Comey had stated on Tuesday that while the FBI did not find direct evidence of the server being hacked, it might not have found such evidence anyway, due to the sophistication of adversaries that could have gained access to the server. The FBI director previously said, “we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal e-mail account.”
Lieu did not specifically address the great number of email communications on Clinton’s server that contained top secret information, whether marked or not.
Comey previously stated:
From the group of 30,000 e-mails returned to the State Department, 110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received. Eight of those chains contained information that was Top Secret at the time they were sent; 36 chains contained Secret information at the time; and eight contained Confidential information, which is the lowest level of classification. Separate from those, about 2,000 additional e-mails were “up-classified” to make them Confidential; the information in those had not been classified at the time the e-mails were sent.
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