It will look into whether information on Clinton’s private server was classified at the time it was sent or received. The Wall Street Journal calls this a “dramatic reversal,” since the State Department has consistently downplayed the issue. This investigation is in addition to the FBI investigation and other inquiries. It is also separate from the investigation being conducted by the State Department’s inspector general office. (The Wall Street Journal, 1/29/2016)
The pause happens some unknown time this month, due to the FBI’s investigation taking precedence. A State Department spokesperson says, “Law enforcement comes first,” and “We are prioritizing the law enforcement investigation.” (Bloomberg News, 4/1/2016) Note that this is different from the State Department inspector general’s investigation, which continues.
In January 2016, it was reported that the State Department had started its own investigation into Clinton’s email practices while Clinton was secretary of state. (This is separate from the State Department inspector general’s investigation, which concluded in late May 2016). However, this investigation was put on hold in March 2016 in deference to the FBI’s investigation. Now that the FBI finished its investigation on July 5, 2016, the State Department is resuming its own investigation.
Department spokesperson John Kirby announces the resumption, but he doesn’t reveal many details about it. He also sets no deadline for when it will be completed.
It is believed the investigation will consider administrative sanctions against Clinton and her aides. Although most of them are out of government, they could face some problematic penalties, such as the loss of security clearances, which could prevent future government employment. The investigation is likely looking into the past behavior of aides such as Cheryl Mills, Huma Abedin, and Jake Sullivan, as well as Clinton herself. (The Associated Press, 7/7/2016)
The BBC comments that this means “Hillary Clinton – and some of her most trusted senior advisors – will twist in the wind a while longer. The State Department’s renewed inquiry into possible mishandling of classified information in emails is not nearly as serious as the recently closed FBI criminal investigation, but it keeps the email server story alive for an indeterminate period of time.”
Clinton cannot lose her security clearance if she’s elected president in November 2016, but she could be prevented from including some of her most trusted aides into positions in her administration if they lose their security clearances. The State Department’s investigation also is likely to help keep the controversy alive at least through Election Day. (BBC, 7/7/2016)
Clinton is interviewed by CNN journalist Wolf Blitzer. The State Department suspended an investigation into Clinton’s email because the FBI investigation took precedence. Now that the FBI investigation has finished, the State investigation has resumed.
Blitzer asks Clinton, “Will you cooperate with this new State Department investigation? Because I know you didn’t cooperate with the inspector general of the State Department in his investigation.”
Clinton replies, “Well, there was a Justice Department [and FBI] investigation going on at the time. And, of course, I fully cooperated with that.”
Blitzer repeats the question multiple times, since that answer is a deflection, but Clinton still doesn’t give a clear answer.
This new State investigation is not run by State Department Inspector General Steve Linick, who ran the investigation mentioned by Blitzer. Not only did Clinton fail to cooperate with that investigation, but nine of her former top aides didn’t cooperate either. (McClatchy Newspapers, 7/8/2016)