Clinton's Private Email Server Was Briefly Locked Down in 2011

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton

Newly released emails from Hillary Clinton’s time as Secretary of State show that technicians temporarily suspended traffic from the server to avoid penetration by hackers.

The documents were obtained by the conservative legal group Judicial Watch through a court order as part of its Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking records about the unusual special government employee status of Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin.

The documents, as reported by the Associated Press, include emails mentioned by the State Department inspector general’s office in its May report highly critical of the way Clinton’s email arrangement was set up and monitored.

In 2010, Abedin and Clinton, who both used Clinton’s private server, had complained that emails each sent to State Department employees were not being reliably received, AP said. There was a fear of attempts at phishing. A senior technical official named Ken LaVolpe emailed State information technology employees on Dec. 17, 2010, to say that “This should trump all other activities.” Another senior State official, Thomas Lawrence, wrote days later in an email that deputy chief of staff Abedin personally was asking for an update about repairs.

After technical staffers turned off some security features, Lawrence cautioned in an email, “We view this as a Band-Aid and fear it’s not 100 percent fully effective.”

On Jan. 9, 2011, the non-Departmental adviser Justin Cooper notified Clinton’s deputy chief of staff for operations that he had to shut down the server because he believed “someone was trying to hack us and while they did not get in i didnt [sic] want to let them have the chance to.” Later that day, the adviser added, “We were attacked again so I shut [the server] down for a few min.”

On Jan. 10, 2011, the deputy chief of staff for operations emailed the chief of staff and the deputy chief of staff for planning and instructed them not to email the secretary “anything sensitive” and stated that she could “explain more in person.”

State Department John Kirby on Wednesday said the episode involved “a series of troubleshooting measures to the department’s system -- not Secretary Clinton’s system -- to attempt to remedy the problem,” AP wrote.

Judicial Watch, which obtained the records under a June 14 court order by District Judge Emmet Sullivan, considers the documents further indication that Clinton was shielding some emails from reach of FOIA requesters. Abedin had emailed Clinton saying that “we should talk about putting you on state email or releasing your email address to the department so you are not going to spam,” the group noted in a statement. Clinton replied, “Let’s get separate address or device but I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.”

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton said: “The new Hillary Clinton email records show she had zero interest in disclosing her emails to the public as the law requires. And the emails show the Obama State Department gave special accommodations to Clinton’s email system, which the agency knew was unsecure, was likely hacked, and was not transparent under FOIA.”

The FBI, according to news reports, is winding down its much anticipated investigation into whether Clinton’s email arrangement—which has troubled her presidential campaign—put classified material at risk.

A spokesman for the State IG’s office declined to comment on the Judicial Watch documents.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec