The emails are back. Just when you thought the issue that engulfed much of the 2016 presidential election was gone, if not forgotten, State Department investigators are reviving it all and targeting current and former senior officials who sent emails to then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Overall, investigators have contacted as many as 130 officials in recent weeks to tell them emails they sent years earlier have been retroactively classified and their actions could add up to security violations, reports the Washington Post.
The officials, who range from senior officials who reported to Clinton to lower-level government employees whose emails got forwarded to the then-secretary of State, received letters in August saying, “You have been identified as possibly bearing some culpability” in “security incidents,” according to The Post. In pretty much all the cases, the letters had to do with emails that were sent to Clinton’s unsecure inbox. And so far at least there isn’t any evidence that these violations actually involved sensitive information.
The contacts to former officials began around 18 months ago but then were dropped, only to be revived again last month. State Department officials deny this has anyting to do with the White House. Yet for the targets of the revived probe, the whole effort appears to be just the latest example of how the Trump administration is using its power to target political rivals. Plus, many see it as particularly rich that an administration that has had “its own troubled record of handling classified material,” as the Post puts it, is going to such lengths with this issue.
A former senior US official told the Post the email investigation is an effort by Republicans “to keep the Clinton email issue alive” and “a way to tarnish a whole bunch of Democratic foreign policy people.” At the very least it seems like the issue is still very much in Trump’s mind. “I think that one of the great crimes committed is Hillary Clinton deleting 33,000 emails after Congress sends her a subpoena,” Trump said earlier this week alongside Ukraine’s president. “Think of that. You can’t even do that in a civil case; you can’t get rid of evidence like that.”
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