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FBI Releases New Documents Related To Clinton Email Probe


We have more details today on Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was secretary of state. After many Freedom of Information Act requests, the FBI has released notes from its investigation into whether Clinton mishandled classified information. They included a summary of an interview Clinton had with investigators. NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson is in the studio with us to talk about this. Hi there.


SHAPIRO: About 60 pages of records released today. What's new in them?

JOHNSON: For the first time, we get a sense of what Hillary Clinton told the FBI in that three-and-a-half-hour interview back in July. She said she used her server as a matter of convenience. She relied on aides and career foreign service officers to know the rules about classifying information, and she didn't remember attending briefings about complying with open records laws. In essence, she told the FBI again and again she just did her best.

SHAPIRO: The Justice Department closed this case without charging Hillary Clinton, but the FBI director has called her extremely careless with government secrets. Are there damaging details in these documents?

JOHNSON: The FBI said there's no evidence hackers or foreign governments broke into Clinton's email server, but that's in part because investigators couldn't get all her equipment and all of the many BlackBerries she used. The FBI appeared to find, though, lots of instances where Clinton or her close aides were thoughtless at best, including an email that Hillary Clinton sent to President Obama while she was in Russia, Ari, although she told the FBI she must have sent it from her, and lots of emails about the targeted-killing drone program, including debates within the government about whether to attack certain people overseas - very, very sensitive stuff there.

SHAPIRO: What have we heard today from the Clinton campaign about this?

JOHNSON: Her press secretary, Brian Fallon, says that her use of an email account was a mistake, and she's taken responsibility for it. But he also said these materials make clear why the Justice Department believed there was no criminal case to prosecute in the first place. I should add, though, many Democrats and former Justice Department officials are outraged this material has become public in the first place. They say it sets a dangerous precedent. And one of them emailed me this afternoon saying, you know how many political careers the Justice Department could sink if it released information from declined cases? Where does this stop?

SHAPIRO: Declined cases meaning where they did not prosecute. Well, Republicans are using Clinton's email practices to argue that she's not trustworthy. I guess that won't end with this latest release.

JOHNSON: Played right into Donald Trump's arguments. A spokesman for Trump says these new documents reinforce their argument about Hillary Clinton's bad judgment and dishonesty. He called it an end run around government transparency and says Clinton may have jeopardized national security. And in a rare instance, House speaker Paul Ryan actually agreed with the Trump campaign here. He says he still doesn't understand why the Justice Department refused to prosecute Clinton. He wants to yank her security clearance moving forward.

SHAPIRO: Is this the last chapter of the story?

JOHNSON: No way, Ari. We've still got 15,000 emails coming out from the FBI that the FBI recovered from Clinton's personal server before the election.

SHAPIRO: That's NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson. Thank you, as always, Carrie.

JOHNSON: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Carrie Johnson is a justice correspondent for the Washington Desk.