Last week, the FBI announced Romanian computer hacker Marcel Lazar nicknamed “Guccifer” had been extradited to Alexandria, Virginia on charges he had hacked into former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton’s private email server, as well as that of her confidant Sydney Blumenthal.
Guccifer claimed in an interview that he accessed Clinton’s server at “least twice.”
However in an interview on MSNBC, Mrs. Clinton denied the Romanian hacker compromised her email and told Andrea Mitchell that the FBI has not contacted her regarding the alleged improprieties. Although, Guccifer told Fox News that at least 10 other entities had successfully hacked the non-encrypted server Clinton kept at her New York home, outside the reach of the State Department.
“Guccifer” claims that he broke into the firstname.lastname@example.org email as well as other Clinton allies’ accounts, which may provide a hiccup for Mrs. Clinton and her quest for the White House as the trial is set for September in Alexandria, Virginia (read the indictment link here).
While neither the defendant nor the US courts have released evidence supporting Guccifer’s claims, he was transferred into US custody from a Romanian jail where he was serving time for other computer hacking crimes. Security experts as well as former federal agents say it’s completely feasible that he breeched the email server and that the US government would not go through the arduous task and expense of an extradition if there was no probable cause of a crime.
Nevertheless, Clinton’s Press Secretary Brian Fallon told reporters that Guccifer’s claims are baseless and Clinton has nothing to hide. “There is absolutely no basis to believe the claims made by this criminal from his prison cell. In addition to the fact that he offers no proof to support his claims, his descriptions of Secretary Clinton’s server are inaccurate. It is unfathomable that he would have gained access to her emails and not leaked them the way he did to his other victims.”
Curiously, Mrs. Clinton deleted more than 30,000 pages from the server she claimed were related to planning Chelsea’s wedding and her yoga routines and turned-over the remaining pages and the subpoenaed server to the FBI. The FBI has reportedly been able to recover some of the deleted material.
It is unknown whether the FBI will be as successful with the new revelation from the State Department that emails are missing from Mrs. Clinton’s senior IT staffer, Bryan Pagliano for his entire tenure at State.
Is it déjà vu that in the Whitewater investigation the subpoenaed billing records of the Rose Law Firm where Mrs. Clinton handled Madison Guaranty matters just disappeared and then miraculously reappeared in the President’s private residence at the White House after the Whitewater investigation concluded? Or that White House staffers reportedly removed Vince Foster’s files from his office at the White House after his suicide and before the police could secure the possible crime scene?
Coincidence or pattern of conduct? The New York Times reported in 1996 that “… the (Whitewater) investigators who wrote the report have said their examination had been hampered by their inability to find the Rose firm billing records. Congressional and Federal investigators had been searching in vain for the billing records in an effort to reconstruct Mrs. Clinton’s role in representing Madison in 1985 and 1986, as the savings and loan was coming under greater financial strain and fearing an upcoming Federal examination. Government examiners found that the savings and loan, which failed in 1989 at a cost to taxpayers of more than $60 million, was riddled with corruption.”
So, in an effort to control the PR damage, the Clinton campaign deployed her husband, former President Bill Clinton, to defend the allegations. According to Reason Magazine; “The espionage allegations against her are that in order to escape public and Obama administration scrutiny, she had all of her emails as Secretary of State diverted from a secure government server to a non-secure server in her home in Chappaqua, New York, and, in so doing, failed to protect state secrets in at least 2,200 instances during her four-year tenure.”
The former President’s press relation’s tour offered a new spin on email-gate. He claimed that it is nothing more than a speeding ticket. “The essence of her husband’s defense is that the secrets were not secrets when she saw them and the investigation of her is all ‘a game.’ He argued that prosecuting his wife over her emails is akin to prosecuting someone for driving a car in a 50 mile-per-hour zone at 40 mph because the police have arbitrarily and without notice changed the speed limit to 35 mph.”
But the timing could not be worse for Mrs. Clinton who contends she never received nor transmitted information marked as classified on her non-secure private email server. Nevertheless Pandora’s box has already been opened and the FBI has questioned her senior staff and a request for her deposition is reportedly pending.
So far, 22 emails have been completely withheld because the information is so “Top Secret,” and if redacted versions were disclosed they would trigger “exceptionally grave damage to the national security,” according to the State Department. Her adversaries say the skirmishes swirling around Mrs. Clinton’s emails reflect poor decision making by Mrs. Clinton’s top aides that could cost her the Oval Office.
During a Democrat debate in New Hampshire, Mrs. Clinton was asked if this scandal as well as the impending FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation would hurt her presidential run.
“I think the American people will know it’s an absurdity. I have absolutely no concerns about it whatsoever. I am 100 percent confident this is a security review that was requested that is being carried out and it will be resolved.”
Sources familiar with the ongoing investigation claim there are well over 100 agents tracking down leads in an effort to unearth the fallout from such a reckless handling of state secrets. Meanwhile Democrat supporters are left scratching their heads wondering why Mrs. Clinton, a political veteran, would jeopardize her career by keeping a separate email server in her Chappaqua New York home in the first place. Both these questions remain unanswered, but both could effectively eliminate the former first lady from returning to the White House as the first female president.
Staunch Clinton supporter Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), ranking member on the House Intelligence Committee, downplayed the seriousness of the emails.
“The determination that something is top secret, for many people connotes that these are the most closely held secrets, that their revelation would be extremely damaging. There are potentially programs that are talked about all the time in the press that fit within that category.”
But how easy was it for capable hackers to access the private server? “It was like an open orchid on the Internet,” Guccifer told NBC News.
Matthew Whitaker, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, told the Free Beacon that the hacker’s accusations would “confirm what most people have believed to be true, which was that this email server was not secured like you would expect it to be. That it was opened and had been looked at by at least people who don’t have American interests at heart.” Also, most security experts agree that the claims the Romanian hacker is making are easily proved by looking at Mrs. Clinton’s private server in the FBI’s procession.
The September trial will likely produce a public and political spectacle. Additionally, on Wednesday a federal judge’s order suggested Mrs. Clinton might have to testify in a lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch related to the private email server that she stored in her New York home, presumably free from the FOIA process.
In February, this reporter requested from the State Department under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request all emails between the Chief Information Officer or Classified Systems Officer disclosing all communications between CIO/CSO to/from the office of the secretary of state with regard to use of a non-government blackberry or cellular phone or email. The State Department responded to the FOIA as follows, “After consideration of your request for expedited processing under the Department’s rules governing Freedom of Information Act requests, we have determined that your request does warrant expedited processing.”
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