The FBI has begun a probe into whether foreign intelligence services compromised Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server during and after her tenure as secretary of state, according to U.S. intelligence and Congressional officials.
The damage assessment, which is part of the bureau’s investigation into whether the former secretary and her staff mishandled classified information, will hunt for digital traces of cyber-espionage by foreign governments. Even mundane and unclassified Clinton e-mails could provide important insights into the inner workings of the U.S. government and the actions of its top officials.
Clinton herself has dismissed the prospect that her e-mails were hacked. Speaking in March, she said the system used for the private e-mail “was set up for President Clinton’s office. And it had numerous safeguards. It was on property guarded by the Secret Service. And there were no security breaches.”
U.S. officials familiar with the probe tell us the FBI is not so sure. These sources say the damage assessment will be conducted by the FBI’s own spy hunters and cyber security experts. The FBI will not hand off the task to the National Counterintelligence & Security Center, the office inside the intelligence community that coordinates counter-intelligence activities. It is conducting the damage assessment of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s 2013 leak to journalists.
The FBI declined to comment for this column. Other officials told us the damage assessment of Clinton’s e-mail server would focus on how the data on the server was protected, whether traces of code that would suggest hacking programs show up in the forensic analysis of the physical server, and whether it is possible to reconstruct the logs of what machines accessed the server when Clinton was secretary of state.
SOURCE: Eli Lake & Josh Rogin