Unsecured Hillary Emails, Hackers Worry Senate Homeland Security Chairman

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Federal officials and Hillary Clinton’s lawyers may not be the only ones with copies of the former secretary of state’s official emails, according to Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Chairman Ron Johnson.

Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, told FBI Director James Comey in an August 17 letter that he is “deeply concerned by recent reports that classified information in Secretary Clinton’s email may exist outside of the federal government’s possession.”

The homeland committee chairman wants Comey to explain “whether additional unsecured copies of classified information currently exist.”

Johnson also said he is worried that hackers, foreign governments or other unauthorized persons may have hacked Clinton’s emails. He asked Comey for answers by Aug. 31.

“The very nature of this kind of material is that it’s transferable,” a congressional source familiar with the Senate investigation told The Daily Caller News Foundation Tuesday.

“There are a lot questions out there about whether additional copies or even hard copies were made elsewhere,” the source said.

TheDCNF reported Tuesday that the State Department has yet to provide the House Select Committee on Benghazi information on the chain of custody of Clinton’s email even though that material was first requested months ago.

The chain of custody is essential to determining whether Clinton, any of her government or campaign aides or other State Department officials violated federal law concerning the handling of classified documents in connection with her use of a email private server at her New York residence between 2009 and 2013.

Clinton surrendered the server to the FBI on Aug. 11, as well as three thumbnail flash drivers possessed by her attorney, David Kendall, who held them in a secure room at his law office of Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C.

During the same time, another “backup server” was picked up by the FBI from a “third party” IT company in New Jersey that was under contract to Platte River Networks, a small Colorado IT company that signed a contract to upgrade and maintain her personal server system in 2013. TheDCNF reported Friday that Platte River is not certified by the Department of Defense to handle classified material.

The Senate committee appears to be setting its sights on security at Clinton’s New York home, Kendall’s Washington office and the Platte River facilities.

Among 13 questions Johnson raised with Comey, one focused specifically on the troubling problem of hackers. Johnson asked Comey if there is forensic evidence that “Secretary Clinton’s personal email service may have been compromised by an unauthorized entity.”

The congressional source told TheDCNF there are also multiple questions about Kendall’s decision to print out 30,000 emails that were delivered to the State Department.

“When they [Williams & Connolly] delivered the hard copies to the State Department, did they keep copies for themselves?” asked the congressional source.

If many of Clinton’s email threads continued for two or more pages, his staff would have had to produce hundreds of thousands of pages.

Williams & Connolly is a medium size Washington, D.C. law firm, with 275 attorneys and associates.

The firm also has interns, secretaries, administrative assistants and summer associates to carry out non-legal tasks, including copying documents, but few, if any of them, are likely to possess security clearances required to copy emails containing classified information.

The Inspector General for the Intelligence Community confirmed that at least four emails out of a random review of 40 were classified. Two were classified as “Top Secret,” requiring special compartmented handling.

The State Department also reported to a federal judge Friday that about 300 emails were identified by intelligence officials to potentially contain classified information.

The results were part of a new State Department review of the entire batch of 30,000 emails that will be conducted only by intelligence officials.

Previously, the State Department reviewed the emails using only foreign service officers, many of whom were not aware of classification rules imposed by the intelligence community.

Platte River had at least one backup server in its possession, according to a company spokesman to TheDCNF. However, the Senate committee is also examining if Platte River made copies to mirror the backup.

The backup server delivered to the FBI reportedly was wiped clean without any emails.

“When the server was transferred from Hillary Clinton to Platte River in 2013, were copies or backups made then?” the congressional source asked.

The congressional source also said the FBI has been asked to report on their forensic examination of the servers and thumb drives to determine if they were the target of malware or “unauthorized intrusion.”

Alex McGeorge, the head of threat intelligence at the cybersecurity firm Immunity, Inc. told TheDCNF that Clinton’s servers would be “fairly enticing for any foreign intelligence operation.”

“If you examine the email of the Secretary of State in aggregate, then I think that would be fairly enticing for any major intelligence organization,” he told TheDCNF.

“You may not find the launch codes, but you’d get pretty good insight that would help you for military operations and negotiations,” McGeorge said.

A spokeswoman for the FBI declined to comment.

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