It was just last week, after the release of a scathing report from the State Department’s office of the inspector general, that Hillary Clinton’s top campaign spokesman was calling the watchdog’s integrity into question.
But Brian Fallon appears to be singing a different tune now, saying in an interview on Tuesday that Clinton’s decision to operate a private email system was “not wise” and acknowledging that one of the IG report’s most explosive findings has sparked feelings of regret for the Democratic presidential candidate.
On Friday, Fallon dismissed the OIG report, telling CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that “there were questions raised about [the office of the inspector general] during the course of its investigation.”
“There were reports about individuals in this office coming forward and suggesting that there were hints of an anti-Clinton bias inside that office.”
The OIG, which is led by Obama appointee Steven Linick, began its investigation of State Department email practices last year at the request of Sec. of State John Kerry. Kerry ordered the probe after the revelation that Clinton exclusively used a private email system for State Department business.
But perhaps recognizing that the OIG report would not be kind to Clinton, her campaign in recent months waged a subtle campaign to call the watchdog’s motives into question. One report called attention to two OIG officials, one of whom had worked on an investigation of a former Hillary Clinton fundraiser. The other official previously worked for Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
But the OIG’s new report, which was officially released last Thursday, shows no signs of anti-Clinton bias. Instead, it provides damning facts taken from email passages and statements from State Department staffers showing that Clinton skirted State Department regulations by operating her off-the-books system.
In one section, the report notes that members of the State Department’s diplomatic security section were not aware of Clinton’s email system. Not only that, had Clinton sought approval for the system, the diplomatic security officials would have rejected the idea because of its security risk.
The report also provided evidence showing that two hacking attempts were made on Clinton’s server. She did not notify the information technology section of the issue, though the IG report says she should have.
“This is just another reason why she agrees in retrospect that having this particular arrangement hosting her account was not wise, and if she could do it again she would do it differently,” Fallon told NPR’s Diane Rehm on Tuesday.
“Of course, from the IG report we now know that had it been personally reviewed by the individuals in the diplomatic security office they would have said ‘hey, you shouldn’t go forward with this.’ She respects that judgment and that’s why she has said that she regrets the decision,” Fallon added.