Clinton Aides Told FBI They Didn’t Know About Server, But Emails Suggest Otherwise

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Chuck Ross Investigative Reporter
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Several Hillary Clinton State Department aides told the FBI that they were unaware of the former secretary of state’s private email server, a report from the bureau’s investigation shows. But a Daily Caller review of public documents reveals that at least two of the aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, were involved in multiple email exchanges in which Clinton’s server was discussed.

The FBI’s 47-page report, released on Friday, states that the majority of the State Department employees interviewed by the FBI “had no knowledge” of the private email server Clinton kept at her residence in Chappaqua, N.Y.

“Clinton’s immediate aides, to include Mills, Abedin, Jacob Sullivan, and [redacted] told the FBI they were unaware of the existence of the private server until after Clinton’s tenure at State or when it became public knowledge.”

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Passage from FBI report on Clinton email investigation.

The FBI did not release notes from the interviews, so the full context of the aides’ statements about the server is unclear. It could be that they claimed they were aware of Clinton’s server but not that it was located at her house in New York. The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment and additional detail.

But in depositions given to the watchdog group Judicial Watch, both Abedin and Mills vaguely denied learning about the server at all until they left office with Clinton in Feb. 2013.

Clinton aide Abedin meets House Select Committee on Benghazi in Washington REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

Clinton aide Abedin meets House Select Committee on Benghazi in Washington. (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

Three email exchanges that have surfaced in recent months — two of which were released after the FBI interviewed both Abedin and Mills — call the claims into question and raise the possibility that they misled the FBI.

Server discussions

In one Feb. 27, 2010 email provided to Judicial Watch in June, Mills, who served as Clinton’s chief of staff, explicitly mentioned the email server. She was also informed about how the hardware was configured.

“hrc email coming back — is server okay?” Mills asked in an email to Abedin, who was Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, and Justin Cooper, the Bill Clinton aide who helped set up the Clinton server at the Chappaqua residence. Mills sent the message after an email she sent had bounced back as undeliverable.

“Ur funny. We are on the same server,” Cooper told Mills and Abedin.

The Clinton email server, which Cooper set up along with Bryan Pagliano, a State Department IT specialist, maintained accounts for both the domain and one set up for Bill Clinton’s staff.

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Feb. 27, 2010 email exchange (Judicial Watch)

Abedin and Mills were involved in other discussions the next year in which Clinton’s server was mentioned and discussed.

On Jan. 9, 2011, Cooper sent Abedin an email mentioning that he “had to shut down the server.”

“Someone was trying to hack us,” he said.

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Jan. 9, 2011 email exchange (Judicial Watch)

Both of those email exchanges were cited in a State Department inspector general’s report released on May 25. They were obtained and released by Judicial Watch in June.

Abedin and Mills had both been interviewed by the FBI by the time the IG report was released — Abedin on April 5 and Mills on April 9. Both declined to talk to State’s IG. Clinton refused to cooperate with the internal watchdog as well.

Abedin and Mills were involved in a third email thread on which the server was mentioned.

On Aug. 30, 2011, State Department Executive Secretary Stephen Mull emailed Mills, Abedin, Clinton aide Monica Hanley, and State Department undersecretary for management Patrick Kennedy, informing them that he was “working to provide [Clinton] per her request a Department issued Blackberry to replace her personal unit which is malfunctioning.”

In the email, which TheDC obtained through a lawsuit and released in January, Mull stated that Clinton’s device was malfunctioning “possibly because of [sic] her personal email server is down.” (RELATED: Emails: Clinton Aides Resisted State Dept. Suggestion That Clinton Use Account)

Abedin responded to the email, and voiced her opposition to providing Clinton a government BlackBerry, saying that the idea “doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”

Clinton never did use a government BlackBerry, a decision which put her emails at greater risk of being hacked.

Judicial Watch Depositions

Transcripts of Judicial Watch’s depositions with Abedin and Mills show that the Clintonistas were cagey in their interviews with the watchdog group when asked what they knew about the server and when.

In her May 27 deposition, Mills repeatedly stated that she did not learn about the server until after she left the State Department and started working as Clinton’s lawyer.

She said that she did not talk to Justin Cooper or Bryan Pagliano about the server until “the period in which I was representing Secretary Clinton.”

Mills has at times cited her work as Clinton’s lawyer to avoid answering questions about the email system.

She also claimed not to have known about the server because she didn’t “have a technological background.”

“But in terms of the technicalities of how it was managed…I don’t have any recollection of having conversations around that until the time period where I was representing Secretary Clinton with Mr. Cooper,” she told Judicial Watch’s lawyers.

Abedin provided similarly murky recollections during her June 28 deposition. Asked when she first learned about the server, Abedin said:

I don’t know that I experienced the — the notion of the server for — for my purposes. It was a matter of obtaining an e-mail address. I didn’t really think about the server until the — all the press reports in the last year and a half.

Despite that claim, the FBI’s report states that Abedin was the catalyst for the creation of the Clinton email system.

“At the recommendation of Huma Abedin, Clinton’s longtime aide and later Deputy Chief of Staff at State, in or around fall 2008, [Bill Clinton aide Justin Cooper] contacted Bryan Pagliano…to build the new server system and to assist Cooper with the administration of the new server system,” the document reads.

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