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Politics

Hillary Clinton says the FBI hasn’t asked to interview her about email server

Hillary Clinton

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on Oct. 22, 2015.

(Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

Hillary Clinton said Sunday that the FBI has not asked to question her about her use of a private email server when she was secretary of State, a controversy that has dogged her presidential bid.

FBI agents looking into possible mishandling of classified information have begun to set up formal interviews with Clinton’s close aides, the Los Angeles Times reported last week, a sign that the inquiry is moving into its final phases.

Asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” if the FBI had reached out to her for an interview, Clinton replied: “No, no, they haven’t.”

Clinton said she would agree to be questioned about her sending and receiving work-related emails on a Blackberry tethered to a potentially insecure server in the basement of her family home in Chappaqua, N.Y.

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“Back in August, we made clear that I’m happy to answer any questions that anybody might have,” she said. “And I stand by that.” 

The case has sparked private lawsuits for access to government records, and investigations by Congressional committees and State Department. The inspector general for U.S. intelligence agencies referred the case to the FBI last summer after determining that some emails included classified information.

The FBI is trying to determine if a crime was committed in the handling of the secret material, and whether the basement server was hacked to gain access to email communications.

Clinton’s campaign has argued that she is innocent of any wrongdoing, and that other senior government officials also use private email. Her critics contend she ignored laws and regulations regarding classified material and the preservation of government documents. 

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The State Department has released thousands of pages of Clinton’s emails and determined that 22 of her emails contained “top secret” information. None of the messages were marked classified when they were sent, however.

Investigators may seek to determine if Clinton knew that classified information was on her private server and whether her decision to use her personal email account amounts to mishandling of secret material.

Clinton said Sunday that her use of personal email was a “mistake,” and she did so as “a matter of convenience,” not to evade government regulations.

“I sent emails to government employees on their government accounts. I had every reason to believe they were in the government system. It was a matter of convenience. I’ve said repeatedly it was not the best choice. It was a mistake,” she said.

Clinton said she is not concerned about whether the FBI will complete its investigation by the Democratic National Convention, which is scheduled for July 25 to 28 in Philadelphia.

“No, I’m not, because I don’t think anything inappropriate was done,” she said. “And so I have to let them decide how to resolve their security inquiry, but I’m not at all worried about it.”

Later on Sunday, Clinton campaigned at black churches in New York, which holds its primary on April 19. Taking the podium to a standing ovation at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Brooklyn, she “earnestly and humbly” implored its congregants to vote for her.

Polls suggest rival Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders will best Clinton in the Wisconsin primary this Tuesday, and she appears to be trying to build a firewall in the state where he was born and she was elected senator.

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Clinton sharpened her attacks on Sanders’ record on gun control, one of the few issues where she appears to his left.

“We have to end racial profiling, and we have to retrain our police officers so they can do a job that doesn’t require reaching for their gun when it is absolutely unnecessary. And that’s a big difference between me and my opponent, Sen. Sanders,” she said, according to a pool report.

“He has voted with the National Rifle Association, the big gun lobby. He voted against the Brady Bill, which has kept more than 2 million guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have had them in the first place. Then he voted to give immunity from liability to gun makers and sellers. I just disagree with that,” she added.

brian.bennett@latimes.com

Follow me @ByBrianBennett on Twitter


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