A U.S. State Department investigation of Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state has found no evidence of deliberate mishandling of classified information by department employees.
The investigation, the results of which were released on Friday by Republican U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley’s office, centered on whether Clinton, who served as the top U.S. diplomat from 2009 to 2013, jeopardized classified information by using a private email server rather than a government one.
Clinton turned over roughly 33,000 emails from her private server in 2014, and the State Department probe found “no persuasive evidence of systemic, deliberate mishandling of classified information.”
The investigation did find that Clinton’s use of a private server increased the risk of hacking.
The controversy figured prominently in the 2016 presidential election, which Democrat Clinton lost to Republican President Donald Trump, who suggested during the campaign that Clinton was trying to hide something by using a private network.
Then-FBI Director James Comey announced five months before the November 2016 election that no charges would be filed against Clinton, but he found her actions “extremely careless.”
The FBI reopened the probe just days before the election after some of her emails were found on a laptop belonging to the husband of a close aide. Clinton has said the decision to reopen the probe badly damaged her campaign.
The State Department investigation found that 38 current or former employees were responsible for 91 separate violations of security protocols involving Clinton’s server. Those 38 people were not identified. None of the emails at issue were marked as classified, according to the investigation.
The State Department found an additional 497 violations for which no individual was found responsible.
“While there were some instances of classified information being inappropriately introduced into an unclassified system in furtherance of expedience, by and large, the individuals interviewed were aware of security policies and did their best to implement them in their operations,” the report said.
The investigation covered 33,000 emails that Clinton turned over for review after her use of the private email account became public. The department said it found a total of 588 violations involving information then or now deemed to be classified but could not assign fault in 497 cases.
For current and former officials, culpability means the violations will be noted in their files and will be considered when they apply for or go to renew security clearances. For current officials, there could also be some kind of disciplinary action. But it was not immediately clear what that would be.
The report concluded “that the use of a private email system to conduct official business added an increased degree of risk of compromise as a private system lacks the network monitoring and intrusion detection capabilities of State Department networks.”
The department began the review in 2016 after declaring 22 emails from Clinton’s private server to be “top secret.” Clinton was then running for president against Donald Trump, and Trump made the server a major focus of his campaign.
The Justice Department’s inspector general said FBI specialists did not find evidence that the server had been hacked, with one forensics agent saying he felt “fairly confident that there wasn’t an intrusion.”
Grassley started investigating Clinton’s email server in 2017, when he was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The Iowa Republican has been critical of Clinton’s handling of classified information and urged administrative sanctions.