A thumb drive containing Hillary Clinton’s State Department emails was not secured in a specially designated safe until over a month after it was publicly confirmed that her server contained classified information, according to a timeline laid out in a letter by her attorney this week.
In the letter, first reported by Politico, an attorney working for Clinton, David Kendall, indicated that he had copies of the emails as early as December 2014, raising concerns from congressional investigators and intelligence officials that they may have been stored in an unsecured manner for months.
While officials said in May that Clinton’s emails contained "now-classified" information, Kendall said the thumb drive was not moved to an officially secured safe in his office until July 8.
That was over a week after department officials "report[ed] discovering hundreds of potentially classified emails within the collection" according to a June 29 memo from the State Department and Intelligence Community inspectors general.
The Inspector General for the Intelligence Community said on Aug. 11 that the classified data on the server included at least two instances of "Top Secret" information that was allegedly classified at the time it was sent.
Kendall described the timeline in a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa), the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Monday. The attorney was responding to questions from Grassley about when he received a security clearance that permitted him access to the emails. He said he received that clearance in November 2014.
"As I’m sure you’re aware, it was not until nearly six months [after December 5, 2014] that the first email in this group was retroactively classified as ‘Secret,’" wrote Kendall.
Kendall included a copy of a letter he wrote to Sen. Ron Johnson (R., Wis.), the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, earlier this month, in which he said that the State Department first installed a special safe in his law office to store the thumb drive on July 8. The drive was later moved to a secure Department of Justice facility on Aug. 6.
Kendall said he abided by all the preservation guidance he received from the Intelligence Community and State Department inspectors’ general offices. He also told Grassley that he had received two security clearances in the past few years—a "Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information" clearance from the Department of Justice in November 2013 and a "Top Secret" clearance from the Department of State in November 2014.
Grassley said on Monday that Kendall’s timeline raised concerns about whether the emails were adequately secured. He also questioned whether the attorney had the appropriate security clearance.
"[S]ince December 2014 it appears that in addition to not having an adequate security clearance, Mr. Kendall and Ms. Turner also did not have the appropriate tools in place to secure the thumb drives," said Grassley in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.
"Even with the safe, there are questions as to whether it was an adequate mechanism to secure TS/SCI material."
An intelligence official said it was concerning that the information was not stored from the beginning in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, a special safe installed under strict guidelines by federal security officials.
"This is a strange arrangement. Kendall needs to answer a lot of questions, and the first one would be ‘who told you to store this material in your office?’" said the intelligence official. "Your office is not a SCIF."