State Department spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday that former department employees can have their security clearances revoked among other forms of punishment for mishandling classified information.
"The State Department’s process for reviewing potential cases of mishandling of information does not apply exclusively to current employees," Kirby said at the State Department daily press briefing. "Our process can result in a variety of outcomes, including counseling, issuing warnings, security infractions, security violations, and possibly the revoking of an individual’s [security] clearance."
Kirby was responding to a reporter asking about the ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while serving as secretary of state and what the State Department’s policy is toward employees who mishandle classified information.
FBI Director James Comey announced Tuesday that Clinton and her senior aides were "extremely careless" with their handling of classified information but recommended that no charges be brought against her.
Kirby said that an individual’s employment status "obviously affects" what options are available for the department to exercise.
"For example, a former employee cannot be disciplined if he or she is no longer employed by the department," he explained. "There could be repercussions, including issuing a security violation or infraction, which would be kept in their file post-State Department employee, or, of course, revoking an individual’s security clearance, assuming that individual still needed the clearance to work in another federal agency."
Kirby clarified that if a former employee’s clearance is renewed by another agency, then the State Department "could still weigh in if the violation happened while they were at the State Department."
"The review process for potential mishandling of classified information is the same for current and former employees," he said.
Kirby added that department policy is "to maintain files on personnel who are found to have mishandled information to guide current and potential future decisions about employment and security clearance."
Mark Zaid, an attorney who specializes in national security affairs, told MSNBC on Wednesday that Hillary Clinton’s senior aides, including Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, will have difficulty obtaining security clearances if Clinton is elected president in November.