Report: Clinton Aides May Have Traded Passwords to Gain Access to Classified Info

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton / AP

The FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email, which multiple reports Wednesday indicated has turned criminal, is zeroing in on whether aides shared computer passwords to gain access to intelligence on the government’s classified networks.

Fox News reported that, according to an intelligence source, the FBI is looking into the possible sharing of passwords to figure out how information on the government’s classified computer system made its way onto Clinton’s unsecured email server.

Passwords are needed to gain access to each of the State Department’s networks, including its unclassified system and the system used for highly secret "Sensitive Compartmented Information." There are several ways in which classified information could have made its way onto Clinton’s server, most of which would have required aides to have access to such passwords.

Aides could have, for example, reviewed intelligence reports and summarized them in emails to Clinton, Fox reported. They also could have retyped classified information into emails to Clinton, which the New York Times reported FBI investigators have been looking into. Other scenarios could have involved aides taking images of computer screens displaying intelligence or moving intelligence reports using a thumb drive or another device.

Such actions would be barred by federal law and non-disclosure agreements signed by Clinton and her aides when she took office as secretary of state.

As the FBI approaches the last stages of its investigation in the coming months, it may move to interview Clinton and her former aides about the private server, according to multiple reports published Wednesday. The intelligence source told Fox that the FBI has compiled a list of individuals it intends to question about their handling of the emails.

Former State Department staffer Brian Pagliano, who was responsible for setting up Clinton’s personal server in her Chappaqua, New York, home in 2009, is already cooperating with the FBI. The Justice Department has granted Pagliano immunity, the Washington Post first reported.

More than 2,000 emails found on Clinton’s server have been upgraded to classified, though the State Department has said that none of the correspondences were marked classified at the time they were sent or received. Twenty-two of those messages have been deemed top secret and too sensitive to releasee to the public.

The State Department has been vetting and releasing Clinton’s emails for nearly a year under federal court order.

Clinton has described the FBI investigation into her email setup as a "security inquiry." Her presidential campaign has also blamed the controversy surrounding her email on partisan critics aiming to hurt her White House bid.