The FBI has stepped in to a halt a U.S. State Department internal probe into the question of whether Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information in her use of a personal email server during her time as secretary of state.
Clinton has apologized for using her private email for state business, but maintains she did nothing wrong by doing so while in office from 2009 to 2013, arguing that other former secretaries of state had also used personal email accounts.
Amid the controversy, which arose over a year ago, the State Department changed the classification on 22 of Clinton’s emails to top secret at the end of January, based on requests by U.S. intelligence to do so. The top secret documents will be excluded from the bulk release of her emails.
The State Department had planned to look into whether the emails were also classified when Clinton sent or received them through her private account, rather than the official email server. But the FBI has blocked the probe from moving forward.
The FBI told the State Department that “standard practice” would be to suspend the internal review pending an investigation by law enforcement agents. The FBI is conducting an inquiry.
The U.S. government requires all classified information to be communicated through state-controlled means.