The Justice Department investigation into the potential mishandling of classified information was triggered by the revelation that classified information contained in Hillary Clinton’s private email account could still exist on her private home server and on the thumb drive in the control of her personal lawyer, U.S. officials confirmed Friday.
The referral was made by the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General (IC IG) to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counterintelligence division, not career prosecutors at the Justice Department. “The IC IG did not make a criminal referral,” said the Inspectors General for the State Department and Intelligence Community in a joint statement Friday. “It was a security referral made for counterintelligence purposes.”
The immediate concerns are four emails culled from a limited sample of 400 emails that contained previously unlabeled classified information. “These emails were not retroactively classified by the State Department; rather these emails contained classified information when they were generated and, according to IC classification officials, that information remains classified today,” their statement said. “This classified information should never have been transmitted via an unclassified personal system.”
In response to a records request from the State Department, Clinton has turned over approximately 30,000 work emails that she had stored on her private email server since her time as Secretary of State. She has previously said that those emails contained no classified information. The four emails in question were not properly labeled as classified, according to the inspectors general.
Both inspectors general say they were required to notify the FBI by law once they found that information that should have been marked as classified was found among the former Secretary of State’s emails. Relevant congressional committees were also notified on July 23.
A Department of Justice official confirmed to TIME Friday that, “The Department has received a referral related to the potential compromise of classified information. It is not a criminal referral.”
I. Charles McCullough III, the inspector general for the intelligence community, voiced concerns in a July 23 memo to Congressional lawmakers over the proper handling of information contained in Clinton’s email records. He warned there has already been “an inadvertent release of classified national security information” in a recent release of emails under the Freedom of Information Act, a contention disputed by the State Department.
Andrea Williams, a spokeswoman for McCullough, confirmed that the referral was made to the FBI, in accordance with federal guidelines for the the discovery of the potential compromise of classified information.
In a March news conference, Clinton denied that she used the unsecured account for classified information. “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email,” she said. “There is no classified material. So I’m certainly well aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”