FBI investigating security of Hillary Clinton emails: How does it affect her campaign?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is looking into the security of the private email server that Hillary Clinton used when she was secretary of state.

Rick Wilking/Reuters
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton addresses supporters at a campaign kickoff event in Denver, Colorado on August 4, 2015.

The FBI is investigating the security of the private email server that Hillary Clinton used for official communications when she was secretary of state, as well as the security of a thumb drive containing copies of Ms. Clinton’s emails.

Government and congressional investigators are trying to determine whether the presidential candidate sent or received classified information through an unsecured private server in her home during her time as secretary of state. Clinton maintains that she did not

The Justice Department was alerted to classified information included improperly on email that went through Clinton's private server by the inspector general of the U.S. intelligence community last month. The referral to the Justice Department did not seek a criminal probe and targeted the email system, not Clinton herself.  

In breaking the news, the New York Times mistakenly published an article saying that the Department of Justice had been urged to open a “criminal inquiry” into the email controversy.

The Republican National Committee jumped on the situation, as spokesman Michael Short remarked that Clinton "can't help but continue to mislead the American people.” 

The article was quickly corrected, but the damage had already been done. 

“Literally hundreds of outlets followed your story, creating a firestorm that had a deep impact that cannot be unwound,” Clinton’s communication director, Jennifer Palmieri, wrote in an outraged letter to the Times.

The investigation comes at a time when Clinton’s favorability ratings are at a new low. According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Monday night, she’s viewed unfavorably by 48 percent of likely voters. Additionally, a recent CNN/ORC poll showed that 57% of Americans don’t find her honest and trustworthy. 

In March, CBS News Political Director John Dickerson predicted that the stigma of the email controversy would be hard to shake should Clinton decide to run for president. 

"A protracted tug-of-war over these emails could reanimate concerns that the Clintons are secretive, which puts pressure on Hillary Clinton, once she does announce, to have a campaign message that can withstand frequent interruptions,” Mr. Dickerson said. 

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