When she was questioned by the FBI on July 2, Hillary Clinton “did not recall” any conversations she had about setting up her controversial private email server after becoming secretary of state.
She “could not recall” anybody raising any concerns with her about it.
Shown a cable that went out under her name, warning all State Department employees about security threats to their personal email accounts — and advising them not to use them for official business — Clinton drew a blank. She replied that all policy cables carried her name and “she did not recall this specific cable.”
So it went during her three-and-a-half-hour grilling, according to an official FBI report on Clinton’s interview that was made public by the bureau on Friday. During the course of her interview, Clinton was repeatedly unable to respond to many questions about her use of the private email server and the classified emails she sent on it. She said she “could not recall,” “did not recall” and “did not remember” 38 times, according to a Yahoo News tally of her responses recorded in the 11-page FBI report.
FBI director James Comey has told Congress that the bureau found no evidence that Clinton lied during the interview. Her responses for the most part track explanations she has given publicly.
But the language in the FBI report is a reminder of two crucial chapters in Clinton’s biography: She is a trained litigator who knows well the risks of testifying to answers about which she might not be certain. And, equally relevant, she is a veteran witness in multiple federal investigations, having been subpoenaed before a grand jury and questioned under oath on multiple occasions on everything from her Rose Law Firm billing records (which appeared mysteriously in her living quarters in the White House two years after they had been subpoenaed) to the firing of employees in the White House travel office and her long ago Whitewater real estate investment.
Still, some of her responses, especially those in which she appeared to be parrying her FBI interrogators, may not help her efforts to impress voters with her mastery of details. Questioned about State Department involvement in Obama administration drone strikes — a subject discussed in some of her classified emails on the private server — Clinton replied at one point that she “could not recall” the process for nominating a target for a drone strike and “did not recall” whether there was a State Department policy on whether to confirm classified information contained in media reports about the strikes.