‘Blowback’: Clinton campaign planned to fire me over email probe, Obama intel watchdog says
A government watchdog who played a central role in the Hillary Clinton email investigation during the course of its Obama administration told Fox News that he, his family and his staffers faced an intensive resentment at the time from Clinton allies- and that the campaign even bring out utterance that it planned to fire him if the Democratic presidential nominee won the 2016 election.
“There was personal blowback. Personal blowback to me, to my family, to my power, ” onetime Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough III said.
The Obama appointee explored his role in the Clinton email probe for the first time on television, during an exclusive interview with Fox News. McCullough- who came to the inspector general stance with more than two decades of know at the FBI, Treasury and intelligence community- molted light on how quickly the examination was politicized and its term of office was marginalized by Democrats.
In January 2016, after McCullough told the Republican leadership on the Senate intelligence and foreign affairs committees that emails beyond the “Top Secret” level guided through the onetime secretary of state’s unsecured personal server, the resistance intensified.
“All of a sudden I became a shill for the human rights, ” McCullough echoed. “And I was told by members of Congress,’ Be careful. You’re losing your credibility. You need to be careful. There are parties out to get you.’”
But the onetime inspector general, with responsibility for the 17 intelligence agencies, said the executive who recommended him to the Obama administration for the job- then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper- was also disturbed by the independent Clinton email findings.
“[ Clapper] said,’ This is extremely reckless.’ And he mentioned something about — the campaign … will have heartburn about that, ” McCullough said.
He said Clapper’s Clinton email notes came during an in-person gather about a year before the presidential election- in late December 2015 or early 2016. “[ Clapper] was as off-put as the rest of us were.”
After the Clapper meeting, McCullough said his team was marginalized. “I was told by senior officials to keep[ Clapper] out of it, ” he said, while acknowledging he tried to keep his boss in the loop.
As one of the few people who examined the 22 Top Secret Clinton emails deemed too classified under release under any circumstances, the former IG said, “There was a very good reason to withhold those emails … there would have been damaging to national security.” McCullough get further, telling Fox News that “sources and methods, lives and operations” “couldve been” put at risk.
Some of those email exchanges contained Special Access Privilege( SAP) message characterized by intel experts as “above top secret.”
“I was told by members of Congress,’ Be careful. You’re losing your credibility. You need to be careful. There are people out to get you.’”
WikiLeaks certificates demonstrate the campaign was inventing talking levels as the review of 30,000 Clinton emails was ongoing.
The campaign team wrote in August 2015 that “Clinton merely applied her account for unclassified email. When message is reviewed for public handout, it is common for report previously unclassified to be upgraded to classified.”
McCullough was critical of the campaign’s response, as the classified review had barely begun. “There was an effort … certainly on the part of the campaign to mislead beings into thinking that there was nothing to see here, ” McCullough said.
In March 2016, seven major Democrat moved a letter to McCullough and his State Department counterpart, saying they had serious doubts about the fairness of the Clinton email review. However, McCullough was not compiling the decisions on what fabric in Clinton’s emails was categorized — he was passing along the findings of the individual agencies who got the intelligence and have final say on classification.
“I think there was certainly a coordinated programme, ” McCullough said.
McCullough described one confrontation with Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office exactly six weeks before such elections, amid push to answer the character- which Feinstein had co-signed.
“I had considered that any response to that symbol would just hyper-politicize developments in the situation, ” McCullough said. “I recall even offering to resign, to the staff conductor. I said,’ Tell[ Feinstein] I’ll renounce tonight. I’d be happy to go. I’m not going to respond to that letter. It’s exactly that simple.”
As Election Day approached, McCullough said the threats went greatly, singling out him and another senior government investigate on the email case.
“It was told in no uncertain terms, by a source directly from the campaign, that we would be the first two to be fired — with[ Clinton’s] government. That that was emphatically be happening, ” he said.
McCullough said he was just trying to do his responsibility, which requires neutrality. “I was, given this context, a whistleblower. I was showing to Congress — I was doing exactly what they had expected me to do. Exactly what I predicted them I would do during my approval hearing, ” he said. “ … This was a political matter, and all of a sudden I was the enemy.”
He said pushes also increased early on from Clinton’s former unit at the State Department, especially top official Patrick Kennedy.
“State Department management didn’t want us there, ” McCullough said. “We knew we had had a security problem at this part. We had a possible compromise.”
Speaking about the occasion more than a year after the FBI probe concluded, McCullough in his interview also addressed the possibility that a more cooperative State Department and Clinton campaign might have precluded the FBI’s commitment from the start.
“Had they come in with the server freely, without having us to refer this to the bureau … perhaps we could have worked with the State Department, ” he said.
More than 2,100 classified emails passed through Clinton’s personal server, which was used exclusively for government business. No one has been charged.
Asked what would have happened to him if he had done such a thing, McCullough said: “I’d be sitting in Leavenworth right now.”
Fox News asked a Clinton campaign spokesman, Feinstein’s office and Clapper for observation. There was no immediate reply.
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