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Clinton staffer: Hackers tried to access private email server

Newly released emails show server’s vulnerability and reveal the Secret Service knew Clinton was not using a government-approved system


Bryan Pagliano Associated Press/Photo by Cliff Owen

Clinton staffer: Hackers tried to access private email server

WASHINGTON—Newly released documents from Hillary Clinton’s tenure at the State Department show hackers attempted to breach her private email server at least 10 times during a two-day period.

In November 2010, Bryan Pagliano, the former Clinton employee who helped set up and maintain her non-sanctioned email server, sent a message to Bill Clinton aide Justin Cooper to detail the attempted hacks and warn about the server’s susceptibility.

After a year-long investigation into Clinton’s email use, FBI Director James Comey concluded agents found no evidence to prove a successful hack into the system but could not rule one out altogether. The FBI found Clinton sent and received more than 100 emails containing classified information on her private account—with at least eight email chains containing “Top Secret” material. The newly released messages from Clinton’s tech employee show he knew the server was vulnerable to hacks and outsiders were trying to gain access.

The new documents were part of the 15,000 Clinton emails discovered by the FBI and obtained by the watchdog group Judicial Watch through a federal court order after the State Department failed to produce them through a Freedom of Information Act request. Judicial Watch made the documents public Tuesday.

Pagliano told Cooper the private server got hit with two different kinds of probes. Hackers tried a denial of service attack, used to access the server, and launched an injection attack, which can gain control of operations. He noted the way the server was set up and connected to Clinton’s Blackberry, “we’d be susceptible to such an attack.”

In another message, Pagliano said he discovered 10 failed login attempts between Nov. 27 and Nov. 29, 2010. He indicated it appeared the attempts came from Clinton’s then-deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, and another associate, Doug Band, but he could not be sure. Both Abedin and Band had accounts on the server at the time.

“The failed logon attempts on the 27th were for username doug and dougband, the failed logon attempts on the 29th were for username huma,” Pagliano said. “Would be useful to know if it was them who tried to log in.”

Earlier this year, Pagliano refused to answer questions from Congress while under oath. He repeatedly invoked the Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination when asked about Clinton’s server.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee later voted along party lines to hold Pagliano in contempt of Congress. But the contempt resolution needs approval from the full conference and has since been in limbo.

After announcing he would not pursue criminal charges in the Clinton email case, Comey has testified before Congress multiple times. During a July hearing, Comey said it’s possible someone hacked into Clinton’s server, since it was less secure than a free Gmail account.

Judicial Watch noted Cooper sent messages from Pagliano to the Secret Service for review—indicating another agency knew about the private server and its vulnerabilities.

“These new emails show that the Clinton email server was subject to an aggressive and targeted hacking attempt,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “And we now know that yet another government agency, the United States Secret Service, not only knew about the Clinton email system but that it was the target of hacking. The Clinton email scandal has now widened to yet another Obama administration agency.”


Evan Wilt Evan is a World Journalism Institute graduate and a former WORLD reporter.

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