The Federal Bureau of Investigation said this week that it had not contacted Hillary Clinton about her use of a private email account while she was secretary of state.
The revelation came in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Jason Leopold of VICE News, who is seeking information held by the bureau pertaining to the investigation. The FBI "does not have any documents showing that the bureau communicated with Clinton or her aides nor does the FBI have any records about disclosures to the media," the agency told Leopold in a Friday court filing.
Clinton has downplayed the investigation, calling it routine and suggesting she had reason to believe it does not involve criminal charges. "This is a security review requested and carried out that will be resolved," she said during a Democratic debate in February.
Asked whether she could reassure Democrats that the investigation was not going to escalate over the course of the campaign, Clinton said, "Absolutely I can."
At a Democratic town hall hosted by Fox News this month, moderator Bret Baier asked Clinton if she had been informed by the FBI that neither she nor her aides were the target of the bureau's probe.
"Absolutely true," Clinton responded.
Critics noted the only way Clinton could have that knowledge was through contact with the FBI, an event that apparently has not transpired to date.
In its court filing, the FBI also said it had obtained more of the material that Clinton stored on a private server in her basement, but that releasing the material would impede its investigation.
"Materials that were retrieved from any server equipment and related devices obtained from former Secretary Clinton for the investigation, which would be responsive to [VICE News' FOIA request], are potential evidence in the FBI's investigation, or may provide leads to or context for potential evidence," wrote David Hardy, the head of the FBI's FOIA office.
Clinton turned over more than 30,000 emails that she sent or received during her time heading the State Department. She retained over 30,000 more, saying they were not relevant to her position in spite of being commingled. Of those released, at least 1,818 contained what federal officials deemed classified material and redacted. The 65 messages most redacted were classified as "secret," while 22 were deemed "top secret" and withheld from the public.
Clinton has complained that officials added the "classified," "secret," and "top secret" designations to the messages retroactively.
The FBI granted immunity to former Clinton IT aide Bryan Pagliano earlier this month in exchange for information on Clinton's system. Pagliano helped to set up Clinton's personal server when she assumed office at the State Department.
Though the FBI's probe is approximately nine months old, the agency said it is sifting through findings.
Calling it an "active and ongoing investigation," Hardy said, "the FBI is continuing to assess the evidentiary value of any materials retrieved for the investigation from any such server equipment/related devices."
"Disclosure of evidence, potential evidence, or information that has not yet been assessed for evidentiary value while the investigation is active and ongoing could reasonably be expected to undermine the pending investigation by prematurely revealing its scope and focus," he added.