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State Dept continues probe into e-mail use by Hillary Clinton's staff

New York

THE State Department is continuing an investigation of email use among employees who worked for Hillary Clinton, former US secretary of state, asking scores of current and former officials to submit to questioning by the bureau overseeing diplomatic security, former officials said Sunday.

The investigation is examining whether employees used secure channels and the proper classification designations for what appeared to be routine emails at the time, former officials said. The emails were on subjects that were not considered classified at the time, but that have been or are being retroactively marked as classified.

The inquiry potentially pushes back into the spotlight a deeply political issue that President Donald Trump used as a weapon in his 2016 presidential campaign, and has repeatedly returned to during his time in office, despite the FBI closing a previous investigation without finding wrongdoing by Mrs Clinton.

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The emails were sent to Mrs Clinton while she was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013. They appear to have come to the attention of the diplomatic security bureau during earlier inquiries conducted by the State Department, Congress and the FBI into Mrs Clinton's use of a private email server.

The renewed focus on the emails was reported on Saturday by The Washington Post, which said as many as 130 officials had been contacted in recent weeks.

Sometime soon after Mr Trump took office, the department's diplomatic security bureau carried out the first stages of an investigation into email use by employees under Clinton, former officials said. The investigators appeared to want to finish the inquiry quickly and move on, former officials said. At some point, people thought it had ended, officials said.

But in recent months the diplomatic security bureau has been interviewing current and former employees again, former officials said. They said scrutinising employees over their handling of information that was not classified at the time, and only retroactively classified, was unusual. Many of the emails summarised conversations with foreign officials who themselves have no security clearance in the US government. In many cases, emails that went to Mrs Clinton were part of a long email chain created by officials forwarding emails to one another. NYTIMES