Wednesday, 9 November 2016

In 2009, Hillary Clinton set up a personal email server with the email address: [email protected]. This was used for both her work-related and personal emails during the four years she was Secretary of State. It is reported that she did not set up a .gov email address, which would have been hosted on government servers. The issue came to light in March 2015 when the New York Times reported that Mrs Clinton might have violated federal law. According to Clinton, the personal server was set up for “convenience” and was not used for classified material.

However, in July 2015, Charles McCullough, the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community told Congress he had sent four “top secret” emails to the personal address. Responding to pressure, Clinton handed the email server over to the FBI. The FBI cleared Clinton of any offences.

Fast forward to the end of October 2016 and the FBI announced that it had discovered new emails during an unrelated investigation into US Congressman Anthony Weiner. Eight days later, the FBI again cleared Clinton. Donald Trump said: “You can’t review 650,000 new emails in eight days. You can’t do it folks” and “Right now she’s being protected by a rigged system”.

So: is it possible that the FBI reviewed 650,000 emails in eight days? The answer is: Yes! Let’s look at how triage might have made it possible.

After performing triage methods such as these, it is likely the FBI only had to review a couple of hundred emails. This could readily have been done in less than a day by a one person. In other words, Trump is wrong: it is possible to review 650,000 emails in eight days.

Further reading:
  1. KordaMentha Blog: eDiscovery: 10 reasons why Technology Assisted Review is the new normal
  2. Forensic Matters: Predicting the future of Electronic Discovery
  3. Forensic Matters: Further Advances in Technology Assisted Review (TAR)