Hackers made several attempts to get into Hillary Clinton’s secret email server in November 2010, deploying at least two different styles of attack, her top technology staffer said in emails sent at the time, and which were publicly released Tuesday.
Bryan Pagliano, the Clinton assistant who was responsible for setting up a version of her server at her home in New York, said he thought they were hit with a denial of service attack, which is an attempt to disrupt activity, and an injection attack, which attempts to gain control of a computer’s operations.
All told, the server detected 10 failed logon attempts on Nov. 27 and Nov. 29. At least some of those were attempting to use credentials for Huma Abedin and Doug Band, both friends and associates of the Clinton family who had accounts on the server. Mr. Pagliano said it may have been the two themselves, muffing their login attempts.
But he said there had been actual attacks too.
“Might have been an injection attack launched from their servers prior to this denial of service attack,” Mr. Pagliano said, adding that the way the server was set up to handle BlackBerry email traffic, “we’d be susceptible to such an attack.”
The FBI, which investigated Mrs. Clinton’s mishandling of classified information, said it discovered some hack attempts, but said it could not say one way or the other if any attempts succeeded. Mrs. Clinton’s server was too outdated, and the capabilities of potential foreign hackers too good to be able to trace them afterward, FBI Director James B. Comey told Congress this summer.
The revelations about Mr. Pagliano’s concerns came from emails the FBI obtained during its investigation into Mrs. Clinton. The FBI turned the emails it found over to the State Department, which is processing and releasing them to requesters who filed under the Freedom of Information Act.
Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, said the hacking revelations show how reckless Mrs. Clinton was with her emails, which included thousands of messages classified at the confidential, secret or top secret levels.
He also said the fact that the hacking was only just coming to light now was a result of Mrs. Clinton’s obstruction.
“For Hillary Clinton and her inner circle, covering up her corrupt dealings as secretary of state was more important than coming clean about this dangerous scheme that jeopardized national security and sensitive diplomatic efforts,” he said.
The revelations come as the FBI has announced it is renewing its probe into Mrs. Clinton after it discovered messages from her top personal aide, Huma Abedin, kept on yet another computer. Ms. Abedin also had an account on Mrs. Clinton’s secret server, and sent and received classified information.
Judicial Watch, the conservative legal group that obtained and then released the new hack-related emails, said they raise another red flag: The emails appear to show that the U.S. Secret Service was made aware of the hacks.
“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,” said Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch. “The Clinton email scandal has now widened to yet another Obama administration agency.”
Judicial Watch tried to question Mr. Pagliano in June as part of an ongoing Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the State Department for its handling of the Clinton emails, but he refused to testify, citing his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Mr. Pagliano served at the same time as both a State Department employee and assistant to the Clinton family, where he set up the email server that has drawn so much scrutiny. Mrs. Clinton used that server to conduct her official business, effectively thwarting open records laws and shielding her records from the public for nearly six years.
Last month John Bentel, who oversaw the office responsible for storing Mrs. Clinton’s records, also pleaded his Fifth Amendment rights in a Judicial Watch deposition, refusing to answer nearly 100 questions.
On Tuesday Judicial Watch asked Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who’s overseeing the case, to reject that and compel Mr. Bentel to testify to some 87 questions.
“He has not identified — let alone demonstrated — a fear of prosecution in answering any of the 87 questions asked of him during his deposition. Nor has he demonstrated any such fear is more than fanciful or merely speculation,” Michael Bekesha, a Judicial Watch lawyer, wrote to the court.
In a letter to Judicial Watch, Mr. Bentel’s attorney said he doesn’t have to prove his remarks would be incriminating, only that they might raise legal danger. “Mr. Bentel stands by the invocation of his Fifth Amendment rights,” lawyer Kyle Clark wrote.
Judge Sullivan had initially approved deposing Mr. Bentel because he said the former official gave conflicting versions of his role in handling Mrs. Clinton’s email situation.
While he told Congress he didn’t know anything about Mrs. Clinton’s email, an inspector general said he was aware of the arrangement and even told underlings it had been approved. In one case, he told one of the whistleblowers that their mission was to back Mrs. Clinton up and “instructed the staff never to speak of the secretary’s personal email system again.”
In fact, the FBI found that Mrs. Clinton didn’t ask permission, and nobody had approved her arrangement.