A high-level government official suffered an intense backlash after trying to expose the Clinton email scandal as he investigated it during the Obama administration.
The whistleblower said that he and his staffers were threatened with being fired if the Democratic presidential nominee won the 2016 election. McCullough spoke publicly for the first time in an interview with Fox News, shedding light on how his probe was marginalized by lawmakers during the 2016 election.
“There was personal blowback. Personal blowback to me, to my family, to my office,” said former Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough III.
McCullough told Republican leadership in January 2016 that some of the emails found on Clinton’s unsecured private server were beyond “Top Secret,” he suffered intense backlash.
“All of a sudden I became a shill of the right,” said McCullough. “And I was told by members of Congress, ‘Be careful. You’re losing your credibility. You need to be careful. There are people out to get you.’”
Apparently, the emails caught the eye of McCullough’s superior—then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper—who also thought that McCullough’s findings of the independent Clinton emails were disturbing.
“[Clapper] said, ‘This is extremely reckless.’ And he mentioned something about—the campaign … will have heartburn about that,” said McCullough.
McCullough first shared the news with Clapper even a year before the election, in late December 2015 or early 2016, and said that he thought that Clapper “was as off-put as the rest of us were.”
But after his meeting with Clapper, McCullough’s team was marginalized. “I was told by senior officials to keep [Clapper] out of it,” even as he tried to keep his boss in the know-how.
McCullough said some of the emails were too sensitive to be released under any circumstance. These included 22 Top Secret emails that were found on Clinton’s unsecured private server.
“There was a very good reason to withhold those emails … there would have be harm to national security,” said McCullough, stressing that “sources and methods, lives and operations” could be put at risk.
Some of those email exchanges included Special Access Privilege information, which is characterized by intel experts as “above top secret.”
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