Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s scandal around the private email server she used during her tenure as Secretary of State will not go away and may have just grown. According to a Fox News report published on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015 the FBI has expanded their probe into Clinton whether committed “gross negligence” with “national security information” by using her private server. Additionally, the agency is looking at whether a “federal false statements statute” was violated relating to “materially false” information. Politico first reported about the probe on Tuesday, Nov. 10, saying it has gone from the preliminary phase to a full investigation.
Earlier in the week, Politico reported that the FBI had conducted interviews and requested more documents for the investigation. The FBI is trying to “determine” if national security was at risk with when Clinton used a private email system, as opposed to the State Department run email system. Additionally the FBI is trying to find out if anybody “exposed classified information.”
Tom Fuentes, former assistant director of the FBI analyzed the situation for Politico, saying, “This sounds to me like it’s more than a preliminary inquiry; it sounds like a full-blown investigation. When you have this amount of resources going into it …. I think it’s at the investigative level.”
Two days later on Thursday, Nov. 12, Fox News reported that the FBI is specifically looking at whether “false statements” were made that violated federal statute U.S. Code 18, Section 1001, a felony offense carrying a maximum five year prison term. The FBI is also investigating whether there have been any violations to the Espionage Act, particularly “gross negligence” in “handling of national defense information.”
The false statements can be in “writing, orally or through a third party.” Fox News also explained it also includes “pressuring a third party to conspire in a cover-up.” The FBI is investigating whether Clinton, her aides or her lawyer’s statements about her emails apply to the statute particularly if the emails included classified information, and whether Clinton had deleted any government related emails. The statements do not have to be given under oath, but just that they cause the FBI the hassle of an investigation, and or might have interfered in one.
Politico reported on Thursday, Nov. 6 that US Intelligence was backtracking on claims that two of Clinton’s emails are considered “top secret.” In the summer, Intelligence Community Inspector General I. Charles McCullough III determined that the two emails should be designated “top secret” classified information, something the State Department opposed. McCullough labeled the two emails as including “information classified up to TOP SECRET//SI/TK/NOFORN” in an Aug. 17 memo. The emails discussed “North Korea’s nuclear program” and “U.S. drone operations.” The Politico report said, “The initial determination was based on a flawed process.” Fox News however, is reporting the intelligence is still investigating and has not backtracked at all.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper’s spokesman Brian Hale said that the agency is still reviewing those emails and they are still being marked with the “Top Secret” classification. Hale clarified, “ODNI has made no such determination and the review is ongoing.” Currently the FBI is looking at each “suspect email” they are coordinating with the agencies where the emails originated to determine their classification. So far, in total four emails are classified at the “SECRET level” and Congress cannot access them. McCullough gave these emails that designation back in July and that was when the FBI commenced their review and investigation.
The State Department’s Under Secretary for Management Patrick Kennedy has been arguing that those two emails that were marked classified where probably originally from “unclassified sources.” An intelligence source told Politico, “The initial determination was based on a flawed process. There was an intelligence product people thought [one of the emails] was based on, but that actually postdated the email in question.”
Clinton just testified last month on Oct. 22 in front of the House Select Committee on Benghazi where she was asked about her private email server, but it was not at the forefront of her 11-hour testimony. The questions about her email server centered on the Benghazi terrorist attacks, although near the end of her testimony, she was asked specifically about the private server she had setup in her New York home and used throughout her tenure at the State Department from 2009 to the beginning of 2013.
Although Clinton has seen a rebound in her poll numbers, and does not face any serious competitors for Democratic presidential nomination, Republicans have been trying to keep the scandal in the headlines. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump discussed the probability of Clinton’s actions being criminal when he spoke to Fox Business on Thursday, Nov. 12. Trump theorized about the FBI investigation, “I think she’s being protected by the Democrats, by the prosecutors and possibly by the FBI… What she did is a crime. She broke the law 100 percent.”
Clinton’s emails were not at the forefront of the second Democratic primary debate hosted by CBS News on Saturday evening, Nov. 14. After the Paris terror attacks, the debate focused more on the fight and threat of terrorism, foreign policy and national security. Clinton’s foreign policy positions rather than her procedural record at the State Department were more important to her two opponents, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley. On Friday evening, Oct. 13 over 130 were killed, and over 300 wounded and hospitalized, and less than 100 in critical conditions after six coordinated attacks in the French capital, ISIS has taken responsibility.