While Hillary Clinton continued to brush off questions about her secret e-mail server at the DNC summer meeting in Minneapolis, the FBI has grown a lot more interested in it. Two sources within the investigation tell Fox News’ Catherine Herridge that they have an “A-Team” working the case, and that it has become “extremely serious.” One familiar statute has taken a central role in the probe:

An FBI “A-team” is leading the “extremely serious” investigation into Hillary Clinton’s server and the focus includes a provision of the law pertaining to “gathering, transmitting or losing defense information,” an intelligence source told Fox News.

The section of the Espionage Act is known as 18 US Code 793.

A separate source, who also was not authorized to speak on the record, said the FBI will further determine whether Clinton should have known, based on the quality and detail of the material, that emails passing through her server contained classified information regardless of the markings. The campaign’s standard defense and that of Clinton is that she “never sent nor received any email that was marked classified” at the time.

It is not clear how the FBI team’s findings will impact the probe itself. But the details offer a window into what investigators are looking for — as the Clinton campaign itself downplays the controversy.

We’ve mentioned 18 USC 793 on several occasions, but let’s familiarize everyone with it again. Subparagraphs (d), (e), and (f) are the pertinent clauses for mishandling sensitive materials:

(d) Whoever, lawfully having possession of, access to, control over, or being entrusted with any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it on demand to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; or

(e) Whoever having unauthorized possession of, access to, or control over any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, or note relating to the national defense, or information relating to the national defense which information the possessor has reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation, willfully communicates, delivers, transmits or causes to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted, or attempts to communicate, deliver, transmit or cause to be communicated, delivered, or transmitted the same to any person not entitled to receive it, or willfully retains the same and fails to deliver it to the officer or employee of the United States entitled to receive it; or

(f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense,
(1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or
(2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.

 

Emphases mine. Bear in mind that the material does not have to be classified in order to violate this law. This covers any sensitive material relating to national defense. The mishandling does not have to be intentional or malicious either, but only grossly negligent to become a crime. If the FBI is taking a long look at 18 USC 793, then that is very bad news for Hillary Clinton, whose grossly negligent decision to use a private, unsecured, and unauthorized communications system for official business would be the root of all violations within it.

If the material was classified — and the agencies that originated it claim it was“classified when they were sent and are classified now” — then 18 USC 1924 comes into play automatically, too, for unauthorized retention. Both carry potential prison terms, and it’s almost certain that this kind of indiscriminate and negligent handling would result in prosecution for anyone else.

Hillary has started acknowledging that it was foolish to use a private server for official business. Unfortunately, this A-team won’t pity a fool in these circumstances. Will the Department of Justice?