Report: FBI Investigating whether Clinton aides shared passwords

posted at 4:41 pm on March 3, 2016 by John Sexton

With big stories on the Clinton email story released last night by the New York Times and the Washington Post, it was only a matter of time before Fox News’ indefatigable Catherine Herridge weighed in today. Herridge’s latest exclusive gives some insight into one of the issues the FBI is currently looking at in the case:

The FBI is investigating whether computer passwords were shared among Hillary Clinton’s close aides to determine how sensitive intelligence “jumped the gap” between the classified systems and Clinton’s unsecured personal server, according to an intelligence source familiar with the probe.

The source emphasized to Fox News that “if [Clinton] was allowing other people to use her passwords, that is a big problem.” The Foreign Service Officers Manual prohibits the sharing of passwords…

The intelligence source said the ongoing FBI investigation is progressing in “fits and starts” but bureau agents have refined a list of individuals who will be questioned about their direct handling of the emails, with a focus on how classified information jumped the gap between classified systems and briefings to Clinton’s unsecured personal email account used for government business.

Reading between the lines here, it sounds as if the FBI is firmly of the opinion some information from the “high side” wound up on Clinton’s unclassified server. Anyone who has been following this story knows that over 2,000 of Clinton’s emails were deemed to contain some level of classified material, but the Clinton camp and the State Department have claimed all of this material was being retroactively classified or “upgraded.” Obviously if information “jumped the gap” from a classified system on to Clinton’s server then the information was already classified at the time whether it was properly marked as such or not.

Herridge’s story may also answer another question that has been raised in recent weeks: Given the FBI’s investigation, why haven’t the security clearances of Clinton and her aides been suspended? According to Herridge, “the State Department cannot touch the security clearance of top aides connected to the case without contacting the FBI, because agents plan to directly question individuals about their handling of the emails containing classified information, and they will need active clearances to be questioned.”

Finally, the New York Times provided the first timeline for the FBI to conclude its investigation that I’ve seen:

A federal law enforcement official said that barring any unforeseen changes, the F.B.I. investigation could conclude by early May. Then the Justice Department will decide whether to file criminal charges and, if so, against whom.

The Times story is worth reading as it seems to suggest the general sense that since Gen. Petraeus arguably worse behavior was minimized to a fine and probation, it would be difficult for the DOJ to hold Clinton a higher standard. In other words, because Petraeus only got a slap on the wrist, Clinton is even more likely to be given a pass.


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