Hillary Clinton refuses to acknowledge that she did anything wrong with her unauthorized and unsecured e-mail server. The FBI takes it much more seriously. According to a Fox News update from Catherine Herridge and Pamela Browne last night, they have begun independently verifying the status of information transmitted and stored in the system, a move that goes to the seriousness of the probe:
Investigators are meeting with the agencies and individuals to determine the classification level in the emails. The step speaks to the diligence with which the bureau is handling the investigation, despite the former secretary of state’s claims that the matter boils down to a mere interagency dispute.
“This is not merely a difference of opinion between the State Department and the Department of Justice,” one intelligence source, who is not authorized to speak on the record, told Fox News, referring to comments on the Sunday talk shows and by the Clinton campaign downplaying the FBI’s investigation. “The bureau will go directly to depose specific individuals in agencies who generated the highly classified materials.”
The source added, “At the end of the day it will be a paper case. Emails never disappear because computers never forget.”
A former senior FBI intelligence officer, while not directly involved in the Clinton email investigation, previously told Fox News it was standard practice for the bureau to go directly to the originating source because it is cleaner and maintains the integrity of the investigation.
“You want to go right to the source,” Timothy Gill Sr., a former senior FBI intelligence officer, said. “Investigative protocol would demand that.”
Why not just rely on the Inspector General? Charles McCullough has already covered this ground in his inspections of material recovered from Hillary’s e-mail server. The intelligence community, working through the IG, has identified portions of more than 1,300 e-mail messages on the basis of classifications from Confidential to Top Secret/Compartmented — and in one case, HCS-0, a level of human intelligence that could potentially get sources killed.They have identified data from special-access programs about which most people should never have even been aware. Those identifications have forced State to redact and classify the memos themselves retroactive to their initial creation, indicating that the information was indeed “born classified,” and not later classified as Hillary and her team claim.
This move shows that the FBI is building a real case against someone, at least. If all they wanted to do was review the scandal to check a box, they would stop with the IG’s declarations and the State Department responses about “interagency disputes.” By going straight to the individual originators of the information, the FBI eliminates that (extremely weak) defense. That’s not just an investigative protocol; it’s a prosecutorial protocol. They want to have witnesses to attest to the sensitive nature of the information, and perhaps more importantly how it was handled prior to when the State Department’s top officials began accessing it.
Whether the Department of Justice picks up the case may be another matter, but it is becoming very clear that the FBI is conducting a rigorous investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mail scheme and the potential conspiracy surrounding it.
Update: In the original post, I offered a too-simple explanation for the redactions. The IG and his team did not redact the e-mails; the State Department did that on the basis of the IG’s findings. I have corrected the paragraph above, and added more thoughts.