While Hillary Clinton and her campaign try to shrug off the e-mail scandal as much ado about nothing, the FBI has started to put more resources into the probe, according to Politico. They have expanded the scope of the probe and have begun requesting records from people connected to the use of the secret e-mail server. One former high-ranking FBI official surmises that the agency has turned the corner from an inquiry into a full-blown investigation:
Even as Hillary Clinton tries to put questions about her private email server behind her, the FBI has stepped up inquiries into the security of the former Secretary of State’s home-made email system, and how aides communicated over email, POLITICO has learned.
The FBI’s recent moves suggest that its inquiry could have evolved from the preliminary fact-finding stage that the agency launches when it receives a credible referral, according to former FBI and DOJ officials inteviewed by POLITICO.
“This sounds to me like it’s more than a preliminary inquiry; it sounds like a full-blown investigation,” said Tom Fuentes, former assistant director of the FBI. “When you have this amount of resources going into it …. I think it’s at the investigative level.”
The investigation appears to be expanding in parallel lines. One track focuses on the physical server itself and the data that resides on it, or at least used to reside on it until Hillary and her team wiped it. That line of inquiry has taken them through the initial set-up to the backups at Datto and Platte River Services. A broker, Tania Neild, has confirmed to Politico that the FBI has asked for documents related to her work between Hillary and Platte River, which she refused to provide to a Senate committee but gave up when the FBI asked. The very fact that the FBI has started making formal demands for documentation indicates that the investigation is getting more serious.
The other track apparently focuses on the classification of the information and State Department handling of it. One “former high-ranking policy official” at State confirmed anonymously that FBI investigators have asked about concern within the State Department over transmissions of classified material. The source had no knowledge of such concerns, but again, this indicates a more active probe than just a preliminary inquiry.
The question remains, however, of just how far the Department of Justice wants to go with this. If the server was used to transmit and store classified data, the onus for that is on the person who set up the system and had her staff use it. It would be impossible to go after, say, Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan for transmitting classified information through an unauthorized e-mail system without going after the woman who made it necessary by refusing to use a State Department e-mail account. On top of that, all of the effort needed to get the e-mails from Hillary demonstrates an obstruction of justice, especially wiping the server and willfully keeping it a secret for more than 18 months.
Some media outlets want to keep saying that Hillary isn’t a “target” of the investigation (a statement of fact which is at the very least out of date, and is altogether unconfirmable now), but there is no other outcome here except charges against all, or charges against none. And if all of this exposure of classified material doesn’t result in prosecution, one would have to wonder who can get prosecuted for violations of 18 USC 793 and 18 USC 1924 in the future.
Update: And then there was that day that I wrote “survey” instead of “server” in a headline, and … didn’t catch it for 90 minutes. Thanks to Brad Thor for giving me the heads-up. (Buy his new book!)