The FBI's probe of Hillary Clinton is reportedly criminal

The FBI’s probe into Hillary Clinton’s email server security is reportedly a criminal probe. A source told the New York Post it’s definitely a criminal probe and isn’t sure why the feds are saying it’s not.

The DOJ and FBI can conduct civil investigations in very limited circumstances. In this case, a security violation would lead to criminal charges. Maybe DOJ is trying to protect her campaign.

This is kind of a “duh factor” because why else would the FBI be investigating the server? It certainly wasn’t to see if Clinton was trading recipes with Huma Abedin. Unless, of course, this probe is simply part of the possible criminal misconduct investigation into Abedin. Clinton could end up being nailed in the same thing which caught General David Petraus. At least that’s what ex-federal prosecutor Bradley Simon said to New York Post.

They didn’t hesitate to charge General Petraeus with doing the same thing, downloading documents that are classified. The threshold under the statute is not high — they only need to prove there was an unauthorized removal and retention.

This doesn’t mean Clinton could face time behind bars. Petraeus was only given two years probation and a $100K fine, while Bill Clinton’s ex-National Security Adviser Sandy Berger got a $50K fine and two years probation. Both of them admitted to the unauthorized removal of classified documents, although Petraeus’ was in a black book and Berger took something from the National Archives. The Clinton campaign told The Washington Post the emails didn’t contain classified information and want transparency.

[Clinton] did not send nor receive any emails that were marked classified at the time. We want to ensure that appropriate procedures are followed as these emails are reviewed while not unduly delaying the release of her emails. We want that to happen as quickly and as transparently as possible.

This, of course, contradicts what the intelligence community IG Charles McCullough told Congress, based on statements from State Department Freedom of Information Act officials.

There are potentially hundreds of classified emails within the approximately 30,000 provided by former Secretary Clinton.

McCullough also noted there were emails which should have had classification markings, but didn’t, and should have been on a secure network. Ed’s already written about the Clinton email situation, pointing out how the security arrangements weren’t great. There are questions as to whether Bill Clinton’s former aide Justin Cooper had access to Hillary Clinton’s server or if Bryan Pagliano had taken over by the time she became Secretary of State. But The Washington Post notes Pagliano was paid through a Hillary PAC until April 2009, when he joined the State Department. Clinton became Secretary of State in January 2009. So it’s completely possible whoever was running Clinton’s private server didn’t have security clearance until April. Unless the Clintons show either Cooper or Pagliano had security clearance before then, it might be a problem.

It’s important to note New York Post is relying on “sources” so it could be an FBI agent or someone else putting this out. It could also just be completely false and a way for the FBI to tamp down on leaks. The Justice Department backed away from calling the probe criminal last week, but that doesn’t mean the New York Post isn’t right. It’s still pretty interesting, but might not cause waves in the Democratic primary (unless “Feel the Bern“ is actually real). From a general election standpoint, it might be a good thing for Clinton that this is coming out now and not next year. Clinton can fend off questions about it now, then laugh it off during the general election campaign, if she’s the nominee. There are plenty of people already on “Team Hillary” who probably won’t change their minds going into November 2016. A 30-to-60-second commercial on Fox News or CNN isn’t going to solve anything, and it’s doubtful MSNBC would take the money for said ad. It might work on network TV, but it all boils down to when they’re being aired and what audience is watching them. This doesn’t mean the GOP nominee should rely on just bashing Clinton to win the election. They’re have to present their own ideas and policies, which are starkly different from Clinton’s (and Obama’s and Bernie Sanders). It’s still pretty interesting and falls under the category of political popcorn.