FBI 'A-Team' leading 'serious investigation into Clinton server
One of the parlor games being played in Washington these days revolves around the question, "How much legal trouble is Hillary really in?" Clinton partisans point to the investigations as not concentrating exclusively on Hillary. That may be, but now it is emerging that the FBI is not going to soft-pedal the investigation, as many expected, and is going full bore after whoever is responsible for allowing classified information to flow through a private server.
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.
The FBI offered no comment.
A leading national security attorney, who recently defended former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling in a leak investigation, told Fox News that violating the Espionage Act provision in question is a felony and pointed to a particular sub-section.
"Under [sub-section] F, the documents relate to the national defense, meaning very closely held information," attorney Edward MacMahon Jr. explained. "Somebody in the government, with a clearance and need to know, then delivered the information to someone not entitled to receive it, or otherwise moved it from where it was supposed to be lawfully held."
Additional federal regulations, reviewed by Fox News, also bring fresh scrutiny to Clinton's defense.
The Code of Federal Regulations, or "CFR," states: "Any person who has knowledge that classified information has been or may have been lost, possibly compromised or disclosed to an unauthorized person(s) shall immediately report the circumstances to an official designated for this purpose."
A government legal source confirmed the regulations apply to all government employees holding a clearance, and the rules do not make the "send" or "receive" distinction.
Rather, all clearances holders have an affirmative obligation to report the possible compromise of classified information or use of unsecured data systems.
A simple reading of the statute would indicate that even if Clinton was not aware of the classified emails on her server, she will be held responsible for them under the law. As we've come to expect with the Clinton team, there are no "simple" interpretations of the law. In this case, however, there appears to be a lot less wiggle room:
"Regardless of whether Mrs. Clinton sent or received this information, the obligations under the law are that she had to report any questions concerning this material being classified," said Chris Farrell, a former Army counterintelligence officer who is now an investigator with Judicial Watch. "There is no wiggle room. There is no ability to go around it and say I passively received something -- that's not an excuse."
The regulations also state there is an obligation to meet "safeguarding requirements prescribed by the agency." Based on the regulations, the decision to use a personal email network and server for government business -- and provide copies to Clinton attorney David Kendall -- appear to be violations. According to a letter from Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, Kendall and his associate did not have sufficient security clearances to hold TS/SCI (Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information) contained in two emails. Earlier this month, the FBI took physical custody of the server and thumb drives.
Clinton still insists she did nothing wrong and that if any classified information was on her server, she didn't know about it. As we've seen above, that's not supposed to be good enough. But you can't help but think that in the end, she'll get off with a slap on the wrist rather than go to trial for serious violations of the law.