Another Friday has passed and with it more of Hillary Clinton’s emails. At latest count nearly 700 of her emails, emails that were stored on a private, unsecured server, contained information of various levels of classification. At least two of those emails have been identified as originating with data from a KH-series photo-reconnaissance satellite and had the classification of Top Secret and required handling within a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. The FBI’s Counterintelligence Division is now engaged in an investigation. And FBI Director James Comey has vowed to follow the case wherever the evidence leads. But is that true?
Attorneys who have handled classified information cases say the bureau, initially asked to examine whether Clinton’s arrangement compromised national security secrets, ultimately will have to consider whether she and her aides failed to sufficiently safeguard sensitive information.
They disagree about whether there’s enough evidence to prosecute her or her aides for sending and receiving government messages over the personal email system. routed through a private computer server in the basement of her New York home.
But most who spoke to McClatchy say it’s unlikely the former first lady, senator and Cabinet secretary will face charges because of her high profile and the hurdle to prove she knew the emails contained classified information when she sent them to others.
“She’s too big to jail,” said national security attorney Edward MacMahon Jr., who represented former CIA employee Jeffrey Sterling in 2011 in a leak case that led to an espionage prosecution and 3½-year prison term. He cited a pattern of light punishments for top government officials who have mishandled classified information while lower level whistleblowers such as Sterling have faced harsh prosecutions for revealing sensitive information to expose waste, fraud or abuse in government.
On Thursday, the president met with Mr. Comey in the Oval Office to discuss his views. The White House declined to describe the conversation.