Politics & Policy

Report: FBI Expands Felony Probe in Clinton E-mail Scandal

Hillary Clinton in Iowa, November 3, 2015 (Scott Olson/Getty)

The polls may look great right now for Hillary Clinton, but a deepening criminal investigation into her use of a private e-mail system while she was secretary of state underscores how fragile her lead really is.

On Thursday, Fox News reported that multiple intelligence sources claim the FBI has broadened its probe into the former secretary of state’s potentially negligent handling of classified information. The nation’s top law-enforcement agency is now also investigating whether Clinton or her surrogates made “materially false” statements to federal officials regarding her private e-mail system. Those statements, or any evidence that Clinton pressured a third party as part of a cover-up, would constitute felony violations of U.S. Code Title 18, Section 1001. Each violation carries a five-year prison sentence.

Two U.S. officials also told Fox News that the FBI has opened its own review aimed at determining the classification level of information retained on Clinton’s private server. For months, intelligence analysts and State Department officials have been locked in disagreements over whether several of the server’s e-mails contain classified material, including “Top Secret” information. The FBI’s decision would essentially cut the State Department out of those discussions.

#related#The revelation of an expanded FBI investigation comes on the heels of a Tuesday Politico story, which alleges that the FBI’s examination of Clinton’s retention of classified e-mails on an unsecured server has evolved from a preliminary inquiry into a “full-blown investigation.

The revelations illustrate the Clinton campaign’s continued vulnerability despite its recent polling surge. Ever since her top rival for the nomination, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders, refused to press her on the e-mail issue in last month’s Democratic debate, Clinton has seemed eager to put the controversy to bed for good.

But a McClatchy-Marist poll released today shows that 68 percent of likely voters believe Clinton’s use of a private server remains a major campaign issue. 28 percent say she acted illegally, while an additional 40 percent say her behavior was unethical — including 40 percent of Democrats. Just 27 percent think she did nothing wrong.

— Brendan Bordelon is a political reporter for National Review.

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