The FBI has assigned nearly 150 agents to tackle its probe into Hillary Clinton’s email system, an investigation that has reportedly turned criminal. The agency is also looking into whether the former secretary of state’s unsecured server was hacked.
The Washington Post reported:
The FBI is now trying to determine whether a crime was committed in the handling of that classified material. It is also examining whether the server was hacked. One hundred forty-seven FBI agents have been deployed to run down leads, according to a lawmaker briefed by FBI Director James B. Comey. The FBI has accelerated the investigation because officials want to avoid the possibility of announcing any action too close to the election.
The development is the latest in the yearlong controversy surrounding Clinton’s exclusive use of private email to conduct government business at the State Department, a matter that has dogged her presidential campaign. While Clinton has defended her use of private email and insisted that none of her messages were marked classified, the federal government has nevertheless upgraded thousands of messages to classified status as the State Department has reviewed and released the emails.
The Post, citing a review of hundreds of documents and interviews with government officials, reported that Clinton’s aides and top department officials did not pay close attention to laws concerning the handling of classified information and also ignored warnings about the security of the former secretary of state’s BlackBerry.
More than 2,000 emails–dozens of which Clinton herself sent–on the private server have been found to contain classified information though none was marked classified on Clinton’s system. The State Department was forced to withhold 22 messages from its release of Clinton’s work-related correspondences because the emails are “top secret,” the highest level of classification.
Rep. Chris Stewart (R., Utah), who is a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, told the Post that these messages were “obviously classified.”
“They are on their face sensitive and obviously classified,” the Republican lawmaker said. “This information should have been maintained in the most secure, classified, top-secret servers.”
Clinton and representatives for her presidential campaign have argued that the messages have been over-classified.
The FBI began probing Clinton’s email setup after the intelligence community inspector general reviewed a sample of messages from her server and found that two emails contained top secret information last year. Earlier this month, reports indicated that the agency had secured the cooperation of former State Department computer staffer Bryan Pagliano, who was offered immunity by the Justice Department.
Pagliano, who worked on Clinton’s failed 2008 presidential campaign, set up the server in her New York home in 2009. He went on to work as a political employee at the State Department’s IT department during Clinton’s tenure, which the Post reported was an “unusual arrangement.”
The FBI could also move to interview Clinton and her top aides as it finishes the investigation into her server.
The latest report comes days after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.), Clinton’s competitor for the Democratic nomination for president, swept the trio of primary contests over the weekend in Alaska, Hawaii, and Washington state.