FBI officials are preparing to question top Hillary Clinton aides at the State Department in the latest leg of the federal government’s probe into her unsecured email system.
The Los Angeles Times reported:
Federal prosecutors investigating the possible mishandling of classified materials on Hillary Clinton’s private email server have begun the process of setting up formal interviews with some of her longtime and closest aides, according to two people familiar with the probe, an indication that the inquiry is moving into its final phases. … No dates have been set for questioning the advisors, but a federal prosecutor in recent weeks has called their lawyers to alert them that he would soon be doing so, the sources said. Prosecutors also are expected to seek an interview with Clinton herself, though the timing remains unclear.
The interviews, along with the case’s final review, could take weeks to complete, threatening to haunt the former secretary of state for the remainder of the presidential primary elections.
Intelligence officials told the Times that the interviews will help the government plod through legal questions surrounding whether Clinton and her aides knowingly or negligently used an unsecured system to discuss classified material.
The Washington Post reported Sunday evening that 147 FBI agents are now investigating Clinton’s private email server, though an unnamed official later disputed the report in a conversation with Politico.
Clinton has repeatedly denied wrongdoing, claiming that none of the emails sent or received on her private server were marked classified at the time. The State Department meanwhile has upgraded thousands of messages to classified status throughout its review of Clinton’s work-related correspondences.
Legal experts who spoke to the Times predicted that Clinton likely will not be prosecuted even if federal officials find that she or her aides sent classified information across the unsecured system.
Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at American University, said it’s not “clear” that federal law explicitly prohibited Clinton from using her private email system to transmit sensitive material.
Government officials found that more than 2,000 emails on Clinton’s server contain classified information, though none were marked classified on her personal email. Twenty-two messages have been deemed “top secret,” the highest classification level, and were withheld from public release.
Earlier this month, the Justice Department granted immunity to former State Department computer staffer Bryan Pagliano, who set up Clinton’s server in her home in 2009. The ex-Clinton aide has been cooperating with the FBI.