The FBI is making increasing inquiries into the security of Hillary Clinton’s private email system and aides’ communications, leading a former FBI official to surmise that the probe has escalated into a full-fledged investigation.
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The FBI around early October requested documents from a company involved in the server arrangement after Clinton left State. It also interviewed a former high-ranking policy official at State about the contents of top Clinton aides’ emails. The official, who spoke to POLITICO on the condition of anonymity, said the questions explored whether anyone at State was concerned about classified information being put at risk by communicating over email. The source did not know of any such concerns. Confirmation of the interview and document requests is the first public indication that the agency is moving ahead with its inquiry–and possibly expanding it.
The former State Department official approached by the FBI was not involved with the set-up or approval of the personal email system Clinton used while she served as secretary of state, which indicates that the FBI may now be examining staff communications in addition to the security of Clinton’s server.
"This sounds to me like it’s more than a preliminary inquiry; it sounds like a full-blown investigation," former assistant director of the FBI Tom Fuentes said. "When you have this amount of resources going into it …. I think it’s at the investigative level."
When the Department of Justice seized Clinton’s server in August after the inspector general of the intelligence community concluded that multiple emails contained classified information, the probe was considered preliminary.
The FBI does not need to say publicly that it has escalated a preliminary investigation to a full-fledged one.
The news comes days after the Washington Free Beacon reported that Clinton signed a nondisclosure agreement when she took office as secretary of state that laid out the criminal penalties for "any unauthorized disclosure" of classified information.
"Hillary Clinton has sought to mislead the American people from day one about her secret email server, but now the FBI is expanding its investigation even further," Michael Short, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, said Tuesday.
"Amid new revelations she likely violated a legally-binding agreement to protect classified information, Hillary Clinton has shown she cannot be trusted with the presidency by putting our national security at risk all so she could skirt government transparency laws."