Amid the many unanswered questions in the Hillary Clinton email scandal is whether the former secretary of state signed an official document acknowledging that she turned over all of the classified information in her possession to the State Department when she left office in Feb. 2013.
The “Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement” — Special Form 312 — also requires incoming government officials to acknowledge that classified information can be either “marked” or “unmarked” as such.
But finding out whether Clinton signed the document has been difficult.
The State Department declined to say whether she signed the form. The Daily Caller has also learned that the agency has not turned SF-312s for Clinton and several of her top aides over to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which requested them on Aug. 5.
A Judiciary committee spokesman told TheDC that staffers met with State Department officials on Aug. 20 to discuss the SF-312 documents and other records sought by committee chairman, Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley.
The spokesman said that the State Department agreed to hand over the documents two weeks after the meeting, but that they have still not been provided. The State Department acknowledged that it has met with the committee and is continuing to work with Grassley on the matter.
Whether or not Clinton signed the SF-312 could have significant implications for her presidential campaign.
She has downplayed the discovery that two emails that traversed the private email server she used while in office contained “top secret” information, saying that the emails were not “marked” as classified at the time she received them.
But the SF-312 removes that distinction. And failure to comply with the agreement can lead to criminal prosecution, dismissal, or loss of security clearance.
“As used in this Agreement, classified information is marked or unmarked classified information, including oral communications, that is classified under the standards of Executive Order 13526,” SF-312 reads.
The document requires incoming officials to acknowledge that they have received training “concerning the nature and protection of classified information, including the procedures to be followed in ascertaining whether other persons to whom I contemplate disclosing this information have been approved for access to it.”
Clinton has been known to avoid complying with mundane rules and regulations — her exclusive use of a personal email account and private server being a prime example.
There is also no record that Clinton signed Optional Form 109 which requires officials to attest that they turned over all official records — classified or unclassified — in their possession when leaving the State Department. (RELATED: State Department Says There Is ‘No Record’ Of Hillary Clinton Signing Separation Statement)
Clinton left the agency without turning over her work-related emails. She did not give them to the agency until Dec. 2014, nearly two years after leaving office.
State Department employees called out the agency in March, telling TheDC then that severe repercussions would be in store for rank-and-file staffers who refused or declined to sign the OF-109. In some cases, pensions could be held withheld for employees who did not sign the document, one agency employee said. (RELATED: Whistle-Blower: State Department Employees Who Don’t Sign Separation Agreement Face Dire Consequences)
But the State Department appears to take the SF-312 much more seriously than the OF-109. A July 2011 State Department Inspector General report faulted the agency after finding that four out of 25 employees it sampled for review had not signed SF-312s. While those employees were not named in the report, it is safe to say that they did not handle information that was as sensitive as that handled by Clinton.
The form presents a dilemma of sort. If Clinton did sign it when she took office, she acknowledged that there is no distinction between “marked” and “unmarked” classified information. If Clinton did not sign the document, then allowing her access to classified information would have violated federal regulations.
The form requires officials to attest that they understanding that classified information which they have access to “will remain the property of, or under the control of the United States Government unless and until otherwise determined by an authorized official or final ruling of a court of law.”
Officials also agree to return all classified materials in their possession when leaving their position, again bringing to the fore SF-312’s stipulation that classified information is classified regardless of whether it is “marked” or “unmarked.”
“I reaffirm that the provisions of the espionage laws, other federal criminal laws and executive orders applicable to the safeguarding of classified information have been made available to me; that I have returned all classified information in my custody; that I will not communicate or transmit classified information to any unauthorized person or organization; that I will promptly report to the Federal Bureau of Investigation any attempt by an unauthorized person to solicit classified information.”
The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment.