The FBI has expanded its investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server and is now looking into whether “materially false” statements were given to federal agents, Fox News is reporting.
Sources familiar with the investigation told Fox News that agents are focusing on U.S. Code 18, Section 1001 which governs “materially false” statements made in writing, orally or through a third party. The section could apply to Clinton, her aides or her attorneys if they made any misleading or false statements about her emails which caused federal agents to expend more resources and time on the investigation.
Violations of the code are punishable by up to five years in prison.
“This is a broad, brush statute that punishes individuals who are not direct and fulsome in their answers,” Timothy Gill, a former FBI agent who worked in the agency’s national security branch, told Fox News.
“It is a cover-all. The problem for a defendant is when their statements cause the bureau to expend more time, energy, resources to de-conflict their statements with the evidence,” he added.
Politico reported earlier this week that the FBI has ramped up its investigation. While the probe was initially characterized as a fact-finding inquiry, one former FBI official told the news outlet that it now resembles a “full-blown investigation.” The FBI is now interviewing State Department officials about whether classified information was mishandled on Clinton’s homebrew email setup. The agency has also requested documents from tech companies that Clinton hired to manage her email system.
Fox had previously reported that the FBI’s investigation focused on whether Clinton’s email server — and the emails that passed through it — violated a portion of the Espionage Act pertaining to “gross negligence” in handling sensitive government information.
The Intelligence Community’s inspector general has flagged two emails Clinton received on her personal email account that contained “top secret” information when they were sent. That’s in addition to more than 600 emails that the State Department has retroactively determined contain “confidential” information — the lowest classification category.
Last week, it was revealed that Clinton and two of her top aides, Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, had signed nondisclosure agreements pertaining to the handling of classified information just days after taking office in Jan. 2009.
Signing those documents could have ramifications for the trio. Signers of the “Classified Information Nondisclosure Agreement” acknowledge that “classified information is marked or unmarked classified information, including oral communications.”
That undermines a claim Clinton has made while defending her use of her off-the-books email system. She’s repeatedly stated that she did not receive any emails that were “marked” classified when they were sent or received. The nondisclosure agreement seemingly nullifies Clinton’s defense. (RELATED: Document Completely Undermines Hillary’s Classified Email Defense)
Many of the emails Clinton sent and received contain foreign government information which the federal government considers to be classified upon origination. The State Department has so far insisted that none of Clinton’s emails contained information that was classified when she was in office.
Clinton signed another nondisclosure agreement government the most sensitive type of classified information, “top secret/sensitive compartmented information,” or TS/SCI. In doing so, Clinton acknowledged “that the unauthorized disclosure, unauthorized retention, or negligent handling of SCI by me could cause irreparable injury to the United States or be used to advantage by a foreign nation.”
Clinton did not turn her work-related State Department emails over to the agency until December, nearly two years after leaving office.