The controversy surrounding Hillary Clinton’s emails continues growing stronger. What started as a seemingly unfair attack on Clinton’s use of a private email server during her tenure as Secretary of State has evolved into a possible criminal investigation. It’s no longer just security-concerned hackers and Republican opponents calling for Clinton to take responsibility for the scandal; the U.S. Department of Justice is involved as well. According to Al-Jazeera America, the FBI is now treating Clinton’s case as a “potential criminal investigation.”
The term “potential” is a key element of that statement. She is not under criminal investigation yet. The FBI did collect the personal email server Clinton used as Secretary of State, which contains more than 30,000 emails. Two of those emails had been flagged as containing classified information. Although Clinton has repeatedly denied using the account to discuss classified information, any evidence to the contrary could be devastating for the 2016 presidential candidate. She faces accusations that she put state secrets at an unnecessary security risk by using the account.
According to the Washington Post, the State Department updated its Foreign Affairs manual in 1995 to include “electronic mail” as Federal record. Ten years later, the State Department updated the manual to ensure “sensitive but unclassified” information is not sent through personal e-mail accounts. The laws were updated again during Clinton’s tenure and after she left the State Department. The 2014 update of the Presidential and Federal Records Act, signed into law more than a year after hackers exposed Clinton’s private email use, added electronic messaging to the definition of “federal records.”
Throughout the duration of the investigation, Clinton has been fairly transparent. She has largely dismissed accusations of criminal activity, claiming what she did was legal at the time (which, to an extent, it might have been under the fluctuating laws described above). She has also repeatedly described the accusations as irrelevant to her 2016 presidential run, an unfair attempt by Republicans to demonize the Democratic, female frontrunner. Her campaign site even has a section entitled “The Facts About Hillary Clinton’s Emails” in which she explains the scandal from her point of view.
As transparent as Clinton tries to be, however, it’s obvious that the government is taking this situation seriously. It’s still too early to confirm whether or not the “potential” investigation will turn into a criminal case, but the fact that that’s even a possibility should have Clinton and her supporters scared. According to Politico, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan is among those who believes Clinton’s private email use could be considered a criminal act. “There was a violation of government policy,” Sullivan said. “We wouldn’t be here today if this employee followed government policy.” If Clinton wants to be employed by the government again, this time at the helm of its highest office, she will have a lot to answer for regarding her email situation. If she’s charged with a criminal act, her presidential chances may be ruined.
Image Source: Politico