As Katie mentioned earlier, sources at the FBI are telling Fox News that the bureau has expanded its probe into Hillary Clinton's improper, national security-compromising email scheme. Earlier in the week, I cited Politico's report that investigators have "stepped up" their efforts by conducting additional interviews regarding internal State Department concerns over classified data security while Clinton was operating her unsecure private server. Fox's scoop comes on the heels of their previous revelation that the probe was focusing on a "gross negligence" provision within the federal Espionage Act. Additional evidence of Clinton's negligence was made public last week. What this latest leak indicates is that the inquiry's scope now includes an examination of whether Clinton and her team made statements that misled investigators, under U.S. Code 18, Section 1001. Katie is right to refer to this as the "cover up portion" of the whole saga. Hillary Clinton has stated repeatedly that the 30,000-plus emails she and her lawyers unilaterally deleted were all personal in nature, and not work related. That has proven to be patently false (see here and here), forcing Clinton to unconvincingly torture the definition of "work-related." Here's her initial explanation for how she determined whether to surrender or delete emails:
[A]fter I left office, the State Department asked former secretaries of state for our assistance in providing copies of work-related emails from our personal accounts. I responded right away and provided all my emails that could possibly be work-related, which totalled roughly 55,000 printed pages, even though I knew that the State Department already had the vast majority of them. We went through a thorough process to identify all of my work-related emails and deliver them to the State Department. At the end, I chose not to keep my private personal emails — emails about planning Chelsea’s wedding or my mother’s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes.
She said in March that she handed over any email that could possibly be considered work-related, withholding only those messages that dealt with unequivocally personal matters such as funerals, weddings and yoga. Now that it's clear that she did no such thing, she's changed her tune:
GOWDY: Madam Secretary, is there any question that the 15 that James Cole turned over to us were work related? There's no ambiguity about that. They were work related.
CLINTON: No. They were from a personal friend, not … any government official. And they were, I determined on the basis of looking at them, what I thought was work related and what wasn't. And some I didn't even have time to read, Mr. Chairman.
The "personal friend" to whom she's referring is Sidney Blumenthal, a political hatchet man on the Clinton Foundation's payroll. Some of the emails in question pertained to US policy in Libya. That's business, not "personal." And the only reason Blumenthal wasn't "any government official" in this context is because the Obama White House expressly forbade it, given his dicey ethical reputation. And then there are the withheld Petraeus emails, which (a) were sent to a government official, and (b) blow up Clinton's timeline on when she began using her private server. Perhaps the FBI has determined that these inconsistencies are worthy of more scrutiny; remember, they may have access to thousands of additional 'deleted' emails that the public has never seen. Over at Hot Air, our colleague Ed Morrissey approaches today's Fox story from a different angle, noting that there's another clause in the relevant federal code that may be at play here:
(c) With respect to any matter within the jurisdiction of the legislative branch, subsection (a) shall apply only to— (1) administrative matters, including a claim for payment, a matter related to the procurement of property or services, personnel or employment practices, or support services, or a document required by law, rule, or regulation to be submitted to the Congress or any office or officer within the legislative branch; or (2) any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress, consistent with applicable rules of the House or Senate.
It's totally plausible that the FBI is looking into whether Hillary obstructed justice by hindering any number of oversight efforts, including those by Congress. Ed concludes, "Hillary should be familiar with the aphorism, 'it’s not the crime, it’s the cover-up.' If the FBI is taking the investigation in that direction, then the real target would be the person who set up the server and never disclosed its existence to Congress (or the courts in FOIA cases) despite repeated requests. And that person can only be Hillary Clinton." I'll leave you with fresh poll results from McClatchy:
Poll: 68% call Hillary's email scheme unethical or illegal. Just 27% agree w/ her that she did 'nothing wrong:' https://t.co/OOQuXEiphU— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) November 12, 2015
Mrs. Clinton has literally laughed off questions on this issue, despite the serious toll it has taken on her honesty ratings. She's quasi-apologized for her use of an unsecure server while falsely insisting that the arrangement was "allowed." Wrong.