WASHINGTON Hillary Clinton appears to have overcome an investigation of her role in the 2012 deadly attacks in Benghazi, Libya, but she still faces a months-long FBI inquiryinto the handling of sensitive information while she was secretary of state.
The FBI’s Counterintelligence Division, which opened its review this summer afterclassified information was found in emails transmitted over Clinton’s private email server,is under pressure to act quickly, as Clinton is in the midst of running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.
Attorneys who have handled classified information cases say the bureau, initially asked to examine whether Clinton’s arrangement compromised national security secrets, ultimately will have to consider whether she and her aides failed to sufficiently safeguard sensitive information.
They disagree about whether there’s enough evidence to prosecute her or her aides for sending and receiving government messages over the personal email system. routed through a private computer server in the basement of her New York home.
But most who spoke to McClatchy say it’s unlikely the former first lady, senator and Cabinet secretary will face charges because of her high profile and the hurdle to prove she knew the emails contained classified information when she sent them to others.
“She’s too big to jail,” said national security attorney Edward MacMahon Jr., who represented former CIA employee Jeffrey Sterling in 2011 in a leak case that led to an espionage prosecution and 3½-year prison term. He cited a pattern of light punishments for top government officials who have mishandled classified information while lower level whistleblowers such as Sterling have faced harsh prosecutions for revealing sensitive information to expose waste, fraud or abuse in government.