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'Stunning' Hillary Email Breach Could Be Criminal, Attorney Says

'Stunning' Hillary Email Breach Could Be Criminal, Attorney Says

By    |   Wednesday, 12 August 2015 02:12 PM EDT

David B. Rivkin, a leading constitutional lawyer, describes the apparent security breach related to Hillary Clinton’s storage of emails on a private server as "stunning," and said in an exclusive Newsmax interview Wednesday that the former secretary of state could be subject in theory to "both civil and criminal penalties," depending on the outcome of the FBI investigation that is now underway.

The Washington Post reported Wednesday that a total of seven Clinton emails containing sensitive or classified information have been identified. According to McClatchy News Service, two of the Clinton emails were classified top secret and compartmented — one of the federal government’s highest classification categories.

There remains some doubt, however, as to whether the emails had been already designated top secret at the time they were forwarded to Clinton.

The sensitive emails were discovered in a review of less than 1 percent of the 30,000 Clinton emails turned over to the State Department. According to the Post report, much of the sensitive information came from the CIA.

The Post also reported that some information apparently involved the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, a sensitive agency based in Springfield, Virginia, that is tasked with producing and analyzing images from secret surveillance satellites. The NGA, for example, played an important role in analyzing images of Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad compound in Pakistan prior to the U.S. raid that killed him.

The Post’s sources state that the Clinton emails included "references to information related to satellite images and electronic communications."

Rivkin, who gained national prominence during his representation of the multi-state lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act that reached the Supreme Court on the eve of the 2012 election campaign, emphasized to Newsmax that even if no information from the server was intercepted by a foreign power, it remains "a serious problem" for Clinton.

"In fact if you look at the Espionage Act, it is a criminal offense potentially to negligently mishandle classified information," he says. "You don’t have to knowingly share it with unauthorized personnel. The fact that you negligently compromise it is a serious violation.

"And then of course there’s a problem that she’s deleted over 30,000 emails, because that deletion raises concerns about possible obstruction of justice," he added.

Clinton maintained the deleted emails were strictly personal in nature. She also has repeatedly stated that no emails that were classified at the time were sent or received them on her private email setup.

Last month in Iowa, for example, she told reporters: "I am confident that I never sent or received any information that was classified at the time it was sent and received."

On Tuesday, Clinton’s attorney, David Kendall, agreed to hand over to the FBI the private server that she used for emails during her tenure as secretary of state. He also agreed to give the FBI a thumb drive containing some 30,000 emails that Clinton had previously provided to the State Department.

FBI officials have stated that Clinton is not a target of their investigation. So far their probe appears to be focused primarily on how sensitive information was handled by various parties.

Asked how Clinton’s apparent security lapse compared to the high-profile cases of former CIA director Gen. David Petraeus and former CIA director John Deutch, Rivkin said the gravity of Clinton’s situation is "orders of magnitude higher."

That’s significant given that Petraeus’s case led to a criminal prosecution. He pled guilty to mishandling classified information, a misdemeanor, and was sentenced to pay a $100,000 fine and serve two years of probation.

Deutch was subjected to an investigation, but received a presidential pardon from President Bill Clinton.

Said Rivkin: "Both David Petraeus and John Deutch have been harshly punished … for very small infractions of taking classified information home. In Petraeus' case, it was to give the information to his biographer.

"John Deutch, I believe, was working on a book, took home information and did not store it on a computer in a place that was authorized for storage of classified information. They both got punished harshly.

"Here we have a secretary of state that spent years using the private server that, to the best of my knowledge, has never been approved for handling of classified information, with thousands of emails — I mean, that’s quite stunning."

Rivkin dismissed assertions that other secretaries of state may also have used private email accounts.

"Once in a blue moon, because they also had a private email for a private business, somebody sent them an official email to a private server, which is regrettable," he said. "But I don’t know anybody who said, 'I’m going to conduct everything, my whole business, from a private server.' It’s stunning, I mean it’s totally stunning."

Rivkin added that it is "certainly theoretically possible" that Clinton could face legal repercussions, although the FBI has yet to specifically state that it is investigating criminal wrongdoing in the case.

"These are substantial charges that entail both civil and criminal penalties …" Rivkin told Newsmax in an interview Wednesday. "I expect that they’ll proceed carefully.

"I know there’s speculation about how this will be partisan this and partisan that, but I worked back in the day in the Department of Justice, and I have every confidence that once they start investigating, the career people will do the right thing."

Beyond the legal implications, the controversy of the emails threatens to become an ongoing drag on Clinton’s campaign. Polls show Clinton already is fighting a trust deficit with the public. A recent AP-GfK poll indicated 61 percent of respondents said the word "honest" described Clinton not at all or not very well.

Before Tuesday, Clinton had refused to turn her server over to a third party, saying it was unnecessary.

The FBI is expected to determine whether the server data can be recovered. Experts on data recovery say there is a strong likelihood that information from an erased server can be recovered, unless additional steps have been taken to eliminate the information. Highly skilled experts are said to be able to erase data without leaving evidence of their work.

Another wildcard in the burgeoning case is whether data on the Clinton server was subject to some form of backup storage — a routine precaution according to IT experts.

According to The New York Times, information from the Clinton server "was stored with a small technology company in Colorado called Platte River Networks."

According to the Times, Kendall, the Clinton’s attorney, informed federal investigators that "the server at Platte River Networks" had been wiped clean.

The FBI reportedly visited that firm in recent weeks to inquire about the Clinton data, according to that report.

Another important development in the case: McClatchy News is reporting that at least one Clinton aide also had an account on Clinton’s private server.

On Monday, Clinton acknowledged in a sworn affidavit filed in response to a Freedom of Information lawsuit that her deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin, who is described by McClatchy as "one of Clinton’s closest confidants," had an account on Clinton’s personal server.

That sworn statement was the first indication that any Clinton aide had such an account.

In March, three GOP Senate chairman voiced concerns that State Department aides may have transmitted classified information in an unsecured way. McClatchy reports that at least four top aides have turned over copies of their work emails.

Some of those emails reportedly were sent on personal accounts. They were turned over to the State Department, which has received a subpoena from members of Congress to produce the documents.

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David B. Rivkin, a leading constitutional lawyer, describes the apparent security breach related to Hillary Clinton's storage of emails on a private server as "stunning," and said in an exclusive Newsmax interview Wednesday that the former Secretary of State could be...
hillary clinton, email, probe, criminal, rivkin
Wednesday, 12 August 2015 02:12 PM
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