FBI Probe of Clinton’s Emails Prompted by Espionage Fears, Secret Letters Say

VICE NEWS — Two secret letters the FBI sent to the State Department have revealed for the first time that the bureau’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server, and the classified emails sent through it, stemmed from a so-called “Section 811” referral from the Intelligence Community’s Inspector General (ICIG). The ICIG determined that classified, national security information in Clinton’s emails may have been “compromised” and shared with “a foreign power or an agent of a foreign power.”

Section 811 of the Intelligence Authorization Act of 1995 “is the statutory authority that governs the coordination of counterespionage investigations between Executive Branch departments or agencies and the FBI.” A Section 811 referral is a report to the FBI about any unauthorized information that may have been disclosed to a foreign power.

A Section 811 referral “arises whenever there is a compromise of classified information — for whatever reason,” said Steven Aftergood, director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists. “It could include espionage, but it could also include negligence, inadvertence, or something else…. Section 811 does not assert a violation of criminal law.”

FBI Director James Comey, in an extraordinary public statement last month announcing that the FBI had closed its investigation, said it was possible that “hostile actors gained access” to Clinton’s emails because she used her personal email “extensively” while traveling abroad. However, the FBI did not uncover “direct evidence” that Clinton’s email server “was successfully hacked.”

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