One hundred forty-seven FBI agents have been deployed to run down leads, according to a lawmaker briefed by FBI Director James B. Comey.
The FBI has accelerated the investigation because officials want to avoid the possibility of announcing any action too close to the election.
The number of agents is likely the result of the FBI’s desire to bring this investigation to some sort of conclusion long before the November election. That’s in keeping with a report from Del Quentin Wilber in the Los Angeles Times that the investigation is moving into its final stages, which will include interviews with some of Clinton’s top aides and even the former Secretary of State herself.
Writes Wilber: “The interviews by FBI agents and prosecutors will play a significant role in helping them better understand whether Clinton or her aides knowingly or negligently discussed classified government secrets over a non-secure email system when she served as secretary of State.”
Both stories make clear that according to legal experts, Clinton is very unlikely to be punished for her exclusive use of a private email server during her time at State since the practice was not forbidden.
Potentially more problematic for Clinton is her insistence that she never knowingly sent or received any messages that were marked classified at the time. It’s been shown in the year-plus that the investigations into her server have been going on that there were a number of items on Clinton’s server that were classified after the fact but no evidence yet to make her initial statement untrue.
That the investigation is nearing its end and that it is taking the time of nearly 150 agents is a bad news/good news situation for Clinton. On the good news front, the push to wrap it up one way or the other soon means that if she is largely cleared of wrongdoing, this story won’t continue to dog her in a general election race — or it least won’t be an active investigation during that contest. On the bad news front, you never really want 150 FBI agents chasing down leads in relation to anything you have a hand in. That’s just a lot of people digging through your professional life.
(c) 2016, The Washington Post · Chris Cillizza