Half of voters want criminal probe of Hillary Clinton’s private email use

U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton © Brian Snyder
As Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton turns over her private email server to the FBI, a new poll shows that just over half of registered voters want to see a criminal investigation over the incident.

The Democratic frontrunner has been embroiled in controversy ever since it was revealed that she used a private server to conduct government business during her four years as secretary of state. Just this week, the intelligence community inspector general said that several emails stored on the server featured classified information.

Clinton’s use of a private server is particularly controversial because of the possibility that foreign hackers could have snooped on the emails.

According to a new poll, registered voters don’t necessarily suspect malicious intent behind Clinton’s email use, but the majority still want a thorough accounting of the data stored on the server.

“Even though most voters feel Clinton’s intentions may have been acceptable, a majority (52%) say that her emails should be subject to a criminal investigation for the potential release of classified material,” a poll conducted by Monmouth University. Forty-one percent said the emails shouldn’t be looked into.

The poll was conducted before Clinton decided to hand her data over to the Justice Department.

Unsurprisingly, most Republicans (82 percent) supported an investigation and most Democrats opposed one. Fifty-four percent of independents said that there should be a probe.

“Initial media reports of a criminal probe proved to be inaccurate, but most voters feel that the potential release of classified information merits investigation,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute, in a statement. 

Still, 51 percent of voters said Clinton’s decision was “mainly a matter of convenience.” About 38 percent wondered if she has something to hide.

The poll arrives just one day after Clinton’s attorney agreed to turn over the server to the Justice Department, while the FBI continues to pore over any possible security holes. Clinton also agreed to give the DOJ a thumb drive filled with all the emails she had previously submitted to the State Department.

“[Clinton] directed her team to give her e-mail server that was used during her tenure as secretary to the Department of Justice, as well as a thumb drive containing copies of her e-mails already provided to the State Department,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said to the Washington Post. “She pledged to cooperate with the government’s security inquiry, and if there are more questions, we will continue to address them.”

Officials stressed that the investigation is concerned with the handing of classified data and that Clinton is not under suspicion of wrongdoing.

However, an unnamed federal source close to the situation told the New York Post that the FBI’s investigation is “definitely a criminal probe.”

“The DOJ and FBI can conduct civil investigations in very limited circumstances,” though that is not the case with Clinton, the source told the newspaper. “In this case, a security violation would lead to criminal charges. Maybe DOJ is trying to protect her campaign.”

Meanwhile, Intelligence Community Inspector General Charles McCullough III told lawmakers in Congress that at least five emails from the server had classified information, CNN reported. Two of them have information that has now been labeled classified, while another two are also said to have housed classified information, though it’s unclear if the State Department agrees. Information in the fifth email has been declassified since Clinton’s tenure ended.