Ratcliffe bill tightens laws that allowed Clinton to avoid prosecution for mishandling sensitive national security information
WASHINGTON – Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Texas) introduced legislation today to clarify the laws governing America’s most sensitive national security information. The introduction of the Classified Information Protection Act was driven by the Justice Department’s recent decision not to pursue criminal charges against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her reckless use of unauthorized, unsecured email servers to send and receive emails containing classified information. In exchanges with Congress, FBI Director James Comey said the Department of Justice added factors to the criminal code in its consideration of this case, which may have impacted the decision not to prosecute.
The Classified Information Protection Act amends two statutes (18 U.S.C. 793(f) and 18 U.S.C. 1924) to clarify that the law means exactly what it says – and that intent to harm the United States is not required to prosecute individuals who grossly mishandle America’s most sensitive information. Ratcliffe is joined in introducing the bill by four original cosponsors: House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), and Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), who served as an undercover officer in the CIA.
Despite overwhelming evidence uncovered by the FBI that Clinton was “extremely careless” in her handling of highly classified information, Director James Comey said he recommended not pursuing criminal charges because there was no clear evidence proving her intent. The Classified Information Protection Act aims to correct this disconnect between the law as it is written and its interpretation as applied in this case.
“The American people were rightfully shocked when criminal charges were not pursued against Hillary Clinton in light of the fact pattern presented by the FBI,” Ratcliffe said.
“If this is the precedent, if this is the standard – what’s to prevent this same level of extreme carelessness in the future? What’s to stop the reckless disregard for the sensitivity of classified information from again jeopardizing the lives of Americans in harm’s way?”
Reports released from the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s use of private email servers revealed:
- 81 email chains were classified at the time they were sent.
- Hostile foreign actors” successfully hacked the accounts of Clinton’s close aides, gaining access to emails sent from her private servers.
- One of Clinton’s private servers was successfully hacked by an individual using Tor.
“While Mrs. Clinton’s saga has brought this issue to light, this bill reaches far beyond her individual case. It’s about giving the American people confidence that our most sensitive matters of national security will never again be exposed to our adversaries without consequence. It assures the public that officials in positions of power are not above the law and must handle sensitive national security information in a manner worthy of the office they’ve reached. We must ensure that anyone – not just Hillary Clinton – will be held accountable by the law for putting our national security at risk in this way,” Ratcliffe said.
Ratcliffe is a former federal prosecutor who served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Texas from 2007 to 2008 and as a federal terrorism prosecutor from 2004 to 2007. As a member of the House Judiciary Committee, he recently led the charge in Congress to demand a special counsel to investigate pay-to-play tactics at the Clinton Foundation.