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Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information is getting another look with the release Thursday of a Justice Department inspector general report scrutinizing the FBI's investigation into whether she committed crimes using a private email server as secretary of state. Although it would be controversial, the Justice Department is able to reopen the Clinton email case, and experts say President Trump's 2016 adversary arguably could be charged until March 2025 — after Trump would leave office even if he wins a second term.
Because of the passage of time, it’s possible Clinton cannot be charged under the gentler statute. She left office in February 2013, and the law’s specific wording covers when someone "knowingly removes such documents or materials without authority and with the intent to retain" them — written in such a way that the clock may begin when removal happens. “I think that under this statute, the proscription is on the removal and it would run from removal,” prominent defense attorney Barry Pollack told the Washington Examiner. But under the harsher law, the 10-year countdown arguably started in late March 2015, when tech aide Paul Combetta had what he told the FBI was an “oh #” moment and deleted stored emails using the software BleachBit, after forgetting to do so months earlier. Under the tougher law, "I would think its statute [of limitations] would not start to run as long as the person has the documents,” Pollack said. “It has a ten-year limitations period, not five.”
One law, 18 U.S. Code § 1924, forbids “unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material.” It carries up to five years in prison, with a five-year statute of limitations. Former CIA contractor Reynaldo Regis pleaded guilty in May to violating the law by taking home about 60 notebooks with classified information. There's no allegation he shared them.