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Behind Closed Doors: A Look at High-Profile Cases of Government Officials Mishandling Classified Information

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It is difficult to say exactly how many people have been charged by the Department of Justice (DOJ) for mishandling classified material, as the number can fluctuate and be affected by ongoing investigations. However, there have been several high-profile cases in recent years involving mishandling of classified information.

In the past ten years, several high-profile individuals have been investigated for mishandling classified materials, which were covered by the media:

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was investigated by the FBI in 2016 for her use of a private email server to handle classified information while she was in office.

Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was also charged in 2017 with making false statements to the FBI regarding his contacts with Russian officials.

Former CIA Director David Petraeus pleaded guilty in 2015 to mishandling classified information by providing classified material to his biographer, with whom he was also having an affair.

Former FBI Director James Comey was under investigation by the DOJ Inspector General in 2019 for mishandling classified information by leaking memos to the media.

Former State Department employee, Brian Pagliano was investigated by the FBI and US Justice Department in 2016 over his role in setting up and maintaining Clinton’s private email server.

Former FBI agent, Peter Strzok was fired from the FBI in 2018 for sending anti-Trump text messages, including some that contained classified information.

Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired in 2018 for unauthorized disclosure of sensitive information to the media and lack of cand during an internal investigation.

Former FBI lawyer, Kevin Clinesmith was charged with making a false statement in 2019 for altering an email to support the surveillance of a Trump campaign advisor.

There have also been seveal examples of individuals who have been charged with illegally possessing classified documents in the past include:

Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, who was charged in 2013 with illegally possessing and disclosing classified documents.

Chelsea Manning, a former Army intelligence analyst, who was charged in 2010 with illegally possessing and disclosing classified documents.

Reality Winner, a former National Security Agency contractor, who was charged in 2017 with illegally possessing and disclosing classified documents.

Harold Martin, a former NSA contractor, who was charged in 2016 with stealing classified documents and digital files from the agency

James F. Hitselberger, a former Navy linguist, who was charged in 2013 with illegally possessing classified documents.

Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer, who was convicted in 2015 of illegally disclosing classified information.

It’s also worth noting that mishandling classified information is a serious crime with serious consequences, including fines and imprisonment. The Department of Justice (DOJ) takes this type of violation very seriously and will frequently launch investigations and file charges when classified information is discovered to have been mishandled. Furthermore, while the politician may not be charged with a crime, they may face disciplinary action, lose their security clearance, or even lose their job.

It is unknown which politicians were investigated by the House of Representatives or the Senate for mishandling classified information and faced disciplinary action such as censure or expulsion. While there may have been some cases of this in the past, the numbers of those cases are not public, and it is not widely reported. It is worth noting that disciplinary action by the House of Representatives or the Senate is uncommon and usually reserved for the most egregious of cases. It’s also worth noting that the investigation, disciplinary, and expulsion process is lengthy and complicated, and it’s unusual for politicians to face such severe penalties for mishandling classified information.

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