Fact Check

Department of Homeland Security Chairman Officially Indicts Hillary Clinton of Treason

An inaccurate claim that Hillary Clinton was indicted for treason followed in the wake of a report that her e-mail server was hacked by multiple foreign intelligence agencies.

Published Nov 4, 2016

The Department of Homeland Security chairman has officially indicted Hillary Clinton on charges of treason.

On 2 November 2016, Fox News' Bret Baier reported that unnamed FBI sources had confirmed that at least five foreign intelligence agencies are known to have hacked Hillary Clinton's e-mail server, that several investigations are ongoing — including a criminal probe of "pay-for-play" allegations regarding the Clinton Foundation — and that an indictment will "likely" result.

After the accuracy of these claims was disputed by other news outlets, however, Baier admitted his reporting had been erroneous:

I explained a couple of times yesterday the phrasing of one of my answers to Brit Hume on Wednesday night, saying it was inartful, the way I answered the last question about whether the investigations would continue after the election. And I answered that, yes, our sources said it would. They would continue to likely to an indictment. Well, that just wasn't inartful, it was a mistake, and for that I'm sorry. I should have said, they will continue to build their case. Indictment obviously is a very loaded word, Jon, especially in this atmosphere and no one knows if there would or would not be an indictment no matter how strong investigators feel their evidence is. It is obviously a prosecutor who has to agree to take the case and make that case to a grand jury.

Baier also contradicted his own report that the FBI had established a "99% certainty" that at least five foreign entities hacked Clinton's private server:

On the hacking of Clinton's private, unsecured server, while multiple sources believe and are operating under the working assumption that the server has been hacked, and some had specific quotes to that belief, there are, to this day no digital fingerprints of such breaches.

Unfortunately, by the time he issued his corrections Baier's original, inaccurate reporting had already sparked a flurry of even more inaccurate reports from unreliable web sites claiming that Clinton herself had been "officially indicted" for treason. This specimen, for example, was posted on Ending the Fed on 3 November 2016, and got a considerable amount of play via social media:

BREAKING: Department of Homeland Security Chairman Officially Indicts Hillary Clinton Of TREASON

The Department of Homeland Security just went on the air with Fox News and told the American People that Hillary Clinton is guilty of treason.

In the damning announcement, Department of Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul revealed that Hillary Clinton clearly acted against the multiple security warnings she received while Secretary of State.

Furthermore, he went on to release that Hillary Clinton took multiple devices overseas. Not only that, these devices were proven to be hacked by China, Russia, and the Islamic State of Iran.

The intent is clear. Hillary Clinton used the secret server to hide her actions from the American People. She committed pure treason against the United States. Here is the full video:

The article is egregiously inaccurate in these key respects:

1. Congressman Michael McCaul (R-TX), who appears in the video above, is not the "Department of Homeland Security chairman" (there is no such entity). McCaul is the chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security.

2. While McCaul did state in the video that in his opinion Hillary Clinton is guilty of "treason" for using a private e-mail server while Secretary of State, he did not announce an indictment — nor, indeed, would he have the judicial power, as a Congressman, to secure such an indictment — against Clinton.

3. As we know from Bret Baier's own corrections, it is not the case that any government official has gone on record saying an indictment of Clinton is likely, much less that an indictment already went forward.


Byers, Dyland and Brian Stelter.   "Fox Anchor: 'Mistake' in Indictment Story."    CNN.   4 November 2016.

Fox News.   "Happening Now: Bret Baier Clarifies Reporting on Clinton Foundation Probe."    4 November 2016.

Fox News.   "On the Record: Bret Baier Confirms new details in FBI Clinton Foundation investigation."    2 November 2016.

Fox News.   "Sources: 99 Percent Chance Foreign Intel Agencies Breached Clinton Server.    3 November 2016.

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.