The never-ending saga of Hillary Clinton’s emails continues and it is guaranteed to be continue because of the regularly scheduled document drops the State Department is making under court order. Let’s put the matter into question and answer format.
What did Hillary Clinton do?
From the very beginning (January 2009) of her term as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton exclusively used a private email server, either hosted on her own premises or those of others, commingling private emails, the emails in which she conducted State Department business, and business related to the Clinton Foundation. This was brought to light as a consequence of a Freedom of Information Act request.
Why did she do that?
She said she did it for convenience. That’s absurd and I assume that she along with everyone else knows it’s absurd. IMO the most likely explanation and the one explanation that does not presume that she’s an idiot is that she maintained a private email server to avoid the scrutiny of her communications that she knew her political enemies would inevitably conduct.
Well, so what?
Not only were her actions in violation of State Department policy (policy she was not at liberty to ignore even as Secretary of State) but the server was not secured. We know that the security of the private email server was breached by at least one hacker—that came out early in the investigations. We do not know whether its security was also breached by foreign governments.
It is also quite likely that she violated the law multiple times.
According to Ken Cuccinelli:
Instead of turning his journals — so-called “black books” — over to the Defense Department or CIA when he left either of those organizations, Petraeus kept them at his home — an unsecure location — and provided them to his paramour/biographer, Paula Broadwell, at another private residence. (None of the classified information in the black books was used in his biography.)
On April 23, Petraeus pled guilty to a single misdemeanor charge of unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or materials under 18 USC §1924. Many in the intelligence community were outraged at the perceived “slap on the wrist” he received, at a time when the Justice Department was seeking very strong penalties against lesser officials for leaks to the media.
According to the law, there are five elements that must be met for a violation of the statute, and they can all be found in section (a) of the statute: “(1) Whoever, being an officer, employee, contractor, or consultant of the United States, and, (2) by virtue of his office, employment, position, or contract, becomes possessed of documents or materials containing classified information of the United States, (3) knowingly removes such documents or materials (4) without authority and (5) with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location [shall be guilty of this offense].”
Mr. Cuccinelli goes on to explain how Sec. Clinton’s actions satisfies each of those conditions. I also think there’s a pretty good case that she engaged in a conspiracy to evade the Freedom of Information Act. That’s a felony.
Isn’t she exonerated by virtue of having been Secretary of State at the time and empowered to determine what was or was not classified?
No. Some of the emails on her private server were what is called “classified at birth”. That means they were inherently and automatically classified. Declassifying them would have left a paper trail. Since no such paper trail has come to light, it’s a reasonable inference that never happened.
Isn’t this all just politically motivated?
No. There are certainly political motivations involved and the investigations may have started out with political motivations but it’s gone far beyond that now. It genuinely appears that Sec. Clinton engaged in illegal activities and has persistently lied about them.