Taking Sides

In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Republican Party apparatchik Michael Mukasey remarks on the ongoing drip, drip of revelations about Hillary Clinton’s use and abuse of her rogue email server:

The current news, reported in the Journal and elsewhere, is that her server contained information at the highest level of classification, known as SAP, or Special Access Program. This is a level so high that even the inspector general for the intelligence community who reported the discovery did not initially have clearance to examine it.

The server also contained messages showing her contempt for classification procedures. This was bred at least in part by obvious familiarity with exactly “how it works”—such as when, an email shows, she directed a staff member simply to erase the heading on a classified document, converting it into “unpaper,” and send it on a “nonsecure” device.

Information disclosed by the State Department also reflects that in August 2011, when the State Department’s executive secretary suggested that he could provide Mrs. Clinton with a BlackBerry that would keep her identity secret but might generate communications that would be discoverable under the Freedom of Information Act, Huma Abedin, Mrs. Clinton’s closest aide, intervened and said the idea “doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.”


The FBI’s criminal investigation of messages on the server initially related solely to Mrs. Clinton’s possibly unlawful mishandling of classified information. The investigation has now metastasized to include “the possible intersection of Clinton Foundation donations, the dispensation of State Department contracts and whether regular processes were followed” as Fox News’s Catherine Herridge reported Jan. 19, quoting an intelligence source.

Which is to say, the FBI wants to know whether those messages, combined with other evidence, show that donors to the Clinton Foundation received special consideration in their dealings with the agency Mrs. Clinton headed.

Whatever the findings from that part of the probe, intelligence-community investigators believe it is nearly certain that Mrs. Clinton’s server was hacked, possibly by the Chinese or the Russians. This raises the distinct possibility that she would be subject to blackmail in connection with those transactions and whatever else was on that server by people with hostile intent against this country.

No criminality can be charged against Mrs. Clinton in connection with any of this absent proof that she had what the law regards as a guilty state of mind—a standard that may differ from one statute to another, depending on what criminal act is charged.

Yet—from her direction that classification rules be disregarded, to the presence on her personal email server of information at the highest level of classification, to her repeated falsehoods of a sort that juries are told every day may be treated as evidence of guilty knowledge—it is nearly impossible to draw any conclusion other than that she knew enough to support a conviction at the least for mishandling classified information.

I’m afraid that this is wishful thinking:

The simple proposition that everyone is equal before the law suggests that Mrs. Clinton’s state of mind—whether mere knowledge of what she was doing as to mishandling classified information; or gross negligence in the case of the mishandling of information relating to national defense; or bad intent as to actual or attempted destruction of email messages; or corrupt intent as to State Department business—justifies a criminal charge of one sort or another.

But will it be brought? That depends in part on the recommendation of FBI Director James Comey, a man described by President Obama, at the time the president appointed him, as “fiercely independent.” If no recommendation to charge is forthcoming, or if such a recommendation is made but not followed by the attorney general, what happens then?

Would the public stand for it? My guess is not. However, my guess is also that we won’t be put to that test because our public officials will do their duty.

Everyone already seems to have taken sides and the facts be damned. Hillary Clinton’s supporters will dismiss Mr. Mukasey’s remarks or those of anyone else as partisan-inspired lies. Sec. Clinton is already attributing FBI actions to her perennial bugaboo, the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy, regardless of the party affiliation or politics of those involved. As far as those who oppose Sec. Clinton are concerned, it all merely confirms what we’ve believed all along.

There are already prima facie cases against Sec. Clinton in this matter for violations of the Records Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Hatch Act, perjury, and conspiracy. That so many Americans are able to dismiss these out of hand makes me believe that equality under the law and, indeed, the rule of law are dead as a doornail.

20 comments… add one
  • ...

    I don’t care enough to read Mukasey’s position. I certainly don’t care about Hillary’s paranoid defense. (I’m surprised that no one ever mentions that she has an acute case of paranoia, as she’s been stating that there has been a vast right wing conspiracy to get Bill since he was a college student.)

    I don’t even care too much if there are criminal charges, as Hillary could murder the underage black sex slaves that Bill had just fucked, live and on television, and the Democratic faithful would state that those that were outraged hated women, children and minorities.

    Okay, that last isn’t true. I mean the part about me not caring if criminal charges are filed. It MIGHT just derail her campaign, and that would be good. Or it might get her elected, and that would be bad. So I guess I’m ambivalent on criminal charges.

    To me, the main thing is that by running her email in the fashion in which she did, Hillary put her own vanity and sense of entitlement above both good practice and the interests of the country. It was a completely unnecessary thing to do, and in fact a dangerous thing to do.

    Putting her own interests, in this case allegedly her own inability to manage two email accounts at once, above those of literally everyone else in the country should be enough to disqualify her from getting elected to dog catcher. It’s not going to stop her, but it should. That fact that it won’t is probably the most important take-away about the whole affair.

  • ...

    Incidentally, I think the country owns Donald Trump a debt of gratitude for strangling the !jeb! presidential campaign in the cradle last summer. That probably puts the kibosh on the Bush Family’s imperial designs until George P. gets older.

    Similarly America will owe Sanders should he manage to beat Hillary’s ancient, doddering presidential campaign to death with an ugly stick.

    If nothing else this campaign season, maybe we can at least halt the momentum of two powerful families trying to make the Presidency their personal property. It’s not much, but it’s the best we can do.

  • It was a completely unnecessary thing to do, and in fact a dangerous thing to do.

    It was unnecessary unless she knew in advance she’d be using it to, say, violate the Hatch Act or extort money from foreigners. Then it would be completely necessary.

    That fact that it won’t is probably the most important take-away about the whole affair.

    I agree with you. Hence the title of my post.

  • ...

    I agree with you. Hence the title of my post.

    I realized I had left a clause out of that sentence after I hit “SUBMIT”. It should have read,

    That fact that it won’t is, as you say, probably the most important take-away about the whole affair.

    Basically, the tl;dr version of my comment is, “Ditto!”

  • ...

    It was unnecessary unless she knew in advance she’d be using it to, say, violate the Hatch Act or extort money from foreigners. Then it would be completely necessary.

    I left that out for the reason that to make my point that even if she were 100% on the up-and-up and 100% honest, it was STILL stupid and unnecessary.

    If she was doing it for other illegal purposes, then it should obviously disqualify her. But as I said, I think she could strangle newborns in their cradles on live TV and the Dem faithful would still not hold it against her.

    After all, there are people that insist that Hillary’s tenure at State was good both because of her handling of the executive/administrative functions (State’s data and personnel were never more secure than under Hillary!) AND because of her great policy achievements as evidenced by our improved relations with Russia and our obvious foreign policy successes in places such as Syria, Libya and Yemen. Seriously, in the face of that kind of blinkered perspective, what difference does it make if she violated the Hatch Act or sold out the country to foreign agents & governments? Or strangled newborns in their cradles on live TV?

  • Guarneri

    “But as I said, I think she could strangle newborns in their cradles on live TV and the Dem faithful would still not hold it against her.”

    Have you secretly been hanging out at OTB again??

  • ...

    I see it everywhere, Drew. One of the guys at my chess club occasionally breaks the unwritten rule and speaks of politics. It’s clear that he thinks Hillary isn’t just the best option available, but the best of all possible options to be elected President in 2016., he laughs and laughs about how honest she is and about what crooks all her opponents are*. It’s really kind of bizarre to watch, but there it is.

    * I’ll accept that her opponents in Washington are largely crooks. The idea that she is a paragon of all virtues is makes me think that the holder of such views has a mental problems. But otherwise he seems like a reasonable human being, and he’s even got a title from FIDE, so he CAN think. I don’t know, I just don’t get it. But then I know people that still think W. was a great President. I guess it’s all tribal, but personally I hate tattoos, so I’ll always be in the out group.

  • ...

    The idea that she is a paragon of all virtues is makes me think that the holder of such views has a mental problems.

    Typing skilss all gone to hell.

  • jan

    In today’s partisan “blind-as-a-bat-to-your-own-party’s-deviant-behavior,” Nixon would have been able to lie his way out of any wrongdoing. In other words, he could have been able to say, “What 18 minutes?” and been able to have gotten away with such pernicious denials.

  • steve

    Whether or not she broke any laws doing this is pretty unclear. I suspect she did not. I mean, those partial sentence quotes from anonymous sources will convince anyone who wants to believe the worst, but I am surprised that anyone other than a partisan would give them much credence. What she should be judged upon is doing this to begin with. Bad judgment.

    Does make you think how much fun it would be to see the email accounts of everyone running of office.


  • You’re applything the wrong standard, Steve. You’re looking for metaphysical certitude rather than beyond reasonable doubt.

    I don’t see that there’s room for reasonable doubt that Sec. Clinton perjured herself. When she mustered out of her job as Secretary of State she signed a form that certified that she had turned over all documents in her possession related to her job or wording to that effect. That was a sworn statement. The sheer volume of materials and the nature of the materials she did not turn over eradicate the possibility of reasonable doubt.

  • Andy

    I still think it’s difficult to determine Clinton’s direct culpability at this point. I think she’s guilty of on several points, but I think it will be difficult to prove, even if she wasn’t among the elite who enjoy a different, less stringent, rulebook than the rest of us when it comes to accountability.

    Some of her advisers, however, are likely to get prosecuted – or they should. One or more of them took highly classified intelligence community information, removed all the classification markings, and sent unsecured via Clinton’s private server. The latest revelation is that information from the HCS-O compartment was discovered on the server. I’m familiar with HCS-O and it is some of the most sensitive intelligence information as it deals with the operational specifics (sources and methods) of our human intelligence activities. If that was compromised, lives are literally at stake. Not only that, but this kind of crap (along with Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden) hurt our human intelligence activities more generally. People are less willing to trust us and provide us information and assistance when our ability to keep that trust secret is shown to be crap. It’s hard for me to take Clinton seriously when it comes to foreign policy and national security when scores an own-goal of this magnitude.

    I’m confident the FBI is working through the email train to see where these compromises originated and those who transferred intelligence information to an unclassified system should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Those who knowingly passed along this classified information (difficult to prove, admittedly, given the information was stripped of markings) should, at a minimum, lose their security clearances. Those who received such information (like Blumenthal) should be made to sign non-disclosure agreements. I’m betting anything implicating Clinton in this was scrubbed from the emails, but perhaps more can be recovered from her server drives.

    So, I think this will end up damaging Clinton quite significantly. These compromises are not something the FBI can ignore or sweep under the rug. The bleating of the usual suspects at OTB is a good canary to monitor – they are out of justifications, so they take the “conspiracy” angle and state that “no one cares.”

    Maybe it’s my bad memory, but I can’t remember and election season with such bad candidates (GoP included). If this is the best political talent we can muster then we are truly fucked.

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