Did the latest release of Hillary Clinton server e-mails uncover a “smoking gun” proving a criminal violation of the law? Chuck Todd earlier said no, but The Federalist’s Sean Davis says yes indeedy. The smokiest of these “guns” is this e-mail, written by Hillary to Sidney Blumenthal in November 2009, redacted as classified almost in its entirety:
There are other classified e-mails in this tranche that originated with Hillary and went to other State Department officials. This e-mail is more notable because of its transmission outside of State’s personnel. Sid Blumenthal did not work in the Obama administration — Rahm Emanuel expressly forbid him to be hired anywhere in the federal government, especially State — and thus was out of the need-to-know loop, especially on top-level diplomatic talks. Where was Blumenthal working when this message (and others) went out? At the Clinton Foundation.
Yet here Hillary is, sending him updates on negotiations with Germany’s Angela Merkel and Tony Blair, which are obviously too sensitive to send out over an unauthorized and unsecure mode of transmission. On top of that, she’s sharing it with someone not cleared for this information even when properly transmitted.
The bulk of Hillary Clinton’s message to Blumenthal was redacted, under codes 1.4(D) and 1.4(B) because classification authorities determined it contained classified information “which reasonably could be expected to cause damage to the national security[.]” As was the case with other e-mails where Clinton originated classified information, authorities determined that the information was classified at birth and did not allow declassification until November of 2024 — 15 years after the e-mail was written and sent by Hillary, rather than 15 years after the information was marked.
The 2009 executive order signed by Obama states that U.S. officials who negligently disclose classified information to unauthorized individuals are subject to any and all federal sanctions provided for by law.
The two codes mark this as dealing with “foreign government information” and “foreign relations or foreign activities of the United States, including confidential sources.” The declassification date is set for November 2024, fifteen years after Hillary created the document. That clearly shows that the data was classified “at birth,” and as Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton had to know that top-level diplomatic discussions would have been too sensitive to share in this manner and with this particular person.
David Freddoso also reminds us that not only was this an unsecured transmission method, we know it got hacked at least once:
And of course, we already know Blumenthal's email was compromised by a hacker.
— David Freddoso (@freddoso) September 1, 2015
All of this fills in the requisites for 18 USC 793, with or without classification. Hillary appears to have originated obviously sensitive material and transmitted it through an unauthorized system to deliver it to someone who was not authorized to access it. That person eventually had his system hacked, which almost certainly exposed that information.
Yesterday, Fox News reported that “the mystery deepens” on how classified material got onto Hillary’s server:
The Clinton campaign adamantly denies any emails traversing Clinton’s homebrew server were marked classified at the time. The intelligence community inspector general says “potentially hundreds” of classified emails may be in the mix, but acknowledges at least some were not properly marked.
So if the Clinton denial is to be believed, individuals in her inner circle would have simply typed or scanned classified information into a non-classified system without regard for its contents. In this case, emails would have started in, and stayed in, the unclassified system — albeit improperly, based on the findings of the intelligence inspector general.
But if it turns out emails literally jumped from the classified to the non-classified system — something the State Department claims cannot happen — it would seem to point to Clinton’s staff going to great lengths to create a work-around to do so.
It’s not actually that mysterious. Hillary and her aides created e-mails with classified information in them, in a few cases Top Secret/Compartmented, and sent them out on an unauthorized and unsecured communications channel — in this case to someone who wasn’t cleared to see it at all. The only mystery will be whether Hillary gets treated like anyone else who had violated the law on a systemic basis in a similar manner.
Update: Mediaite notes this tweet from GOP strategist Rory Cooper, who found this nugget:
Clinton told Middle East envoy to send classified details from Italy's Foreign Minister to "my personal email." pic.twitter.com/4sPs7DsWjX
— Rory Cooper (@rorycooper) September 1, 2015
On July 25, 2010, Clinton sent an email to Special Envoy for Middle East Peace George Mitchell. The subject line read “Here’s my personal email,” and only had a short message: “[Please] use this for reply– HRC.”
Mitchell emailed her back two hours later. “I talked with [Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini] again and went over the point again. He said he understands and agrees,” he began. The rest of the email is blanked out, indicating that the State Department team releasing Clinton’s emails recognized that the information it contained was classified.
She directed George Mitchell to send a report on a diplomatic effort involving the Middle East to her personal e-mail. This is “knowingly,” as Cooper points out in a following tweet.