“Rules” or “laws”? Last night, the Washington Post’s editorial board issued a scathing rebuke to Hillary Clinton after publishing the Inspector General report into her use of a private e-mail server. Her actions demonstrated an “inexcusable, willful disregard for the rules,” the headline read. But when it came to laws, the editors seem to jump to a rather peculiar conclusion, emphasis mine:
HILLARY CLINTON’S use of a private email server while secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 has been justifiably criticized as an error of judgment. What the new report from the State Department inspector general makes clear is that it also was not a casual oversight. Ms. Clinton had plenty of warnings to use official government communications methods, so as to make sure that her records were properly preserved and to minimize cybersecurity risks. She ignored them. …
The department’s email technology was archaic. Other staffers also used personal email, as did Secretary Colin Powell (2001-2005), without preserving the records. But there is no excuse for the way Ms. Clinton breezed through all the warnings and notifications. While not illegal behavior, it was disturbingly unmindful of the rules.
Ahem. This assumes facts not yet in evidence, no? Or perhaps more accurately, ignores the facts that are in evidence — in fact, more than 1500 instances where classified information got transmitted through Hillary’s secret server and then retained on it. Each of those instances are a violation of 18 USC 793 (as Larry and Mark Levin have already noted) and 18 USC 1924, with both statutes declaring violations to be felonies. And as Larry has already noted, the Federal Records Act itself carries a criminal penalty, as well as disqualification from any federal office in the future.
The Post’s editors in the very next breath ask the FBI to expedite their investigation into … what, exactly? State Department rules?
In the middle of the presidential campaign, we urge the FBI to finish its own investigation soon, so all information about this troubling episode will be before the voters.
This sounds a lot like the Hillary Clinton spin on the FBI probe. She has insisted numerous times that the FBI has only been conducting a “security review,” even after James Comey publicly stated the obvious — that they investigate potential crimes, not “security reviews.” The IG doesn’t have the jurisdiction to do anything else but a security review, so to claim that there was no “illegal behavior” on the part of Hillary on the basis of the IG report turns that same absurdity on its head. The IG didn’t absolve Hillary from criminal wrongdoing; in fact, it opens up entirely new legal possibilities for the “gross negligence” qualifier in 18 USC 793, assuming the Department of Justice follows through with prosecution, or at least a grand jury, after the FBI concludes its investigation.
Another point that the Post’s editorial board skips over is that the IG report conclusively demonstrates that Hillary has lied about the server since Day One. It’s a point the editorial never mentions or even obliquely approaches. In my column for The Fiscal Times, I review the scope of her lies — and what happens to them now:
To recap: Clinton lied about having approval for the system. She lied about saying it was within the rules to use it, and that she had brought the server up to State Department security standards. Contrary to multiple statements from her team, not only did warnings arise about the use of that system during her tenure, those who raised the red flags were told to shut up about them. And despite assurances that Clinton would cooperate in reviews of her use of the private e-mail system, the IG report pointedly notes that “[t]hrough her counsel, Secretary Clinton declined OIG’s request for an interview.”
For someone who’s been insisting since the beginning that she was allowed to operate her own e-mail system, that refusal is stunning all on its own.
That also contradicts more recent Clinton statements. The FBI has begun to interview Clinton’s inner circle, a sign that the investigation is coming to a conclusion. Two weeks ago, Clinton told CBS News’ Face the Nation host John Dickerson that the FBI had not yet requested an interview, but that she would be “more than ready to talk to anyone, anytime.” The IG report clearly shows that as another lie, and if her attorneys kept her from talking with State Department investigators, it’s almost certain that she’d pass on an FBI “interview” as well. …
What happens if the FBI investigation goes to a grand jury? We might have the spectacle of a major-party nominee getting subpoenaed to testify in a criminal inquiry – and taking the Fifth to avoid self-incrimination. And that might be the most honest statement that Clinton would have made about her secret e-mail server in the past fifteen months.
The issue isn’t that Hillary broke the rules. It’s that she broke laws and put incredibly sensitive material (and the people who generated it) at serious risk all for her own political convenience — and then serially lied about it for the last 15 months. Anyone else who did this would be vying for the Big House rather than the White House.