The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round … Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robbie Mook tried squeezing the Four-Pinocchio toothpaste back into the tube on Morning Joe earlier today by claiming that Hillary hadn’t lied again during yesterday’s Fox News interview about her e-mails. After trying again to claim that Hillary hadn’t transmitted classified information through her e-mail server — a claim shot down by a scoffing panel led by Joe Scarborough — Mook then shifted the blame to “hundreds of State Department employees” as the cause of the failures.
Elise Jordan, herself a former State Department employee, took sharp exception to that claim (via America Rising):
SCARBOROUGH: I think he said just the opposite. He said a reasonable person in her position should have known they were classified, even if they weren’t marked.
MOOK: Well, but that’s leaving out the fact that these e-mails were coming from hundreds of State Department employees. These are long-time-tenure, State Department professionals working for different administrations. These folks were not partisan. They were the ones sending her the e-mails — in his mind, he had no reason to believe — [crosstalk]
JORDAN: But weren’t they forced to be in that position though because they had no other outlet to communicate with her so you can’t really put the blame on the State Department professionals if the leader of their organization is saying, ‘Email us at this address, it’s the only option you have.’
MOOK: Well, classified information is sent over a completely separate system, so it was their decision to send it.
JORDAN: Oh yeah, I know that, I worked at the State Department, too.
SCARBOROUGH: But that makes it even worse then. She was forcing everybody that wanted to communicate with her to move out of the classified realm where you send classified information, and then put it on their own servers and send it to you. Isn’t that even worse?
MOOK: Well, and you’d understand this, that’s simply not true. You just don’t send classified information over the unclassified system. …”
Of course it’s true. One of the e-mails released by the State Department shows Hillary ordering Jake Sullivan to have headers stripped from a document and then e-mailed to her “and send nonsecure“:
Furthermore, Mook’s claim about James Comey’s statement is utterly false. Comey concluded that a Secretary of State should have immediately realized that information about Top Secret/Special Access Programs was classified by its very nature, and that any reasonable person in her position should have taken action to mitigate the damage. And furthermore, Comey found that Hillary transmitted the information herself in addition to receiving it from State staffers:
For example, seven e-mail chains concern matters that were classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level when they were sent and received. These chains involved Secretary Clinton both sending e-mails about those matters and receiving e-mails from others about the same matters. There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation. In addition to this highly sensitive information, we also found information that was properly classified as Secret by the U.S. Intelligence Community at the time it was discussed on e-mail (that is, excluding the later “up-classified” e-mails).
None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.
Separately, it is important to say something about the marking of classified information. Only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information. But even if information is not marked “classified” in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.
The ultimate cause of the mishandling of classified information was the e-mail system itself. The only reason to use such a system was to prevent legitimate oversight of State Department activity by the courts and Congress — and it succeeded in perverting the constitutional balance of power until the Select Committee on Benghazi discovered its existence. In the same statement, Comey demolished the convenience-single-device excuse offered by Hillary for the past year:
I have so far used the singular term, “e-mail server,” in describing the referral that began our investigation. It turns out to have been more complicated than that. Secretary Clinton used several different servers and administrators of those servers during her four years at the State Department, and used numerous mobile devices to view and send e-mail on that personal domain. As new servers and equipment were employed, older servers were taken out of service, stored, and decommissioned in various ways.
Now Mook and Hillary want to throw the State staffers under the bus for engaging the system she insisted on using. It’s a smear on top of a lie, and it serves only to dodge responsibility for the corruption of the rule of law during her years at State. It seems doubtful that anyone fronting for Hillary Clinton has the capacity to feel shame, but Mook certainly should.