Team Hillary: E-mail claims just campaign trail "nonsense"

The Hillary Clinton campaign tried a new tack in their defense of the former Secretary of State after she finally surrendered the Clintonemail server to the FBI. Earlier, Jennifer Palmieri tried implying that the State Department’s problems with hackers somehow justified the use of an unsecured and unauthorized e-mail system at Hillary’s Chappaqua house. That went down in gales of laughter, especially since Palmieri’s boss ran the State Department for four years while these problems weren’t being prevented.

Today, the defense is more along the lines of hey, all the Republicans have private e-mail servers too, so there! No, really:

Near the end, Palmieri claims that the issue is just the “kind of nonsense [that] comes with the territory of running for president.” That’s actually a better description of this defense, which is packed full of falsehoods and non-sequiturs. Let’s unpack the portions marked by Politico’s Gabriel DeBenedetti, where most of the misdirection occurs, starting with the last excerpt.

“Many Republican candidates for president,” Palmieri states, “have done the same things for which they’re now criticizing Hillary.” False. While it’s true that they had their own private e-mail servers, they also weren’t responsible for compliance with the Federal Records Act, which covers federal officials and requires archiving of all communications. They also had no requirement to comply with Barack Obama’s executive order that largely barred the use of private e-mail for public duties by federal employees. And most aptly for the purposes of this discussion, governors do not  access, retain, or communicate classified material, especially not Top Secret/compartmented intelligence data. The criticism of Hillary from the GOP’s presidential candidates references those points, along with the use of a private e-mail system to bypass the FRA and Congressional oversight.

Before this, though, Palmieri again tries to sell the idea that none of the data now marked as classified was restricted when the material was sent. “No information in her emails was marked classified at the time she sent or received them,” Palmieri argues. That’s the problem, not the alibi. Two Inspectors General have confirmed that the material in the four e-mails found in a sample of 40 they were allowed to inspect was classified at the time it was transmitted through Hillary Clinton’s e-mail system. The data was “classified when they were sent and are classified now,” according to their referral, and now they have confirmed that at least two of the four contained data that was classified TS/compartmented at that time. If it wasn’t marked, it clearly should have been.

Reason’s Peter Suderman calls out Hillary for continuing to lie about this point — and others:

In addition to falsely stating that there was “no classified information” on her email server, Clinton has also claimed that “vast majority” of her work emails went to government employees and email accounts and were thus “captured and preserved immediately” on the State Department’s records system—even though the State Department’s auto-archive system didn’t work until February of this year.

Clinton also claimed in March that she carried just one phone for “convenience,” but weeks earlier said she carries two phones, as well as two iPads, describing herself not as a convenience-minded traveler but as “like two steps short of a hoarder.”

Asked by a reporter about the firing of a State Department ambassador for his email use, she pushed back on the idea that he’d been let go for relying on a personal email account; a report on the firing describes his “nonuse of commercial email for official government business” as a factor. …

She declared that by turning over paper copies of emails from her server she’d gone “above and beyond” what was required, saying she “had no obligation to do any of that.” This was not true either;she did have an obligation to hand over those emails.

She objected to a CNN reporter’s assertion that she’d received a subpoena regarding her emails,saying “I’ve never had a subpoena.” You can see the complete subpoena right here.

The claims about markings are a red herring anyway. Security clearances put the burden of verifying classification status on those transmitting and receiving it. As the highest ranking official at State, Hillary Clinton was responsible for ensuring the security and proper handling of that data. The reason it got transmitted in an unsecured manner is because she and her team set up a covert system to subvert Congressional oversight and thwart the Federal Records Act, which — purposefully or not — resulted in the unauthorized retention of classified material at her home, an unauthorized and improperly secured location for TS/compartmented data. Under those circumstances, even gross negligence that produces this outcome is a criminal offense, and it can result in 10 years of prison time for every classified or sensitive document exposed.

Finally, these weak defenses bely the hypocrisy of Hillary Clinton’s own stand on securing classified material. Glenn Greenwald and I disagree about the way in which classified material should be protected, but he also notes at The Intercept that Hillary sang a much different tune when it came to prosecutions of rank-and-file Americans who did much less damage:

When it comes to low-level government employees with no power, the Obama administration has purposely prosecuted them as harshly as possible to the point of vindictiveness: It has notoriously prosecuted more individuals under the Espionage Act of 1917 for improperly handling classified information than all previous administrations combined. 

NSA whistleblower Tom Drake, for instance, faced years in prison, and ultimately had his career destroyed, based on the Obama DOJ’s claims that he “mishandled” classified information (it included information that was not formally classified at the time but was retroactively decreed to be such). Less than two weeks ago, “a Naval reservist was convicted and sentenced for mishandling classified military materials” despite no “evidence he intended to distribute them.” Last year, a Naval officer was convicted of mishandling classified information also in the absence of any intent to distribute it.

In the light of these new Clinton revelations, the very same people who spent years justifying this obsessive assault are now scampering for reasons why a huge exception should be made for the Democratic Party front-runner. Fascinatingly, one of the most vocal defenders of this Obama DOJ record of persecution has been Hillary Clinton herself. …

Manning was convicted and sentenced to 35 years in prison. At the time, the only thing Hillary Clinton had to say about that was to issue a sermon about how classified information “deserves to be protected and we will continue to take necessary steps to do so” because it “affect[s] the security of individuals and relationships.”

Now, they want to send up a blizzard of lies and non-sequiturs to pretend that this is nothing more than a political attack. If these people were prosecuted for much less, then Hillary needs to face the music for her incompetent and corrupt machinations.

Update: I referred to Hillary Clinton’s residence as a “mansion,” but that’s a loaded word, and may not be accurate. I changed it to “house.”

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