It may be only a small, grim comfort on a day in which equal treatment under law went under the bus, but the FBI’s conclusion proved Hillary Clinton’s critics correct. The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake pointed out that James Comey’s statement may have ended on a recommendation not to pursue criminal charges, but that up to that point contained almost a point-by-point refutation of Hillary’s claims about her e-mail server over the past year:
Blake refers to the infamous “wiped with a cloth” presser, in which Fox’s Ed Henry asked probing questions about the server scandal:
NPR also picked up on the serial falsehoods from Hillary and her team that Comey’s findings exposed:
— NPR (@NPR) July 5, 2016
Most of these claims went all the way back to her first press conference about the server, in March 2015. At that time, the denials were much less parsed and categorical:
In fact, my direction to conduct the thorough investigation was to err on the side of providing anything that could be possibly viewed as work related. … And the process produced over 30,000 you know, work emails, and I think that we have more than met the requests from the State Department. …
I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material. So I’m certainly well-aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material. …
So, I think that the — the use of that server, which started with my husband, certainly proved to be effective and secure.
And let’s not forget about the “convenience” argument:
I saw it as a matter of convenience, and it was allowed. Others had done it. According to the State Department, which recently said Secretary Kerry was the first secretary of state to rely primarily on a state.gov e-mail account. And when I got there, I wanted to just use one device for both personal and work e-mails, instead of two.
Here’s Comey on how many devices the private e-mail system utilized:
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. Piecing all of that back together—to gain as full an understanding as possible of the ways in which personal e-mail was used for government work—has been a painstaking undertaking, requiring thousands of hours of effort.
For example, when one of Secretary Clinton’s original personal servers was decommissioned in 2013, the e-mail software was removed. Doing that didn’t remove the e-mail content, but it was like removing the frame from a huge finished jigsaw puzzle and dumping the pieces on the floor. The effect was that millions of e-mail fragments end up unsorted in the server’s unused—or “slack”—space. We searched through all of it to see what was there, and what parts of the puzzle could be put back together.
Clearly this wasn’t motivated by convenience. It was motivated by a desire to keep Hillary’s communications from legitimate and constitutional oversight by Congress and the courts. Her serial lies about her practices after exposure were nothing more than an attempt to rationalize and obfuscate that core conclusion. So ….
If you think that FBI announcement was anything short of a wholesale rebuke of the story Clinton has told about the emails, you are wrong.
— Chris Cillizza (@ChrisCillizza) July 5, 2016
True. But why not prosecute? As we have noted a number of times, the governing statute doesn’t require a finding of malicious intent, or even that the information exposed has to be classified, emphasis mine:
(f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
How can this not be “gross negligence,” given the amount of effort Hillary put into creating a shadow communications system outside of State Department control? Comey attempted to recast it as “extremely careless” instead, emphasis mine again:
Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.
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.
Well, excuse me, but isn’t that an argument for gross negligence? If not, then how does Comey define it? That’s more than carelessness, clearly; it implies a deliberate disregard for security protocols that officials at that level enforce on others within their organizations. Even if Comey’s unsure about it, that should go to a grand jury to decide.
Still, it does at least point out to anyone who bothers to read the statement that Hillary and her team have repeatedly lied about the server and its purpose, how it was used, and their disregard for national security at the expense of Hillary’s ambition. That might matter if the media actually focuses on that aspect of Comey’s statement, but … don’t hold your breath. Instead, the big story will be that Hillary won’t face an indictment, which implies that her critics were wrong — even if everything else Comey said proves them correct.