To the surprise of no one, FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday announced that he is recommending that no charges be brought against Hillary Clinton in the email scandal.
Comey’s announcement came three days after Mrs. Clinton was interviewed for three and a half hours at FBI headquarters in Washington about her private email server. The interview wrapped up a year-long FBI investigation into whether her actions warranted criminal charges for potentially exposing classified information and mishandling federal government documents.
The FBI director did reprimand Clinton and her associates for being “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information” on her private, non-secure e-mail system.
Comey explained that even though he was not recommending criminal prosecution, “to be clear, this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions,” if they were still in government service. He also said, “There is evidence to support a conclusion” that Mrs. Clinton “should have known an unclassified system was no place” for that information. The only reason he was not recommending criminal charges was because the FBI could not find any evidence of deliberate intent on her part to violate the law.
Comey said that past cases that were prosecuted all “involved some combination of clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information or vast quantities of information exposed in such a way as to support an inference of intentional misconduct or indications of disloyalty to the United States or efforts to obstruct justice. We do not see those things here.”
He added, “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information our judgement is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case. . .
“As a result, although the Department of Justice makes final decisions on matters like this, we are expressing to Justice our view that no charges are appropriate in this case.”
Comey was critical of the way in which Clinton’s staff determined which of the emails on her server were related to government business. As a result, some “work-related emails” were deleted. He also noted that because Clinton’s server did not archive all of her emails, the way that commercial services like Gmail do, some of her deleted emails could not be recovered. But he said that the FBI found no evidence that they “were intentionally deleted in an effort to conceal them in some way.”
COMEY EXPLAINS HIS DECISION
Comey started his statement by saying, “This will be an unusual statement in at least a couple ways. First, I am going to include more detail about our process than I ordinarily would, because I think the American people deserve those details in a case of intense public interest. Second, I have not coordinated or reviewed this statement in any way with the Department of Justice or any other part of the government. They do not know what I am about to say.”
At the conclusion of his statement, Comey said, “I know there will be intense public debate in the wake of this recommendation as there was throughout the investigation. What I can assure the American people is that this investigation was done honestly, competently and independently, no outside influence of any kind was brought to bear.”
Anticipating the public outcry that would follow his announcement, Comey stated that he did not coordinate his statement with the White House, Justice Department or anyone else. “They do not know what I’m about to say.”
That seemed oddly curious since President Obama had previously announced plans to begin campaign with Mrs. Clinton on Tuesday. The very fact that Comey had to make that disclaimer goes to the heart of the way the American people feel about this administration. Comey does have an impeccable reputation.
Many saw signs that the fix was in, after all how would a Democrat administration permit its standard bearer in the next election go down in flames.
It also puts the Clinton Lynch meeting in context and Lynch’s statement that she would accept whatever recommendation the FBI Director and the Justice Department would offer.
There are many people in jail for doing what Mrs. Clinton did and in fact Comey went into some detail describing how Clinton and her team mishandled classified information. He refuted her specific claim that she did not know that the information in many of her emails was classified. He also said that the deletion of thousands of emails from her server, on her orders, probably destroyed many government documents.
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, reacted to Comey’s announcement in a Tweet saying, “The system is rigged. [former CIA Director] General Petraeus got in trouble for far less. Very very unfair! As usual, bad judgment.” In a follow up message, Trump wrote, “FBI director said Crooked Hillary compromised our national security. No charges. Wow! #RiggedSystem.”
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan reacted to Comey’s statement by saying, “While I respect the professionals at the FBI, this announcement defies explanation. No one should be above the law.
“But based upon the director’s own statement, it appears damage is being done to the rule of law. Declining to prosecute Secretary Clinton for recklessly mishandling and transmitting national security information will set a terrible precedent,” Ryan said.
Former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said that Comey’s statement shows that “Hillary Clinton’s email problems might be even worse than we thought. If Hillary were still secretary of state, President Obama would have to fire her. But instead, he travels with her and seeks to promote her. Disgusting.”
He was referring to the fact that as Comey was blasting Mrs. Clinton’s handling of her emails, President Obama campaigned with her Tuesday in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Comey went into some detail describing how Clinton and her team mishandled classified information. He refuted her specific claim that she did not know that the information in many of her emails was classified.
Comey said that 110 Clinton emails in 52 separate chains had been determined to contain classified information “at the time they were sent or received.”
COMEY REJECTS CLINTON’S MARKING EXCUSE
Clinton has repeatedly insisted that none of the emails on her server were marked as classified. Comey said that wasn’t true, but conceded that “only a very small number of the e-mails containing classified information bore markings indicating the presence of classified information.” Nevertheless, he explained, “even if information is not marked ‘classified’ in an email, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.” He made special mention of “seven e-mail chains [which] 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 emails about those matters and receiving emails from others about the same matters.”
CLINTON’S EMAILS WERE PROBABLY HACKED
Comey said that Clinton and her State Department staff were “generally lacking in the kind of care for classified information found elsewhere in the government.”
Although FBI investigators did not find “direct evidence” that Clinton’s personal e-mail account was hacked, Comey said, “given the nature of the system and of the actors potentially involved, we assess that we would be unlikely to see such direct evidence.” He added that some of the email accounts of those with whom Clinton regularly corresponded had been hacked by “hostile actors” who therefore knew Clinton’s private email address.
Comey also criticized Clinton for her extensive use of her personal email account “while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related emails in the territory of sophisticated adversaries. Given that combination of factors, we assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account,” the FBI director concluded.
GIULIANI SAYS THAT CLINTON SHOULD BE PROSECUTED
Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who is a former federal prosecutor, said he was shocked by Comey’s recommendation. Giuliani said that Mrs. Clinton was clearly guilty of “gross negligence” in the handling of classified information which is a crime under federal statutes for which she could be sentenced to 10 years in prison. He said that Clinton was also criminally liable for ordering the deletion of more than 30,000 emails from her server, which probably destroyed many government documents.
Others said that FBI Director Comey effectively rewrote the federal statute (Section 793(f) Title 18) which says that gross negligence in the handling of classified information is sufficient, without criminal intent, to justify Clinton’s prosecution.
Tom Fitton, the president Judicial Watch, which has been pursuing civil lawsuits in federal court to gain access to more information about Clinton’s emails expressed disappointment with Comey’s statement. Fitton said there was “a disconnect between Comey’s devastating findings” that Clinton carried out a “massive destruction of government records” and her “grossly negligent handling of classified information.” He urged federal prosecutors to consider pursuing Clinton’s violations of the law, despite Comey’s recommendations.
Clinton maintained the private email server in her home during her tenure as secretary of state, from 2009-2013. She refused to use the State Department’s own classified email system and rejected criticism by State Department security expert of the way she used her personal Blackberry for her work-related emails.
CLINTON DODGES A BULLET
Despite Comey’s harsh criticism of the way Clinton handled her e-mails, she and her campaign were vastly relieved that he had removed the threat that she might face criminal prosecution before the Democrat National Convention in Philadelphia later this month, where she will receive the party’s presidential nomination at that time.
Comey’s decision came after a week of controversy over an unannounced half-hour meeting between Bill Clinton and Attorney General Loretta Lynch in Lynch’s private plane at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. The meeting was discovered by an intrepid local news reporter and picked up by the mainstream media after Republicans complained that the meeting compromised Lynch and her ability to act impartially in the case. FBI Director Comey’s recommendation on whether to prosecute Clinton would normally be subject to review by the Attorney General.
Lynch said that it was a social visit in which they talked about their grandchildren and golf. She denied that she and the former president discussed his wife’s case. Lynch owes a political debt to Bill Clinton for nominating her as US attorney for the Eastern District of New York in 1999. It is unethical for parties involved in a case to meet if they both know that a decision will soon need to be made concerning one’s spouse. There are also allegations swirling concerning the illegal purchase of influence by foreign countries by donating to the Clinton family’s charity foundation while Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state. Should that rise to the criminal level, Bill Clinton himself could be implicated, not only his wife.
News of the Clinton-Lynch meeting touched off a firestorm of criticism and calls for Lynch’s resignation or at least her recusal from the case. Finally, on Friday Lynch said that, in hindsight, she realizes that her meeting with former President Clinton was inappropriate. She said that if she had it to do over again, she would not have agreed to the meeting. She also said she realizes that the meeting created a perception that the former president was exerting undue influence on her. Lynch therefore said that she will accept the FBI’s recommendation, though she did not recuse herself.
ATTORNEY GENERAL LYNCH STEPS BACK FROM CLINTON’S CASE
“The fact that the meeting that I had is now casting a shadow over how people are going to view that [investigation] is something that I take seriously, and deeply and painfully,” the attorney general said. “This case will be resolved by the team that’s been working on it from the beginning,” she added.
The same day, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest vigorously denied that President Obama had intervened in the investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s email server. “He believes that this matter should be handled without regard to politics,” Earnest said. “And he believes this investigation should be conducted based on facts, not based on the political affiliation or the political standing of anybody who may be involved in it. . . This is an independent investigation that is deliberately being shielded from any political interference.”
As the last stage of the FBI investigation, agents and prosecutors compared what Clinton told them in her interview with the evidence they had gathered, including interviews of Clinton’s senior aides, former State Department chief of staff Cheryl Mills and longtime aide, Huma Abedin, as well as the man she hired to run the email server. An illuminating point which Abedin’s testimony revealed was that Clinton had ordered her to destroy her written daily schedules while she was secretary of state, which may have violated federal government document preservation laws.
Lynch has insisted from the beginning that the investigation was being handled by non-political career FBI agents and prosecutors “acting independently.”
TRUMP’S REACTION TO THE BILL CLINTON-LYNCH MEETING
Donald Trump, the Republican Party candidate, has repeatedly said the email issue highlights why Clinton is unfit for office. He has suggested that she will receive lenient treatment from the Obama administration in return for her promise to pursue Obama’s liberal policy agenda. Citing her dishonesty, Trump calls his opponent “Crooked Hillary” and says she cannot be trusted in the White House.
Trump was in Denver on Friday when Lynch admitted that her meeting with Bill Clinton was wrong. Trump that said he was “flabbergasted” by reports of the meeting, and was quick to suggest that it could not have happened by chance.
“Oh, just a coincidence,” Trump said sarcastically during a speech at the Western Conservative Summit. “He just happened to be at the airport at this time – think of it.”
Trump suggested that Clinton and Lynch must have discussed the email case, and that it was unlikely that they spent their 30 minutes together discussing social matter such as their grandchildren, travels and golf, as they claimed.
“I love my grandchildren so much. But if I talk about them for more than about 9 or ten seconds … I love my grandchildren … After that, what are you going to say?” Trump said.
He also said, “I love golf, but after speaking about golf for a couple minutes, it’s tough.”
Soon after Mrs. Clinton was interviewed by the FBI, Trump tweeted: “It is impossible for the FBI not to recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton. What she did was wrong! What Bill did was stupid!”
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said that the FBI interview reinforces Clinton’s “central role in deliberately creating a culture which put her own political ambitions above State Department rules and jeopardized our national security.”
A COZY RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CLINTON AND INVESTIGATORS
Even if taken on her word, Lynch’s claim that her encounter Bill Clinton was an innocent, casual encounter between two longtime friends who happened to be on the same airport tarmac at the same time, highlights the cozy relationship between the Clintons and those in the Obama administration who are supposed to be conducting a thorough and impartial investigation of Mrs. Clinton’s potentially criminal actions.
Clinton didn’t really have to ask Lynch to go easy on his wife. The fact that he forced the meeting days before his wife was to be interviewed by the FBI made its purpose clear. Clinton was silently calling in a favor from an old friend who owed him a lot.
DAMAGED HER REPUTATION
The surprising thing is that Lynch agreed to the meeting. She must have known that it was a breach of ethical conduct. After all, if an FBI agent was caught socializing with the spouse of the subject in a major criminal case in which the agent was involved, he would quickly be reprimanded and likely fired.
Bill Clinton did not expect the meeting to become public, so he had little to lose by the meeting. Lynch spent years building a reputation as a tough, fair and effective prosecutor, but that will now be forever tainted by suspicions over what transpired in that meeting.
Lynch’s defenders say that she was uncomfortable meeting with Clinton but did not want to seem impolite to the former president by refusing to see him. That is a lame excuse for someone in Lynch’s position who, above all, cannot afford to compromise her integrity.
It also seems odd that Bill Clinton, who is probably the most effective American political figure of the past 25 years, has now, for the second time, become a major distraction to the detriment of his wife’s presidential bids.
INTERRUPTING CLINTON’S WINNING STREAK
The resurfacing of the email scandal interrupted one of the most successful stretches of Clinton’s presidential campaign. She has finally vanquished her primary rival, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, won a public endorsement from President Obama and achieved a major fundraising advantage over Trump, enabling her to launch a nationwide negative ad campaign which Trump has been unable to answer.
The long congressional investigation into the 2012 attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, was always intended to target Clinton’s negligence in failing to provide adequate security and then assisting in a politically motivated administration cover-up. It delivered its final report last week which did not reveal any new hard evidence of Clinton’s negligence and complicity.
At the same time, Trump’s campaign stumbled in June as it reorganized for the general election campaign, struggled to launch a major fundraising operation, and continued trying to unite the Republican Party behind his candidacy.
THE PRESIDENTIAL RACE IS CLOSER THAN IT LOOKS
Despite these problems and incessant attacks on Trump’s competency by the hostile mainstream media which insists on distorting his views, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee remains close or virtually tied with Clinton in virtually all of the 15 battleground states which will determine the outcome of the election.
Pointing to Clinton’s current modest advantage in national opinion polls, the pro-Clinton media would have the public believe that Clinton is building an insurmountable lead over Trump, but it isn’t true.
Nationwide polling figures have little relevance in a presidential election, because its outcome is decided in the Electoral College rather than the popular vote. In most states, Electoral College votes are allocated on a winner-take-all basis. That means that the campaign will focus on those states where Clinton and Trump are so closely matched that the campaign will determine which one will win that state’s electoral votes.
CLINTON AT RISK
Democrats had long feared an FBI report finding that Clinton should be prosecuted despite expressions of confidence by Clinton and her campaign that she would be exonerated. Clinton’s critics worried that her friends in the Obama administration would move subtly to protect her from the worst. Lynch being forced to step aside and the White House being forced to deny any involvement in the case made it more difficult for either of them to protect her.
Clinton and her close aides who helped her to set up her private email system and keep it a secret could have been accused of violating Section 1924 of Title 18, which deals with the unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material. They could also have been charged with violating the 1917 Espionage Act, which makes it a crime for anyone “through gross negligence,” to allow the loss, theft or removal of classified information or fails to promptly report such mishandling to his superior.
As Comey indicated in his statement, the main problem facing prosecutors in making a criminal case against Mrs. Clinton was the lack of evidence that she set up her server with “guilty knowledge.” Some legal experts say that the fact that Clinton deliberately withheld her emails from the government to prevent them from ever being disclosed to the public was sufficient proof that she knew that what she was doing was wrong.
THE THREAT TO CLINTON’S CAMPAIGN
If the FBI had issued a recommendation to prosecute Clinton before the Democrat convention, it would have created a serious political crisis for the Democrats. They would have been forced to decide between fielding a candidate under indictment for a serious crime or agreeing to an emergency replacement for Clinton just four months before the presidential election. Party leaders would also have faced a major fight on the convention floor from progressive delegates pledged to Clinton’s main primary opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, if they passed him over as Clinton’s replacement.
Even though she will not face indictment, FBI director Comey’s harsh judgement of Clinton’s “extremely careless” handling of her emails is likely to be a serious problem during the presidential campaign, because it validates the Republican criticism of Mrs. Clinton’s qualifications to be president. Her decision to use the private server raises serious questions about her judgement and motives for withholding her emails, which violated federal statutes on handling procedures for government documents.
Comey’s refusal to recommend a criminal indictment is a disappointment for Republicans, but his severe criticism of Clinton’s conduct validates their view of the email scandal as a legitimate campaign issue.
Throughout the FBI investigation, Democrats, including Sanders, dismissed the email scandal as a minor faux pas. They insisted that the Republicans were trying to blow it up it into a major issue, with the help of media reporters who they claim have always been eager to believe the worst about Mrs. Clinton.
FBI DIRECTOR COMEY IS WIDELY RESPECTED
Comey has a reputation for political independence. He is known as a hard-nosed maverick who is perfectly capable of ending Clinton’s candidacy overnight if he believes her to be guilty of a major crime.
Comey has clashed repeatedly with the Obama White House on a variety of issues since he took over the FBI nearly three years ago. He supports limiting the use of encryption technologies on smart phones. He questions the ability to investigate the Islamic backgrounds of Syrian refugees coming to the US. Comey also believes that liberal support for the “black lives matter” movement has led to the so-called “Ferguson effect.” As a result, local police across the country have become reluctant to intervene to stop crime in black areas such as Ferguson, Missouri for fear of being branded as racists by the Obama administration.
Comey has shown that he is willing to buck Republican leaders as well. In 2004, he rushed to the Washington hospital bedside of an ill Attorney General John Ashcroft to block the Bush White House from renewing a warrantless wiretapping program that Comey opposed.
A PRO’S PRO
Comey was called “a pro’s pro,” by Matthew Whitaker, a former US attorney and head of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust. Ron Hosko, a former FBI assistant director and president of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, said that “despite Lynch’s “prior reputation as an effective prosecutor, she’s now the head of Obama’s Department of Justice, a political position in a Democrat administration that is deciding on the prosecution or not of the leading Democrat candidate.”
PROSECUTORS COULD BLOCK THE FBI’S RECOMMENDATION
Even though Lynch said she will accept what the FBI submits, she did not recuse herself and could have reinserted herself into the decision. Now that won’t be necessary. Justice Department (DOJ) lawyers are certain to accept Comey’s recommendation not to prosecute Clinton.
Abbe Lowell, a defense attorney who has defended elected public officials in cases like this, says that FBI agents and Justice Department prosecutors looking into Clinton’s email server will be as “independent and zealous as they can be. This is a big case for them. If a political appointee quashed it, there would be a real uproar.”
Those who know FBI director Comey also believe that if he had been subjected to political pressure to exonerate Clinton he would have objected to it publicly.
SPECIAL PROSECUTOR WAS NEEDED IN CLINTON’S CASE
Lynch’s decision to stand aside is ironic, because the Obama administration repeatedly rejected Republican calls for the politically sensitive Clinton case to be turned over to a special prosecutor. After the meeting between Lynch and Bill Clinton, Republicans renewed their calls for a special prosecutor in the case.
Senator John Cornyn of Texas said, “I’ve asked Attorney General Lynch to appoint a special counsel to provide some modest level of independence so the public can know that we’ve gotten to the bottom of this. It’s absolutely critical that we do so.”
Last October, 44 Republican lawmakers sent a letter to Lynch demanding she name a special prosecutor. “A Special Counsel must be appointed to preserve the integrity of this investigation and any subsequent prosecution and ensure that there is no bias or undue influence from the White House,” the lawmakers wrote.
Don Smaltz, the independent counsel who investigated Bill Clinton’s secretary of agriculture, Mike Espy, in the 1990s, said Lynch should have appointed a special prosecutor last year. “I think she would have [done] a more thorough investigation. The public could have more confidence in whatever the outcome is,” Smaltz said.
After the Watergate scandal in the 1970’s, Congress passed the independent counsel law to create a check on the power of the president and his top appointees. It required the attorney general to appoint an independent counsel whenever there was substantial evidence of a crime by any of 49 senior federal officials.
Independent counsels have investigated accusations against Jimmy Carter’s chief of staff, Hamilton Jordan, the Iran-Contra scandal during Reagan’s presidency, members of Bill Clinton’s cabinet and Mr. Clinton.
Lawmakers let the statute expire after an independent counsel investigation of Bill Clinton led to the failed effort to remove him from office by impeachment. Now that the law has expired, the attorney general has an option, but not a requirement, to appoint a special prosecutor in politically sensitive cases.
CLINTON’S STUBBORN EMAIL PROBLEMS
Revelations concerning Mrs. Clinton’s unauthorized use of a private email server have been a serious problem for her White House bid since its existence came to light in March of 2015. Her evasive answers and discredited explanations led most Americans to conclude that she is dishonest and untrustworthy.
Republicans have criticized Obama for minimizing the significance of Clinton’s “mistake” in maintaining a private email server and suggesting that it did not “jeopardize America’s national security.” They say it was improper for Obama to endorse Clinton’s presidential candidacy while she was still under investigation, and that Obama’s public statements about Clinton and her case inevitably influenced the FBI probe.
UNFORCED CLINTON ERRORS BENEFIT THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN
Trump’s campaign advisers have long seen the email investigation as a win-win politically: If Clinton had been indicted she would have been disqualified as the Democrat presidential candidate. Even though she was not indicted, Trump can claim that the administration tried to whitewash her guilt, pointing to the Lynch-Clinton meeting as evidence that the Democrats were trying to influence the Justice Department.
The meeting in Phoenix was a major political gift by Bill Clinton to the Trump campaign. It will be seen by the Republican base as further proof of political interference if Mrs. Clinton is not prosecuted for what she has done.
Clinton’s supporters and most Democrats say they don’t believe that her husband was trying to influence Lynch’s decision, but are still dismayed over the embarrassing “optics” of their meeting and the ethical questions it raises. Many wonder why President Clinton, who has survived more than his fair share of political scandals, would play into the hands of the Republicans in this way.
Mrs. Clinton needed a quick, definitive resolution of the email scandal before the convention to remove its shadow from her candidacy. Her husband’s meeting with the attorney general for a private chat made both of them look bad and added another dark suspicion to Clinton’s email scandal.
HOW CLINTON WITHHELD AND DESTROYED HER EMAILS
By law, Clinton was supposed to turn over her business emails to the State Department when she stepped down as secretary of state in February, 2013. But she held onto them for almost two years until late 2014, when she received a formal request for them from the State Department. Clinton claimed that she then turned over all of the more than 30,000 of her business emails on her server. But other Clinton “business” emails have shown up since then. Clinton admits she ordered another 31,000 “private” emails on her server to be deleted, without government inspection, and she continued to hold on to the server.
The FBI investigation was initiated at the request of the inspectors general of the national security services and the State Department, after a review of a small sample of the emails she released revealed that a significant percentage of them contained classified information. Eventually the State Department declared that 2,100 of the emails she turned over contained classified information, including 65 emails with “Secret” and 22 emails with “Top Secret” information.
EMAIL SECURITY BREACHES
Clinton and her defenders claimed that she was innocent of wrongdoing because none of the e-mails were marked classified when she received/sent them, and were only declared to be classified after the fact.
In Comey’s statement, he pointed out that Clinton had a responsibility, whether the emails were marked classified or not, to recognize that they contained classified information and keep them secure.
Comey also agreed with senior former Defense Department, CIA and NSC officials who say that it is likely that one or more hostile nations hacked into Clinton’s unprotected server, exposing the sensitive information it contained. Bryan Pagliano, the State Department IT department employee whom Clinton hired to manage her server in his spare time, told the FBI that he found evidence of more than five attacks on Clinton’s server by foreign hackers going back to 2011. Pagliano has been cooperating with the FBI in return for limited immunity from prosecution. However, he invoked his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in refusing to testify in a federal civil suit seeking emails on the server which have not been turned over.
CLINTON BLASTED BY STATE DEPARTMENT’S INSPECTOR GENERAL
A blistering report by the State Department’s Inspector General released in May, found that, contrary to her claims, Clinton never sought approval of the department’s security officials for her private email server. It said that if she had asked, approval would have been denied because of the “security risks” involved. Clinton and her senior advisors ignored clear warnings from State Department security officials that her method for handling her emails could leave sensitive material vulnerable to hackers.
The report also said that lower level State Department employees who raised concerns about Clinton’s private email server were told that it had been approved and to “never speak” of it again.
The inspector general found that Clinton’s private server violated department policies designed to comply with federal record laws and the requirement to preserve them. The report concluded that Clinton feared “the personal being accessible” if she used a government email account.
Clinton has claimed that she has nothing to hide about her email server, but she refused to cooperate with the inspector general’s investigation.
CLINTON’S SLOW RETREAT
After months of insisting that she did nothing wrong, Clinton finally admitted that setting up a private email server was a mistake, though she also points to previous secretaries of state using a personal email address, but that was in isolated cases. None of them did it to the same extent that she did.
When the FBI launched its investigation last summer, Clinton was left with no choice but to turn over the server for inspection. Since then, FBI computer experts, with Pagliano’s help, have been trying to recover the deleted emails.
Clinton and her campaign claimed that she turned over all of her business e-mails. But on June 22, 2015, the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which subpoenaed all Clinton emails related to that 2012 attack, uncovered 15 emails between Clinton and her longtime advisor, Sidney Blumenthal, related to Benghazi which Clinton had not turned over. Clinton has also been unable to produce the emails from her first two months as secretary of state.
CLINTON PUTS THE BEST FACE ON HER FBI INTERVIEW
Shortly after her FBI interview, Clinton told an NBC reporter, “I’ve been eager to do it, and I was pleased to have the opportunity to assist the department in bringing its review to a conclusion.” Clinton said that the tone of the session was civil and business-like, and that she had been given no indication whether charges would be filed against her.
Mrs. Clinton claimed that her interview with the FBI was voluntary, but she and her lawyers knew that if she had refused, the FBI would have quickly served her with a subpoena. The same is true with her surrender of the business emails on her server, and the server itself. She was never forthcoming and held on to the emails and the server until it became clear that she would soon be legally compelled to give them up. She also refused to answer reporters’ questions about the emails until the public pressure to do so became overwhelming.
Mrs. Clinton said she only learned about the meeting between her husband and Attorney General Lynch through news reports. She insisted that “it was purely social” and had nothing to do with the FBI investigation. “Obviously no one wants to see any untoward conclusions drawn, and they’ve said, you know, they would not do it again,” Mrs. Clinton said.
Clinton and her campaign always insist that she would ultimately be cleared of criminal charges, and planted stories in the media before Comey’s announcement predicting that she would not be prosecuted.
CLINTON ON TRIAL IN THE COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION
Even though she is not going to be criminally prosecuted, voters should consider FBI director Comey’s conclusion that Clinton’s decision to violate State Department policy and handle her own email was reckless and may have damaged national security by exposing the information on her server to foreign enemies. Comey also said she was wrong to order the deletion of more than 32,000 emails on her server without letting the government determine whether any of them were required to be preserved under federal law.
The indictment of Clinton’s mishandling of her email in the State Department’s inspector general’s report is also clear.
POTENTIAL DAMAGE TO NATIONAL SECURITY
Her unprotected server was easy pickings for the expert hackers who work for Russia, China, Iran and other countries seeking to penetrate American computer networks. If the sensitive information that was on her server has fallen into the hands of our enemies, it could cause serious damage to America’s national interest.
Clinton and her senior aides knew that security experts at the State Department were deeply concerned about the careless way she handled her emails, but she ignored their warnings.
She did not hesitate to break departmental security rules, violating the spirit if not the letter of federal law. When she stepped down as secretary of state, she failed to promptly turn over the State Department-related emails on her server. She then stonewalled and lied to the American people about what she had done, and why she did it, until the truth finally came out.
Clinton still insists that even though she made a mistake in the way she handled her emails, she did nothing wrong. Her campaign issued a statement after Comey’s statement saying that she would not do it again, but that does not explain why she ignored the advice of security experts and acted so recklessly while she was secretary of state.
CLINTONS STILL SEE THEMSELVES ABOVE THE LAW
The hubris of her actions, placing herself above the law and demonstrating contempt for government rules and national security procedures, is a serious reason to question her suitability as a candidate for president.
Mrs. Clinton and her husband have been in the national spotlight for 25 years, yet they continue to act as if the rules for everyone else simply do not apply to them. Their enemies point out that the Clintons feel they have the right to say anything and do anything to protect their position, even if it means destroying the reputation of a respected attorney general or individuals whom they have wronged.
The Clintons conduct politics like an unending war in which no prisoners are taken. Clinton supporters are expected to accept their actions and explanations without question. Anyone who doesn’t is treated as an enemy whose credibility is to be attacked and destroyed.
The risky behavior of the Clintons, skirting the boundaries of legality and morality, has not changed.
The New York Post wrote, “Comey just dealt a powerful blow to the public’s faith in the concept of equal justice. Hillary will now claim falsely she’s been exonerated — even though the FBI found her in violation of the law. Is there any wonder so many voters this year are outraged by the “rigged” system?”
Rush Limbaugh said that, “I guess Hillary Clinton will be as ignorant as the day is long if it avoids an indictment or charges, because at the end of the day the bottom line is what counts, and she’s scot-free here. But, for crying out loud, how can somebody eminently qualified to be secretary of state not know what she’s doing? Is that going to be the defense?”
“We are dealing with a politicized Department of Justice. Their objective is to shield Mrs. Clinton. It’s going to be up to Trump and the Republicans to prosecute Hillary on this email scandal. It’s going to be up to them to make campaign issues out of all these things: The lack of concern, the laziness, whatever charges you want to make about her unfitness for office and her lack of attention to necessary detail when handling classified and top secret material.”