Law & the Courts

Is Hillary above the Law?

(Kevork Djansezian/Getty)

Hillary Clinton is in trouble. Or more accurately put, she should be in trouble — very big trouble, in fact. The latest from the Department of Justice is that, yes, they have seized Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server and an accompanying thumb drive. The FBI has reportedly confiscated copies of the same e-mails from Hillary’s lawyer because it deemed the information contained in them too sensitive for him to keep.

While attempting to defend the indefensible, a Clinton spokesman said that this merely shows that the former secretary of state is cooperating with a “security inquiry.” That pathetic spin was meant to prevent the American people from recognizing there is not just smoke but fire to the Hillary e-mail scandal.

Too late. Already, the flames are visible. The most damning revelation about Hillary’s e-mails from the last 24 hours is not the details of the investigation into her homebrew server. What’s making headlines across the political spectrum is that some of the material she sent via her personal server was so sensitive that it was designated “Top Secret.”

This is a jaw-slaps-the-table moment. Even for those of us who hold a very low opinion of Mrs. Clinton’s character, integrity, and judgment, this is a graver offense than many had contemplated. Merely the storage of “Top Secret” e-mails – never mind their dissemination over open channels to some individuals likely not cleared to read them — is a federal felony. On top of that, it is unthinkable that Hillary could have sent such sensitive information and not known at the time that it was sensitive.

RELATED: Hillary’s E-mails Contained Classified Information — Hold Her Accountable 

She knew what she was doing, and she knew what was at stake. When you are dealing with classified material, information security — “InfoSec” — is not a game. There are good reasons for the laws that protect the data. “Top Secret” is a term we are all familiar with from the pop-culture spy world, but it has very specific implications. A “TS” designation means that “exceptionally grave injury” could be expected to befall the United States should that information be disclosed to unauthorized personnel.

Hillary had a sacred duty to exercise proper caution and protect classified material in her possession by keeping it within proper channels.

Keep in mind that Hillary Clinton’s obligation as a U.S. government official with classified access went far beyond the need to avoid intentional disclosure to foreign powers (which is espionage). We are talking about a Cabinet-level appointee — one with almost total access to sensitive national-security information and who is responsible for the safety and security of thousands of State Department employees all over the world. She must set an example for other government employees. I’ve seen CIA interns with more security sense than Madame Secretary had.

Hillary had a sacred duty to exercise proper caution and protect classified material in her possession by keeping it within proper channels. Lives were quite literally at stake. Instead, she created her own little digital-information clearinghouse — for herself and even for some employees – and, at a minimum, exposed critical national-security information to foreign penetration.

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No doubt, the Clinton campaign will claim that there was no provable breach of her system, that the e-mails weren’t classified until after the fact (which is not true), and that Hillary violated neither State Department protocol nor U.S. federal law. In each case, these defenses are blatant falsehoods. Only a compliant media and the potent Clinton political machine can keep the lies from collapsing.

At this point in the sordid Clinton e-mail saga, the facts are beyond dispute: Hillary used a private, unsecured e-mail system for official government business, including the retention and dissemination of classified material up to and including “Top Secret” communications. In doing so, she violated basic good sense, professional obligations, and federal law. She did all this to evade public scrutiny of her dealings while in office, and she has lied repeatedly to the American people about it since.

RELATED: The FBI and Justice Department Let the Clinton Camp Hold on to Classified E-mails

Even for a Clinton, this is all very low and unseemly. Worse than that, it has jeopardized national security. Hillary has no explanation or valid defense. This should be “game over” for her presidential campaign. Her entourage of advisers and toadies should now focus on hiring an adept criminal-defense team.

But I very much doubt that will be the case. Her e-mail system was reckless, but her hubris surely arose in part from the knowledge that Hillary can expect dispensations from the sort of people who sit in federal prosecutors’ offices. This is particularly true of the grotesquely politicized Obama Department of Justice. They will bury this scandal, alongside the carcasses of the investigation into the IRS’s tea-party-targeting scandal, Operation Fast and Furious, and everything else this administration has suppressed.

#related#As with her husband’s transgressions during his time in office, Hillary’s obvious violations of the law will probably be wiped away and largely forgotten. She is too important to the apparatus of governing elites and to the Left. The seized e-mail server, thumb drive, and whatever else the investigation sweeps up will disappear into the flabby folds of bureaucracy at the DOJ. There it will linger under a perpetual “review” that will stretch well beyond the 2016 election.

In a way, Hillary is merely continuing what Bill started. He once questioned whether the word “is” had actual meaning when applied to him. With her brazen e-mail scheme, Hillary now questions whether the law has actual meaning when applied to her.

And if she gets away with this, the answer will be a clear and resounding no.

— Buck Sexton is host of “The Buck Sexton Show” on TheBlaze, a CNN political commentator, and a former CIA analyst.


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