Politics & Policy

Hillary’s Two Races: To Keep Ahead of the Investigators, and to Win the White House

(Spencer Platt/Getty)
General Petraeus misused classified info — and look at what happened to him.

Hillary Clinton is running two races: one for president and one to keep information about her private e-mail server and activities as secretary of state from public view as long as possible, preferably until she is back in the White House in 2017.

Last week, we learned more about the extent of the Clinton cover-up. Acting on a lawsuit brought by Judicial Watch, federal Judge Emmet Sullivan, a Bill Clinton appointee, cracked down on the delay tactics exercised in the effort to build a moat around her e-mails. He ordered Clinton and two of her closest aides, Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills, to “describe, under penalty of perjury, the extent to which Ms. Abedin and Ms. Mills used Mrs. Clinton’s email server to conduct official government business.” He also ordered them to confirm that that “they have produced all responsive information that was or is in their possession as a result of their employment at the State Department.” And if “all such information has not yet been produced,” they are ordered to produce it “forthwith.”

The answers are important. The inspector general for the government’s intelligence community, I. Charles McCullough III, has found that some of the 30,000 Clinton e-mails turned over to the State Department contain classified material. Taking a random sample of 40 e-mails, he found four with classified information — material that was classified at the time it was sent and that was extremely vulnerable to hackers and foreign intelligence agencies. A fifth e-mail concerning the 2012 Benghazi attack that left an ambassador and three other Americans dead is already public and appears to have contained classified information. In all likelihood, there are many more.

RELATED: Criminal or Not, Hillary Clinton’s E-mails Are a National-Security Risk

All this led McCullough to refer the matter to the Justice Department as a “potential compromise of classified information.” Not so long ago, the government took that sort of thing seriously. The U.S. Criminal Code states, with regard to documents or materials containing classified information: “It is a crime to knowingly remove such documents without authority and with the intent to retain such documents or materials at an unauthorized location.” David Petraeus, the former CIA director and Army general, pled guilty just this year to mishandling classified information after storing sensitive CIA data in an unlocked desk drawer at his home in Arlington, Va. If a desk in a house in Virginia is an unauthorized location, a server in a house in Hillary Clinton’s New York home is one, too.

Nathan Sales, a former official at the Departments of Justice and Homeland Security under President Bush, wrote last week here on National Review’s website:

The Clinton e-mails are potentially more troubling than the Petraeus affair. Digital espionage can be much more harmful than spying in the analog world. If Chinese or Russian spies wanted to copy the retired general’s black books, they would have had to mount a costly and risky operation to break into his house undetected. But hackers can compromise information on an e-mail server from anywhere on the planet, with just a few keystrokes.

Indeed, Hillary Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal had his account compromised by a Romanian hacker in 2013 and the contents of his memos to her revealed.

Team Clinton is asserting that “any released emails deemed classified by the administration have been done so after the fact, and not at the time they were transmitted.” But that is flatly contradicted by the State Department. Hillary can plead ignorance as to what was sent to her on her private e-mail account, but, as the liberal Cleveland Plain Dealer editorialized this week: “Clinton seeks to become president and commander in chief, but if McCullough’s findings are correct, she was at best inattentive about her handling of intelligence secrets when she was secretary of state even as she worked to shield her activities from public view. If that’s not a disqualification from the White House, it’s hard to imagine what is.”

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If those are the stakes, it probably explains why Hillary’s old comrades at the State Department are dragging their feet in responding to Freedom of Information Act lawsuits about her rogue e-mail operation. Last Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon told State Department lawyers that he couldn’t accept continued delays in the release of Hillary’s e-mail traffic. “Now, any person should be able to review that in one day — one day,” said Judge Leon, examining FOIA requests that the AP made beginning in 2010, for some 60-plus e-mails. “Even the least ambitious bureaucrat could do this.”

#related#There are signs Democrats are nervous about what other shoes might drop in the Hillary e-mail caper. The boomlet surrounding Vice President Joe Biden’s possible entry into the presidential race is being hoisted aloft in part because polls show that distrust of Hillary is growing. A Quinnipiac University poll released July 31 finds her favorable rating among all voters is just 40 percent, while Biden’s is 49 percent. In addition, by 57 percent to 37 percent, voters in the poll do not find her “honest and trustworthy.”

Even reporters are now openly stating the obvious. Dan Balz of the Washington Post told CBS News this Sunday:

It’s a fact that the Clintons, especially Hillary, are very guarded, very secretive people, and this has erupted into multiple controversies, including the e-mail scandal. And so they realize that’s hurting them, and they’re trying to present a sort of charade of transparency.

If the charade doesn’t work and Hillary loses the race to keep her e-mails and past mistakes buried, her race for the White House could be in real jeopardy. It’s the growing understanding among both political elites and voters that she’s unapologetically slippery that is her biggest obstacle in her other race — the one for the White House.

— John Fund is national-affairs correspondent for National Review Online.

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