The Corner

Politics & Policy

Hillary Will Receive Classified Briefings as a Candidate

Last week, after Hillary Clinton escaped prosecution for her mishandling of classified material while secretary of state, House speaker Paul Ryan formally asked that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper withhold the classified intelligence briefings Clinton would customarily recieve as a major-party presidential nominee.

As Andrew McCarthy and Shannen Coffin have ably argued, Clinton broke the law in numerous ways in order to shield herself from open-records laws, lied to the American people and the Congress about her actions, and was so incompetent in her handling of classified material that foreign actors almost certainly hacked her e-mail server causing untold damage to American national-security interests.

That Hillary Clinton is not being prosecuted is a miscarriage of justice.

But that being said, FBI director James Comey did take pains to declare Clinton’s actions so “extremely careless” that “in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face [] consequences.”

“Those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions,” Comey said.

Currently out of office, and under these circumstances, isn’t Speaker Ryan’s proposal for “security or administrative sanction” eminently reasonable?

Think again.

“I do not intend to withhold briefings from any officially nominated, eligible candidate,” Clapper wrote to Ryan on Monday.

“Nominees for president and vice president receive these classified briefings by virtue of their status as candidates and do not require separate security clearances before the briefings,” Clapper added. “Briefings for the candidates will be provided in an evenhanded, nonpartisan basis.”

In Wednesday’s Washington Post, Ryan responded:

Comey called [Clinton] and her staff “extremely careless.” However, her actions do not seem careless at all. In fact, Clinton’s actions seem quite careful — careful to place her own interests before our national security. Setting up multiple unauthorized email servers is quite an undertaking. Ask any IT expert. Transmitting tens of thousands of government emails does not amount to one or two thoughtless mistakes but a calculated series of choices made over the course of several years.

“We will never know how far-reaching the damage is because her legal team deleted many more thousands that can never be recovered,” Ryan said, adding, “There is no legal requirement to provide candidates with intelligence briefings, so it seems reasonable for her to lose this privilege.”

Are we really supposed to believe that an “evenhanded, nonpartisan” observer would offer classified briefings to someone deemed “extremely careless” in the handling of classified material only last week? It’s good to be a Clinton.

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