In a better world, Hillary Clinton would be made to pay for being, at a bare minimum, “extremely careless” (FBI Director Comey’s words) with classified information. In fact, as Shannon Coffin and Andy McCarthy have ably outlined, she should face criminal liability. That’s not going to happen now. Whether she will be held accountable by voters remains to be seen and is fraught with difficulties as Republicans appear poised to nominate the catastrophe from Manhattan.
But there is one small thing Americans can demand now: Hillary Clinton should reimburse the federal government for what had to have been an incredibly expensive investigation. The FBI declined to say exactly how many agents worked on this project — the word “dozens” appears often in news reports — but the process was clearly demanding. According to James Comey, here is some of what the FBI did:
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.
FBI investigators have also read all of the approximately 30,000 e-mails provided by Secretary Clinton to the State Department in December 2014. Where an e-mail was assessed as possibly containing classified information, the FBI referred the e-mail to any U.S. government agency that was a likely “owner” of information in the e-mail, so that agency could make a determination as to whether the e-mail contained classified information at the time it was sent or received, or whether there was reason to classify the e-mail now, even if its content was not classified at the time it was sent (that is the process sometimes referred to as “up-classifying”).
Mrs. Clinton is a wealthy woman. Between 2013 and 2015 alone, she pulled down $21.6 million giving speeches (at $225,000 a pop). She has said she erred in using a private server. Her factotums are saying it’s time to move on. If she had any integrity (I know, stay with me here), she’d ask the FBI how much it cost to investigate her and write a check.