The Corner

Law & the Courts

Mr. Comey, Hillary Wants Another Job That Requires a Security Clearance

From the midweek Morning Jolt:

Mr. Comey, Hillary Wants Another Job That Requires a Security Clearance

It would almost have been easier if FBI Director James Comey came to the podium and said simply, “we found no evidence that any crime was committed,” and walked away without taking questions or any further detail. Instead, the FBI Director spent ten minutes laying out that the scandal of the her private e-mail server is just what her critics thought: Hillary Clinton repeatedly and knowingly violated the law by keeping plenty of classified information on an insecure server and lied to everyone every step of the way.

The description from Comey was scathing, and way too extensive and detailed to be explained away as a series of innocent mistakes: “110 e-mails in 52 e-mail chains have been determined by the owning agency to contain classified information at the time they were sent or received.” 

She and her colleagues “were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information… Any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton’s position, or in the position of those government employees with whom she was corresponding about these matters, should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation.” 

The director remarkably stated that the information would have been more secure on Gmail:

None of these e-mails should have been on any kind of unclassified system, but their presence is especially concerning because all of these e-mails were housed on unclassified personal servers not even supported by full-time security staff, like those found at Departments and Agencies of the U.S. Government—or even with a commercial service like Gmail.

Comey pointed out that Hillary Clinton could not claim ignorance or obliviousness of the law: “Even if information is not marked ‘classified’ in an e-mail, participants who know or should know that the subject matter is classified are still obligated to protect it.”

And while the FBI couldn’t prove that hostile regimes or organizations were reading Hillary Clinton’s e-mail, it sounds pretty plausible from Comey’s description:

We do assess that hostile actors gained access to the private commercial e-mail accounts of people with whom Secretary Clinton was in regular contact from her personal account. We also assess that Secretary Clinton’s use of a personal e-mail domain was both known by a large number of people and readily apparent. She also used her personal e-mail extensively while outside the United States, including sending and receiving work-related e-mails 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 e-mail account.

Then, having laid out that Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be trusted with a Secret Santa list, never mind top secret classified information, Comey abruptly and inexplicably insisted that because there wasn’t precedent, the FBI didn’t believe there was reason to prosecute her.

Bizarrely, even after declaring the FBI was not recommending indictment, Comey implied that if Hillary Clinton still worked for the federal government, she could be fired or have her security clearance revoked: “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.” Mr. Director, have you noticed she’s trying to get hired for another high-level government job that involves handling lots of classified information?

The FBI’s decision simply doesn’t make sense. Our Andy McCarthy lays out that based on what Comey said and the FBI found, Hillary Clinton broke the law over and over and over again:

There is no way of getting around this: According to Director James Comey (disclosure: a former colleague and longtime friend of mine), Hillary Clinton checked every box required for a felony violation of Section 793(f) of the federal penal code (Title 18): With lawful access to highly classified information she acted with gross negligence in removing and causing it to be removed it from its proper place of custody, and she transmitted it and caused it to be transmitted to others not authorized to have it, in patent violation of her trust. Director Comey even conceded that former Secretary Clinton was “extremely careless” and strongly suggested that her recklessness very likely led to communications (her own and those she corresponded with) being intercepted by foreign intelligence services.

In essence, in order to give Mrs. Clinton a pass, the FBI rewrote the statute, inserting an intent element that Congress did not require. The added intent element, moreover, makes no sense: The point of having a statute that criminalizes gross negligence is to underscore that government officials have a special obligation to safeguard national defense secrets; when they fail to carry out that obligation due to gross negligence, they are guilty of serious wrongdoing. The lack of intent to harm our country is irrelevant. People never intend the bad things that happen due to gross negligence.

Put simply, the FBI “told the public that because Mrs. Clinton did not have intent to harm the United States we should not prosecute her on a felony that does not require proof of intent to harm the United States.”

The first ten minutes of the press conference didn’t match the decision in the final five minutes of the press conference. It was if someone changed channels on the world, taking us from a world where the evidence points to numerous felonies to an alternate universe where the FBI only wants to pursue a crime if they’re absolutely certain someone intended to break the law with malicious intent. (How could Hillary or anyone else in government think that her private server would not break laws about protecting classified information and preserving public records?)

Most Popular

Culture

The Hedges of the Garden of Liberty

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is Jonah Goldberg’s weekly “news”letter, the G-File. Subscribe here to get the G-File delivered to your inbox on Fridays. Dear Reader (Including Emmett Flood, who won’t stop attending my meetings), Let’s say for the sake of argument that Joe Blow (not his real name) ... Read More
PC Culture

Political Correctness at Stanford Law

Nestled in the heart of what is now Silicon Valley, the Leland Stanford Junior University was, for much of its hundred-plus-year history, lightly regarded as a playground for the idle rich. To the extent that Stanford bore any resemblance to its aspirational cousins on the East Coast, it was to their previous ... Read More