The Corner

Politics & Policy

Yes, Hillary Clinton Broke the Law

Over at Media Matters for America — the liberal spin operation founded by well-known Clinton backer David Brock — the machine is in high gear contending that Hillary Clinton did nothing unlawful by conducting her business as secretary of state from a personal email account, because “requirements to maintain such records did not exist during her tenure.”

Which, of course, is bunk.

Here is the Federal Records Act, passed in 1950:

The head of each Federal agency shall make and preserve records containing adequate and proper documentation of the organization, functions, policies, decisions, procedures, and essential transactions of the agency and designed to furnish the information necessary to protect the legal and financial rights of the Government and of persons directly affected by the agency’s activities. (44 U.S. Code § 3101)

So the question would seem to be: Are emails records? The answer is obvious — and was so long before Hillary Clinton took over at Foggy Bottom. Here is the State Department’s own treatment of the question from 1995:

Another important modern improvement is the ease of communication now afforded to the Department world-wide through the use of E-mail. . . . All employees must be aware that some of the variety of the messages being exchanged on E-mail are important to the Department and must be preserved; such messages are considered Federal records under the law. (5 FAM [Foreign Affairs Manual] 443.1)

In fact, step-by-step guidance was being offered to employees two decades ago about how to preserve email records. So if Clinton failed to follow procedures, it was not for lack of available instruction on the subject.

There have been modifications, particularly in recent years, about what constitutes “private email” that does not fall under the purview of these regulations, but such details are irrelevant here, because Clinton apparently did not transfer any of the communications from her private account for preservation. To maintain that that is above-board, one also must maintain that Clinton did not send a single work-related email in four years as America’s top diplomat. Which we know is false.

So, yes, Hillary Clinton broke the law.

Ian Tuttle — Ian Tuttle is the former Thomas L. Rhodes Journalism Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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