If we still lived in a nation where the rule of law meant anything to our left-wing aristocracy, the discovery that Hillary Clinton used personal email accounts to evade federal transparency requirements would finish her, and probably finish Barack Obama with her.
He had to be in on the scheme, after all. Nearly every high official in the Obama Administration is a willing co-conspirator. They all knew Clinton completely avoided using the State Department’s official email system. In fact, it turns out she didn’t even use it once. This allows her little gang to sanitize her correspondence at its leisure, turning over whatever they feel like revealing to congressional investigators.
(Be on guard against liberal attempts to spin this story away by whining about every public official who ever used a public email account. The key detail here is that Clinton rinsed everything through her off-the-books account, in clear violation of requirements instituted because of previous private-email imbroglios – requirements Clinton and her staff could not possibly have misunderstood or been ignorant of.)
We don’t live in a country with the rule of law any more, of course, so Clinton probably won’t be crushed by this new scandal, and it won’t bother Obama at all. It would be a minor miracle if anyone from his slavish press corps even bothered to ask him about it, especially since the news is breaking on the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s “controversial” address to Congress (controversial because His Majesty decreed it so) and that’s going to eat up an entire news cycle.
The email revelations might still be a significant contribution to the growing pile of gaffes and scandal crud weighing Clinton’s prospective presidential campaign down. No matter how corrupt and power-hungry the Democrat Party has become, some significant number of its voters must still care about transparency, honesty, and lawful conduct in the mega-government they hold to be far more virtuous than private-sector corporations.
As the story breaks, it’s fun to watch the New York Times try to perform one last service for its beloved Madame Hillary and cushion the blow: “Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.”
May have violated…? There’s no question about it, loyal Hillary guardsmen of the New York Times.
It’s not a mistake, a little whoopsie made by a distracted old lady who logged into her Yahoo account a couple of times instead of using her official, archived government account. It was a long-running, systematic effort to evade transparency requirements conducted very deliberately by Clinton, with the assistance of other Administration officials.
She’s hardly the only one to try something like this. We’ve been treated to years worth of stories about officials of this slippery Administration using special email addresses to conduct secret business, most memorably in the case of EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who invented a phony male employee called “Richard Windsor” to hide her transmissions. (Maybe Richard Windsor was in charge of preserving all the documentation on politically-delayed regulations a judge just blasted the EPA for destroying with suspicious alacrity after the Landmark Legal Foundation filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit over it.)
What makes Hillary Clinton unique is that she didn’t even pretend to use the official system for anything, and it had serious repercussions for congressional investigations, including Benghazi. We’re halfway through the long Times article before it is casually mentioned that Hillary got busted by Rep. Trey Gowdy’s (R-SC) investigation into that still-unresolved scandal: “The existence of Mrs. Clinton’s personal email account was discovered by a House committee investigating the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi as it sought correspondence between Mrs. Clinton and her aides about the attack.”
The NYT dutifully relates some argle-bargle from Administration flacks and Clintonistas about how wonderfully committed to transparency they all are, but the bottom line is that Clinton keeping all of her correspondence away from the archives clearly and obviously compromises the integrity of whatever she chooses to hand over. (It might have compromised national security, too, because the Times notes “it is not clear whether Mrs. Clinton’s private email account included encryption or other security measures, given the sensitivity of her diplomatic activity.”) There’s no way to conceal the fact that Clinton’s activities are positively astonishing to everyone familiar with the record-keeping policies she evaded:
Her expansive use of the private account was alarming to current and former National Archives and Records Administration officials and government watchdogs, who called it a serious breach.
“It is very difficult to conceive of a scenario — short of nuclear winter — where an agency would be justified in allowing its cabinet-level head officer to solely use a private email communications channel for the conduct of government business,” said Jason R. Baron, a lawyer at Drinker Biddle & Reath who is a former director of litigation at the National Archives and Records Administration.
A spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, Nick Merrill, defended her use of the personal email account and said she has been complying with the “letter and spirit of the rules.”
Under federal law, however, letters and emails written and received by federal officials, such as the secretary of state, are considered government records and are supposed to be retained so that congressional committees, historians and members of the news media can find them. There are exceptions to the law for certain classified and sensitive materials.
Mrs. Clinton is not the first government official — or first secretary of state — to use a personal email account on which to conduct official business. But her exclusive use of her private email, for all of her work, appears unusual, Mr. Baron said. The use of private email accounts is supposed to be limited to emergencies, experts said, such as when an agency’s computer server is not working.
“I can recall no instance in my time at the National Archives when a high-ranking official at an executive branch agency solely used a personal email account for the transaction of government business,” said Mr. Baron, who worked at the agency from 2000 to 2013.
Regulations from the National Archives and Records Administration at the time required that any emails sent or received from personal accounts be preserved as part of the agency’s records.
But Mrs. Clinton and her aides failed to do so.
How many emails were in Mrs. Clinton’s account is not clear, and neither is the process her advisers used to determine which ones related to her work at the State Department before turning them over.
Of course it’s not “clear.” Nothing is ever “clear” with this bunch.
Maybe they’ll try claiming the official email system was down for Clinton’s entire tenure as Secretary of State. It wouldn’t be much more implausible than the story they expected us to swallow about how half the computers in the IRS crashed simultaneously and wiped out subpoena-responsive correspondence pertaining to the Tea Party targeting scandal.
Speaking of which, we appear to have caught IRS Commissioner John Koskinen lying to Congress about the existence of backups of those emails – he spent much of his congressional testimony bleating about the $20 million the IRS supposedly spent to find them, but it turned out nobody actually tried going to the place where the backups are stored and asking for them – but he doesn’t seem to be looking at any indictments or sanctions. Surely our wise, moral, benevolent, regulation-happy super-State will find room in its hollow heart to forgive Hillary Clinton for a little organized conspiracy to avoid accountability.
We’re told we have to settle for political remedies to lawlessness and deception from our Ruling Class – the only corrective measure they’re supposed to be worried about is the wrath of voters in the next election. They have a vast arsenal of inducements and distractions available to dilute that wrath, with the complicity of a friendly media that routinely decides the most outrageous Democrat abuses are less newsworthy than, say, a Republican former governor saying something about President Obama that his press corps takes umbrage at. It will be up to us to remember this lesson about what Hillary Clinton really thinks of responsibility and honesty. If the Democrats run her as their 2016 candidate, it means they’re cool with this. None of the rest of us should be.