The media response to Hillary Clinton’s midnight Tweet – the first thing she’s said about her rapidly expanding email scandal, after a few days of the quiet contemplation and strategic planning only Democrats are allowed to have – was a marvel to behold. Reporters conjured an epic saga of redemption and absolution from a few entirely meaningless words.
No, Hillary supporters, she didn’t “fix” her problem with that Tweet. She arguably made it worse, because she’s admitting she committed a crime. Yes, a crime. A felony offense, to be exact.
I know liberals are great believers in granting their demigod leaders immunity from the law and Constitution, and America certainly does have a whiff of the banana republic about it these days, but hopefully we’re not all the way gone yet.
I want the public to see my email. I asked State to release them. They said they will review them for release as soon as possible.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) March 5, 2015
That’s Mrs. Clinton at 11:35 PM Eastern time on Wednesday night. Let’s go through it one line at a time:
I want the public to see my email. Reporters’ eyes glazed over with rapture upon reading these words, and as they quivered in excitement behind their keyboards, they conjured imaginary words into that quintessentially Clintonian non-statement.
Many of they could swear they saw Hillary declaring, “I want the public to see all my emails.” Some of them have begun misquoting her that way in “news” reports and headlines. That’s not what she said, and it’s not what she meant. We’re only going to see what she chooses to let us see; that’s why she set up a private server and illegally used it for every last byte of her Secretary of State correspondence. She and her gremlins have had years to go through the information she kept from the public, in flagrant defiance of the Federal Records Act, and edit or delete anything she doesn’t want the public to see.
I asked State to release them. That’s the part that makes this Tweet a complete nullity. The issue is not the disposition of the emails she decided to hand over to the State Department, long after she left office. The issue is the correspondence she decided not to hand over. The issue is that she created a system that gave her control over what the public, Freedom of Information Act lawyers, and Congressional investigators would get to see.
Even if we could somehow achieve metaphysical certainty that she never deleted or changed anything, and has faithfully handed over every single page of email she sent or received through her secret server as Secretary of State, the fact that she created a system designed from the ground up to thwart the Federal Records Act, State Department protocols, and the Obama Administration’s much-touted transparency policies constitutes malfeasance.
They said they will review them for release as soon as possible. If they have to review the material Hillary decided to give them before releasing it, then she’s admitting she had material on that private server that had no business being there. Hillary Clinton unquestionably jeopardized national security with her FOIA-avoidance scheme.
Also, “as soon as possible” isn’t nearly soon enough, Clinton hacks. She thwarted lawful FOIA requests from citizens, and subpoenas from Congress, for years with her email scheme. She’s going to get sued over it – watchdog group Judicial Watch has already announced legal action pertaining to emails between Clinton and her aide Huma Abedin (who was also given an off-the-books account on Clinton’s homebrew basement server) and the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt, Mohammed Morsi.
“Now we know why the State Department didn’t want to respond to our specific request for Hillary Clinton’s and Huma Abedin’s communications,” says Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton. “The State Department violated FOIA law rather than admit that it couldn’t and wouldn’t search the secret accounts that the agency has known about for years. This lawsuit shows how the latest Obama administration cover-up isn’t just about domestic politics but has significant foreign policy implications.”
Fitton is exactly right. The State Department, and other elements of the Obama Administration, absolutely and with 100 percent certainty knew about Hillary’s secret email system… but time and again, they falsely pretended they didn’t know she had gigabytes of correspondence stashed on a server in her house, claiming there were no emails responsive to subpoenas and FOIA requests. When American citizens and legislators lawfully demanded access to vital Clinton emails, they were handed little wicker baskets of lies containing goose eggs.
In what world does a 140-character message – not even an apology, but an arrogant assertion that our mistress of the homebrew server is all about transparency, like she’s doing us a huge favor by taking a few minutes of her valuable time to put that Tweet together – balance that? It’s like a bank robber coming back to the scene of the crime a few years later, announcing he’s firmly against bank robbery, handing a paper bag of money to the teller, and saying “here’s all the money I, um, withdrew a couple of years ago. No, you can’t count it. Trust me, it’s all there.”
Hillary Clinton hyperventilated that “secret White House email accounts” were part of a “stunning record of secrecy and corruption, of cronyism run amok” while railing against the Bush Administration in 2007… two years before she went to work for an Obama Administration so secretive, corrupt, cronyist, and impenetrable to public oversight that it made the worst excesses of the Bushies look like a couple of kids playing with a can-and-string improvised telephone. She then topped almost every evasive tactic of her furtive Obama colleagues by setting up a system deliberately designed to circumvent laws the Smartest Woman In the World understood perfectly well, both in letter and spirit. (It’s kind of hard to top Barack Obama using executive privilege to protect Attorney General Eric Holder from an investigation, but Hillary sure did her best.)
This isn’t about scoring a few rhetorical points against Clinton for “hypocrisy,” which the Beltway culture incorrectly and deviously likes to portray as the ultimate Washington sin. (It’s devious because you can’t get prosecuted for “hypocrisy,” so elevating it to the status of Ultimate Sin conceals the severity of other misbehavior.) Clinton’s not a “hypocrite” on transparency; she’s a careful and deliberate violator of laws she cannot demonstrate ignorance of, no matter how many of her supporters fall back on a last-ditch “Grandma doesn’t understand email” defense that sacrifices her intelligence to protect her character.
I’m not sure why anyone thinks that would be a winning strategy for a presidential campaign – Vote Hillary 2016, because she’s lazy and incompetent, not a crook! – but it’s not going to fly anyway. There is abundant evidence to show that she perfectly well understood the value of keeping her email, and that of her top aides, completely hidden from investigators and the public.
It’s also clear the State Department as an institution understood precisely why private email systems were wrong. Writer Mark Steyn recalls the fate of J.Scott Gration, former U.S. Ambassador to Kenya, who was ripped in a 2012 Inspector General’s report for, among other offenses, running the same kind of private email system Hillary had, except not quite as grandiose. Steyn wonders, “Did the ‘State Department of Inspector General’ forward that report to the Secretary of State at firstname.lastname@example.org?” That’s not just a wry comment on Steyn’s part – the answer is almost certainly yes.
Shannen Coffin of National Review, who served as a lawyer for the Bush Justice Department, notes that Hillary’s private mail system is almost certainly a felony violation of the Federal Records Act – which, contrary to liberal ideology about how their dear leaders are monarchs who float above the rule of law, does indeed apply to Secretaries of State, even when they’re female and their last name is “Clinton.”
State Department documents clearly indicate that the department understands that “e-mail records must be preserved under the Federal Records Act.” There are specific procedures for archiving email sent through personal accounts (something envisioned as occurring under unusual circumstances, not Standard Operation Procedure for 100 percent of the SecStates’ email) and Hillary did not follow them.
As Coffin explains, “Federal criminal law makes it a felony when any custodian of official government records ‘willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same.’ The crime is punishable by up to three years in prison. And interestingly, Congress felt strongly enough about the crime that it included the unusual provision that the perpetrator shall ‘forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.'”
The only thing protecting Hillary from indictment is the political refusal of the Obama regime to bring the charges… which puts us right back in banana-republic territory. There’s no question Hillary’s actions merit indictment; she would then have the same right to a fair trial as everyone else, but she’ll never be put through the kind of trouble and expense this government routinely imposes on Those Who Work Hard and Play By the Rules for far lesser offenses, often bankrupting them through process before there is any serious discussion of punishment.
The Little People are often crushed by laws they knew nothing about, and transgressed in complete and demonstrable innocence – the Environmental Protection Agency has a flair for crushing middle-class landowners with Orwellian proceedings based on arcane rules and subjective regulator judgments, with steadily mounting penalties that make continued resistance a staggering financial gamble.
But Hillary could skip away with nothing worse than damage to her presidential aspirations that she might be able to overcome, winning absolution from the media with a carefully-constructed bit of Twitter flatulence in the dead of night, after investing a great deal of effort in a blindingly obvious scheme to violate laws she and her Department unquestionably understood – laws based on common-sense imperatives for transparent government that Hillary and all of her co-conspirators in the Administration have pounded the podium about, before, during, and after her tenure as Secretary of State?
No. The lawlessness has to end now.
The contempt for the American people has to end now. And that’s only going to happen if we stand up and insist on it. We have a Ruling Class that treats us like idiotic serfs and childlike dependents because we let them get away with it. Let’s go back to having representatives and public servants who live in awe of the people they serve, respect for the powers they have been granted, and fear of the consequences for abusing them.