The U.S. Department of Justice has been asked to open a criminal investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's mishandling of classified information in emails she sent through her unauthorized, insecure private email server.
Whether such a probe, if it happens, will actually accomplish anything is a separate question. That's because the DoJ is headed by Obama appointee Loretta Lynch who is essentially a carbon copy of her predecessor, the corrupt Eric Holder, a man who was held in contempt by the U.S. House of Representatives and who came close to getting impeached for misconduct in office.
If Obama wants, Lynch, who has longstanding ties to the Clintons, will run interference for Clinton in order to minimize damage to Clinton's campaign for the Democratic Party's 2016 presidential nod. Lynch could stonewall and obfuscate in order to run out the clock for the Obama administration which has only about 18 months remaining in office. And it is also far from clear whether Republican lawmakers, who control both chambers of Congress, will have enough spine to press their political advantage on the issue of Clinton's email malfeasance that more than likely put U.S. national security in jeopardy.
Obama administration officials at the highest levels were long aware of Clinton's cloak-and-dagger email infrastructure. The irretrievably corrupt Clintons created the system to frustrate Freedom of Information Act requesters, shield Hillary's correspondence from congressional oversight, and steer money to the international cash-for-favors clearinghouse known as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation.
Clinton has admitted that tens of thousands of the emails she sent that happened to be U.S. government property were deleted. Emails were scrubbed while subject to a subpoena from the House Select Committee that is investigating the terrorist attack on the U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, that took place on Sept. 11, 2012. Some lawyers say Clinton is guilty at a minimum of a species of obstruction of justice known as spoliation of evidence. Although many journalists are scrambling to find a so-called smoking gun that incriminates Hillary, they don't seem to realize they already have it. In legal proceedings the finder of fact is entitled to draw an adverse inference from the fact that an individual destroyed evidence that is relevant to an ongoing or reasonably foreseeable civil or criminal case, something Clinton confessed to when she openly admitted her server was scrubbed. This spoliation inference, as lawyers call it, can by itself be deemed to constitute evidence sufficient for a criminal conviction or a civil judgment.
Despite demands from Republicans on Capitol Hill who are investigating Clinton, she has steadfastly refused to hand over the server whose existence became public knowledge earlier this year. She caused a firestorm before launching her presidential bid when she admitted that all her government emails from her time at the Department of State were routed through her own personal Internet server that has been traced back to her Chappaqua, N.Y., home address.
This new legal process in the email scandal was set in motion after the Department of State's in-house watchdog discovered that Clinton sent at least four emails from her illicit account that contained classified information while she headed the agency. The intelligence community's inspector general referred the case to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counterintelligence division. A DoJ official told the Wall Street Journal on Friday that the probe was criminal in nature but a few hours later DoJ performed an about-face, saying the investigation was "related to the potential compromise of classified information." The official added, "it is not a criminal referral," without explaining why it had changed the way it characterized the case.
As the WSJ reported,
In a letter to members of Congress on Thursday, the inspector general of the intelligence community concluded that Mrs. Clinton’s email contains material from the intelligence community that should have been considered “secret”—the second-highest level of classification—at the time it was sent.
The four emails “were classified when they were sent and are classified now,” said Andrea Williams, a spokeswoman for the inspector general. Separately, federal watchdogs sent a memo to Patrick Kennedy, Under Secretary for Management at the State Department, indicating that a review of Hillary's emails revealed "hundreds of potentially classified emails within the collection.”
The four emails in question surfaced when the inspector general examined a small sample of about 40 emails from Clinton's account. Another way of looking at it is to say that an appalling 10 percent of emails in the sample contained classified data, which foreign intelligence agencies or other hackers could have intercepted because Hillary's private email system lacked security safeguards. This raises the specter that there may be many more emails in the more than 30,000 being examined that could contain confidential, secret, or top-secret information and that may have been viewed by unauthorized individuals hostile to the United States.
“None of the emails we reviewed had classification or dissemination markings, but some included IC-derived classified information and should have been handled as classified, appropriately marked, and transmitted via a secure network,” Inspector General I. Charles McCullough wrote in his letter to federal lawmakers. "The emails in question left government custody and are on both Mrs. Clinton’s personal home email sever as well as a thumb drive of David Kendall, Mrs. Clinton’s personal attorney," the WSJ reported.
As Clinton watchers might expect, Hillary brushed off the news of a probe into her behavior in office as unimportant. Forever the victim, she claimed Friday that there were “inaccuracies” in reports about her use of email, but failed to elaborate. She said she voluntarily handed over 55,000 pages of email and has agreed to make herself available to testify before lawmakers.
“Maybe the heat is getting to everybody,” the presidential candidate said flippantly. “We are all accountable to the American people to get the facts right, and I will do my part. But I’m also going to stay focused on the issues, particularly the big issues that really matter to American families.”
A State Department spokesman feebly protested that the agency didn't believe any emails Hillary sent during her time as secretary contained any information that was classified at the material time.
“To our knowledge, none of them needed to be classified at the time,” Mark Toner said. He acknowledged the department has since determined that many of Hillary's emails contained classified data but State did not believe at the time that it was classified.
But even this is no excuse.
As secretary of state it was Clinton's duty to ensure that her emails, communications that were vital to national security and intelligence-related and diplomatic operations around the world, were totally secure. Even if she didn't know at the time that the information she was emailing was classified or worthy of classification, it was her job to protect the information over which she had control. She has maintained throughout the email saga that she never sent classified information through email.
The referral of the case to the Department of Justice comes as the Clinton camp and congressional investigators get closer to ironing out the ground rules for the former secretary of state's testimony before the Benghazi Select Committee. Clinton aides say her testimony is expected to take place on Oct. 22.
This lengthy delay would give the committee enough time to review thousands of pages of Clinton's State Department aides' emails and to interview those aides. The testimony would be public which Clinton's politically tone-deaf handlers think would be advantageous for her. Amazingly, Clinton strategists think her temper tantrum before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Jan. 23, 2013 was good for her image. That was when she theatrically screamed for the TV cameras:
With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided that they’d they go kill some Americans? What difference at this point does it make?
It certainly made a difference to Clinton during the terrorist assault in Libya almost three years ago. The Benghazi attack was inconvenient for President Obama who had boasted that Islamic terrorists were on the run, so his people engineered the Benghazi coverup to get President Obama safely reelected in November 2012.
Around the time of the attack Clinton scapegoated U.S.-based Mark Basseley Youssef (formerly known as Nakoula Basseley Nakoula), the director of Innocence of Muslims, an anti-Islam movie trailer on YouTube that almost nobody had seen. She claimed back then that the video inspired the sophisticated military-style operation that she claimed materialized spontaneously outside the facility which was in Islamist-held territory.
At the military ceremony that accompanied the repatriation of the body of Tyrone Woods, a retired Navy SEAL who perished fighting off Islamists in the 2012 attack, Clinton blamed all the death and mayhem of that awful day on Youssef, who ended up going to jail as a real-life political prisoner.
She promised the dead hero's grieving father, Charles Woods, that Youssef who was thousands of miles away from Benghazi at the time, would pay for whatever it was he had done.
“She came over…she talked with me. I gave her a hug and shook her hand and she did not appear to be one bit sincere at all and she mentioned about, ‘We’re going to have that person arrested and prosecuted that did the video,’” Woods recounted to talk radio host Lars Larson. “That was the first time I even heard about anything like that.”
Chances are Hillary Clinton, whose poll numbers are fading under withering attack by self-described socialist Bernie Sanders, is going to feel the heat when she testifies on Oct. 22, offering a helpful reminder to American voters that she is a pathological, self-serving liar who doesn't mind if Americans die to further her political ambitions.
Whether her testimony helps to sink her bid to return to the White House remains to be seen.