Hillary Clinton’s lines of defense in her email scandal are as manifold as the Hapsburg’s defenses during the siege of Vienna in 1683. Some of Vienna’s protective walls were rotten, but the city’s defenders managed to reinforce them at the last minute. The Ottomans, fierce and numerous though they were, found it tough going.
Hillary’s defenses are much more easily overcome. Shannen Coffin demolishes them one-by-one in this piece for NRO.
He begins with Clinton’s initial set of arguments:
She used a personal email account because it would be easier to carry just one device. But it turned out that she frequently used two.
The vast majority of her work emails went to government employees at government addresses, and thus “were captured and preserved immediately on the system at the State Department.” But the State Department did not automatically archive emails while Clinton was Secretary of State, and only a small percentage of emails were officially preserved.
She turned over more than 55,000 printed pages of emails. But only after the State Department demanded that she do so. And she destroyed 30,000 emails.
She fully complied with the federal records laws by preserving her e-mails after she left office. But State Department regulations require employees separating from service to return all official records in their possession when they leave office. Clinton waited two years before returning any official emails.
Other Secretaries of State used a private email account. But the only two who served when email was ubiquitous were Condollezza Rice and Colin Powell. Rice didn’t used email. Powell occasionally used a personal e-mail account, but did not conduct State Department business exclusively on a private server. In any event, State Department policy at the time did not plainly foreclose such occasional use.
There was “no classified material” in Clinton’s emails. But inspector generals for the State Department and the intelligence community found that out of the 40 emails they initially reviewed, at least four contained classified information and two were “top secret.” Since then, hundreds of additional Clinton emails with classified information have been identified.
With these walls all breached, Clinton now hides behind new defenses. But, as Coffin shows, they too are full of holes.
The State Department permitted what Clinton did. But the State Department Foreign Affairs Manual permitted occasional private e-mail use only under certain carefully delineated conditions designed to guard against compromise of sensitive government information. The State Department did not permit Clinton to email exclusively on a private server. As Judge Emett Sullivan recently said, “we wouldn’t be here [in court] today if [Clinton] had followed government policy.”
None of the information contained in Clinton’s emails was classified at the time the emails were sent. But the State Department and Intelligence Community inspector generals have flatly rejected this claim.
Okay, but the emails weren’t marked classified when sent. But Reuters has reported that at least 30 email threads from the documents released to date contain information provided in confidence to U.S. officials by foreign-government counterparts. These documents were “born classified.” Any public official would have known that information from foreign governments about the world’s hot-spots is classified and, in any event, not ripe for dissemination on a homebrewed server.
Vienna held out long enough to be rescued by an army led by the King of Poland. Clinton hopes to hold out long enough to be rescued by a nonviable Republican nominee. Joe Biden may decide to try to rescue the Democrats from Hillary Clinton.