In response to the brewing scandal regarding her use of a private e-mail account to conduct all of her business while serving as Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013, Hillary Clinton held a carefully stage-managed 'press conference' for twenty minutes at the United Nations today.
As I wrote in a post below, Hillary faces five potential land mines over her use of private e-mail while Secretary of State. To sum up:
1. The optics: The only rational reason for her to use a private e-mail address set up on a private server soley under her control was to skirt oversight. It was Nixonian.
2. Legal: Her sole use of a private account likely violated government record - keeping regulations.
3. Legal: If she discussed classified material over her private e-mails, then she will have violated several very strict criminal laws governing the handling such material.
4. National Security: Her private security measures were inadequate. We don't yet know the potential damage to our national security.
5. Legal: Has Hillary turned over all responsive e-mails to lawful requests for discovery?
With those areas in mind, here was Hillary spinning at the press conference:
1. Hillary throws the "gender equality" card right at the start. What does that have to do with her private e-mail account? Could she be any less subtle? SEXISM . . . all these questions are nothing but SEXISM!!! And if you didn't get the hint, at another point in the presser, a Turkish reporter -- and we all know that Muslims are so concerned with women's rights that the question could not have been a plant -- kindly asked whether such a fuss would be made over these e-mails if Hillary "were a man?" Hillary, staying above the fray, said she'd leave that for "others" to decide.
2. The reason she used only a private e-mail account was solely for convienience. She did not want to have to carry around two devices, one for work, one for private use.
3. Her use of the private e-mail account accorded with all government regulations.
4. The vast majority of her work e-mails went to other government employees at their government addresses, and thus should be captured for archiving.
5. She claims to have provided all of her e-mails to the State Dept. that "could possibly be work related." And, in her own personal desire to insure transparency, she wants the State Dept. to release all of the e-mails she has provided them.
6. In reviewing her e-mails, Hillary decided to scrub the system of all of her personal e-mails. Everyone understands that was all about privacy, right?
7. Sixty thousand e-mails were sent and received over her private account. After a "thorough" investigation, she decided that half of them were personal and deleted them from her server. The official e-mails she provided to the State Dept. in hard copy, not on electronic media.
8. The server contains communications from she and her husband. It is her private property and she will not allow it to be inspected by a third party.
9. There were no "security breeches."
10. According to Hillary, it is up to the individual federal employee to determine for themselves what is to work related and thus required to be archived.
11. She claims she did not discuss any classified information or send classified material on her private e-mail account.
12. She ended the press conference as soon as someone asked about the diplomat who was fired during her tenure in part for using a private e-mail account to conduct State Dept. business. She directed the reporter to go review the record, then left the podium.
1. The optics: Hillary did herself no favors by claiming that the private e-mail account was strictly about convienience, that she did not want to have to use more than one device. She certainly has not had that problem since leaving the State Department. According to Legal Insurrection, Hillary appeared at Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women less than two weeks ago and ostentatiously made note that she "had both an iPhone and . . . a Blackberry." In addition, there's this from Hot Air regarding her time at the State Department: "Judicial Watch claims that not only did she operate multiple devices, she insisted on using Apple products even though State’s IT people told her that their enhanced security is designed for Blackberry only."
Moreover, the reason she gives for refusing to allow a neutral third party to inspect her server is even more obviously a lie (thanks, Bill). Hillary says that she won't allow such an inspection because the server contains private communications between her and her wayward husband, former President Bill Clinton. But according to Bill's spokesperson, Bill has sent all of two e-mails in his entire life, both when he was President.
The optics here cannot possibly help Hillary. When even the MSNBC anchors are gobsmacked at Hillary's decisions, no amount of hitting America over the head with the gender card is going to make this go away.
2. Government Record-keeping Regulations: According to Hillary, she has complied with all applicable regulations. This one is still murky, and I am not expert on these regulations. According to John Hinderaker at Powerline, she violated the spirit of State Department policy that allows for occasional use of private e-mail in exigent circumstances, but otherwise require the use of offical e-mail. Meh. She probably won't take a hit for this.
Update: According to the Washington Examiner:
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, like all departing federal employees, was required to fill out and sign a separation statement affirming that she had turned over all classified and other government documents, including all emails dealing with official business.
Fox News Megyn Kelly reported Wednesday evening on the requirement and that a spokesman for Clinton had not responded to a request for comment, including an explanation of when the former chief U.S. diplomat signed the mandatory separation agreement or, if she didn't, why didn't she. . . .
Kelly also reported that State Department regulations in place when Clinton resigned as secretary required all departing employees to return all official documents, including emails, to ensure that the department would be able to respond to Freedom of Information Act and congressional requests, as well as subpoenas in litigation.
Failure to do so carries with it both fines and possible jail time.
Clinton, in December, 2014, turned over a portion of her e-mails to the State Dept. It would seem this bears watching also.
[Update: Powerline discusses the requirements for determining what is and is not a public record, noting that Hillary is giving a patently false impression of how such determination is to be made at law, and notes that she may well be guilty of a felony.]
Update: Hillary makes the point that, since most of her e-mails were to and from people within the State Dept., they would have been caught in the official e-mail tranche and archived. Stephen Hayes appeared on Fox today to point out that at least two of Hillary's top aides, her advisor Huma Abadein and her Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, had private e-mail accounts. So to them at least, and probably many others, there is a real question whether those e-mails have ever been archived and whether any of them appear in the Clinton hard copy document release.
3. Discussing Classified Material: Knowing the low standard for classifying information as well as the rules for handling classified information, to believe that Hillary, as Secretary of State, didn't discuss classified information in over 30,000 e-mails over four years is simply impossible. [Update: And today, the NYT runs a story largely agreeing with that assessment.] [Update: Andrew McCarthy has much more to say on this at NRO.] Moreover, there is this from Powerline:
Hillary’s private email account came to light when a hacker called Guccifer broke into the email account of Democratic political operative Sid Blumenthal, and found a trove of emails between Blumenthal and Hillary. The emails related in part to Benghazi; you can read a couple of them here. Blumenthal passed along detailed information he had gotten from confidential sources about the terrorist attack. These emails obviously relate to Hillary’s duties as Secretary of State, not funerals or family vacations, . . .
All we have is Hillary's word that she didn't discuss classified materials over non-official channels, and what little information we have suggests otherwise. This isn't just a landmine for her, it's a nuclear landmine. No, Obama will no more see her prosecuted than he'll see Al Sharpton prosecuted for perrenial tax fraud. But the above alone should be more than enough to justify a judge to order sequestration and forensic examination of the private server. And if it appears she has committed criminal acts, even she won't be able to brazen her way out of that one between now and the 2016 election. It will be her "I didn't have sex with that woman" moment.
4. National Security: Hillary's blanket claim that there were no "security breaches" is as paper thin as her justifications for using the private e-mail and, now, for keeping from inspection. Professionals who have examined the security of Hillary private e-mail account have said that the question is not whether the account was hacked, but to what degree. We won't know the extent of any security breaches until we have had a forensic examination of her server.
5. Hillary's Compliance With Lawful Requests For Information: I am sure that we will soon see numerous instances where lawful and legally binding requests were made for discovery, whether under FOIA or other subpoena, and which requests would have covered her e-mails. And we'll see that Hillary did not comply with those requests. We already know that the documents referenced in paragraph 3 above, the trough of Hillary e-mails she sent to Sid Blumenthal and that were made public by Guccifer, were not among those "55,000" pages of documents she provided to the State Dept. and, a subset of which was provided to the House Select Committee on Benghazi. Moreover, Trey Gowdy, the chairman, is already on record stating that there are numerous gaps -- month or more gaps -- on the e-mails Hillary has provided to his committee.
There is no question that Hillary used a private e-mail account on a server she personally controlled in order to skate lawful oversight. There are very serious questions regarding whether she violated laws governing the handling of classified material, whether she has endangered national security, and whether she has complied with lawful requests for information. What information we have available, beyond her bald and, indeed, laughable denials, suggests she has violated our laws, that she has put our nation at risk, and that she is refusing to honor lawful requests for full and complete information. There is more than sufficient information here to justify a judge sequestering her server and ordering a forensic examination.
Hillary, for her part, will try to brazen this out. She has already begun by providing "55,000" pages of hard copy, but no digital media record of her e-mails, thus slowing down analysis of what she has provided to a complete crawl. She has already announced that she will fight any attempt to examine her server -- quite literally the only thing that might give us answers to the many questions. And even then, it may well be that the thing was accidentally degaussed by a giant magnet some foolish people were marching through the Clinton home recently. And, of course, you know that this will all be played as a war on women and a vast right wing conspiracy. The more things change, . . .
AP's Brutal Fact Check
Additional questions raised by Hillary's presser
Politico Headline For Hillary Presser: "Go To Hell"
Ace On Hillary's Lies
Mark Steyn on the Audacity of Hill
Victor Davis Hanson: Shameless
And via Powerline:
Will Hillary Try To Make Trey Gowdy The Next Ken Starr?
And a massive rollup of Hillary e-mail article here.
And here is the cover of the next issue of Time:
Love the horns.