Hillary violated law, used private email for SecState correspondence

See also: Hillary secret email account established as she faced confirmation hearings

Hillary Clinton conducted her official business as Secretary of State on a private email account, hiding them from laws requiring archiving and ultimate public disclosure. We know this thanks to a front-page story in the New York Times by Michael S. Schmidt. The revelation comes in the wake of the shocking story that the Clinton Foundation accepted major donations from foreign governments, raising the ugly possibility that quid-pro-quo understandings were reached, but hidden from the public and from history.

Schmidt writes:

Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.

This means that multiple people conspired to violate the legal requirements. This raises the possibility of prosecution under conspiracy statutes. This is important because the underlying law requiring disclosure is relatively toothless:

Penalties for not complying with federal record-keeping requirements are rare, because the National Archives has few enforcement abilities.

But conspiracy statutes do have teeth. Conspiracy to evade legal requirements would be separate charge, and one that could carry criminal penalties, especially if emails, phones, or other “wire” tools were employed.  Of course, this presumes a willingness on the part of the Department of Justice to enforce the law, an assumption that may be questionable in the Obama era.

It gets worse: we still have no guarantee that all the emails conducting official business have been released in the wake of the recent discovery of the violation of the law.

It was only two months ago, in response to a new State Department effort to comply with federal record-keeping practices, that Mrs. Clinton’s advisers reviewed tens of thousands of pages of her personal emails and decided which ones to turn over to the State Department. All told, 55,000 pages of emails were given to the department. Mrs. Clinton stepped down from the secretary’s post in early 2013.

We only know about this massive violation of transparency requirements thanks to Trey Gowdy, a fact that is buried near the end of Schmidt’s article:

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.

Two weeks ago, the State Department, after reviewing Mrs. Clinton’s emails, provided the committee with about 300 emails — amounting to roughly 900 pages — about the Benghazi attacks.

The New York Times has been surprisingly aggressive in pursuing stories that show Mrs. Clinton in an unfavorable light. That may be good old unbiased journalism. If so, hurray for the Times.  But call me cynical if you wish, because I suspect an agenda at work. I think the editors there realize how flawed a candidate Mrs. Clinton would be, and hope to short-circuit her nomination, in hopes that a true leftist (well, except for all that personal enrichment working for big corporations) like Elizabeth Warren could step in an grab the nomination in the wake of a Hillary withdrawal.

Update: the Clinton camp followers are arguing that previous Secretaries of State, such as Colin Powell, also used private email acounts on occasion. But this ignores the fact that the law was changed requyiring official accounts, once email became a common tool of communication within the government. It also ignore the fact that Clinton still has not disclosed all her emails.

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