Hillary’s email testimony, Powell’s facts, and mens rea
New revelations about what Hillary Clinton told the FBI about former secretary of state Colin Powell’s “advising” her on using private email may provide grounds to reopen the case for criminal prosecution against her.
Key aspects of the reports of “her story” told to the FBI seem to be disputed or at least called into question by Powell. These newly known public facts may show her intent to violate the law or her awareness that she was violating the law, which in criminal law terms is called mens rea, otherwise known as the guilty mind.
It is being reported that Clinton ally and author Joe Conason’s new book describes part of a welcome-to-the-club dinner conversation between Clinton and Powell this way: “Powell told [Hillary] to use her own email, as he had done, except for classified communications, which he had sent and received via a State Department computer.”
Powell’s spokeswoman responded with a statement that General Powell does not recall that specific conversation at the dinner party, hosted by Madeleine Albright, but that:
... [h]e did write ... Secretary Clinton an email memo describing his use of his personal AOL email account for unclassified messages and how it vastly improved communications within the State Department[.] ... At the time there was no equivalent system within the Department. He used a secure State computer on his desk to manage classified information.
This is more than just further confirmation that Hillary knew or should have known not to engage in classified email traffic on her private system. Hillary had already set up a private email server before that dinner party among former secretaries of state. These facts show she was also aware – or had reason to know – that the protocols for email security were more advanced and tighter than when Powell held the position. A backwoods gnome knows more now than 11 years ago, when Powell was secretary of state, about the dangers of email security, so her reported claim of reliance on Powell’s “advice” rings hollow on its face.
Powell’s statement pits one powerful Washington insider against another powerful Washington insider. Hillary is a particularly practiced and skilled liar, so how she parsed Powell’s “advice” during her interview by the FBI may yet save her from criminal charges of false statements to the FBI. Powell is a man whose reputation for honesty and objectivity seems to be extremely important to him. But it is the simple fact that Hillary either willfully sought or incidentally received his counsel that seems to be enough for further probing about her story to the FBI.
What we don’t know is whether the FBI corroborated Hillary’s tale with General Powell. If the FBI did not, that is a further stain in this very disturbing episode in America’s decline under the rule of law. The revelations about the dispute between what Hillary may have told the FBI and Powell’s actual advice nevertheless may be enough to show that she had the awareness that she was violating the law requisite for mens rea of criminal conduct.
FBI director James Comey may be miffed that his agency was cuckolded by Mrs. Clinton, or, as more people seem to believe, he was in on the fix. He has been disgraced already, and he may now have an opportunity to redeem himself, his reputation, and how he will be viewed in the history books about this period of corruption, lawlessness, and lawbreaking among government officials in America.