How Hillary got bailed out
It’s been 20 months since the news first broke about Hillary Clinton using an unsecured, private email server to conduct all of her government business during her time as secretary of State.
It’s been three months since FBI Director James Comey, after more than a yearlong criminal investigation, laid out the evidence-based case against Clinton to the American people. He revealed what we already knew: Clinton did, in fact, illegally host top-secret, classified information on a series of private servers. Comey announced a nonindictment anyway. He also warned cases similar to Clinton’s, specifically regarding the mishandling of classified information, won’t necessarily go unpunished in the future.
“Our investigation looked at whether there is evidence classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on that personal system, in violation of a federal statute making it a felony to mishandle classified information either intentionally or in a grossly negligent way, or a second statute making it a misdemeanor to knowingly remove classified information from appropriate systems or storage facilities,” Comey said in July. “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”
“To be clear,” he continued, “this is not to suggest that in similar circumstances, a person who engaged in this activity would face no consequences. To the contrary, those individuals are often subject to security or administrative sanctions. But that is not what we are deciding now.”
So why wasn’t Clinton indicted? It’s the question that keeps being asked as fresh information about the case continues to surface from week to week. As new reports spring up about unrest at the FBI, with agents who worked on the case anonymously expressing discontent with the nonindictment, questions about how the Democratic presidential nominee got away with criminal charges continually and rightfully mount.
One answer can be found in the hacked John Podesta emails recently published by WikiLeaks, showing an effort to invoke President Obama’s executive privilege once news of Clinton’s private server hit the news.
“Think we should hold emails to and from potus? That’s the heart of his exec privilege. We could get them to ask for that. They may not care, but I[t] seems like they will,” an email released this week from Podesta, a former White House counselor, said in reference to conversations on Clinton’s private server.
The White House initially denied that contact between the secretary and the president ever occurred on the vulnerable system — Obama said he found out about the private server through news reports. Obviously, none of this was true.
The WikiLeaks dump also explains Obama’s October 2015 “60 Minutes” interview, in which he declared Clinton innocent of putting U.S. national security at risk. “I don’t think it posed a national security problem,” the president said. “This is not a situation in which America’s national security was endangered.”
That statement reportedly enraged agents working on the case and stoked questions publicly about how Obama would know whether Clinton did anything wrong if he didn’t communicate with her about the case or communicate with her on the private server itself.
The fact is, he did. Obama communicated with Clinton on her unsecured, private server under a pseudonym on multiple occasions. When Clinton got caught, the White House denied the connection before finally admitting the contact.
Today, the administration is still denying any kind of political influence in the investigation. “Both the attorney general and the FBI director have made clear that the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s use of a private email server was conducted without regard to partisan politics,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said this week.
If the FBI had indicted Clinton, it would have also been forced to open up an investigation into Obama’s role in putting classified information at risk to bad foreign actors. The Obama administration, including Attorney General Loretta Lynch, wasn’t going to allow that to happen. Clinton escaped indictment for a number of reasons, but it’s President Obama who truly saved her — by saving himself.