Hillary Clinton’s emails are a pseudo-scandal. Donald Trump’s entire campaign is truly scandalous. (More)
“Their unanimous recommendation that the thorough, year-long investigation be closed and that no charges be brought”
“Late this afternoon, I met with FBI Director James Comey and career prosecutors and agents who conducted the investigation of Secretary Hillary Clinton’s use of a personal email system during her time as Secretary of State,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement.
“I received and accepted their unanimous recommendation that the thorough, year-long investigation be closed and that no charges be brought against any individuals within the scope of the investigation.”
Of course conservatives are outraged and House Republicans will now hold hearings to investigate the FBI investigation. Which is to say, they want to keep the issue in the news until the election. House Speaker Paul Ryan even floated the idea of passing a bill to strip Clinton’s security clearance to disqualify her from the presidency. That would be a Bill of Attainder – a law passed to punish a specific individual or group, without a judicial trial – a blatant violation of Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution. And the White House promptly announced that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper will not take that administrative step, and President Obama would veto any bill to impose it by statute.
“Simply human error”
Conservatives and the media have also made a lot of hay on the ‘contradiction’ that Clinton said she never sent or received classified email, while FBI Director Comey said some emails were indeed marked classified when they were sent. But yesterday a State Department spokesman explained why:
At a regular briefing for reporters Wednesday, [State Department spokesman John] Kirby said State is aware of two instances in the set of roughly 30,000 messages turned over to the agency by Clinton where classification markings appeared in the emails. However, he said those were mistakes where staff failed to remove the notations while preparing background and talking points for Clinton in a planned phone call with a foreign official.
“It appears that those…that those markings were a human error. They didn’t need to be there. Because once the secretary had decided to make the call, the process is then to move the call sheet, to change its markings to unclassified and deliver it to the secretary in a form that he or she can use,” Kirby said. “And best we can tell on these occasions, the markings – the confidential markings – was simply human error. Because the decision had already been made, they didn’t need to be made on the email.”
Kirby said such “call sheets” are often treated as classified when being prepared but as unclassified when forwarded to the secretary for his or her use.
But of course nothing the Clintons do is ever “simply human error”….
“It very likely had been breached”
For example, some Republicans and many pundits are demanding an indictment because FBI Director Comey said Clinton’s private server might have been hacked. And the New York Times ran with that meme:
When the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said on Tuesday that his investigators had no “direct evidence” that Hillary Clinton’s email account had been “successfully hacked,” both private experts and federal investigators immediately understood his meaning: It very likely had been breached, but the intruders were far too skilled to leave evidence of their work.
First, unlike Clinton’s private server, there is solid evidence that the State Department’s secure email server has been repeatedly hacked, as have the servers of the White House and several other federal agencies. That repeatedly-hacked State Department email server is the one conservatives say Clinton should have been using, the one that Comey said Clinton was “reckless” to not use. So as between: (a) a ‘secure’ server that State Department IT technicians knew was being routinely hacked, and (b) an server that an in-depth, forensic FBI examination could not prove was ever hacked …
… Clinton was “reckless” to not use the ‘secure’ server that was being routinely hacked. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.
Second, and more important, the corpus delicti. That’s a legal term, and it doesn’t mean “the corpse,” as it’s so often used in TV shows and movies. The phrase means “the body of the crime,” specifically, evidence to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that a crime has indeed happened.
Both by law and by common sense, the government can’t charge someone with a crime unless the government can prove the alleged crime happened. In this case, the alleged crime was knowingly conveying classified information to someone who was not authorized to receive it.
There was evidence that General David Petraeus did that, by sharing classified information with his mistress. There was evidence that Chelsea Manning did that, by giving classified information to WikiLeaks.
In Clinton’s case, the corpus delicti required the government to first prove that she knowingly conveyed classified information to at least one person who was not authorized to receive it. That is, evidence that either she sent classified emails to people she knew weren’t cleared, or that she knew her server was being hacked. But she didn’t send classified emails to people who lacked clearance … and the FBI found no evidence that her server was hacked.
As a matter of law, it’s not enough that FBI technicians concluded the server could have been hacked without leaving evidence, or that ‘experts’ (who haven’t examined the server) tell a reporter it “very likely was.” In the U.S., we don’t require the defendant to prove a crime did not happen. We require the government to prove that a crime did happen.
That fundamental tenet of U.S. criminal law – not “The Fix Is In,” not “The System Is Rigged,” not “They Rewrote The Law For Her” – is why there were no criminal charges. The FBI couldn’t prove that any unauthorized person got classified information from Clinton’s emails … let alone prove that she knowingly conveyed that information.
And that’s why this whole episode is yet another pseudo-scandal.
“I would have never deleted it”
Donald J. Trump on Wednesday offered a defiant defense of his campaign’s decision to publish an image widely viewed as anti-Semitic – saying he regretted deleting it – and vigorously reaffirmed his praise of Saddam Hussein, the murderous Iraqi dictator.
In the span of 30 minutes, an often-shouting Mr. Trump breathed new life into a controversy that was sparked on Saturday by his posting of an image on his Twitter account of a six-pointed star next to a picture of Hillary Clinton, with money seeming to rain down in the background. The image was quickly, and broadly, criticized for invoking stereotypes of Jews. Mr. Trump deleted it two hours later, and replaced the star image with a circle.
“ ‘You shouldn’t have taken it down,’ ” Mr. Trump recalled telling one of his campaign workers. “I said, ‘Too bad, you should have left it up.’ I would have rather defended it.”
“That’s just a star,” Mr. Trump said repeatedly.
In an interview shortly before the rally, Mr. Trump said, “I didn’t want to delete it – I would have never deleted it. My people deleted it before they told me about it, they did it because of the sensibilities and sensitivities. But when I looked at it, I thought that’s a star. I never thought, that’s the Star of David.”
And we’re supposed to accept that – despite proof the image in the tweet was created by a white supremacist, despite Trump’s months-long record of publicly pushing white supremacist lies – because Trump’s son-in-law assures us that Trump is “is not an anti-Semite.” Indeed Trump’s son-in-law concern-trolls:
If even the slightest infraction against what the speech police have deemed correct speech is instantly shouted down with taunts of “racist” then what is left to condemn the actual racists? What do we call the people who won’t hire minorities or beat others up for their religion?
Hrmm, like the two guys who chanted “Donald Trump is right” while beating a Hispanic man with a metal pipe in Boston? Like the guy who said “We might have to kill him next time” after sucker-punching a black man at a Trump rally in North Carolina? Like the guy who chanted “Trump! Trump! Trump!” while attacking a Muslim and a Hispanic student at Wichita State University?
Does Trump’s son-in-law mean those “actual racists” … inspired by his Trump’s repeated, vile, racist demagoguery?
That – and a campaign that PolitiFact called 2015’s Lie of the Year – is truly scandalous.
Meanwhile, the political media obediently obsess over Hillary Clinton’s emails, lest conservatives accuse them of “liberal media bias.”
I better stop before I get grumpy….
Photo Credit: Lucy Nicholson, Jim Urquhart (Reuters)
Good day and good nuts