Sunday, August 21, 2016

Outlook for Hilary Clinton’s Email Troubles: Not Scheduled for Deletion Anytime Soon

This past week's developments demonstrate that Hilary Clinton's email troubles are not going away anytime soon.

The FBI Delivered Materials to Congress, and That Can’t Make Her Happy

Last week the FBI delivered interview summaries and related materials to Congress. Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, wants the unclassified materials released to the public. As he stated on his website, “[t]he public’s business ought to be public, with few exceptions.” My guess is that this is an issue that Republicans will pursue with zeal.

The General Made Me Do It

Near the end of my July 8 post regarding Hilary Clinton’s escape from criminal charges for Emailgate, I mentioned Colin Powell as one of several reasons why she was not charged. As I wrote, “does anyone think Director Comey would bring a case against you that might suggest indirectly that Powell acted improperly?” And now a New York Times article reports that during her FBI interview, Clinton stated that Colin Powell told her to use personal email. The article also details an alleged 2009 email exchange about Powell’s email practices at State and a dinner party at which he allegedly gave the advice.

A few things are clear. Powell long has acknowledged using personal email for unclassified material, and there is no claim that he ever set up a private server in his house. Colin Powell’s office issued a statement in response to the Times article, stating in part that "General Powell has no recollection of the dinner conversation. He did write former Secretary Clinton an email memo describing his use of his personal AOL email account for unclassified messages. . . . He used a secure State computer on his desk to manage classified information." 
Clinton’s post hoc effort to blame Colin Powell for her significantly different conduct -- especially the treatment of classified emails -- is expedient and juvenile. Remember what the State Department Inspector General (IG) had to say about her conduct? Not very kind, and recall she declined even to be interviewed by the IG. 
Judge Orders Clinton to Testify About Email Under Oath
Last Friday, the federal judge overseeing a Judicial Watch lawsuit against State ordered that Clinton must answer written questions under oath about her email practices and (By the way, why she chose such an obvious name, which would allow rogue actors and hackers to find it quickly, is beyond me.) The underlying lawsuit seeks records about the employment status of Huma Abedin, former Deputy Chief of Staff to Clinton, and was reopened once word leaked of Clinton’s private server. Abedin was allowed to work at State and also represent private clients at the same time while designated as a “special government employee.”

The court’s words are not music to Clinton’s ears:
The Court is persuaded that Secretary Clinton’s testimony is necessary to enable her to explain on the record the purpose for the creation and operation of the system for State Department business. . . . Moreover, her closest aides at the State Department, in their depositions in this case, did not have personal knowledge of Secretary Clinton’s purpose in using the system. . . . The Court directs Judicial Watch to propound questions that are relevant to Secretary Clinton’s unique firsthand knowledge of “the creation and operation of for State Department business. . . .”
I would not be surprised at all if Clinton’s lawyers try to delay the written testimony by objecting to the questions, seeking an extension of time to answer, seeking rehearing by the judge, or seeking emergency appellate relief from the judge’s ruling. They will do so individually or in some combination. Their goal no doubt will be to delay as long as possible and hopefully until after the election. And if she were to win, at that point they would argue that the President should not be forced to deal with such a matter.

But on that point they would surely lose, based both on a long history of Presidents dealing with lawsuits while in office and in particular based on two unanimous Supreme Court decisions that, oddly enough, have a connection to Hilary Clinton. The first is United States v. Nixon, the 1974 case in which the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Nixon had to turn over his tapes, because the public has a right to everyone’s evidence and there is no blanket immunity against testimony by a President. That quickly led to Nixon’s resignation over Watergate -- on which Hilary Clinton had worked -- about two weeks after the ruling. The second case is Clinton v. Jones -- yes, that Bill Clinton -- a 1997 decision involving a private lawsuit by Paula Jones against Bill Clinton for damages. In that case the Supreme Court unanimously affirmed an appellate ruling that Bill Clinton was not entitled to defer the lawsuit until leaving office. He eventually settled and was found in contempt for lying under oath.

Bottom line: Emailgate will be with us for a while, and now another Clinton will have to explain some things in a lawsuit under oath. Stay tuned . . .

1 comment:

  1. I don’t suppose many of websites give this kind of information.
    Scott Lanzon