Justice Department Brief Saying Clinton Could Destroy Personal Email Means Very Little

Clinton Email Cartoon Deleted

Clinton apologists who have been cherry picking statements to defend her have another claim which I’m sure we will hear about endlessly, even if it doesn’t mean much of anything. Justice Department lawyers, basically doing their job in defending the Obama administration from a suit filed against them said, “There is no question that former Secretary Clinton had authority to delete personal emails without agency supervision — she appropriately could have done so even if she were working on a government server.”

This doesn’t really change anything. First of all, this is an argument made by attorneys whose job it was to protect the State Department from the FOIA suit. Having this statement made does not mean that the judge hearing the case will accept this view.

This argument also is peripheral to the main points of the email scandal. Yes, there is no question under ordinary circumstances that Clinton could have deleted any personal email. However, we are not dealing with ordinary circumstances. It has already been well-established that Clinton violated rules in effect as of 2009 when she used her private server exclusively for government business and when she failed to turn the email over to be archived while in office. References to previous fact check articles on this, along with statements from Justice Department and State Department officials who confirm Clinton violated the policies, have been posted previously including here and here. Among other statements, the top Freedom of Information Act official at the Justice Department has clearly stated that Clinton was in violation of the rules

This is also not an ordinary situation as it has already been established that email related to Libya and terrorism has been altered and has been among the email which Clinton deleted claiming to be personal. While normally a government employee can legally destroy personal email, it is up to the judge in the case to decide if this is altered by her violation of the rules regarding use of private email and by the fact that she has deleted non-personal email among the email claimed to be personal.

Even if Clinton manages to get away with this through any legal technicalities, it does not absolve her for the unethical conduct exhibited, along with the other policies she has violated. Getting around this on any legal technicalities would be damaging to concepts of government transparency and the Freedom of Information Act. This would not affect the other unethical actions and violations of government policy by Clinton, or the other court cases and investigations in progress.

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