Two Inspectors General Request Investigation Regarding Clinton’s Use Of Private Email As Secretary Of State

Clinton Email

While Hillary Clinton clearly violated rules in effect regarding use of email as Secretary of State, despite her claims in a recent CNN interview and in her earlier press conference which have been contradicted by fact checkers, most of her actions do not place her at risk of criminal prosecution. Stricter rules were imposed in 2009 in response to abuses under the Bush administration (which Clinton included in her attacks on the Bush administration for shredding the Constitution), but actual criminal penalties were not added until the law was again updated after she left the office.

The one area where she could theoretically face criminal penalties would be if she violated laws regarding classified material. Clinton has stated that she did not use her private server for classified information, but this response is misleading as she did use it for sensitive information. The New York Times reports:

Two inspectors general have asked the Justice Department to open an investigation into whether sensitive government information was mishandled in connection with the personal email account Hillary Rodham Clinton used as secretary of state, senior government officials said Thursday.

The request follows an assessment in a June 29 memo by the inspectors general for the State Department and the intelligence agencies that Mrs. Clinton’s private account contained “hundreds of potentially classified emails.” The memo was written to Patrick F. Kennedy, the under secretary of state for management.

It is not clear if any of the information in the emails was marked as classified by the State Department when Mrs. Clinton sent or received them.

But since her use of a private email account for official State Department business was revealed in March, she has repeatedly said that she had no classified information on the account.

Some of the email messages have been upgraded to classified status since they were turned over to the State Department but we don’t know if any email was classified at the time. If only occasional email was made classified after the fact this might not be evidence of any violation of the law by Clinton. The questions to be investigated would include whether any of the email was actually classified at the time it was sent, and whether Clinton sent sensitive information over her private server which she should have known should be classified at the time.

Review of her email to answer these questions complicated by the fact that Clinton has destroyed thousands of email messages, along with evidence that she deleted and edited email dealing with terrorism prior to turning it over to the State Department.

While there is currently no evidence publicly available to demonstrate that Clinton mishandled classified information, this is a separate issue from her violation of the rules regarding email, including to evade Freedom of Information Act requests for information. The top Freedom of Information Act official at the Justice Department has stated that Clinton was in violation of the rules and the State Department’s top Freedom of Information Act officer has called her use of a private server unacceptable. An ambassador under Clinton was even fired with failure to abide by rules against using private email being cited as a reason by the Inspector General (pdf of report here). Buzzfeed has obtained email showing that the  top lawyer for the National Archives also expressed concern over Clinton’s use of a private server.

Further ethical concerns regarding Clinton are raised by her failure to comply with an agreement that contributions to the Clinton Foundation be disclosed when she was Secretary of State. Clinton failed to disclose over a thousand donors, including contributions from parties with business before the State Department. The Foundation also failed to disclose many of these on their tax forms and was  caught lying about this issue.

We also know that Bill Clinton saw an unprecedented increase in payments for giving speeches when Hillary became Secretary of State from organizations and countries which subsequently received favorable intervention from Clinton. His speaking fees jumped from 150,000 to typically 500,000, and as high as 750,000.

Update: Clinton Denies Sending Classified Information From Private Server. Inspectors General say four emails classified at the time were sent by Clinton over private server.