Hillary Clinton may or may not be a crook. That remains to be proven, though the sheer magnitude of the wealth that she and husband Bill have amassed since leaving the White House, and while she was serving as Secretary of State — nearly a quarter of a billion dollars earned by two people with no known skills capable of producing that kind of income — should raise questions. What can be stated now as fact though, is that Hillary is a serial liar.
If this wasn’t clear already from her long history of distortion and prevarication — like her false claim that she had to “duck to avoid sniper fire” during a state visit to Bosnia — it is clear now from FBI Director James Comey’s 11-page public report on his agency’s year-long investigation into her use of a private server for all her private and official emails during her term as Secretary of State.
That report has exposed her serial lying to both Congress and the public about that illegal use of private email service to handle her public business.
As the Associated Press reports, Clinton lied in March 2015 when she declared in one of her rare news conferences, “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.”
But as Comey reports, she did. Quite often in fact. The FBI in its exhaustive investigation found at least 113 email chains –some of which had to be uncovered forensically after they had been erased along with some 30,000 other emails by Clinton’s private lawyers — contained material that was classified at the time of sending, including some that were classified Top Secret and that referred to a “highly classified special-access program.”
She lied again at that same press conference when she asserted, “I responded right away and provided all my emails that could possibly be work related” to the State Department.
Not true, according to the FBI, and also, of course, to the Inspector General of the State Department, whose own investigation of her actions, Clinton simply refused to cooperate with.
Clinton lied when she said earlier this month, in an NBC interview, “I never received nor sent any material that was market classified.” Comey says that in fact her system did handle emails that bore specific markings indicating they were classified.
Clinton lied when she tried, as she explained more than once, including in that same March 15 news conference addressing the issue, to claim that she had used her own Blackberry phone rather than a State Department secure phone, simply because she “thought it would be easier to carry just one device for my work and for personal emails instead of two.” In fact, Comey said his agents determined that Clinton had “used numerous mobile devices to view and send email,” all using her personal account. So much for wanting to use “just one device”! Comey said she also had used different non-government servers, all of them vulnerable to hacking.
Clinton lied yet again when she claimed that her private server was located on “property guarded by the Secret Service and there were no security breaches.” She lied again when she added, “The use of that server, which started with my husband, certainly proved to be effective and secure.” Her campaign website adds the equally false assertion that “There is no evidence there was ever a breach.”
In fact, all Comey will say is that the FBI did not uncover a breach, but he adds that because of the sophisticated technical abilities of “hostile” forces (i.e foreign countries’ intelligence services) that would be engaging in any such hacking, “We assess it is possible that hostile actors gained access to Secretary Clinton’s personal email account.” They would just not have left any “footprints,” he explains.
We also know Clinton was lying when she said, “I opted for convenience to use my personal email account, which was allowed by the State Department.” The falsity of that particular lie was exposed by the State Department Inspector General, who in his own report on her private server scandal, found that she had never “sought or received approval” to operate a private server for her State Department communications, and added that as Secretary of State, she “had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business with State Department offices.”
Some of these violations that Clinton has objectively lied about may not be crimes. Others clearly are. At a minimum, Clinton deliberately sought to violate the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act, which make all but classified documents public records that are supposed to be made availableto journalists and the public on request (and even many secret documents upon appeal). By conducting her official business on a private server, Clinton was assuring that no FOIA requests could touch her.
The question of Clinton’s “trustworthiness” is a huge issue among the public, including all but her die-hard supporters — a minority within the Democratic Party.
Maybe some people don’t care in these cynical times when it’s simply assumed that “all politicians lie,” but one hopes that those lies will relate to personal foibles and sins, not official business. A nation that celebrates great leaders like George Washington, who at least according to the national mythology once said, “I cannot tell a lie,” and Abraham “Honest Abe” Lincoln, for their integrity and forthrightness, surely can demand at least a semblance of truthfulness in its prospective top leader.
Clearly Hillary Clinton has failed that test of leadership, and in a big way.
I’m concerned that the FBI and the State Department’s own Office of Inspector General, as well as Republicans in Congress, have missed the real import of Clinton’s lying. It is not that she violated rules and standards that may have led to national security secrets being hacked, serious though that may be. For one thing, powerful intelligence agencies like those of the Russians and Chinese, just like the US’s own National Security Agency, have the capability to hack even the government’s most secure servers.
What should really be getting asked, by government investigators, political critics and by any real journalists left out there, is why Clinton, as Secretary of State, was so insistent — even to the point of violating laws and State Department policies — on avoiding the reach of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The answer to that has to take us back to the reality of the Clinton’s phenomenal success at vacuuming up vast sums of money from wealthy individuals, corporations, and even foreign potentates, both for their personal accounts as when either Clinton speaks at gatherings of bankers, pharmaceutical executives or military industry leaders, and for their Clinton Foundation, a money-laundering entity reportedly the recipient of over $2 billion in corporate and foreign government largesse, and also under investigation for possible corrupt practices..
Their success at raking in such piles of cash reeks of influence peddling, probably much of it conducted by phone and by email — and it’s the kind of thing that, if it were done by a Secretary of State on a government electronic device, would be vulnerable to a FOIA request.
On a private server, it’s the type of communications activity that Hillary Clinton’s private attorneys would have “wiped” from her hard drive to escape scrutiny when they erased tens of thousands of emails that they determined, with no official backstopping, to have been “private.”
Comey was wrong to recommend no prosecution of Clinton for her email practices, since some of her own State Department employees, as well as employees of the CIA and other agencies, have been charged with and convicted of felonies for the same and even lesser infractions.
Besides, as Jill Stein, the likely Green Party candidate for president, points out in an article in today’s Counterpunch magazine:
“All the elements necessary to prove a felony violation were found by the FBI investigation, specifically of Title 18 Section 793(f) of the federal penal code, a law ensuring proper protection of highly classified information. Director Comey said that Clinton was ‘extremely careless’ and ‘reckless’ in handling such information. Contrary to the implications of the FBI statement, the law does not require showing that Clinton intended to harm the United States, but that she acted with gross negligence.”
But Clinton, as a Secretary of State and as the likely Democratic Party candidate for president, clearly lives on a higher plane that operates under a different set of rules. Only the “little people” get called to account for such crimes in the United States. (This would be the ideal time, I should add, for her dogged primary rival, Vt. Senator Bernie Sanders, to call out her lies, and, like Dr. Stein, to point out that she has been caught violating the law, but so far, unlike Stein, he is remaining silent about both her crimes and her lies.)
If the severely compromised US “Justice” Department cannot step up and issue an indictment or impanel a Grand Jury based upon the findings of the FBI about Clinton’s email violations, and if Bernie Sanders won’t make it an issue ahead of the Democratic Convention, it is up to the people of the United States to decide whether we want such a greedy and corrupt woman — a confirmed serial liar ready to say anything necessary to obtain power — to be our next president.
If nothing else, those thinking they need to vote for the “lesser evil” of Clinton should contemplate whether they can really trust such a liar to do anything that she promises to do (or not to do, like supporting the Transpacific Partnership) if elected. Her word, like her core values, are demonstrably less than worthless.