SERVERGATE: Hillary Clinton’s Ever Changing Story
It seems every day there is a new development in the burgeoning scandal that is Servergate, so here’s what’s happened since our original piece. The number of classified emails discovered that Hillary Clinton wrote using her personal email account has grown to 60, and another batch that was forwarded to intelligence agencies may likely result in 305 more. There are still about 32,000 outstanding emails she claims she destroyed since they were “personal.”
She has now turned over 55,000 printed emails, but they do not contain any metadata, making them difficult to trace. The House Benghazi committee subpoenaed her emails on March 4, but by then she had scrubbed the server clean, which she finally turned over to the State Department (rather convenient since it’s still under Obama).
There have been several FOIA requests filed for Clinton’s emails, and this week, on August 20, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said he believes her private emails violated government policy. Politico reported:
After Justice Department lawyer Peter Wechsler argued that FOIA normally doesn’t allow for searches of government officials’ private accounts, the judge said he viewed it as an unusual situation because “there was a violation of government policy.”
As more details come to light, Clinton changes her defense. Her latest is that she hasn’t been able to release the emails precisely because they are confidential. Earlier, she argued just the opposite: that there were no classified emails. Then she changed her story to say they weren’t classified at that time.
Her spokespersons are trying to muddle the details by pointing out small mistakes and claiming that policies on classified email vary slightly across federal agencies. This is a red herring, since she should never have been using an unsecured personal email account for classified government business in the first place. Besides, the policy for, say, the Department of the Interior or Housing and Urban Development would not be relevant. Hillary was Secretary of State, and there was a clear policy at the State Department during her tenure. Employees were to conduct work email on work servers only, and lower-level employees were fired for violating it.
Clinton also has been caught in doublespeak about her smartphone. At first she claimed she combined her work and personal emails in order to allow her to only carry one phone. Then she later admitted she carried four smartphones.
The State Department has just reported that the BlackBerries of Clinton’s controversial close personal assistant, Huma Abedin, and another assistant, Cheryl Mills, have been destroyed or sold off as surplus. That’s convenient. More surprising, perhaps, is that the agency said Clinton did not have a similar government-issued smartphone — which means she was using her personal smartphones to conduct official business.
Clinton has said that her emails were preserved safely and separately by the State Department, but this isn’t true; under her tenure as Secretary of State emails were not automatically archived.
Bob Woodward, one of the two reporters famous for exposing Watergate and no conservative, says the scandal is comparable to Watergate. “You’ve got a massive amount of data. It, in a way, reminds me of the Nixon tapes: thousands of hours of secretly recorded conversations that Nixon thought were exclusively his,” the veteran reporter told MSNBC’s Morning Joe. “Hillary Clinton initially took that position, ‘I’m not turning this over, there’ll be no cooperation. …'”
Ironically, Clinton herself played a role in the Watergate hearings, as staffer to the chief counsel for the House Judiciary Committee, Jerry Zeifman. Adding to the irony, she was reportedly fired from this position by Zeifman for unethical behavior that included conspiring to deny Richard Nixon counsel during the hearings. In a recent interview, Zeifman responded when asked why he fired her, “Because she was a liar. She was an unethical, dishonest lawyer. She conspired to violate the Constitution, the rules of the House, the rules of the committee and the rules of confidentiality.”
“This has to go on a long, long time,” Woodward predicted, “and the answers are probably not going to be pretty.” Judge Andrew Napolitano hints there is a good chance she will be indicted, citing several government employees who were indicted for much more lower level breaches. One former CIA agent was recently sentenced to three years in prison for destroying a single top-secret email. Even some on the left are starting to desert her, including left-leaning Washington Post contributor Eugene Robinson.
Last weekend, she brazenly joked with an audience of Iowa Democrats that she loves her Snapchat account because the messages automatically disappear. She apparently doesn’t know that forensics experts have been able to retrieve “deleted” snapchat message photos from cell phones. The open question is whether they can do the same from Clinton’s server. Since she turned over the first batch of emails in December of last year, she’s had months to figure out how to permanently wipe the server clean.