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Government & Politics

Hillary: Oh, That Email? I Deleted It All

Congress is still looking for answers while Clinton obstructs.

Dan Gilmore · Apr. 1, 2015

Thanks to Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration, it’s apparent how insufficient are the laws designed to bring transparency and oversight into government affairs.

Over the weekend, longtime Clinton lawyer David E. Kendall sent a letter to the House Select Committee on Benghazi, responding to its March 4 subpoena. In it, he admitted the Clinton machine deleted all the email from Hillary Clinton’s now infamous email server. All the scrambled notes, all the dispatches and updates that marked Clinton’s time as the nation’s chief diplomat are gone. In response, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) summoned the former secretary of state before the committee to privately answer for her actions.

In his letter to Clinton’s lawyer, Gowdy wrote, “The Committee believes a transcribed interview would best protect Secretary Clinton’s privacy, the security of the information queried, and the public’s interest in ensuring this Committee has all information needed to accomplish the task set before it. … We continue to believe Secretary Clinton’s email arrangement with herself is highly unusual, if not unprecedented.”

Hillary better beware the Ides of March. It wasn’t an email server that took down a Caesar, but by hiding information from the public she’s signaling she wants to be treated as a king.

And what a scheme she had.

It wasn’t apparent at first what Clinton’s strategy was. When news of the private email server became public, Clinton announced she wanted transparency – she wanted the emails in the public record.

But the email server was built for privacy, as it was designed so that it could be completely wiped. In a press conference March 10, Clinton said she sent and received a little over 60,000 messages from the server. Some 30,000, she insisted, contained state business. She disclosed those messages, she claimed, “and the server will remain private.”

The politician positioned herself as a sound defender of the public good. “And I feel that I’ve taken unprecedented steps to provide these work-related emails. They’re going to be in the public domain. And I think that Americans will find that, you know, interesting.” Interesting? Interesting? Her emails are not useful, she says, not necessary for the accountability of American government. It’s sophomorically interesting, a passing trifle.

But her lawyer, Kendall, in his letter to the House, laid her political strategy bare: At the end of her tenure, she dumped 50,000 pages worth of email on the State Department to sort out.

At that time, Clinton wiped her server clean, which could be obstruction of Congress if she did so after Oct. 28, 2014 – the date when Clinton was instructed by the State Department to turn over her public records.

“[T]he Department of State – which has already produced approximately 300 documents in response to an earlier request seeking documents on essentially the same subject matters – is uniquely positioned to make available any documents responsive to your requests,” Kendall told the Benghazi select committee.

And now, Hillary can simply deflect any criticism of her time as madam secretary. She doesn’t have the information. Why are you looking there? Anyone from the public will have to contend with the bureaucratic State Department. She wiped her hands of the matter.

In her March 10 press conference, Hillary Clinton said the email controversy was out of her hands: “[M]y direction to conduct the thorough investigation was to err on the side of providing anything that could be possibly viewed as work-related. … That is the responsibility of the individual and I have fulfilled that responsibility, and I have no doubt that we have done exactly what we should have done.”

We can debate whether Hillary Clinton broke the law. Former government officials in charge of releasing documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act say she did. Take, for example, former FOIA official Daniel Metcalfe, who said Clinton’s private email server was a “blatant circumvention of the Freedom of Information Act.” But will the woman ever face justice for her crimes against the American people? She has too many political friends. Hillary is too big to fail.

This is why it’s time to rip apart the veil shielding government officials from the public eye. Shrewd politicians like Clinton simply skirt the law to avoid scrutiny. Administrations like Barack Obama’s chip away at the right of the public to access information – even as its mantra is transparency.

In Kendall’s letter, he told the House, “Like other agencies, the State Department places the obligation of determining what is and is not appropriate for preservation on individual officials and employees.”

The State Department’s own policies place the fox guarding the henhouse. And this provides an opportunity for the Republican Congress. Bolster the Freedom of Information Act. Show what big statists do in the dark by allowing the public to shout it from the rooftops.

Catch this administration – from its secretaries of state to its president to the lowly FOIA Denial Officer – contradicting what they said with what they’ve done in practice.

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