Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Clinton indicted? As unlikely as finding a non-blond hair on Trump's head

The GOPlins in the US House really, really like their witch hunts. Even when there is no witch and they waste our money hunting for one.

The ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton's email is a case in point. She hosted her email on a private server. There are good reasons to believe that the legal grounds for indictment just are not there as Paul Waldman writing at the Washington Post's Plum Line explains.

If you’ve spent any time inside the conservative information bubble, among the things you know is that not only did Hillary Clinton commit all manner of nefarious crimes with relation to the emails she sent and received as Secretary of State, but she will be indicted for those crimes soon, and that indictment will throw the 2016 to the Republican presidential nominee. If you inhabit the world outside that bubble, you may know that the chances of such an indictment are infinitesimal.

But conservatives hold on to the possible indictment like a life raft amid swelling seas, the one thing that can save them from the horror of a Clinton presidency.

President Obama was interviewed by Fox News host Chris Wallace. Here is some of what Obama had to say about Clinton and her emails.

Here’s what I know: Hillary Clinton was an outstanding Secretary of State. She would never intentionally put America in any kind of jeopardy.

“And what I also know, because I handle a lot of classified information, is that there are — there’s classified, and then there’s classified. There’s stuff that is really top secret top secret, and there’s stuff that is being presented to the president or the secretary of state, that you might not want on the transom, or going out over the wire, but is basically stuff that you could get in open source.”

Although Obama’s answer might not be all that revealing to the uninitiated, he actually touched on the most critical questions with regard to an indictment. First, the classified material in question was not marked classified at the time it was sent and received; it was only afterward that the intelligence agencies retroactively classified it, which is critical to any legal case against Clinton. Second and most important, in order to be charged with the crime of mishandling classified information, the person has to knowingly and intentionally make the information available to someone who doesn’t have authorization to receive it, or act with such extraordinary negligence that it would inevitably fall into the wrong hands.

To this I would add a third point: she was not the only Secretary of State to handle state business using her emails. Colin Powell remarked about his own email messages: "The State Department cannot now say they were classified then because they weren't," Powell said. "If the Department wishes to say a dozen years later they should have been classified that is an opinion of the Department that I do not share." "I have reviewed the messages and I do not see what makes them classified".

Some years ago I hosted my own email on what amounts to a private server (albeit one purchased by my university). In tech-speak, I was "root" and "super user" so I had total control over the email on that server. Some of the email was personal, much was university business. If Hillary gets indicted for that, then I fear jail sentences for many Americans like myself, and that would include previous Secretaries of State like Colin Powell.

The GOPlins out for Hillary's head should have bigger worries - like the specter of a down ballot landslide of a magnitude not seen since 1964. If that is realized, then the GOPlins have only themselves to blame given their constant frittering away the taxpayer's monies in pursuit of mythical witches.

Indictment? Not a chance.

... when Politico’s Josh Gerstein examined prior cases similar to this one, he concluded that an indictment is highly unlikely. As Gestein writes:

The relatively few cases that drew prosecution almost always involved a deliberate intent to violate classification rules, as well as some add-on element: An FBI agent who took home highly sensitive agency records while having an affair with a Chinese agent; a Boeing engineer who brought home 2000 classified documents and whose travel to Israel raised suspicions; a National Security Agency official who removed boxes of classified documents and also lied on a job application form.

The only person with something resembling expertise in this area Gerstein could find who would say Clinton ought to be indicted was the increasingly loathsome Rudy Giuliani, whose opinion on matters like this is worth about as much a ticket to one of his inspirational speeches. ...

However:

... down where the conservative rank and file get their information — the talk radio rants, the right-wing blogs, the breathless chain emails — these two contradictory ideas are both widely circulated. Clinton is about to be indicted, and Clinton won’t be indicted because the fix is in. The assumption in either case is that of course she committed crimes, even if no one can say exactly what they were. Because she’s Hillary Clinton, right? What more do you need to know?

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