The Clinton standard: Lying and crooked gets a pass

Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonPence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Top federal official says more details coming on foreign election interference The Hill's Campaign Report: COVID-19 puts conventions in flux  MORE just got her first get-out-of-jail-free card from FBI Director James Comey, even as investigations by the FBI and the State Department Inspector General into wide-scale corruption at the Clinton Foundation continue.

As Comey explained it, he was not recommending prosecution of Hillary Clinton for mishandling classified information — because she was Hillary Clinton.


In the conclusion of his remarkable statement on Tuesday, Comey said that the FBI could find no evidence that Mrs. Clinton and her staff had intentionally and willfully mishandled classified information. She was a liar, not a criminal. That is a truly astonishing conclusion given the facts that Mr. Comey himself exposed.

The FBI found 110 emails among the 30,000 that Mrs. Clinton’s lawyers turned over the State Department in 2014 that contained information that was classified at the time it was sent or received, including Top Secret and code-word intelligence information.

From the get-go, Mrs. Clinton has trivialized this finding, and has repeatedly claimed that these emails were classified after the fact. Comey ripped that defense to shreds.

Comey also acknowledged that Mrs. Clinton’s lawyers had successfully “wiped” her server so we will never know the truth about the 30,000 emails she decided not to turn over to the State Department. If these two facts do not rise to the level of “willful mishandling” of classified information and demonstrate an “intent” to deceive — the criminal standards Mr. Comey cited — then the FBI may as well voluntarily disband itself and save the taxpayers a lot of money.

Mrs. Clinton and her aides have claimed that they set up the private email server as a matter of convenience, but emails subsequently released by the State Department show they also discussed the need of keeping Mrs. Clinton’s correspondence beyond the reach of pesky reporters and outside investigators who could use the Freedom of Information Act to probe her actions as Secretary of State.

Comey found that Mrs. Clinton and her staff were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” That apparently signifies a new legal standard of what government officials can do. Don’t test it, though, if your name happens to be John Deutch or David Petraeus, both former CIA directors who were prosecuted.

Beyond the inexcusable establishment of a new “Clinton standard” of criminal conduct that will not be prosecuted because of political considerations, this whole affair provides some important insights into Mrs. Clinton herself.

Getting appointed to high government office is a big deal. Ask anyone at a far junior level to Mrs. Clinton the type of briefings they are given at the start of their service about the strict standards for handling classified material.

These public servants are indoctrinated into a priesthood. They have a sacred charge to guard the nation’s secrets. The fact that there are so few prosecutions of lower level officials for mishandling classified information demonstrates the effectiveness and pervasiveness of this indoctrination. 

But that was not Mrs. Clinton’s attitude. She came to the State Department to ride herd over the masses of lower level employees, who she believed were her servants. As the now-released emails show, she forced the State Department to jump through hoops to accommodate her desire to use her own email server, rather than adapting her behavior to the requirements of the office, as previous secretaries (and indeed, all lower level employees) have done.

For Mrs. Clinton, governing is not about public service. It is about Mrs. Clinton. She does not consider herself a public servant, nor does she aspire to become one if she is elected president. She expects the government — and the American people — to serve her and to facilitate her personal enrichment and the enrichment of her family and friends.

Clearly, Mrs. Clinton has been aware of the perils of mishandling classified information. This is why she repeatedly has said she never sent or received material that was “marked” classified, a distinction without a difference, as Mr. Comey demonstrated.

So why did she take the risk of using a personal server? Arrogance. That is the second thing this affair should teach us. Mrs. Clinton was arrogantly convinced she could get away with it, and if anyone challenged her, she would deploy the formidable Clinton smear machine to intimidate, vilify and demonize them. She felt she was above the law.

Finally, it also shows Mrs. Clinton’s inclination to spin and spin, even in the face of facts that clearly contradict the spin. We’ve seen this in her stubborn insistence that a YouTube video motivated the attackers of the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi, as well as here. 

Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpLincoln Project ad dubs Jared Kushner the 'Secretary of Failure' Pence: Chief Justice Roberts 'has been a disappointment to conservatives' Twitter bans Trump campaign until it deletes tweet with COVID-19 misinformation MORE was certainly right when he said Mr. Comey’s recommendation against prosecution was “unfair” and showed that we have a “rigged system.”

Mrs. Clinton willfully challenged the system, just daring the FBI to prosecute her. She was confidant she could stare them down. Mr. Comey’s announcement showed that in today’s Banana Republic, she was right.

Timmerman is a Donald Trump supporter. He was the 2012 Republican Congressional nominee for MD-8 and is the author of Deception: The Making of the YouTube Video Hillary & Obama Blamed for Benghazi, forthcoming from Post Hill Press on July 19.