Has the State Department released a smoking gun in the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal? In a thread from June 2011, Hillary exchanges e-mails with Jake Sullivan, then her deputy chief of staff and now her campaign foreign-policy adviser, in which she impatiently waits for a set of talking points. When Sullivan tells her that the source is having trouble with the secure fax, Hillary then orders Sullivan to have the data stripped of its markings and sent through a non-secure channel.
That should be game, set, and match, yes?
A potential bombshell? Could be. Ordering an aide to tamper with classified or sensitive markings is a clear-cut crime.
But were the talking points — the subject of which was redacted by the State Department — actually classified? On that will hang the legal fate of Hillary Clinton.
Morrissey says it shouldn’t matter:
There are a few people wondering whether the “TPs” (talking points”) in question in this thread were classified in the first place. There are a couple points to remember in that context:
- Unclassified material doesn’t need to be transmitted by secure fax; if the material wasn’t classified, Sullivan would have had them faxed normally.
- Ordering aides to remove headers to facilitate the transmission over unsecured means strongly suggests that the information was not unclassified. On top of that, removing headers to avoid transmission security would be a violation of 18 USC 793 anyway, which does not require material to be classified — only sensitive to national security.
- State did leave this document unclassified, but that’s because there isn’t any discussion of what the talking points cover. They redacted the subject headers with B5 and B6 exemptions, invoked to note that the FOIA demand doesn’t cover the material (in their opinion).
Ordering the headings stripped, and Sullivan’s apparent reluctance to work around the secure fax system, makes it all but certain that the material was classified at some level — and Hillary knew it.
A Fox News article, via Legal Insurrection, helps us connect the dots:
“Hillary only used her personal account for unclassified email. No information in her emails was marked classified at the time she sent or received them,” campaign Communications Director Jennifer Palmieri said in a statement to supporters Wednesday.
But a State Department official told Fox News that the intelligence community inspector general, who raised the most recent concerns about Clinton’s emails, made clear that at least one of those messages contained information that only could have come from the intelligence community.
“If so, they would have had to come in with all the appropriate classification markings,” the official said.
The official questioned whether someone, then, tampered with that message. “[S]omewhere between the point they came into the building and the time they reached HRC’s server, someone would have had to strip the classification markings from that information before it was transmitted to HRC’s personal email.”
The official said doing so would “constitute a felony, in and of itself. I can’t imagine that a rank-and-file career DOS employee would have done this, so it was most likely done by someone in her inner circle.”
So, now the mystery is cleared up. The reason all those classified emails weren’t marked “classified” at the time they were on the private server is because Clinton had instructed her aides to remove — “tamper with” — the headings — removing the “classified” designation and sending the email over a non-secured server.
After 23 years of slipping and sliding across the political landscape, evading responsibility for scandal and even criminal behavior, it could be that the Clintons are finally going to be caught in one of their complex webs of wrongdoing.
That is, if Barack Obama’s Department of Justice does its duty and enforces the law.