The report also provides compelling evidence that supports Clinton’s contention that her answers to the FBI, described by the FBI’s director as truthful, are completely consistent with the public information she has released on the issue. Fact checkers like Glenn Kessler gave Clinton four Pinocchios for saying Comey said she was truthful in her answers. And yes, this was a short circuit—Comey could of course be only referring to answers given the FBI by Clinton. As Kessler wrote:
For instance, when Clinton asserts “my answers were truthful,” a campaign aide said she is referring to this statement by Comey to Congress: “We have no basis to conclude she lied to the FBI.”
But that’s not the whole story. When House Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) asked whether Clinton had lied to the American public, Comey dodged: “That’s a question I’m not qualified to answer. I can speak about what she said to the FBI.”
In her now-deemed “not a press conference” before the NABJ/NAHJ convention, Clinton clarified she misspoke (the famous “short circuit” quote). But now we do have Clinton’s “truthful” answers to the FBI—and we know those answers are completely consistent with Clinton’s public pronouncements on the issues. Clinton was truthful.
Here are the main takeaways:
1) Review of technical details of Clinton use of private server
The FBI report commences with an extensive review of its actions with regard to retrieving the Clinton server and her devices (see pp. 1-9 of the report). Interestingly, the FBI reviewed beyond the last day of Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state, following the Clinton email trail after February 2013. This made sense because Clinton’s emails as secretary of state remained preserved in those records. (This by the way, is one example of why Clinton’s decision was faulty as a matter of record keeping—she needed to turn over the server to the State Department.)
The technical details raise two noteworthy issues. First, if Clinton intended to hide the emails in her possession, why didn’t she immediately give the order to have her server and email accounts deleted? This is precisely what Colin Powell did with his private email account while secretary of state (more on this later). Second, there was no evidence of a hack of the Clinton servers during her tenure as secretary of state and in the period after she left.
2) Colin Powell has been untruthful regarding his discussions with Clinton about use of private email
In response to press accounts detailing his discussions with Hillary Clinton regarding the use of private email as secretary of state, Colin Powell told People magazine:
Her people have been trying to pin it on me, The truth is, she was using [the private email server] for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did
This is a complete falsehood. We know this as a result of the FBI report, which states on page 11 that Clinton exchanged emails with Powell on the subject on Jan. 23, 2009, just two days after Clinton was sworn in as secretary of state. Thus it was not “a year before” as Powell falsely claimed—it was actually before Clinton made the decision to use private email.
What is more remarkable is the advice Powell actually gave Clinton:
Be very careful, I got around [record keeping requirements] by not saying much and not using systems that captured the data.
Think about that. Not only was Powell advising Clinton to evade her record keeping requirements, he actually admitted that he did so himself! Let’s put it this way: If the media could have put Powell’s words in Clinton’s mouth, the impeachment trial would be on as we speak (even before she was elected). But in fact, Clinton did nothing suggested by Powell to evade her record keeping requirement—to the point of not deleting emails after she left as secretary of state. If this was a criminal enterprise to avoid FARA and FOIA, it sure was an incompetent one.
3) The Bureau of Information Security Management stated there was no prohibition against the use of private emails
On page 11, the FBI report flatly states:
The Bureau of Information Security Management [stated] there was no restriction on the use of personal email accounts for official business.
Thus, Clinton’s use of private email and a private server were not prohibited.
4) Record preservation
The FBI Report quotes Cheryl Mills as describing the record keeping practice for Clinton as making sure recipients were sent email to their State.gov accounts. As I’ve stated repeatedly, this does not, in my view, meet Clinton’s requirements for record preservation. A better practice would have been to turn over all work-related emails in her email account to the State Department on a periodic basis. Alternatively, Clinton could have opened a State.gov account and copied the account on all of her work correspondence. This is a clear failing by Clinton.
5) Clinton never used any electronic devices in SCIF (top secret) areas.
The FBI Report (on page 12) makes clear Clinton never used any electronic devices in Sensitive Compartments Information Facilities (SCIF.) Clinton also had an SCIF area in her residences in Washington and in New York. it is clear that Clinton never intended and in fact, never did, expose properly marked and identified classified information to nonsecure mediums.
6) Thirteen individuals at state were emailed, or emailed Clinton at her private email.
The FBI Report states only 13 individuals had access to the Clinton email network. Page 13 details how Clinton’s network of senders and recipients to her private email account was extremely limited. Just 13 of her top aides had access to her email, as either senders or recipients. This is an important fact to keep in mind when we discuss classified information and leakage into a unsecured email system.
7) Only three emails contained any indications of classified markings; such markings were improperly placed in each instance and two of the three were not classified.
What was the FBI investigation supposed to be about? Ostensibly, it was about whether Clinton or anyone at State handled classified information in a manner that rose to criminality. Of course the inquiry was ridiculous on its face. But let’s consider what the upshot was—from page 19 of the FBI report:
The FBI identified 3 email chains, encompassing 8 individual e-mails exchanges, to or from Clinton’s personal e-mail account, which contained at least one paragraph marked (C), a marking ostensibly indicating information classified at the CONFIDENTIAL level [the lowest]. The e-mails contained no additional markings, such as a header or a footer, indicating they were classified. [emphasis added]
Why it matters:
And that was it with regard to documents actually marked classified at the time. That’s the entire “scandal.”
8) To the degree “leakage” of classified information onto unsecured systems is a valid concern, it has nothing to do with Clinton and everything to do with decades-long State Department practices.
This is a horse I have beaten to death: Clinton put not one single classified (marked or even argued classified after the fact) document in her emails. Not a single one. Nothing that was put in her emails came from a classified system. Not a single thing! If the State Department’s career officials were sending information on unsecured email for decades that the intelligence community thinks should not have been sent through unsecured channels, this issue is not about Clinton—it is about the State Department and the intelligence community (IC.)
And yet the FBI Report details in pages 22 to 27 that in fact every single document that the IC now claims should have been classified originated from career State Department officials, using the State Department unsecured e-mail system—see “About Those Top Secret E-mails.”
Clinton reasonably stated that she relied on the expertise and experience of career State officials regarding classification designation. And frankly, the IC definition of classified is in fact a violation of the law—The Reduce Overclassification Act, signed into law by President Obama in 2010. The intelligence community has blithely broken this law. No one in the media cares.
9) There is no evidence Clinton’s emails or server were hacked.
The authors of the report seem especially upset about the fact they could not discover evidence that Clinton’s server and emails were not hacked. (see pages 26 to33 of the FBI report). But that’s the evidence—no hack. Unlike the State Department systems, which have been repeatedly hacked.
In conclusion, the FBI report makes clear that 1) Hillary Clinton has been truthful to the public regarding her statements on E-Ghazi, 2) she acted reasonably when she accepted the classification determinations of senior career State Department officials, 3) that no properly marked classified information was in her private server or email systems, 4) that use of private email or a private server was not prohibited at the time, 5) that Colin Powell was untruthful in his statements regarding his communications with Clinton on the email issue and that 6) there is no evidence Clinton’s emails or server were hacked.
FBI Director Comey’s unprecedented and improper decision to discuss the investigation publicly was wrong and his opinions on carelessness unfounded. Indeed, his recklessness is what is highlighted here.
While there are a couple of stray questions to be resolved (example: Clinton should explain her answer regarding the (C) markings as the FBI Report is rather unclear), what is clear is that the FBI report fully exonerates Clinton not only from criminal charges, but from any charge of carelessness of recklessness with classified information.
Clinton was careless with her record preservation obligations and, in my view, violated those obligations.
But on the rest? Not only is she cleared, she is fully exonerated.
[THIS ARTICLE ON THE SUBJECT OF HILARY CLINTON’S USE OF A PRIVATE SERVER WHILE SHE WAS SECRETARY OF STATE IS VERY IMPORTANT. IT FIRST APPEARED IN “E-B’S PERSONAL HOT LIST” AND “REALITY BASED TASK FORCE.” IT APPEARED IN DAILY KOS AND IS REPRINTED HERE WITH THEIR PERMISSION.]
When the term “alt-right” appeared in the news cycles a few weeks back, I had no idea what it meant or stood for. A little research, however, gave me a handle on the intents and purposes of the Breitbart organization and how it relates to “alt-right,” a euphemism for “alternate right.”
According to Wikipedia, The New York Times says Breitbart News is a “curiosity of the fringe right wing,” with “ideologically driven journalists,” which is a source of controversy “over material that has been called misogynist, xenophobic and racist,” and is now a “potent voice” for Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign.
Breitbart and the “alt-right” came to the political fore when its Executive Chairman Stephen Bannon became the Trump campaign’s CEO in August, 2016. Because of alt-right’s obscurity this would have raised few eyebrows, but Hillary Clinton loudly claimed the hiring of Bannon clearly showed the Trump organization was “embrac[ing] ideas on the extremist fringe of the conservative right” and read published headlines from Breitbart to prove her point. She went on to say that Trump’s hiring of Bannon “represents a landmark achievement for the alt-right.”
An immediate consequence in the media was connecting Trump and his organization with avowed misogynists (women-haters), xenophobes (strong dislike for foreigners) and racists (belief in the superiority of a particular race). Despite the alarm, Bannon is still CEO of the Trump organization. Then, Trump’s two-day belated disavowal of former Grand Wizard of the KKK David Duke’s “endorsement,” raised additional concern.
Trump repeatedly claimed, according to the February 28 issue of U.S. News & World Report that “he didn’t know anything about Duke, the Klan…or white supremacist groups….” Back in 2000, however, Trump backed away from a Reform Party run for the presidency because, he concluded, their “fringe element,” including “Elvis look-alikes, resplendent in various campaign buttons…anxious to give me a pamphlet explaining the Swiss-Zionist conspiracy to control America,” was off-putting: “I leave the Reform Party to David Duke, Pat Buchanan and Lenora Fulani, whom he labeled in order, “a Klansman, a neo-Nazi, and a communist.”
All this is to say that Donald Trump is, with full knowledge, flirting with ultra-right wing elements of the conservative movement in America. And, furthermore, it is working to his advantage among far right fringes of the Republican Party.
Needless to say, I was astonished by a local, Herald-Dispatch columnist’s affirmation of the “alt-right” in a recent column where he stated, “The alt right believes our nation will never return to greatness under liberal Democrats or establishment Republicans. They support a movement which honors the Constitution, protects the Supreme Court and supports our nation’s sovereignty.”
He also asserted, “The alt right represents a segment of constitutional, Reagan conservatives who realize we’ve arrived at a political impasse where the needs of the American people have become inconsequential in the political theater. And they’re open to a paradigm shift in politics which once again puts Americans first.”
What’s that I hear? Is it Ronald Reagan rolling over in his grave?
The sun rose. Waking the small leaf, the last of the season. His creator had already killed the rest of his siblings, sucking the nutrients from their bodies to prolong its own life over the long winter. This leaf refused to give back to the creator, fighting back…a losing battle. Night after night it got colder, creeping towards frost.
The sun rose with each morning and the leaf had hope for another day, knowing it would soon die. Choosing to take its nutrients with it to the grave and die green instead of brown and red like his brothers and sisters before him.
The sun rose, then exploded into the most beautiful glow. A solar flare so large it burnt the planet into embers. The leaf instantly ash and its beautiful green forgotten. Still the image of the leaf and its refusal to conform to the fear of death was saved and passed down backwards in time for generations before the end of life occurred.
THE FALL OF THE GODDESS
She was sitting surrounded by trash bags, down on the sidewalk she hid among the homeless. No one recognized her from People, from Times. At one time her face was plastered everywhere; then the fall, when she lost her child and chose to leave the limelight. She soon found that one homeless person contained more humanity then every director, producer, and manager put together. Hunger pervaded every inch of her being. She had long ago donated her entire fortune to her heart…the poor, minorities, and endangered animals, leaving herself nothing.
She would not accept help or go to a shelter for fear someone might recognize her hidden, hated self. Lying, she shook, enjoying the cold ground against her burning skin. She would soon be found, perhaps, by the tabloids, but hopefully continually forgotten. Lost forever after the fall. No longer beautiful, or immortal. She defecated on her star, collapsing in her own waste, spending her last breath in waste of what her teachers hoped for her; a waste of the doctors who worked on her after her fall. Perhaps. it would be better if all fell down and learned what mortality actually means.