On Monday, the FBI confirmed what has already been widely reported by unidentified sources — that it is investigating Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. Though Clinton supporters, including Housing Secretary Julian Castro, have tried to brush off the investigation as a Republican witch hunt, some legal experts suggest there was a violation of federal criminal law. Joseph diGenova, a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, said on Jan. 15 that he expects the FBI to conclude the investigation within 60 to 90 days and recommend a series of charges.
The politicized nature of the issue requires a separation of facts and unidentified sources. The fact of the matter is that the investigations by the FBI, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the State Department are not Republican witch hunts. If anything, the current Democratic administration is impeding the investigations to protect the Democratic Party frontrunner for president. For example, the State Department refused Freedom of Information Act requests to release Clinton’s emails until forced to by court orders.
Due to the secretive nature of these investigations, the public has been left only with reports citing unidentified sources and analysis on what little we do know. However, whether or not Clinton and her top aides end up criminally charged, the known facts of her handling of work-related emails on her private server raise many questions about her judgment and trustworthiness.
For one, Clinton and her top aides used private email accounts hosted on her private server in sending classified information. “Unauthorized removal or retention of classified information” is a serious offense and federal crime. Though Clinton claims that none of the emails were classified at the time, Paul D. Miller, an LBJ School of Public Affairs lecturer, wrote “this is false and based on a misleading — even deceptive — claim about how classified information works.”
A statement by the Obama-appointed Inspectors General of the Intelligence Community and the Department of State confirmed “these emails were not retroactively classified by the State Department; rather these emails contained classified information when they were generated.”
Secondly, after consistently refusing to turn over her private server, Clinton permanently deleted all emails from her private server and only turned over emails that she considered work-related. According to Miller, allowing this is allowing Clinton “to be judge and jury in her own cause, a blatant violation of basic principles of an independent and unbiased judiciary.”
The facts at hand are pretty damning, if not incriminating. If the reports are true and Clinton is indicted, she will likely be pressured to drop out of the presidential race. With nearly nine months still to go until the general election, the investigations into Clinton’s email may well end in criminal consequences and have significant effects on the race.
Hung is a second year law student from Brownsville.