A Sandy Berger quality colors Hillary Clinton shielding her State Department emails from FOIA requests and Congressional subpoenas, but not foreign hackers, on a private server.
More than a decade ago, the late national security advisor to President Bill Clinton shoved documents from the National Archives down his pants and in his socks. Under the guise of needing privacy for cell phone calls, he absconded from the archives with the material regarding terrorism and hid it under a construction trailer. Later, he retrieved the papers to destroy the embarrassing contents.
Library larceny isn’t normal behavior for an official at the highest level of government. Neither is shielding public business on a private server.
Hillary’s email scandal strikes as a technologically savvy version of Sandy Berger’s bumbling, Luddite attempt at a cover-up. Though both suffered some repercussions — Berger gave up his law license and part of his dignity, Clinton eroded trust in her during an election and ensured ensuing investigations even should she win the presidency — the odd couple essentially accomplished what they set out to do. The public remains largely in the dark about the documents Berger destroyed and the emails Clinton deleted. Significantly, and strangely, both “cover-ups” came as preemptive actions aimed to stave off possible controversies rather than cleanup jobs aimed at mopping up existing messes. “It’s the cover-up, not the crime” still applies, but it takes a special, self-knowing malefactor to obscure wrongdoing before the accusations of it even begin. So devious did the cover-ups come across that they, too, required cover-ups.
The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that the FBI plans to expedite its investigation into Clinton emails discovered on a computer shared by Huma Abedin and estranged husband Anthony Weiner. This fuels hopes among Clinton votaries that exoneration comes before election day. But examining hundreds of thousands of emails in less than a week requires many Clarice Starlings and Dana Scullys.
Don’t the federal employees, already accused of violating the Hatch Act by Harry Reid, have more important tasks than conscripted campaign work?
“I don’t think that they even know what’s on there, quite frankly,” former FBI assistant director James Kallstrom told The American Spectator earlier this week. “They haven’t even begun to look at all this, I believe. I’m sure Comey was given some inklings of what possibly is on there. I’m sure that they had some inkling before they went for a warrant.”
Kallstrom believes that partisans expecting a bombshell bigger than what the FBI already discovered in earlier vettings of Clinton emails may come away disappointed. He notes that the earlier FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails that did not lead to an indictment included finding Special Access Program (SAP) intelligence — dubbed “beyond Top Secret” by an NBC News headline — on her vulnerable private server.
“Are people thinking that what’s on this thing is more serious than that?” Kallstrom asks. “I don’t think so.”
With the possibility that the emails on Abedin’s computer represent duplications from ones already viewed by the FBI, and the likelihood that a very small proportion of the hundreds of thousands of emails reportedly found on that computer involve Clinton, the newly discovered electronic messages may not alter the FBI’s decision made this summer to recommend not indicting the Democratic presidential nominee.
“Whatever this information is, some of it is going to become common knowledge soon,” Kallstrom judges. “Too many people probably know about it.”
But like the documents purloined from the National Archives by Sandy Berger, the Clinton scandal involving thousands of deleted and disappeared emails continues to fascinate precisely because the public knows that it likely will never know what Hillary Clinton did not want it to know.