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Did Hillary Clinton Break the Law?

rotunda

Ronald Rotunda is a professor at Chapman University’s Fowler School of Law and the co-author, with John Nowak, of “Treatise on Constitutional Law” (Thomson Reuters, fifth edition, 2013).  He explains that it is a crime to delete even one email that has been subpoenaed.

The fact that Hillary Clinton exclusively used a private server in her home, rather than a secure government server, to send emails during her four years as secretary of state has raised many questions. She now says that it was a mistake but also emphasizes that she broke no law. News reports typically describe her offense as not following “policy.”

Whether or not Mrs. Clinton violated a State Department rule, her admitted destruction of more than 30,000 emails sure looks like obstruction of justice—a serious violation of the criminal law. Let’s consider some of the basic, undisputed facts, and then the law.

First, Mrs. Clinton was worried that communicating through email would leave a trail that might be subject to subpoena. “As much as I’ve been investigated and all of that,” she said in 2000, “why would I ever want to do email?” But when she became secretary of state, she didn’t have much choice. So she set up a private server in her house. That way, in the event of an investigation, she could control which emails would be turned over.

We know this is true because that is exactly what happened. When Congress subpoenaed Mrs. Clinton’s official communications, or when nongovernmental organizations filed Freedom of Information Act requests for the same, the State Department could not turn over her emails because it did not have them.

The State Department must have known that its leader was using a private account. Mrs. Clinton presumably emailed other officials within the department, and the “from” line would have shown clearly that she wasn’t sending the message from a proper government email address.

Mrs. Clinton claims that she never sent any classified or secret information on her private account, though many have noted that she conspicuously left out whether she received such material. Either way the claim is hard to swallow—one would think it would have left her out of the loop—but let’s assume she is telling the truth.

Read more at  The Wall Street Journal

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