Hillary Clinton is a lawyer, yet she seems oblivious of the law. Either that, or she well knows she has no viable legal defense, leaving herself little alternative but to conjure one.
Over the weekend, Clinton repeated her claim that she neither received nor sent any emails with information marked “classified.” But how they were marked is irrelevant and immaterial under the law. Read the statutes (18 USC 1924 and 18 USC 793). The content of the documents is what counts, not markings.
Initially, two documents containing “top-secret” intelligence matters were discovered among the emails on her private server. Now, there are reports that the number of emails with classified data has ballooned to 60. Hundreds more may be discovered as investigators comb through the roughly 30,000 work-related emails handled by Clinton’s server.
Storing classified information at an unauthorized location (and/or transmitting it therefrom) is a crime. Pure and simple. Knowledge of its classification status is of no legal consequence. Thus, it is no defense for Clinton to claim she did not know matters were classified.
Which invites another salient question: How could she not know? As Secretary of State, she was privy to many of our nation’s most-guarded secrets. Did they have to be specifically marked “Top Secret” or “Classified” for her to recognize them for what they were? For four years, she was America’s top diplomat with direct access to the most sensitive information and data. It should have been recognized by her instantaneously.
And yet, Clinton appears to be arguing her own incompetence. That is, she should not be held legally liable because she was too inept to recognize classified materials without their markings.
But incompetence is not a defense. Especially if you are angling for a promotion to be President of the United States.
Regardless of her motives, it was reckless, foolish and naïve to establish a private server to handle copious messages that would inexorably involve matters of national security and secrecy. It would be impossible not to break the law.
Which makes Clinton’s defense of her actions all the more implausible.