There's no evidence Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton or her aides violated any laws with her use of a private email server while secretary of state, according to government secrecy experts cited by the Associated Press.
Conservative media have tried their best to spin Clinton's email use into accusations that she committed a crime by mishandling classified information, even baselessly comparing her to those who did, such as former Gen. David Petraeus and John Deutch, despite the fact that this smear has been debunked.
Yet intelligence and government secrecy law experts refute claims that Clinton could face criminal action for the handling of her emails, according to the Associated Press on August 31. As AP explained, "[T]o prove a crime, the government would have to demonstrate that Clinton or aides knew they were mishandling the information -- not that she should have known," and as one expert noted, “A case would be possible if material emerges that is so sensitive Clinton must have known it was highly classified, whether marked or not,” but “no such email has surfaced”:
Experts in government secrecy law see almost no possibility of criminal action against Hillary Clinton or her top aides in connection with now-classified information sent over unsecure email while she was secretary of state, based on the public evidence thus far.
Some Republicans, including leading GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, have called Clinton's actions criminal and compared her situation to that of David Petraeus, the former CIA director who was prosecuted after giving top secret information to his paramour. Others have cited the case of another past CIA chief, John Deutch, who took highly classified material home.
But in both of those cases, no one disputed that the information was highly classified and in many cases top secret. Petraeus pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor; Deutch was pardoned by President Bill Clinton.
By contrast, there is no evidence of emails stored in Hillary Clinton's private server bearing classified markings. State Department officials say they don't believe that emails she sent or received included material classified at the time. And even if other government officials dispute that assertion, it is extremely difficult to prove anyone knowingly mishandled secrets.
Although political controversy has centered on Clinton's use of private email instead of an unsecured government account, the distinction matters little in the context of classified information. Clinton says State Department rules allowed her to use private email and officials knew about it.