Media's Baseless Speculation That Clinton May Have Broken Laws With Email Use
Research ››› ››› OLIVIA MARSHALL
Media figures are exploiting the feeding frenzy over Hillary Clinton's email to engage in wild speculation, including wondering if she committed a felony. Numerous independent legal analysts have said that Clinton did not violate the law through her use of a non-government email account.
Media Wildly Speculate About Wrongdoing In Clinton's Use Of Email
Ron Fournier: "Emails May Be A Key To Addressing 'Pay-To-Play' Whispers At Clinton Foundation." In a March 8 post at the National Journal, Ron Fournier combined baseless speculation about the content of Clinton's emails with suggestions that foreign governments may have improperly influenced the former secretary of state, arguing that her emails' "greatest relevancy is what might reveal about any nexus between Clinton's work at State and donations to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation from U.S. corporations and foreign nations." Fournier cited an unnamed source who, despite having "no evidence of wrongdoing," still pushed the idea that the emails would reveal something nefarious (emphasis added):
Under fire, Bill Clinton said his namesake charity has "done a lot more good than harm"--hardly a ringing endorsement. One of his longest-serving advisers, a person who had worked directly for the foundation, told me the "longtime whispers of pay-to-play are going to become shouts."
This person, a Clinton loyalist and credible source, has no evidence of wrongdoing but said the media's suspicions are warranted. "The emails are a related but secondary scandal," the source said. "Follow the foundation money."
Is the foundation clean? Is it corrupt? Or is the truth in the muddy middle, where we so often find the Clintons? Due to the fact that Hillary Clinton chose to skirt federal regulations and house her State Department emails on an off-the-books server, even the most loyal Democrat can't honestly answer those questions without an independent vetting of her electronic correspondence. [National Journal, 3/8/15]
Fox & Friends Host: Emails Could Reveal Clinton Gave A Benghazi "Stand-Down Order." On the March 9 edition of Fox & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade repeated Rep. Darrell Issa's (R-CA) suggestion that Clinton's emails may reveal that she issued a so-called "stand-down order" instructing security personnel at the diplomatic facility in Benghazi to leave their posts -- a favorite myth of the network's that has been debunked repeatedly:
KILMEADE: Darrell Issa has postulated that maybe there was a stand-down order that she emailed, but Adam Schiff came back, he's a Democrat, and said well, we would have got that at the Pentagon, she would have had to write the Pentagon, so let's look at those, those Pentagon emails have not revealed any of that. But that's a stretch. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/9/15]
Fox Correspondent Speculates That Clinton May Have Committed A Felony. On the March 9 edition of Fox & Friends, correspondent Kevin Corke suggested that Clinton could face felony charges if she "destroyed materials related to state business":
CORKE: I want you to keep this in mind, guys, if she destroyed materials related to state business, that's actually a felony. I'm not saying that's going to happen. But they're going to be looking very carefully at that as this investigation continues. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/9/15]
Fox's Megyn Kelly: Clinton "Culled Through" Emails To Remove Some Before Handing Them Over To State Department. On the March 6 edition of The Kelly File, Megyn Kelly speculated that Clinton "destroyed" some emails before handing over 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department, saying: "What about the ones that she culled through to get it down to 55,000 pages? How many pages are there? How many e-mails are there? We don't know." [Fox News, The Kelly File, 3/6/15]
National Review: Did Clinton Violate Embezzlement Law? In a post on March 4, National Review's Andrew McCarthy suggested Clinton may have concealed documents, in violation of federal embezzlement law, and speculated that Clinton's private email system may have been "designed to give users the ability to erase emails without a trace." [National Review, 3/4/15]
Even Though There's Zero Evidence Clinton May Have Violated Rules Or Laws
The National Law Journal: Clinton "Obeyed The Law." In a March 9 article on Clinton emails,The National Law Journal explained that according to legal experts, Clinton "technically obeyed the law" with her use of email. The Journal went on:
"There's not any blanket prohibition on any federal employee from using a personal email account to conduct government business," said Potomac Law Group partner Neil Koslowe, a former Justice Department special litigation counsel who has worked on cases involving the Federal Records Act.
If it turns out that Clinton destroyed documents or mishandled classified information, that would be another story -- such violations can be criminal. However, the State Department has said there are "no indications" that Clinton improperly used her email for classified information.
The New York Times on March 2 reported that Clinton relied on her personal email account exclusively when she ran the State Department between 2009 and 2013, thwarting government record-keeping procedures.
National Archives and Records Administration regulations require emails to be "preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system," but when Clinton was in government there was no specified deadline for turning them over.
In 2013, David Ferriero, who heads the archives, testified before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform that the agency "discourages the use of private email accounts to conduct federal business, but understands that there are situations where such use does occur."
Following that hearing, according to a statement from the archives, Congress amended the Federal Records Act and the Presidential Records Act in November 2014 -- 21 months after Clinton left government -- to "prohibit the use of private email accounts by government officials unless they copy or forward any such emails into their government account within 20 days." [The National Law Journal, 3/9/15]
Clinton Turned Over All Work-Related Emails To The State Department. A Clinton aide told The Daily Beast that "9 out of 10 emails that she sent over the course of her tenure went to the State Department," so that "State had it in their servers already." The aide further said that the 55,000 pages of emails already in State's possession represent the entirety of Clinton's work-related email sent during her tenure. [The Daily Beast, 3/3/15]
CNN: State Department Rules Allowed Clinton To Use Private Account. Citing a State Department source, CNN reported that "Clinton was not automatically in violation of State Department policy when she exclusively used a private email during her four years as America's top diplomat." CNN further reported that 2005 guidelines insisting that employees use government-provided email "were filled with exemptions that could allow Clinton to use a private account." [CNN, 3/6/15]
Fox News' Own Legal Analysts: Clinton Did Not Violate The Law With Email. On the March 4 edition of Fox News' The Real Story, a legal panel shot down host Gretchen Carlson's question of whether Clinton broke any laws with her use of personal email. Attorney Jonna Spilbor explained that Clinton did not break the law, saying "what did she violate?" Attorney Arthur Aidala added, "In terms of, was there a crime? You can't be convicted of a crime that didn't exist at the time that you committed it." [Fox News, The Real Story with Gretchen Carlson, 3/4/15]