In an August 30 USA Today opinion piece, the former U.S. attorney who oversaw the prosecution of retired Gen. David Petraeus for mishandling classified state secrets debunked the false comparison by conservative media of Hillary Clinton's email use to Petraeus' actions, explaining that the “comparison has no merit” because “Petraeus knowingly engaged in unlawful conduct” and “Clinton is not being investigation for knowingly sending or receiving classified materials improperly.”
Right-wing media frequently hype what they claim are similarities between the two cases, despite the fact that columnists and thought leaders in mainstream media have dismissed it as “inapt,” and experts insist “there's no comparison between the Clinton email issue and the Petraeus case.”
Writing in USA Today, Anne M. Tomkins, the former U.S. attorney who oversaw the prosecution of Petraeus (and current Hillary Clinton campaign donor), effectively dismantled conservative media's comparison, explaining, “Unlike Petraeus, Clinton did not 'knowingly' store or share classified information in violation of the law”:
Both the law and his oath required Petraeus to mark these books as “top secret” and to store them in a Secured Compartmented Information Facility. He did neither.
Rather, Petraeus allowed his biographer to take possession of the journals in order to use them as source material for his biography.
Importantly, Petraeus was well aware of the classified contents in his journals, saying to his biographer, Paula Broadwell on tape, “I mean, they are highly classified, some of them. They don't have it on it, but I mean there's code word stuff in there.”
When questioned by the FBI, Petraeus lied to agents in responding that he had neither improperly stored nor improperly provided classified information to his biographer. As Mukasey also highlighted, the key element is that Petraeus' conduct was done “knowingly.” That is, when he stored his journals containing “highly classified” information at his home, he did so knowingly. Petraeus knew at that time that there was classified information in the journals, and he knew they were stored improperly.
In sharp contrast, Clinton is not being investigated for knowingly sending or receiving classified materials improperly.
Indeed, the State Department has confirmed that none of the information that has surfaced on Clinton's server thus far was classified at the time it was sent or received. Additionally, the Justice Department indicated that its inquiry is not a criminal one and that Clinton is not the subject of the inquiry.