But His Documents!

Former President Trump routinely broke the law with respect to protecting public records.

A recurring lament of those who supported Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential bid is the outsized—and inconveniently timed—attention given to her use of a private email server and other violations of classified handling procedures during her tenure as Secretary of State. When her clearly unfit opponent won the election and proceeded to violate the Constitution, laws of the land, and basic norms on a near-daily basis, the rueful response was “But her emails!”

In recent days, it has become quite clear how flagrant President Trump himself was in disregarding the laws that applied to handling of government information and property.

National Security Archive/George Washington University (“President Trump May Have Violated Laws Protecting Government Property When He Destroyed, Removed Records, NGOs Assert“):

The National Security Archive and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) have formally requested that the Justice Department and FBI investigate former President Donald Trump’s mutilation and destruction of presidential records as possible violations of federal criminal law. The groups argue that Trump’s widely reported tearing up, disposal, and removal of highest-level documentation not only flouted his obligations under the law, but have deprived the public of its rightful ownership of those materials under the Presidential Records Act (PRA) and undermined congressional efforts to hold his administration accountable for events such as the January 6 insurrection.

A conviction in such a case would set a powerful precedent for accountability in preserving the historical record – something the PRA has failed to do – and could have important additional consequences, for example preventing the former president from ever holding public office again.

Former President Trump’s destruction and removal of records may violate 18 U.S.C. § 1361, which makes it a crime to willfully injure or commit any depredation against United States property in excess of $1,000. Another statute, 18 U.S.C. § 2071, which makes it a crime to willfully destroy or mutilate federal records, arguably goes further. The statute states, “Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States.” (emphasis added)

NYT (“Archives Found Possible Classified Material in Boxes Returned by Trump“):

The National Archives and Records Administration discovered what it believed was classified information in documents Donald J. Trump had taken with him from the White House as he left office, according to a person briefed on the matter.

The discovery, which occurred after Mr. Trump returned 15 boxes of documents to the government last month, prompted the National Archives to reach out to the Justice Department for guidance, the person said. The department told the National Archives to have its inspector general examine the matter, the person said.

It is unclear what the inspector general has done since then, in particular, whether the inspector general has referred the matter to the Justice Department.

An inspector general is required to alert the Justice Department to the discovery of any classified materials that were found outside authorized government channels.

Making a referral to the Justice Department would put senior officials in the position of having to decide whether to open an investigation, a scenario that would thrust the department into a highly contentious political matter.

The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the National Archives had asked the Justice Department to examine Mr. Trump’s handling of White House records.

Axios‘ Mike Allen (“Haberman book: Flushed papers found clogging Trump WH toilet“):

While President Trump was in office, staff in the White House residence periodically discovered wads of printed paper clogging a toilet — and believed the president had flushed pieces of paper, Maggie Haberman scoops in her forthcoming book, “Confidence Man.”

Why it matters: The revelation by Haberman, whose coverage as a New York Times White House correspondent was followed obsessively by Trump, adds a vivid new dimension to his lapses in preserving government documents. Axios was provided an exclusive first look at some of her reporting.

Haberman reports Trump has told people that since leaving office, he has remained in contact with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un — whose “love letters,” as Trump once called them, were among documents the National Archives retrieved from Mar-a-Lago.

Zoom out: The news of White House toilet-flushing comes as the National Archives has reportedly asked the Biden Justice Department to examine Trump’s handling of White House records, amid the congressional investigation into the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

Although I never supported Trump and ultimately endorsed and voted for Clinton, I thought the attention paid to her emails was justified. Not only did she potentially leave classified information vulnerable to hacking by our enemies but her brazenness in flouting the law was further evidence of the arrogance she and her husband have displayed throughout their public careers. The rules simply don’t apply to them. While I thought FBI Director James Comey was right not to charge her with a crime, I understood why he felt the need to explain himself to the public. Still, the episode was ultimately a bad look for him and the Justice Department. In bending over backward to show he wasn’t bowing to political pressure from the Obama administration, he appeared to be attempting to influence an ongoing political campaign. Twice.

Trump’s actions here are, I believe, orders of magnitude worse than Clinton’s. As the Chief Executive, he had the highest duty to faithfully execute the laws of the land and to be above reproach. Instead, he did the opposite, flagrantly disregarding his duty despite, I am quite sure, repeatedly being told he was breaking the law.

It’s too soon to know whether he was attempting to hide documents from the public or was simply manifesting the qualities that led Dan Drezner to dub him the Toddler-in-Chief. I suspect it’s mostly the latter.

Regardless, while he doubtless broke the law here repeatedly and flagrantly—just as he did the Emoluments Clause and various ethics laws—I highly doubt he’ll be charged by the Justice Department. We simply don’t go after the highest-level officials in our government when they break the law. While I fully understand the reluctance to appear to be politicizing the law or to begin an inevitable game of tit for tat, it’s nonetheless depressing.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Law and the Courts, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Gavin says:

    Furthermore, multiple administration officials under Trump used their own email server to conduct official business. This is not sort-of-kind-of the thing HRC was accused of.. It’s exactly the same thing.
    (1)
    (2)

    And it wasn’t just Trump — both R Secretaries of State prior to HRC, colin powell and condoleeza rice, each used their personal email server.

    This use of private servers hasn’t been any of prosecuted / changed / called out / even promised to be done differently in the future by Republican officials. In short, it is in fact the norm for Republicans doing business both in the White House and DC in general.

    IOKIYAR in action..

    18
  2. Kathy says:

    If a person or office is de facto above the law, you’re guaranteed criminal activity from said person or office eventually.

    Hell, Benito pretty clearly attempted a coup on multiple fronts, from pressuring secretaries of state to change the vote count to encouraging insurrection. The fact that he did so incompetently and, in part, on the spur of the moment, changes not one bit the gravity of the situation. Worse yet, for much of his party this was not beyond the pale.

    The country needs for trump to be prosecuted, convicted, and most important imprisoned.

    14
  3. Jen says:

    Trump’s actions here are, I believe, orders of magnitude worse than Clinton’s.

    Yes, absolutely.

    Flushing documents down the toilet is stupid, a violation of the presidential records preservation act, and also a possible threat to national security, depending on what the documents were.

    Some of the highest-level clearances issued at the CIA used to be for the people whose job it was to verify incinerated documents were completely destroyed. (I am assuming this destruction is handled differently now?)

    Trump is, was, and will always be a total disgrace. That his supporters are shrugging this off is–dare I say it?–deplorable. But also a day ending in “y”-level of surprise.

    4
  4. Sleeping Dog says:

    Regarding TFG’s abuse of the Presidential Record’s Act, an article over the weekend noted that the act doesn’t provide an enforcement mechanism. It appears the act simply defines what records must be kept and the format, with the expectation that all presidents would comply. Another norm destroyed by TFG.

    2
  5. Jen says:

    We have, apparently, discovered the reason behind TFG’s obsession with low-flush toilets.

    12
  6. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    Trump’s been destroying documents his entire adult life. I certainly wasn’t surprised when he continued the practice in the White House.

    1
  7. CSK says:

    @Jen:
    I truly pity the person who had to unclog and then clean up after all those overflowing toilets.

  8. Dude Kembro says:

    @Gavin:

    Not only did she potentially leave classified information vulnerable to hacking by our enemies but her brazenness in flouting the law was further evidence of the arrogance she and her husband have displayed throughout their public careers.

    And yet somehow we still lack an ounce of equivalent anxiety about the private, and worse, unsecured email/server/phone use of both the Bush and Trump White Houses, Condoleezza Rice, or Colin Powell.

    Why? Because Hillary’s email practices were never a real problem and never put classified info at risk, hence why she was clearered by multiple probes. Rules in place during Hillary’s State tenure allowed her wide latitude to use and curate emails at her discretion, just like countless officials had done without concern trolling lectures on brazenness and arrogance. There was no there there then or now.

    The destructive, Trump-enabling, overblown media coverage was all one big lie: a stupid, sexist witch hunt.

    It’s actually about the irrational hatred the New York Slimes and men with mommy issues have displayed towards Hillary throughout her career, and towards her majority-black, majority-feminist, majority-LGBT core supporters. The phony outrage and fake double standards only applied to her and to them. And now look: we’re flirting with fascism. Hope it was worth it. #ButHerEmails

    14
  9. DK says:

    @Jen:

    Trump is, was, and will always be a total disgrace.

    The long and the short of it. And his enablers are an even bigger disgrace.

    5
  10. CSK says:

    I assume Trump started flushing documents down the toilets after he was made aware that the stuff he ripped up and tossed into his wastebasket was being retrieved and taped together by the archivists.

    3
  11. becca says:

    @Kathy: I’m with you. Some way needs to be found to punish this lawlessness. He is not a king, regardless that republicans would be his willing subjects.

    5
  12. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Gavin: Those situations are completely different. Not a single person named “Clinton” was involved in any of the previous situations.

    Rather than IOKIYAR, this is more a IOKIYNNC (not named Clinton) situation.

    7
  13. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Well, if it prescribed an enforcement mechanism, SOMEBODY would be required to ACT. Failure to enforce the law/dereliction of duty DOES have enforcement mechanisms.

    People who write laws make very few mistakes in crafting them. And this case is, yet again, NOT a mistake.

  14. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gavin:

    This use of private servers hasn’t been any of prosecuted

    Because it isn’t inherently illegal.

    1
  15. CSK says:

    Multiple news outlets are reporting that there are gaps in Trump’s phone records from January 6, 2021.

    3
  16. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Dude Kembro:

    And yet somehow we still lack an ounce of equivalent anxiety about the private, and worse, unsecured email/server/phone use of both the Bush and Trump White Houses, Condoleezza Rice, or Colin Powell.

    I didn’t know about Rice or Powell at the time. Since I learned about it, I hold that as the same level as I did for Clinton (it’s not a huge thing, but it’s a check mark in the “bad” column).

    But that doesn’t fit your “Don’t like Clinton = sexist with mommy issues” mold, does it?

    It’s actually about the irrational hatred the New York Slimes and men with mommy issues have displayed towards Hillary throughout her career,

    I’ll be sure to tell all the mid-western liberal women I know who hate Hilary that they’re a) New York slime b) men, and 3) have mommy issues.

    I’m sure they’ll appreciate the deep insight and immediately change their ways.

    2
  17. SKI says:

    @CSK:

    Multiple news outlets are reporting that there are gaps in Trump’s phone records from January 6, 2021.

    To be clear, the reporting indicates that at times we know Trump was having phone calls, there is no record of those calls. The safe presumption is that he was using a personal cell phone – with all the security risks that come with that…

    1
  18. Jay L Gischer says:

    My seat-of-the-pants indicator for this is that when about 70 percent of the population says via polls that the president is wrong and should be prosecuted, it happens. I expect this rule to hold for ex-presidents, too. We often get stuck at 55 percent or so.

    And that’s why I think this whole 1/6 thing is moving slowly. They need, first and foremost, to move the needle of public opinion. They are politicians, this is their wheelhouse. And “sanctioning” the Republicans who are participating in this process is the opposing politics.

    It’s a sad fact that justice is subject to politics, but it is. Rule of Law doesn’t sustain itself. It requires our active support.

    3
  19. Kurtz says:

    We simply don’t go after the highest-level officials in our government when they break the law. While I fully understand the reluctance to appear to be politicizing the law or to begin an inevitable game of tit for tat, it’s nonetheless depressing.

    This is why I suppress a gag reflex when I hear politicians, in particular Republicans, invoke the rule of law.

    3
  20. Gavin says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    Because it isn’t inherently illegal.

    Right, so why again exactly did Comey “Feel The Need” to speak up about something that was not illegal and was precisely the same thing that multiple prior administrations had done, hmm?

    If 2016 had been full of banner headlines like “KNOWN CRIMINAL TRUMP IMPLICATED IN YET ANOTHER CRIME”, I have to think things would have been different.

    Nobody in the MSM or the FBI either before or since has given a single solitary sh1t about email server management — because it’s an incredibly boring story that sells no papers because nobody but IT nerds either understands or cares about it.

    The fact that this Became A Story isn’t really explainable as anything but a vehement desire by both the mainstream media and the intelligence services to put their finger on the scale against the Democratic candidate, no matter how absurd or arcane the topic.

    7
  21. MarkedMan says:

    It’s too soon to know whether he was attempting to hide documents from the public or was simply manifesting the qualities that led Dan Drezner to dub him the Toddler-in-Chief. I suspect it’s mostly the latter.

    James, sometimes you really do astound me. Despite a five decade long history of grifting and stealing, despite the fake charity, despite the scam that was Trump university, despite an almost endless history of sham real estate developments that ended up with all the investors money in Trumps pocket and no development, despite all of this, your gut reaction is, “probably no criminal intent just sloppiness.”

    And in the same post you once again misrepresent what happened with Clinton’s emails, certain beyond doubt that the whole scandal was just further proof of how sleazy and vile she was. During the 2016 election you went on and on and on in the same vein. I pointed out that while everyone “knew” there were all these sleazy deals the Clintons were involved in, no one ever actually named one, and so I challenged you to put up or shut up. You responded with a list of five things you had taken off some anti-Hillary site, and when I pointed out that three of them were simply, “bad wealthy man had donated to the Clinton charity” and the other two were equally nothing burgers, you responded, essentially, that “everyone knows she’s a sleaze and I’m not going to waste any more time trying to track down examples.”

    11
  22. gVOR08 says:

    Wait, did that headline say Haberman’s book says stuff was flushed, or was it Haberman’s book that got flushed? The latter seems an entirely reasonable thing to do.

    We knew pieces of this almost from day one. Obama was issued some sort of secure Blackberry, but Trump wouldn’t give up his personal phone. The tearing up and taping together of documents was mentioned on and off throughout the admin. A few weeks ago it came out some of the administration were doing business on an encrypted text app. Hell, there were stories now and again about the W admins widespread use of personal, or worse, RNC email. And what happened to the material in Cheney’s office safes? But nobody made a thing of it.

    Despite breathless reporting on MSNBC, we know no one, except Democrats and maybe GOP junior minions, will ever catch any spit for this.

    As to

    In bending over backward to show he wasn’t bowing to political pressure from the Obama administration, he appeared to be attempting to influence an ongoing political campaign. Twice.

    Comey didn’t violate clear policy to show he wasn’t bowing to the admin, it was widely reported at the time as fear of the GOPs in the Senate. And whatever the hell he intended, he threw the election. With a lot of help from FTFNYT.

    3
  23. Scott F. says:

    @Kurtz:
    In response to this latest example of TFG‘s disregard for the law, the Orange Guy actually had the following typed out and published in his name:

    In the United States there has unfortunately become two legal standards, one for Republicans and one for Democrats. It should not be that way!

    Though he‘s correct, I don‘t think this means what he thinks it means.

    6
  24. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    Rule of Law doesn’t sustain itself. It requires our active support.

    To begin with, it requires that the people who enforce the law abide by the law and play by the rules.

    2
  25. just nutha says:

    @Kurtz: “Affronts” to “the rule of law” happen when the outcome of an event differs from what the speaker wanted. No gag reflex necessary.

  26. Gavin says:

    @Kathy:

    it requires that the people who enforce the law abide by the law

    Unfortunately [quoting over on Crooked Timber by Frank Wilhoit] this example really is a picture-perfect demonstration of :

    Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit:

    There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.

    There is nothing more or else to it, and there never has been, in any place or time.

    To Republicans, there simply isn’t any hypocrisy to treating HRC completely differently than how they permit/encourage/promote treating their own.. they’re expected to just Promote The Team rather than actually be the impartial arbiters they assert their job is.. AND they expect everyone else to not call them out on their substance-free nonsense.

    3
  27. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Kathy: It’s not that what you describe isn’t important. It’s that I truly think that that will only happen if and when the voters demand it. If voters put rule of law ahead of partisan interest, then the politicians will, too.

    Otherwise, not so much.

  28. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Gavin:

    Maintaining a private email server isn’t inherently illegal. Mishandling classified information, on the other hand, is quite illegal. They are not the same animal.

    4
  29. CSK says:

    @SKI:
    Or someone else’s phone. Or a burner phone.

    1
  30. reid says:

    @HarvardLaw92: If you’re referring to Clinton, my understanding (and this is getting fuzzy now) is that she didn’t mishandle classified info. A small number of documents found on the server were retroactively determined to be classified after later review, but that’s not quite the same.

    2
  31. Kathy says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    This is when the argument that “it’s a republic, not a democracy” really breaks down.

    1
  32. a country lawyer says:

    @reid: The one top secret document which was classified at the time was an e-mail from an aid reporting that the New York Times had just published an article revealing drone program. The drone program, before the article was published, was top secret. So, the top-secret e-mail was about a topic which was no longer a secret.

    2
  33. just nutha says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    . If voters put rule of law ahead of partisan interest, then the politicians will, too.

    Hard to do given that “rule of law” is identified almost entirely (on both pol and public side) on the basis of whose ox was gored.

  34. Tony W says:

    @Mu Yixiao: Hillary Clinton was demonized for at least 25 years. And it worked.

    Many unenthusiastic supporters said they really didn’t like Hillary Clinton. When asked why, they never have examples or policy differences or specific concerns. It’s just a feeling.

    Yeah, a feeling that was curated and executed over a couple of decades of slime thrown at her since she dared attempt to help with healthcare as First Lady, rather than pick out china and decorate for Christmas like she’s supposed to.

    9
  35. Mikey says:
  36. DK says:

    @Mu Yixiao:

    But that doesn’t fit your “Don’t like Clinton = sexist with mommy issues” mold, does it?

    The Johnny-come-lately ex post facto fake concern you’re pretending to have about the email practices of Powell and Rice (so you can continue to not examine the pathologies behind misogynistic anti-Hillary double standards) absolutely fits the mold. Hillary-haters will do anything to avoid saying “I was wrong.”

    I’ll be sure to tell all the mid-western liberal women I know who hate Hilary that they’re a) New York slime b) men, and 3) have mommy issues…I’m sure they’ll appreciate the deep insight and immediately change their ways.

    Don’t waste your time. I’ve worked countless hours in clinical psychology, and I grew up in a red state, in a family of unapologetically tough and ambitious matriarchs. So I have decades of intimate, direct experience watching strong women trigger the insecurities and inadequacies of nice white ladies who are actually deeply angry about leading lives constrained by fear. It feels cathartic for the weak and mediocre to project their self-hate towards the fearless and successful, so those women are likely to remain in precontemplation and never change.

    Black voters, especially black women, and gays have always had to be strong, smart, and fearless to survive America’s weakness, hence why they were not threatened by Hillary and gave her near-unanimous support — the only demos to display anything near collective common sense in 2016. While a majority of white men, “Midwestern women” and others were busy being idiotic, helping put an unfit, pathological lying scumbag birther bigot in power.

    Anyone who has observed the careers of Clarence Thomas and Candace Owens knows you need not be white to be an agent of white supremacy. And you need not be a man to be an agent of misogyny.

    9
  37. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @reid:

    Right. I was trying to impart that there would be no reason at all to investigate her for having a private email server, but if there was a reasonable basis to believe she may have mishandled classified documents, then an investigation of that wasn’t out of bounds.

    2
  38. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @a country lawyer:

    The program remains top secret until it is officially declassified. Publication of the information does not render the classified nature of the material, or the penalties for mishandling it, moot.

    1
  39. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @a country lawyer: Not so–for the purposing of handling Classified Information– even if the information is in open source reporting, it STILL is classified and must be handled as such.

    Shorter–open source reporting of classified information does not declassify said information.

    2
  40. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Mu Yixiao: The difference was–there was no organizational email system when Powell and Rice were there. Powell directed that they initiate one–but IIRC by the time it was funded and brought online–he’d left office.

    Hillary on the hand–despite having access to an organizational email system (which should have incorporated Fed Gov standards for cyber security) elected to use her own private server. Permissible but not wise–came back to bite her in the arse which decisions like that often do. No IT professional in the Federal Gov would have recommended that course of action. And frankly, a political advisor worth their salt wouldn’t have advised it either. It looks like you’re attempting to conceal something in a position where transparency is the coin of the realm.

    4
  41. Jim Brown 32 says:

    As the stench of Trump’s Presidency dissipates–its becoming harder and harder for me to believe this mf-er was actually elected President of the United States.

    Un-Fucking-Believable

    6
  42. DK says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Permissible but not wise–came back to bite her in the arse which decisions like that often do.

    Unless apparently if you’re a Republican or a man, since there’s never going to be an investigation of the organizational email system bypassing private email usage, and/or unsecured phone usage, of folks like Ivanka, Jared, Trump, and *drumroll* Comey himself (LOLOLOL).

    Transparency and double standards for she, not for they. And how many times was the new State Department system hacked? Did we ever get a number?

    3
  43. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @DK: I don’t make the rules–Democrats are weak and refuse to dish out what they take–because….unity? Makes no sense but standard Dem operating procedure–in other news–water is wet.

  44. a country lawyer says:

    @Jim Brown 32: I agree. If the e-mail was discussing the drone program that is one thing. But as I understand it, the e-mail only reported that the N.Y. Times had published an article on the drone program. That stretches the point of whether the e-mail actually revealed classified information.

    4
  45. MarkedMan says:

    @Jim Brown 32:

    Powell directed that they initiate one

    He also recommended to her that she use her private email because the new system was a horrible mess.

    3
  46. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @MarkedMan: Fair…because the advice wasn’t illegal…but still a cop out even if Powell recommended it. He could made it a high interest item and gotten it fixed or fired the IT director on the way out and hired someone who knew what they were doing. A Cabinet Secy can direct internal prioritization of resources.

    This is email…pretty old technology and nothing that money and focus couldn’t fix. And beyond Powell and Clintons own use, could you imagine working at a large company where the email sucks…and instead of ordering it be fixed…leadership invests in their own private email resources and…well eff the rest of you. Use yahoo mail or something.

    No way to run a railroad anyway you split it.

  47. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @a country lawyer:

    It depends a great deal on the exact circumstances of the specific classification, but even acknowledging the existence of certain classified programs can fall afoul of the law. The general principle is that the existence of a prior unauthorized public disclosure, in itself, changes nothing with respect to the restrictions in place on the disclosed information (and again, the penalties for violating those restrictions).

  48. Scott O says:

    @Jim Brown 32:
    “ I don’t make the rules–Democrats are weak and refuse to dish out what they take–because….unity?”

    What do you suggest? What would, or could, you do if you were a senator or house member? Or president for that matter.

    I don’t mean to sound critical of you. There seems to be a theme going around that the Democrats need to fix the divisions in this country, since the Republicans obviously don’t want to, but they’re too weak or divided. What’s the solution? Damned if I know.

    2
  49. James Joyner says:

    @Dude Kembro:

    And yet somehow we still lack an ounce of equivalent anxiety about the private, and worse, unsecured email/server/phone use of both the Bush and Trump White Houses, Condoleezza Rice, or Colin Powell.

    As noted upthread, we didn’t know about Powell et al until much later. When Powell noted that he’d done much the same thing, though, his explanation was much better: State simply lacked the infrastructure in 2001 and it took years to get it put into place. 2001 was near the beginning of the Internet era; 2009 was well into it, with established protocols. Clinton never offered a reasonable explanation for her violations of them.

    Trump’s entire administration was a shit show from transition to exit and beyond. There was indeed some complaint about their mishanding of emails and classified info—and notes of the irony that they wanted to “lock her up” over the same—but there were so many norms violations that they were simply drowned out.

    1
  50. Zachriel says:

    @a country lawyer: The one top secret document which was classified at the time was an e-mail from an aid reporting that the New York Times had just published an article revealing drone program.

    Yes, but the government could still deny the drone program for diplomatic purposes. (The host government might allow the drone strikes as long as they weren’t found officially ‘giving permission.’) If Clinton’s email were hacked and leaked, that would no longer be plausible.

    @HarvardLaw92: I was trying to impart that there would be no reason at all to investigate her for having a private email server

    Using private email is an administrative concern (some exceptions are allowed) with administrative accountability. Classified information is not supposed to be found in emails, even if the email is government email. Classified information is only supposed to be transmitted by secure intranet, which Clinton used extensively. That some classified information leaked into emails is not unusual. It’s a significant problem actually with no obvious solution.

    If there is intent to expose information and it is shown that the classification is related to the national defense, then it could become a criminal matter. But the government labels stuff classified all the time which would never be found to be classified in a criminal proceeding.

    @James Joyner: When Powell noted that he’d done much the same thing, though, his explanation was much better

    Still, email is not supposed to be used for classified information, and there are reports some classified information leaked onto Powell’s AOL account. No one suggests that Powell did anything criminal as there is a lack of intent to expose information relating to the national defense.

    2
  51. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Scott O: You can never go wrong equally suppoeting enforcing the law…Partisans operatives will howl, twitter will rage, most voters will understand and appreciate an honest broker.

    What gets you into trouble is when enforcing the law “depends” on partisan benefits

    1
  52. Dudley Sharp says:

    Is any thinking person, observant of politics, ever, surprised by the idiocy or corruption in our politicians, as well as those who vote for them (us)?

    For God’s sake, we have 330 million folks in the US and our last three presidential nominees were Hillary, Donald and Joe.

    Just Gawd awful.

    And, we might just get Hillary, Kamala or Trump 2024.

    As for the Dems and Repubs, they have stuck us with $30 trillion in debt, unfunded mandates well above that number, with medicare and social security that will be bankrupt in our lifetime.

    And we’re whining about Trump stealing or destroying some papers when we have 4 million, illegally, crossing our non border/yr., a Christmas gift to China and the cartels, as well as . . . wait . . . against the law.

  53. Pylon says:

    Here we are again. Trump is eating documents, flushing documents, hiding documents. His nepotistic kids are openly using unsecured communications. And we find ourselves parsing about Hilary Clinton’s unhacked private server and/or two retroactively classified emails on said server, which have been investigated ad nauseum.

    4
  54. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Zachriel:

    Yes, having served as an AUSA, federal law is after all obviously one of those things I’m not well acquainted with. I appreciate the explanation.

  55. DK says:

    @Dudley Sharp:

    For God’s sake, we have 330 million folks in the US and our last three presidential nominees were Hillary, Donald and Joe.

    Just Gawd awful.

    And, we might just get Hillary, Kamala or Trump 2024.

    You gonna run for office to have your human flaws magnified and your life picked apart? Neither are 99.9999999% of that 330 million. Easier to sit back sniping, whining, complaining, throwing stones and offering nothing but pessimism and negativity about how awful other people are.

    @Pylon:

    And we find ourselves parsing about Hilary Clinton’s unhacked private server and/or two retroactively classified emails on said server, which have been investigated ad nauseum.

    Because Hillary-hater types are congenitally allergic to the thinking that could be anything other than right all the time. They simply cannot admit they were wrong. It’s literally impossible for them to admit they got it wrong in 2016, got swept up in mass hysteria kin to the 1692 Salem Witch Trials, and enabled Trumpism in the process. They’d choke to death if they had to say, “I was wrong.”

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  56. Dudley Sharp says:

    @DK:

    DK; Our perspectives are, simply, a bit different.

    There are solid statesmen out there, without the huge personality flaws of those 4.

    Both sides are so foul, now, that it’s hard to see any flowers coming out of the dung.

    I know they are there. Sadly, we may have to wait a while.

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  57. DK says:

    @Dudley Sharp:

    There are solid statesmen out there, without the huge personality flaws of those 4.

    Oh please. There is no comparison between the regular human flaws of Hillary, Biden, and Kamala, that all humans have, vs pathological lying racist authoritarian Trump.

    “I know they are they.” They sure are. And when they run as a Democrat for president, it doesn’t matter who they are: a majority of white men to start screaming in ridiculous, melodramatic hysterics about how they have “huge personality flaws,” ripping them apart in the most deranged, merciless, dishonest and hypocritical ways. I’ve literally watched y’all do it over and over again. Y’all treat decent, good like people like shit. You did to Obama, you did it to Hillary, you’re doing it to Biden. Y’all are just completely full of it. The only thing that’s sad is you’re still desperately trying to justify it.

    BoThSiDeSism is a scam to depress Democratic turnout and keep radical right white supremacy in power. Sick of the bs, gaslighting and false equivalence. Sell the phony baloney white nonsense to somebody else, black folk are not buying anymore.

    Black voters were right in 2016. Most white male voted screwed up royally. No amount of weaksauce, change-the-subject bothsides rationalization is ever going to justify the enabling of destructive, amoral thug Trump. History will judge, and it’s not going to be kind.

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  58. Dudley Sharp says:

    We can discuss differences, in degree, as to how foul they are but, they are all so foul, that degrees is hardly a difference.

  59. Gavin says:

    @Dudley Sharp:

    Both sides are so foul, now

    Keep up those double standards, troll.

    Your Republicans are abject failures — and your defense of Republican actions is But Her Emailz because the only way you can make Republicans appear palatable is to attempt to drag Democrats down into the Republican fetid swamp of corruption, lies, and intentional protofascism.

    If you actually want to drain the swamp, don’t vote for Republicans.

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  60. Dudley Sharp says:

    @Gavin:

    It is a single standard.Both sides are foul. I have never written with double standards.

    What I see is both sides defending THEIR side, when there is no defense, for either side.

    Folks just seem, blinded, to the foulness of their tribe.

    For example, we have a $30 trillion debt, with much higher insolvency within our gobvernment mandates, with both medicare and social security, to go bankrupt, within the next few decades, as, everyone, knows.

    Who did that? Dems and Repubs. And, everybody knows it.

    Our, truly foul, representatives.

  61. DK says:

    @Dudley Sharp:

    Who did that? Dems and Repubs. And, everybody knows it.

    Nope. Most know this is empirically false, bad faith bothsidesism propaganda that’s intended to depress Democratic turnout so radical right white supremacy stays in power. Democratic presidents have historically shrunk the deficit compared to failed Republican voodoo economics.

    There’s no valid, honest equivalence between a party that lies about climate science, and one that does not.

    One that has opposition to marriage equality in its platform, and one that does not.

    One that cuts taxes for billionaires, and one that raises taxes on the rich.

    One that approves of a birther bigot president who tweeted a White Power video on June 28 2020, and one supported by 90+% of the black vote.

    One that wants to bring back forced birth and back alley abortions, and one that thinks women should control their pregnancies.

    One that has no healthcare plan, and one that is promoting universal healthcare coverage.

    Bothsidesers are blinded to facts. You can’t make facts that are not equivalent, equivalent. Sorry!

  62. Dudley Sharp says:

    c@DK: @DK:

    My comment was, factually, 100% true.

    You appear blinded to your tribes problems, which is very common, today, regradless of party.

    Both parties are, simply, grotesque.

    As detailed and you were too blind to see, I did not say they were equivalent.

    They are, both, so foul, that any discussion of degree misses the entire point, as you did.

    It’s a sad commentary that so many folks feel the need to defend their tribe, as if one is “better” than the other, by little bits of degree, when both are so, monstrously, horrid.

    We, simply, disagree on this issue.

    No big deal having different opinions.

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