"I never sent or received any e-mail that was deemed classified, that was marked classified." Hillary Clinton has repeated that claim in several different ways since the beginning of the scandal that may put her in jail and will at least almost certainly dash her hopes of ever reoccupying 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. While the evidence to the contrary begins to stack up, she just repeats the denial.
In a previous article, this reporter observed:
There's a special type of narcissism that seems to have set up permanent residence in the minds of Bill and Hillary Clinton. The rules that apply to everyone else simply don't apply to them. They keep straight faces while telling the biggest lies. It's almost as if they believe it when they say things such as, "I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinski," and "I never sent or received any e-mail that was deemed classified, that was marked classified." After all, they have dodged everything so far (including the military draft for Bill); why should whatever recent scandal is afoot be any different?
But evidence has a way of shredding denial and showing it for what it is: the paper thin shield of veneer behind which liars hide. Just as Bill's denial in the scandal was laid to waste when he was confronted with the physical evidence that was discovered and presented, so it is beginning with Hillary.
Fox News is reporting that e-mails to and from the private e-mail server that Mrs. Clinton turned over to the Justice Department did indeed contain "e-mail that was deemed classified, that was marked classified." In fact, at least one such e-mail is still classified. This "smoking e-mail" was from her close aide, Huma Abedin. It was sent in April 2011. As Fox News reported, "Fox News is told that in late spring, all three agencies confirmed to the intelligence community inspector general that the intelligence was classified when it was sent four years ago by Abedin to Clinton's private account, and remains classified to this day."
The beleaguered Mrs. Clinton and the State Department both claim that they did not consider the intelligence in the e-mail to be classified at the time it was sent. They consider the disagreement over the classification of the intelligence "a difference of opinion." Mrs. Clinton told reporters that the disagreement and misunderstanding is between the agencies involved and has "nothing to do with" her.
Hillary's defense when caught lying about mishandling classified data is to say that she disagrees over the definition? Where have we heard that before? Does this whole thing really depend on what the meaning of the word "classified" is? Maybe no one can blame her for dipping in to Bill's old playbook; it almost worked for him in the Lewinski scandal.
Except that the laws, regulations, and at least one executive order dealing with this matter are not ambiguous enough for her to frame this as a matter of varying opinions.
In 2009 President Obama signed Executive Order 13526, which spells out — in uncharacteristically clear language — the process for declassifying intelligence and who has the authority to do so. One part of the order says, "Information shall be declassified or downgraded by ... the official who authorized the original classification ... [or] the originator's current successor."
What that means is that the State Department (or its secretary at the time, Hillary Clinton) didn't have the authority to declassify intelligence which had been classified by another agency. So, when Hillary told reporters, "What you're seeing now is a disagreement between agencies saying, 'You know what, they should've.' And the other saying, 'No they shouldn't.' That has nothing to do with me," she was demonstrably wrong. This has plenty to do with her.
Since only the agency which "owns" the intelligence can choose to declassify it, both Mrs. Clinton and Huma Abedin may face serious jail time for communicating about classified matters over unsecured networks. They may not have to face it alone, either. Anyone principally involved in the release of a trove of e-mails to the State Department's website in the wake of the Benghazi scandal may be in deep trouble as well. That cache of e-mails included the "smoking e-mail" which, though classified, Abedin sent to Hillary's private e-mail address.
Abedin, who was Mrs. Clinton's deputy chief of staff at the State Department, is no stranger to scandal. She is married to former Congressman Anthony Weiner, who resigned from Congress in June 2011 after he denied and then admitted to sending inappropriate pictures of himself to a young woman in Seattle via Twitter. He says Abedin was aware of his online activities before they married. Like Hillary, she decided to "stand by her man" after choosing to marry such a man in the first place.
Abedin also has family members who have been accused of having ties to the Islamic terrorist organization Muslim Brotherhood. In addition, she faced inquiries from Congress about employment and pay irregularities during her time at the State Department. At one point, she held four jobs: part time aide to Mrs. Clinton at the State Department, private consultant for Teneo Holdings, personal assistant to Mrs. Clinton, and salaried employee of the Clinton Foundation. There are accusations that she was overpaid by nearly $10,000 for unused vacation and sick time due to violations of the rules regarding the way that time is allocated and used.
There is an old adage that says you draw to yourself what you are. Hillary certainly seems to prove that adage. She and Abedin share so many traits and experiences in common that it may be fitting that they will face this together. Maybe they can be cell-mates — assuming of course they don't find themselves rattling each other's cage.
Photo of Hillary Clinton: AP Images