Monday, 09 May 2016

Clinton Aides Questioned by FBI: Clinton Next

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Hillary Clinton’s use of an unsecured private e-mail server during her tenure as secretary of state has been under investigation by the FBI for more than a year. The crux of the investigation is how she handled — or mishandled — sensitive information. Now, with the investigation in its final stages, some of Clinton’s closest aides have been interviewed by the FBI and Clinton herself is expected to be questioned any time now.

The Clinton campaign has repeatedly said that Clinton is cooperating fully and is confident that the investigation "will conclude that nothing inappropriate took place." Others are not so sure. As The New American reported previously:

James McJunkin, former head of the FBI's Washington field office, said, “The interviews are critical to understand the volume of information they have accumulated. They are likely nearing the end of the investigation and the agents need to interview these people to put the information in context.” He added, “They will then spend time aligning these statements with other information, emails, classified documents, etc., to determine whether there is a prosecutable case."

As this writer said then:

The Los Angeles Times reported Sunday that federal prosecutors working on the high-profile case “have begun the process of setting up formal interviews with some of [Clinton's] longtime and closest aides, according to two people familiar with the probe, an indication that the inquiry is moving into its final phases.”

Clinton may feel that she is made of the same Teflon as her former-president husband, but considering the evidence of deliberate wrongdoing, she may be in for a rude awakening. Dan Metcalfe, former head of the Justice Department's Office of Information and Privacy, wrote at the beginning of this scandal that Clinton’s use of the private server was a way to keep her official e-mail from ever seeing the light of day as the result of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests:

In this case, which is truly unprecedented, no matter what Secretary Clinton would have one believe, she managed successfully to insulate her official emails, categorically, from the FOIA, both during her tenure at State and long after her departure from it — perhaps forever.

Metcalfe, having been in charge of the department which oversees compliance with FOIA, understands that, as he wrote, "The starting point for handling a FOIA request is the search that an agency must conduct for all records responsive to that request’s particular specifications.” And he makes the case that Clinton's use of not just a private e-mail account but her own unarchived server was an attempt on her part to create a situation in which her e-mails would not be available via FOIA, because — as he points out — “You can’t disclose what you can’t find.” Metcalfe labels Clinton’s actions "a blatant circumvention of the FOIA by someone who unquestionably knows better."

If Metcalfe went too far in any part of his analysis, it would be his assertion that Clinton had succeeded in keeping her e-mails off the books “perhaps forever.” What he — and she — could not have foreseen is that this scandal would drag on for more than a year and result in the FBI obtaining backups of those e-mails from the company that sold Clinton her server.

The New American reported in late March that the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch had published a new batch of e-mails that had been recently uncovered as part of a FOIA lawsuit. Last week, the same group announced yet another batch of those previously hidden e-mails. Clinton may be learning that while stuffing something down the memory hole is one thing, keeping it there is something else entirely. To date, it is known that — Clinton's protestations to the contrary notwithstanding — at least 2,079 e-mails that called her server home contained sensitive information that she should have known to treat as classified, even if they weren't marked that way. Twenty-two of those e-mails were later deemed “secret, and an astounding 65 others were “top secret.”

Considering the two non-disclosure agreements Clinton signed as part of her appointment as secretary of state, she was aware of her responsibility to treat the contents of those e-mails as classified based not only on their markings or designations, but on the sensitivity of the information they contained.

Clinton seems to know — despite her apparent confidence that this investigation "will conclude that nothing inappropriate took place” — that she is in hot water. As The New American reported late last year, her testimony before the House Select Committee on Benghazi on October 22 was directly contradicted by e-mails which were subsequently released.

Now that the FBI has interviewed her closest allies — including those who conspired with her to circumvent having her e-mails travel over official government networks — her turn to answer questions is coming soon. As this writer said in an article a few weeks ago, David Shuster reported on Al Jazeera America (AJAM) that his sources also told him that the FBI was ready to begin questioning team Clinton and that FBI Director Comey would be making a recommendation about indictment:

Those interviews, according to attorneys, will include former State Department aides Philippe Reines, former Clinton Chief of Staff Cheryl Mills, and Clinton herself.

Soon after those interviews — in the next few days and weeks — officials expect Director Comey to make his recommendation to Attorney General Loretta Lynch about potential criminal charges.

It is now widely reported that the first few rounds of those interviews have already taken place and Clinton herself will be interviewed soon. The Associated Press (AP) reported late last week that:

The FBI has interviewed Huma Abedin, a close aide to Hillary Clinton, as part of a federal investigation into Clinton's use of a private email server as secretary of state, a person familiar with the probe said Thursday.

Brian Fallon, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign, was quoted by the AP as saying, "From the start, Hillary Clinton has offered to answer any questions that would help the Justice Department complete its review, and we hope and expect that anyone else who is asked would do the same," adding, “We are confident the review will conclude that nothing inappropriate took place."

And CNN reported that “In recent weeks, multiple aides have been interviewed — some more than once,” and that while a date has not been set for Clinton to be questioned, that interview “is expected in the coming weeks.”

And while the left-leaning media have said that the investigation has not yet uncovered any indication that Clinton did anything illegal, the reality is that she certainly did. It will be interesting to see if — after the FBI questions Clinton and boils down all the data — one or more of Clinton’s closest conspirators will fall on their own swords. In keeping with family tradition, Clinton may even give them a push.

If Clinton manages to avoid indictment and jail — which would defy both justice and reason — she stands a very good chance of winning both the Democratic nomination and the upcoming election. Keeping in mind all of her crimes in the way she has mishandled classified intelligence and the multiplicity of lies she has told to cover up those crimes, a Clinton 2.0 presidency would undoubtedly be marked by the same corruption and lawlessness as the last time the Clintons resided at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

With so much at stake and the brazen way in which she has continued in her recalcitrant denial, Clinton seems to believe in the idea, “Go big or go home.” The coming weeks will tell whether she goes to the White House or the Big House.

Photo of Hillary Clinton: AP Images

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