Hillary Clinton

Obama's Faint Praise of Hillary is Either Machiavellian or Dumb

The president characterizes his former secretary of state's use of a private email server as "careless," but under the law it's negligence.


President Barack Obama's recent remarks to

Faint praise.
Flickr/Marc Nozell

my Fox News colleague Chris Wallace about Hillary Clinton's email issues were either Machiavellian or dumb. It is difficult to tell from them whether he wants the mountain of evidence of her criminal behavior presented to a federal grand jury or whether he wants her to succeed him in the White House.

He cannot have both.

His efforts to minimize his former secretary of state's diversion of emails from government-secured servers to her own non-secure home server by calling it "careless" may actually harm her in the eyes of the public or even serve as a dog whistle to the FBI. That's because carelessness is a species of negligence, and espionage, which is the failure to safeguard state secrets by removing them from their proper place of custody, is the rare federal crime that can be proved by negligence — to be precise, gross negligence.

Gross negligence is the failure to perform a high legal duty with the great probability of an improper result — for example, driving a car 90 miles per hour in New York's Times Square. The high legal duty Clinton had was to safeguard state secrets; the improper result is the exposure of those secrets contained in her emails.

What did she do that was criminal, and who was harmed by her behavior?

Clinton knowingly diverted all of her governmental emails from secure government servers to her own non-secure server in her New York residence. Among the 60,000 emails she diverted were 2,200 that contained state secrets. Because the essence of espionage is the removal of secrets to non-secure venues, the crime is complete upon removal. So Obama's statement in the Wallace interview that Clinton caused no harm is irrelevant. In espionage cases, the government need not prove that the defendant caused any harm.

Obama's further effort in the Wallace interview to minimize the classification of secrets into the statutory categories of "confidential," "secret" and "top secret" by snarkily commenting that "there's classified and then there's classified" is not what one would expect from someone who has sworn to take care that all federal laws are enforced.

Obama has interpreted that duty so as to permit his Department of Justice to prosecute for espionage both a sailor when he took a selfie inside a nuclear submarine and sent it to his girlfriend and a Marine lieutenant who correctly warned his superiors about an al-Qaida operative masquerading as an Afghan cop in an American encampment but mistakenly used his Gmail account to send the emergency warning.

The evidence of Clinton's failure to safeguard state secrets is overwhelming because of the regularity of its occurrence. The evidence is well-grounded, as some of the secrets were too grave for the FBI to review and all came from her own server. And the evidence is sufficient to indict and to convict because it was obtained legally and shows a four-year pattern of regular, consistent, systematic violation of the laws requiring safeguarding.

Obama's suggestion that some secrets were not really secret is also irrelevant, because Clinton, like the president, swore to recognize secrets and to keep them secret, no matter her opinion of them.

The FBI knows this and is taking it far more seriously than the president or Clinton.

Just last week, the team investigating Clinton sought and received the extradition to the U.S. of a man who was imprisoned in Romania for computer hacking. One of those he hacked is Clinton's confidant Sid Blumenthal, to whom she sent many emails containing state secrets. What will the hacker tell the feds he saw?

Clinton's surrogates began taking her legal plight seriously in the past few weeks by arguing that her behavior was no different from that of other former high-ranking executive branch officials who occasionally and accidentally took top-secret documents home or discussed top-secret information in non-secure emails and that the consequences for them were tepid or nonexistent.

Yet there is no comparison between these occasional lapses and the planned and paid-for four-year diversion of secrets that Clinton orchestrated. Moreover, there is no instance of unprosecuted behavior that her supporters can cite that involves the sheer volume and regularity of the failure to safeguard that we see here.

Though the government need not prove intent, there is substantial evidence of Clinton's intent to commit espionage from three sources. One is Clinton's email instructing an aide to remove the "secret" designation from a document and send it to her from one non-secure fax machine to another. The second is the Blumenthal hacking incidents, which occurred during her tenure as secretary of state and which did not stop her from emailing him from her home server. The third is a federal rule that permits the inference of intent from a pattern of bad behavior, of which there is ample evidence in this case.

On the same weekend that the president was damning Clinton with faint praise and cynically offering what he must have known were irrelevant legal defenses, Clinton continued her pattern of persistent public laughing about and dismissing the significance of the FBI investigation of her.

That attitude — which is recorded and documented by the FBI — must have caused many of those investigating her to conclude that she understands the predicament she is in but is minimizing it. Or she may be a congenital liar who is lying to herself. Either way, they await with eager anticipation their interrogation of her, should she foolishly submit to one.


NEXT: Sens. Burr, Feinstein Release Formal Draft of Encryption Law, Show They Still Don't Get It

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  1. Meh, this is such a non-scandal to me. Let’s talk about all the innocent lives that were lost under her watch instead.


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        1. so why are you wasting your time here?

  2. Judge Andy has Hillary on the brain, and it’s not pretty.

    1. Cankles are never pretty.

    2. “Judge Andy has Hillary on the brain, and it’s not pretty.”

      So you agree it’s a ‘fake scandal’? Or are you envious of someone actually making a point?

    3. and it’s not pretty.

      Speaking of not pretty how about those reviews on Amazon for Anal’s Sherlock Holmes oeuvre. Ouch!

      1. I did not realize he wasted readers’ time in other venues, and he seems to be held in equal regard everywhere.

  3. He’s no Machiavelli. So…

    1. “Machiavellian or Dumb”

      Made me laugh. As if Obama were smart enough to be this clever. Although Valerie Jarrett or his other co-conspirators may be.

  4. In espionage cases, the government need not prove that the defendant caused any harm.

    The Clinton campaign and the Obama administration aren’t going to see this go to trial. They’re making their case to only judge they’ll see on it: the voters.

  5. Not defending Hilary here but what is the libertarian view on state secrets? In article after article I hear praise for Snowden but then Clinton is the worst thing in the world over this. I’m some what new to the libertarian party view and what brought me here is the clear vision of freedom that is exposed by libertarians (unlike the dems/repubs who are either pro-gay marriage or pro-guns but you have to choice which is more important because god forbid they support both).

    Oh and if you say that difference is Snowden exposed illegal activity by the NSA, I with you there but to a point as he also exposed our foreign spying programs that are perfectly legal.

    1. edit espoused not exposed.

    2. Sure, Bob. Hillary set up a private email server in her basement in order to be a more efficient whistle blower. That’s the ticket

      1. Bob isn’t defending her intentions, he’s asking why a libertarian would find release of state secrets troublesome in one case but not another. I think he’s asking about the philosophy of the issue, not the nuts and bolts.

        1. What pisses me off the most about this is that, anybody but someone of Hilldog’s status, influence, connections, and wealth had done EXACTLY no more than what everybody knows and agrees that she has done, such a person would be locked in a cage for a thousand years.

          Her flippant, obnoxious attitude, her pique at being asked basic questions about how she conducted affairs of state on behalf of the American people, should by itself erase any hope she has of puking her incomptence over the office ofvthe President.

        2. “…I think he’s asking about the philosophy of the issue, not the nuts and bolts.”

          Equal application of the law is a valid goal, regardless of whether the law is good or bad. If it’s bad, enforce it until it gets changed; see O-care for example.

    3. The difference is Snowden was giving information to the American people. Hilary was trying to shield herself from scrutiny. The two are exact opposites.

      1. There is also a problem with unequal treatment as alluded to in the article. Hillary is part of the protected class, so she feels she is above the law. The little people who expose state secrets? Not so much.

        But mainly, Snowden exposed crimes against Americans, Hillary exposed state secrets. I don’t really care that much about her actions, and it probably is partly her personality that has folks giddy about her legal troubles more than the actions themselves. But her carelessness and lack of humility (and seeming magnetism for scandal) to me do not bode well for her fitness for office. That and her policies and personality.

      2. This is it exactly. Snowden was trying to expose an unconstitutional and immoral program in order that those responsible might be held accountable for their illegal actions. Hillary Clinton was trying to hide her doings by evading records requirements. Snowden was trying to release things to the public. Hillary was trying to hide them to avoid her activities ever being exposed to public scrutiny.

        More generally, Bob, to answer your question, I’d think most libertarians would agree that some state secrets are unavoidable if you are going to have a state at all. You wouldn’t broadcast where your troops and supplies would be as doing so would expose them to attack, for example. The difference is one of degree. Whenever disclosure would not result in an imminent danger, a libertarian would advocate the release of the information.

        What a libertarian definitely would not do is promote officials deliberately hiding their doings, which is what Snowden exposed. Yes, his revelations did reveal some programs that don’t run afoul of the constitution, but honestly the public does have a right to know what is being done in their name at some point. The government essentially wanted to have programs that were perpetually hidden from the public based on an unending, undefined threat, but for which the public was forced to pay (and have never been shown to prevent terrorist attacks). That sort of thing isn’t consistent with liberty or a free and open society.

      3. But he also gave away state secrets that were not his to give away re: the spying on foreign nations and their populous which Congress authorized when creating the National Intelligence services. The motives of each crime may affect sentencing but both committed crimes. I will say that his revelation that the NSA was spying on Americans is not a crime. But he didn’t stop there.

        1. Congress authorized spying on foreign nations and that’s a matter of public record. Snowden revealed we are spying on foreign nations. How is him revealing something that’s already a matter of public record an issue, again? Trust me, Putin already knew we are spying on him.

          1. Not the details of it. Bob’s right at the amount of handwaving going on for Snowden. Just because he did one thing right is not an excuse for what he did wrong.

    4. The first thing that jumps out at me in comparing the two is that Cankles set up her private server in order to conceal her activities which I am confident were illegal. She was conspiring to hide her crimes, namely graft and money laundering. How many millions donated by foreigners to her ‘Clinton Foundation’ while she was SOS? How many people other than Ambassador Stevens and his defenders died because of her server?

      Snowden was a whistleblower who exposed illegal activity by our government. How many people died because of him? We don’t know how many or if any at all. We keep getting scowls and accusations from the people who were committing the crimes he exposed but they have no credibility.

      I guess it boils down to motivation. One was exposing criminal activity and in doing so sacrificed himself. The other was conspiring to commit criminal activity for her own gain at the expense of the country.

      1. But that’s the point: he didn’t just expose illegal activities. He also exposed legal activities. And he didn’t have to do the latter to accomplish the former.

    5. The main issue is that she’s likely to skate over things that Snowden would be prosecuted over. If she gets to run for President but Snowden would be thrown in jail, then the rule of law in this case is compromised.

      In Hillary’s case in particular, she used the server as a means to dodge FOIA requests, which undermines even basic nods to government transparency.

    6. To me it’s kind of like locking Al Capone up for tax evasion. I actually agree with her on over classification. I think the government uses the classification system to avoid FOIA requests and keep the public in the dark. But, it appears that HRC didn’t even want others in government to see what she was up to. I personally think that the whole setup was to facilitate all the apparent pay for play allegation that popped up with the really high speaking fees she and WJC where getting while she was in office. But, there might not be enough evidence to prove corruption. So, they get her on espionage since it is a direct product of her corruption.

    7. One exposed State Secrets to the /public/ for the purposes of shedding light on American policies and letting the people have a degree of transparency.

      One exposed State Secrets to foreign hackers for the purposes of hiding her dealings from the American people and shrouding herself in obfuscation.

      It’s not hard to see why one is valued and the other is not.

      Harping on the fact Hillary broke the law regarding state secrets is largely based around the hypocrisy that people who expose state secrets for their own benefit are considered viable presidential candidates, but people who do so knowing that it will mean a life of running from the law for the benefit of the American people are considered horrible, traitorous criminals.

      1. People who broke this law and doing so sacrificed their own self interests for society suffer consequences while people who broke this law for the purpose of sacrificing society’s interests for their own can be president.

    8. Edward Snowden is a whistleblower that leaked classified secrets in order to reveal unconstitutional spy programs that targeted the American people. Clinton is just dumb and corrupt and actually set up her server in order to dodge Freedom of Information Act requests.

  6. I thought it very interesting the other day when Obama said the biggest mistake of his presidency was failing to plan for the aftermath of the Libya bombing. Since the attack was something Hillary advocated, I wonder if this was a calculated admission.

    1. So the TelePrompTer was channeling Biden?

  7. What if the Judge presented a well-written case against Hillary?

    She is going down for this.

    1. I wonder if Hillary ever wakes up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, having had a nightmare that Napolitano is the Attorney General?

      1. Good question for the debate tonight.

        “How often do you wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat; and if you do not, why not?”

      2. Would any grand jury withstand the barrage of rhetorical questions? Would anyone be able to read through the indictments?

  8. someone who has sworn to take care that all federal laws are enforced

    I swear — *that* is funny!

  9. DNC hack defends other DNC hack. Shocking.

  10. Does Andrew actually think that there’s even the tiniest chance that Hillary will be prosecuted? Rich and powerful people have paid millions to get her elected as the means for directing government largess their way. There is no way that they will allow their investment to end up in a federal penitentiary.

    There will be a sacrifice, maybe Huma Abedin or a couple of Hillary’s aides but Hillary will be the next president and there’s no way to stop her anymore. She clobbers both Trump and Cruz in the polls so her financial angels will do what it takes to keep her out of jail. If she slips in the polls, however, she could be put on the chopping block and replaced with Sanders who absolutely destroys every Republican in the polls.

    Think about this: A self proclaimed socialist can only be prevented from becoming president by a corrupt incompetent who has failed at everything she ever tried to do.

    Sic transit gloria Americanus.

    1. There will be a sacrifice, maybe Huma Abedin or a couple of Hillary’s aides but Hillary will be the next president and there’s no way to stop her anymore.

      I think you underestimate how significant it would be to have one of her inner circle being prosecuted for a felony. the chances of a slip up drawing her in would be high. they could even sell her downriver.

      I don’t think this is an especially optimistic view; Bernie and Trump are equally appalling.

      Your reference to “polls” is equally questionable. What did the polls say 8 months ago about where we would be now? Current polling is significant of the current status quo. nothing more.

      I’m not sure America’s glory is being suddenly lost here; its been a series of increasing disappointments since 1992

      1. “…its been a series of increasing disappointments since 1992”

        I’m pretty sure it goes back way past ’92. Not that you would read about much of it in a history text book. Sure, we all learn about Tricky Dick. But, dig deep enough and I think you will find that every president in modern history (except Carter, maybe) could (should IMHO) have been prosecuted for abuse of power. Hell, just look at the history of the IRS. Unfortunately, I don’t think “We the People” actually want to hear about all the corrupt crap that goes on. And, I know the people in government don’t want it know. Ignorance is bliss for the people and it’s useful to the government. So, the true effects of government power (corruption) are kept under wraps.

    2. “She clobbers both Trump and Cruz in the polls”

      Have hope man. It’s not like any of the polls have been accurate so far this election. No reason to think they’re suddenly, magically, now accurate.

  11. The extradition of the Romanian hacker seems quite significant – something Hillary must surely be worried about. My hope is that the hacker tells the FBI enough to send Blumenthal to prison and keep Hillary out of the White House.

  12. Obama’s ___________ is Either Machiavellian or Dumb

    The story of Obama’s presidency and arguably the most controversial aspect of the man. Is he evil or stupid? It’s hard to tell.

    1. As always, there’s no need to treat this question as an “either or”.

    2. Can’t it be both?

  13. Just be glad its not written in an endless series of questions.

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  17. “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” -Emma Goldman.1869 ? 1940.

    Bottom line: It really makes no difference which clown gets elected, the deep state will carry on exactly as before.

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    In your dream, all the rest were not frauds,

    In your dream, the constitution was not a scam,
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    In your dream, 9/11 was not a scam”
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  18. Only two question marks on this. Can’t fool me, doppleganger!!

  19. This statement of Obama is the setup for the pardons that he will have to issue to keep her from being tried (they will delay the indictment as long as possible) and convicted. Obama will have to issue a LOT of pardons to cover all the guilty parties, but he will do it, “for the greater good”.

  20. To me, the most likely way this plays out is that the FBI declines to prosecute but, someone who is part of the investigation leaks some very damning information. That way Obama and his minions can claim they had nothing to do with bringing the Hildebeast down, in fact they can claim they were supporting her, while some whistle-blower takes the heat for it. It’s a win-win-win situation, sort of. Obama keeps his hands clean-ish, the FBI avoids any blow-back, and the country is spared having one obviously corrupt and incompetent President out of the whole field of corrupt and/or incompetent Presidential-wannabes.

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