Sunday, May 29, 2016

How to read the IG report | Power Line

How to read the IG report | Power Line

Andrew McCarthy is the former Assistant United States Attorney who had substantial professional experience dealing with serious issues of national security. At NR’s Corner he contributes some valuable advice on how to read the report.
Andy notes that Clinton and her deputies declined requests to be interviewed as part of the IG’s investigation. “When a government official or former government official refuses to answer questions in a formal government investigation into potential wrongdoing, this in effect is the assertion of a legal privilege not to speak — otherwise, there is no valid reason not to cooperate.”
He asks: “So what conceivable legal privilege do Clinton, Mills, Sullivan, and Abedin have that would allow them to refuse to answer investigators’ questions? Only one: the Fifth Amendment privilege — i.e., the refusal to answer on the grounds that truthful responses might be incriminating.”


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The report is devastating, although it transparently strains to soften the blow. For example, it concludes that State’s “longstanding systemic weaknesses” in recordkeeping “go well beyond the tenure of any one Secretary of State.” Yet, it cannot avoid finding that Clinton’s misconduct is singular in that she, unlike her predecessors, systematically used private e-mail for the purpose of evading recordkeeping requirements.

“Secretary Clinton should have preserved any Federal records she created and received on her personal account by printing and filing those records with the related files in the Office of the Secretary,” the report states. By failing to do so, and compounding that dereliction with a failure to “surrender[] all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service,” Clinton, the IG finds, “did not comply with the Department’s policies.” 

This articulation of Mrs. Clinton’s offense is also sugar-coated. By saying Clinton violated “policies,” the IG avoids concluding that she violated the law. But the IG adds enough that we can connect the dots ourselves. The “policies,” he elaborates, “were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.” To violate the policies — as Shannen Coffin has explained here at National Review — is to violate the law.

The IG report elucidates that Clinton and her aides knew this to be the case. Politico notes:

The report states that its findings are based on interviews with current Secretary of State John Kerry and his predecessors — Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, but that Clinton and her deputies declined the IG’s requests for interviews.  

Cheryl Mills, Jake Sullivan, and Huma Abedin are among those who did not cooperate with the investigation. 

The importance of this goes unstated but we can connect the dots. When a government official or former government official refuses to answer questions in a formal government investigation into potential wrongdoing, this in effect is the assertion of a legal privilege not to speak — otherwise, there is no valid reason not to cooperate.


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