As reported yesterday, the Hillary emailgate scandal took a turn for the worse and far more dramatic yesterday, when it was reported that not only did the former Secretary of State delete selected emails which in her opinion were "personal", but that she then decided to wipe her home-server clean, a server which it is still unknown why she used when the US government itself was perfectly happy to host her email communication on far more secure, if FOIA-accessible, servers.
But what's far worse than Clinton arbitrarily wiping any trace of her actions and demanding that the people take her word, is when she did it. This is what we said:
The key question is when said server formatting took place. This appears to have taken place after the first production request had come in, which means that Clinton may well be guilty of destruction of evidence. He said while it’s “not clear precisely when Secretary Clinton decided to permanently delete all emails from her server, it appears she made the decision after October 28, 2014, when the Department of State for the first time asked the Secretary to return her public record to the Department.”
Today the answer was revealed, when it became clear that Clinton indeed is guilty of Contempt of Congress (not to mention the American people), after Clinton's lawyer, David Kendall, reportedly told House investigators that after aides determined which emails were private and which were government-related, an account setting was changed to only save emails sent in the past 60 days, adding the setting was changed after she responded to the records request.
Said simply, Clinton deleted everything after she was expressly told to not only preserve the data but hand it over.
And, as expected, the GOP is about to have a field day thanks to Hillary herself, whose actions have made her an easy comp to none other than than the most disgraced US president in recent history, Richard Nixon himself. From the Hill:
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus blasted Hillary Clinton on Saturday for wiping her server and permanently deleting all emails.
"Even Nixon didn't destroy the tapes," Priebus said in a statement.
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), the chairman of the committee, said in a statement Friday that "Clinton unilaterally decided to wipe her server clean and permanently delete all emails from her personal server." Gowdy, whose committee had subpoenaed the server earlier this month, charged that Clinton apparently decided to delete her emails after Oct. 28, 2014, when the State Department first asked her to turn over public records.
Clinton's lawyer explained it very simply: "it's all gone."
“Thus, there are no email@example.com emails from Secretary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of State on the server for any review, even if such review were appropriate or legally authorized,” Kendall said in a letter to Gowdy's committee, according to The New York Times.
However, the GOP has smelled blood and itsn't going to give up easily: "Republicans are likely to keep up their attacks on Clinton over the emails heading into her official declaration of a 2016 presidential campaign, which is expected in weeks. Priebus on Saturday echoed calls from Republican lawmakers for Clinton to turn over her server.
"It's imperative an independent third party review the server immediately. Unless Mrs. Clinton went to extreme lengths to wipe this server, there are ways to recover this data," Priebus said.
Of course Clitnton went to "extreme lengths"... but it was in the spirit of transparency and accountability. Just like with Lois Lerner's emails.
Incidentally, those wondering what the next steps are, a reminder that non-compliance with a Congressional subpoena falls under the "Contempt of Congress" umbrella, an act which since the passage of an 1857 law has made it a criminal offense against the United States.
Some more details from Wikipedia:
Following a contempt citation, the presiding officer of the chamber is instructed to refer the matter to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia; according to the law it is the "duty" of the U.S. Attorney to refer the matter to a grand jury for action.
The criminal offense of "contempt of Congress" sets the penalty at not less than one month nor more than twelve months in jail and a fine of not less than $100 nor more than $1,000.
It gets even more complicated:
While the law pronounces the duty of the U.S. Attorney is to impanel a grand jury for its action on the matter, some proponents of the unitary executive theory believe that the Congress cannot properly compel the U.S. Attorney to take this action against the Executive Branch, asserting that the U.S. Attorney is a member of the Executive Branch who ultimately reports only to the President and that compelling the U.S. Attorney amounts to compelling the President himself. They believe that to allow Congress to force the President to take action against a subordinate following his directives would be a violation of the separation of powers and infringe on the power of the Executive branch. The legal basis for this belief, they contend, can be found in Federalist 49, in which James Madison wrote “The several departments being perfectly co-ordinate by the terms of their common commission, none of them, it is evident, can pretend to an exclusive or superior right of settling the boundaries between their respective powers.” This approach to government is commonly known as "departmentalism” or “coordinate construction.”
In the end, it may be an executive decision by Obama himself that will be needed to avoid a humiliating and lengthy legal process into Clinton's actions. Which, considering the unprecedented animosity between the Obama and Clinton camps in recent months - recall that it was Valerie Jarrett who leaked the emails in the first place - is hardly a given, and Valerie Jarrett may just end up having the final laugh.
But the best summary bar none of the farce that is modern day US politics is the following:
Nixon resigned the presidency over 18.5 minutes of erased tape. Hillary could become president because of the hard drive she wiped clean.— WH PRESS SECRETARY (@weknowwhatsbest) March 29, 2015