Hillary’s Email Debacle Leaves More Questions than Answers
© CLIFFORD C. NICHOLS, MARCH 2016
Last October I had a conversation with a senior F.B.I. attorney at a public fund-raising event who I have known socially for a number of years. And being afforded the opportunity, I just couldn’t help but ask: So, what’s the status of the Hillary email debacle? Of course, initially I got what we all have come to recognize as the F.B.I.‘s auto-response apologetic: I’m sorry, but you know I can’t comment on any investigation that remains ongoing, etc., etc., etc. But then, to my astonishment, as my friend prepared to return to their table, our conversation ended with what I have since thought to be a remarkable statement on their part. This is from memory, not notes, but I’ll put it in quotes for easy reading: “But… I can tell you this. We both know that, if you or I had ever been caught doing even a fraction of what we all already know that she did in mishandling state secrets, you or I would most certainly be in federal custody by now.”
At the time I found this statement to be refreshing, in that, coming from a government official, it was disarmingly honest. Americans have become so conditioned to expect less from our government. We are amazed, even excited, by the rare occurrence when they do us the honor of rising above those expectations and actually give us the unvarnished truth. I left the event that last October night thinking: Is there any more I need to know?
But with the passage of time, my friend’s statement has become increasingly unsettling. Now, five months later, it has left me with more questions than answers.
Let’s put aside for the moment the question of why Hillary has yet to be indicted. Why, to date, hasn’t she even been officially interrogated by the F.B.I. about her emails? Thousands of emails on her unofficial and unsecured server have been found to contain classified material. Yet, they have not even approached her to discuss the matter. Why?
Is it because they know Hillary is a known congenital liar and that such an interrogation would virtually guarantee her exposure to charges for obstruction of justice, just like Martha Stewart, General Petraeus, Scooter Libby and others were, long before Hillary came along? As the latter all soon learned, it is a crime for a person suspected of violating federal law to lie or even give misleading information to a federal investigator. Yet, with the ball in their court, the F.B.I. has failed to take even this minimal action with respect to Hillary in what is now almost a year since the story broke. Why? Does it evidence a decision by someone in the Administration to isolate Hillary from any further prosecutorial exposure, while the Justice Department can focus upon finding a way to make her current exposure disappear in a politically acceptable manner?
Hillary herself recently declared with frightening confidence in the course of a nationally televised debate that she will never be indicted. The glaring question that remains unasked of her, however, is: How does she know that? It certainly leaves one to wonder if a deal has already been cut with the present Administration for her to obtain some kind of a disguised equivalent of a pardon. Certainly using the cloak of secrecy that envelopes federal grand jury proceedings, the system could be manipulated by the Administration to allow them to present her exoneration to the public without any particular Administration official having to take the blame for the decision.
Even so, are we not still left with the over-arching questions that have remained unanswered since the email debacle began? Are we, or are we not, supposed to be a nation of laws, and not man -- where all are to be considered as equals in the sight of the law? And if not, when did our country change? But, more importantly, why do so many not seem to care? Have we as a nation lost sight of the fact that a two-tiered system of justice is more indicative of a dictatorship than of a democracy?
A government of the people, by the people and for the people, cannot long survive as such where there is allowed to exist a separate tier of justice reserved only for an elite few wherein those elite are allowed to manipulate, if not torque the system at will to extend mercy, if not absolute immunity, to their fellow club members for their violations of laws that are otherwise enforced without mercy against the multitudes. Sadly, however, if my friend in the F.B.I. was correct, is this not exactly what appears to be playing out in the Administration’s handling of Hillary’s emails?
Of course, my hope is that it is not. But, if it is, at least those of us out here among the multitudes will now be able to better understand how two people in America can violate laws intended to protect our national security with opposite results. One — like Hillary — can remain free to run for President — while the other — like Snowden — must run for his life as long as he can remain free.
© 2016 Clifford C. Nichols. Cliff Nichols is an attorney licensed to practice law in both California and New Mexico. He may be contacted at cnicholslaw.com.