OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
George Washington law school professor and noted liberal Jonathan Turley has lashed out at former first lady and 2016 Democratic presidential contender Hillary Clinton for statements regarding her infamous email scandal.
Turley, a noted constitutional expert who is often called to provide congressional testimony, took the former U.S. senator to task after she claimed that there no classified emails were found on a private server she stored in her New York home while serving as President Obama’s secretary of state.
“I can’t believe we’re still talking about this, but my emails… As Trump’s problems continue to mount, the right is trying to make this about me again. There’s even a ‘Clinton Standard.’ The fact is that I had zero emails that were classified,” Clinton wrote on Twitter following reports that the FBI found classified documents at the Mar-a-Lago home of former President Donald Trump during an early August raid.
“[Fired FBI Director James] Comey admitted he was wrong after he claimed I had classified emails. Trump’s own State Department, under two different Secretaries, found I had no classified emails,” Clinton’s tweet continued.
Comey admitted he was wrong after he claimed I had classified emails.
Trump’s own State Department, under two different Secretaries, found I had no classified emails.
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) September 6, 2022
Turley responded in a column for the New York Post: “Virtually everything about that claim is breathtakingly untrue.”
A 2018 Department of Justice inspector general report revealed “81 email chains containing approximately 193 individual emails” were “classified from the CONFIDENTIAL to TOP SECRET levels at the time.” Clinton is echoing her allies’ recent spin that there were only three documents with classification markings among 33,000 emails. It is utter nonsense.
The Clinton email scandal is a scandal because these were emails. There is no classification automatically stamped on text being typed out and sent within minutes. While attachments can have classification markings, the whole point of using secure servers is that emails are created in the moment with inevitable slips in referencing classified material.
Nevertheless, the emails had classified information, including top-secret information tied to “Special Access Programs.” Yet some allies emphasize the inspector general also noted that in some cases there was “conscious effort to avoid sending classified information, by writing around the most sensitive material.” It failed. The emails still contained classified information.
In fact, Turley continued, Clinton’s private email server was also not very secure. Comey even said during his controversial July 2020 statement declaring that “no reasonable prosecutor” would indict Clinton that “hostile actors gained access” to at least some of the information via the emails of some of Clinton’s aides and associates.
As for Clinton’s claim that Comey changed his view on the classification of some of her emails, Turley pointed out that is not true, either, that “he said the opposite”: “He condemned her handling of the classified material while saying it didn’t warrant prosecution.”
And while he did backtrack somewhat later, it was not on the point regarding the email classifications, Turley pointed out.
“I should’ve worked harder to find a way to convey that it’s more than just the ordinary mistake, but it’s not criminal behavior, and find different words to describe that,” Comey said. But, she had “dozens of conversations on email about secret topics” and “I think eight about top-secret topics,” he added.
“So if I’m gonna be honest, I have to say somehow it’s more than ordinary sloppiness,” Comey would said.
Turley noted further that throughout the political life of Hillary Clinton and husband Bill Clinton, there have been many allegations of illegal activity and impropriety, but while former close associates have taken the fall, the Clintons have never been charged.
“The Clinton Standard is most evident in the email scandal. Clinton’s staff unilaterally destroyed thousands of emails with BleachBit despite being aware in 2014 that Congress and the State Department were seeking the evidence,” Turley continued. “I know few clients who would have the temerity to order such a unilateral destruction. Her lawyers turned over about 30,000 work-related emails to the State Department and deleted 33,000 others, unilaterally deeming them ‘personal.'”
“So Hillary inadvertently hit upon one demonstrably true statement. There is a Hillary Clinton Standard,” Turley concluded.