The Obama administration told a federal court Wednesday that former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was within her legal rights to use of her own email account, to take messages with her when she left office and to be the one deciding which of those messages are government records that should be returned.
In the most complete legal defense of Mrs. Clinton, Justice Department lawyers insisted they not only have no obligation, but no power, to go back and demand the former top diplomat turn over any documents she hasn’t already given — and neither, they said, can the court order that.
The defense came as part of a legal filing telling a judge why the administration shouldn’t be required to order Mrs. Clinton and her top aides to preserve all of their emails.
“There is no question that Secretary Clinton had authority to delete personal emails without agency supervision — she appropriately could have done so even if she were working on a government server,” the administration lawyers argued. “Under policies issued by both the National Archives and Records Administration (‘NARA’) and the State Department, individual officers and employees are permitted and expected to exercise judgment to determine what constitutes a federal record.”
The legal brief said that means employees are required to “review each message, identify its value and either delete it or move it to a record-keeping system.”
Clinton claims that she and her lawyers did exactly that.
The conservative group Judicial Watch, which has sixteen open lawsuits against the State Department seeking Clinton e-mails, vehemently disagrees with this assessment and is hell bent on pursuing this matter for reasons that I think are obvious to just about anyone.
There still an ongoing investigation by the FBI into this matter as well, but I expect that it will also turn up nothing that will cause any real concern for Hillary or her campaign.
The State Department had already earlier stated that Hillary had broken no laws but that has done nothing to satisfy those on the right, and it is becoming increasingly clear that they are determined to make this an issue in 2016 through any means necessary.
I actually had a rather protracted discussion (Okay it was an argument.) about this just yesterday.
My friend, who is all about law and order, declared unequivocally that Hillary was done as a presidential candidate due to this e-mail thing.
When I brought up the state department's assertion that she had done nothing wrong, he simply said that they were wrong and that there were laws on the books demanding that government employees preserve their e-mails.
I brought up that neither Colin Powell nor Condoleezza Rice had preserved their e-mails while serving as Secretary of State, and he claimed that didn't matter because nobody was investigating them.
That I thought was perhaps the most truthful thing about this entire non-scandal.
The only reason this is an issue is because the conservatives needed an issue to use against Hillary, and this is all they could come up with.
I also responded to his claim that it is against the law to have classified information on private e-mail accounts by reminding him that Hillary also used a private e-mail account while serving as a Senator, and that other Senators and Congressmen continue to do the same, even though politicians at that level often receive and send information that would be considered classified.
To that he said it was not an issue, unless somebody decided to make it an issue.
And that my friends is the argument in a nutshell.
It really does no matter who is or is not sending classified materials just so long as their last name is not Clinton.
So I guess I will close this out by reiterating the question in my headline, even though I'm afraid I already know the answer, "So are we done here?"