by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
When Hillary Clinton was running for president, and from allegations that she knowingly allowed classified information to traffic over her private server, she faced a critical dilemma: How do I address the issue credibly, while protecting myself from prosecution?
She couldn’t do one without compromising the other. She couldn’t speak honestly about her knowledge of the rules for handling classified information and keep herself out of a legal bind that hinged on whether she was aware her actions were unlawful.
Although claiming ignorance of these basic tenets of classification would cause her some temporary grief, Option B was a game-ender. Clinton couldn’t, under any circumstances, admit, accept, allow for, or publicly contemplate the notion that she had been fully briefed on the rules or was aware that any information on her server was classified. That would open a door that could never, ever be closed.
Option A would be bad. Option B would be catastrophic. So she chose Option A because her true audience, the only one that mattered, consisted of one man: James Comey.
Comey validated Clinton’s choice when he began drafting her exoneration letter in May 2016, two months before the FBI interviewed Clinton. He had to have known exactly what she was doing, and that she wouldn’t break role once she sat in front of his agents. She’d already demonstrated her dogged adherence to the non-incriminatory discipline of Option A.