“Lock her up!” fared at or near the top of the Most Memorable Rally Chants charts in Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Turning that election into a referendum on Hillary Clinton — and particularly on the seeming impunity she enjoyed after getting caught illegally storing classified materials on an unofficial server — may have made the difference in securing Trump his four years of residence at the White House.
It was thus no surprise that Democrats responded to MAGA protests over the supposed injustice of an FBI search at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence, seeking illicitly retained classified materials, with eye rolls and a smirking “but her emails!”
If you’re looking for hypocrisy, there’s no need to pick a side here — it’s rife on BOTH sides.
Based on then FBI director James Comey’s 2016 press briefing (and later testimony before Congress), it’s fair to say that Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, knowingly and willfully violated 18 US Code §793 (“Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information”) and §1924 (“Unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material”) and that, had she been charged and tried, would have been convicted of those offenses by an impartial jury.
Why wasn’t she so charged, tried, and convicted? Why do today’s Trump-haters write off the whole incident as just vicious political skulduggery?
Because she’s Hillary Clinton.
The Mar-a-Lago search warrant specified one of those same two US Code sections (§793), as well as §1519 (“Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations and bankruptcy”) and §2071 (“Concealment, removal, or mutilation generally [of government documents]”).
Why does MAGA World object to the investigation resulting in the warrant (and prospectively to any prosecution) as mere political skulduggery?
Because the subject of that investigation is Donald Trump.
Both sides are right, and both sides are wrong.
Yes, there are plenty of raw political machinations going on here. If Hillary Clinton hadn’t run for president, and if Donald Trump hadn’t actually BEEN president, these incidents would have gone down as minor and forgettable scandals, like former Bill Clinton administration official Sandy Berger’s barely remembered theft and destruction of classified documents from the National Archives.
But in BOTH cases, political officials, including Clinton and Trump, should be subject to the same “rule of law” they enthusiastically inflict on the rest of us at every opportunity.
If there’s probable cause to believe that Trump committed a crime, he should be prosecuted for that crime, just like anyone else.
And, the statute of limitations not having yet run on Clinton’s violations of 18 USC §793 (which, as has been bullhorned concerning Trump, is part of the Espionage Act), she should be prosecuted as well.
Perp walks! Orange coveralls! Maybe they can even share a cell, the better to catch up on old times.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.