Should Hillary Clinton be charged with a crime because of her use of an unsecured, private email server to conduct all of her State Department business?
The question is usually asked in the context of the multitude of emails Clinton had on her server that have been classified or even top-secret. Clinton has maintained all along that, even if there were classified emails on her server, she didn’t know it because none of them was marked as such at the time.
But Ronald Sievert, who was with the Justice Department for 25 years and now teaches national security and international law, says the focus on classified material is a smokescreen.
“The applicable statute,” Sievert notes in a USA Today op-ed, “does not even once mention that word ‘classified.’ ” Instead, he says, “the focus is on ‘information respecting the national defense’ ” that potentially could harm the U.S.
What’s more, he says, courts have repeatedly ruled that, for prosecution, “national defense information” doesn’t require evidence that the information was classified.
In other words, Clinton could be, and Sievert believes should be, indicted whether or not the emails found on her unsecured server were officially deemed as classified, since they clearly involved information that could hurt the U.S. if it fell into enemy hands.
Nevertheless, he says he’s not confident that the Justice Department will indict Clinton, not just because a Democrat currently serves as attorney general. Sievert says that at DOJ there is often “an institutional fear of losing, however minimal the chance.”
So while Sievert thinks a jury should make the final decision on Clinton’s guilt or innocence, “they may never get the chance.”