In Clinton Case, Obama Administration Nullifies 6 Criminal Laws


Eric Zuesse

When the Obama Administration, on July 5th, ruled that in regard to Hillary Clinton’s privatized email system while she was Secretary of State, “Our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case” to a grand jury, because “We cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges,” they ignored the following six U.S. criminal laws, each of which undeniably describes very well what she did:


18 U.S. Code § 2232 — Destruction or removal of property to prevent seizure

(a) Destruction or Removal of Property To Prevent Seizure

Whoever, before, during, or after any search for or seizure of property by any person authorized to make such search or seizure, knowingly destroys, damages, wastes, disposes of, transfers, or otherwise takes any action, or knowingly attempts to destroy, damage, waste, dispose of, transfer, or otherwise take any action, for the purpose of preventing or impairing the Government’s lawful authority to take such property into its custody or control or to continue holding such property under its lawful custody and control, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.

(b) Impairment of In Rem Jurisdiction

Whoever, knowing that property is subject to the in rem jurisdiction of a United States court for purposes of civil forfeiture under Federal law, knowingly and without authority from that court, destroys, damages, wastes, disposes of, transfers, or otherwise takes any action, or knowingly attempts to destroy, damage, waste, dispose of, transfer, or otherwise take any action, for the purpose of impairing or defeating the court’s continuing in rem jurisdiction over the property, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both.


18 U.S. Code § 1512 — Tampering with a witness, victim, or an informant

(c) Whoever corruptly

(1) alters, destroys, mutilates, or conceals a record, document, or other object, or attempts to do so, with the intent to impair the object’s integrity or availability for use in an official proceeding; or

(2) otherwise obstructs, influences, or impedes any official proceeding, or attempts to do so,

shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.


18 U.S. Code § 1519 — Destruction, alteration, or falsification of records in Federal investigations and bankruptcy

Whoever knowingly alters, destroys, mutilates, conceals, covers up, falsifies, or makes a false entry in any record, document, or tangible object with the intent to impede, obstruct, or influence the investigation or proper administration of any matter within the jurisdiction of any department or agency of the United States or any case filed under title 11, or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.


18 U.S. Code § 2071 — Concealment, removal, or mutilation generally

(a) Whoever willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, or destroys, or attempts to do so, or, with intent to do so takes and carries away any record, proceeding, map, book, paper, document, or other thing, filed or deposited with any clerk or officer of any court of the United States, or in any public office, or with any judicial or public officer of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both.

(b) Whoever, having the custody of any such record, proceeding, map, book, document, paper, or other thing, willfully and unlawfully conceals, removes, mutilates, obliterates, falsifies, or destroys the same, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; and shall forfeit his office and be disqualified from holding any office under the United States. As used in this subsection, the term “office” does not include the office held by any person as a retired officer of the Armed Forces of the United States.


18 U.S. Code § 641 — Public money, property or records 

Whoever embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his use, or the use of another, or without authority, sells, conveys or disposes of any record, voucher, money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof, or any property made or being made under contract for the United States or any department or agency thereof, …

Shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than ten years or both. …


18 U.S. Code § 793 — Gathering, transmitting or losing defense information …

(f) Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer —  

Shall be fined not more than $10, 000 or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both. 

(g) If two or more persons conspire to violate any of the foregoing provisions of this section, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each of the parties to such conspiracy, shall be subject to the punishment provided for the offense which is the object of such conspiracy. 


Those laws are consequently null and void, by Executive action. When Congress (which is supposed to be the Legislative branch of the government) passed those laws, what were they describing, if not this? Of course, they did describe there what Clinton has, in fact, done.

If we are a nation “of laws, not of men” (as that old basic description of democracy phrased it), then Ms. Clinton will be prosecuted, at least through the grand jury stage, on (at least) those grounds. The decision regarding her innocence or guilt will be made by jurors (first by the grand jurors, of course, and if they find there to be a case, then by a trial jury), not by the broader public — and also not by the nation’s Executive: the President and his appointed Administration. That is what it means for a government to be a functioning democracy. Any government which violates this principle — that it is “of laws, not of men [including women]” — is not functioning as a democracy: it’s something else. 

In addition to these criminal laws, there are also federal regulations against these matters, but violations merely of federal regulations (such as these) are far less serious than are actions that violate also federal criminal laws (such as the six laws that are listed above).

She isn’t even being sanctioned for the violations of the State Department’s own regulations (or “rules”).

This is not a partisan issue. I was until recently an active Democrat, and I joined with millions of other Democrats who expressed condemnation when George W. Bush was allowed to get away with many severe crimes (such as this) while he was in office; and one of the reasons why I was trying to find someone to contest against President Obama in Democratic primaries for the 2012 Democratic Presidential nomination was that Obama had refused to prosecute his predecessor’s crimes against this nation. But now this same Obama is nullifying at least these six laws in order to win as his successor Hillary Clinton, who surely will not prosecute Obama for his many crimes (such as this and this) while he has been leading this nation and destroying our democracy.

I parted company from the Democratic Party when I gave up on both Parties in 2012 as they and the government they operate have been since at least 1980 — not at all democratic, but instead aristocratic: holding some persons to be above the law (that researcher there called the U.S. an “oligarchy,” which is simply another word for the same thing — rule by the top wealth-holders, not by the public: not a “democracy”).

There can be no excuse for Obama’s depriving the public, via a grand jury decision, of the right to determine whether a full court case should be pursued in order to determine in a jury trial whether Hillary Clinton’s email system constituted a crime (or several crimes) under U.S. laws. The Obama Administration’s ‘finding’ that “clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information” would need to have been proven, in order for her to have been prosecuted under any U.S. criminal law, is a flagrant lie: none of the above six U.S. criminal laws requires that, but the only way to determine whether even that description (“clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information”) also applies to Clinton would be to go through a grand jury (presenting the above-cited six laws) and then to a jury case (to try her on those plus possibly also the charge that there was “clearly intentional and willful mishandling of classified information”). But now, those six laws are effectively gone: anyone who in the future would be charged with violating any one of those six laws could reasonably cite the precedent that Ms. Clinton was not even charged, much less prosecuted, for actions which clearly fit the description provided in each one of those U.S. criminal laws. Anyone in the future who would be charged under any one of these six laws could prove discriminatory enforcement against himself or herself. (In the particular case discussed there, discriminatory enforcement was ruled not to have existed because the enforcement of the criminal law involved was judged to have been random enforcement, but this condition would certainly not apply in Clinton’s case, it was clearly “purposeful discrimination” in her favor, and therefore enforcement of the law against anyone else, where in Clinton’s case she wasn’t even charged — much less prosecuted — for that offense, would certainly constitute discriminatory enforcement.) So: that’s the end of these six criminal laws. The U.S. President effectively nullified those laws, which were duly passed by Congress and signed into law by prior Presidents 

And that’s the end, the clear termination, of a governemnt “of laws, not of men”.


Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

  • eli isreal

    The question is; Was it done out of convenience i.e being lazy and or sloppy, or was there criminal intent. I lean towards the latter. She placed those documents on that un-secured server, in a pre-arranged agreement, knowing they were going to be hacked. And the “Clinton Foundation” prospered financially

    • Eric Zuesse

      Not true: None of those laws require intention, at all, in order to be convicted.

      While it can be expected that, in the sentencing, her intent will affect the severity of her sentence, that’s only the sentencing-phase of the proceedings. During the prosecution-phase, it’s not necessary for the prosecution even to mention her intent. However, if she plea-bargains, then the prosecutor can hold over her the threat to introduce evidence regarding her intent — which would be to threaten a longer sentence for her.

      • eli isreal

        What’s not true? The documents being loaded on an unsecured server, a pre-arranged agreement, or the Clinton Foundation prospered financially?

        • backwardsevolution

          Just the mere fact that she didn’t follow protocol makes her guilty, even without intent.

      • backwardsevolution

        Yes, intent goes to sentencing. Had she been using the government server, there would have been a dedicated back-up to all of her emails. This is what she was trying to avoid. She didn’t want a dedicated back-up because she knew she was going to be dealing in Clinton Foundation stuff, and she didn’t want that information seeing the light of day.

    • Gilfavor

      I thought she was evading the FOIA, with private email/server, on her dealings as SOS, which benefited the Foundation. . . .she wanted ALL her communications, private.

  • Newton Finn

    As one who practiced law for 36 years, let me clarify that when the criminal law speaks of intent, at least in the vast majority of cases, it refers to the intent to engage in certain conduct, without regard as to whether one knew that such conduct was criminal. It would seem clear, therefore, that Hillary had the sufficient intent to be criminally charged under one or more of the statutes cited in this article, since she obviously intended to do what she did with regard to her email.

    To make this point easier to understand, imagine someone who catches a thief in the act of running away with his property and shoots the thief in the back to recover it. Legally speaking, it would be irrelevant if the shooter thought he had the right to commit this act and thus had no intention to commit a crime. The law, in general, is that potentially lethal force can be used by private citizens only to protect life, not property. So long as the shooter intended to shoot the escaping thief, he had all the intent necessary for criminal prosecution.

    From this bedrock legal principle flows the common saying that ignorance of the law is no excuse.

  • Boycottmedia

    so what in the world is donald trump and the republicans doing? Fox news needs to fire Catherine and Judge Napoleanito and hire this author. Donald Trump should be threatening to go to supreme court on corruption charges with these claims. As a minimum he should be talking about this every day for next 3 months. Why are republicans focussing on lying to bengazi hearing. It is not going anywhere. Also Judicial Watch gave a pathetic argument about clinton’s testimony. Could they not say they want to question her about why she deleted 30000 records that were supposed to be made public under FOIA.

    First Bernie Sanders and now Donald Trump. Nobody knows how to go against Clinton. WE wonder if it is intentional? Hats off to crooked Hillary who can still lead in the polls after this.

    • backwardsevolution

      Trump needs Eric Zeusse advising him. Trump probably doesn’t have people with this kind of expertise, so he doesn’t know to go after her on this. He’s a fairly quick study when he finally gets something. We’ll have to get this information to him.

    • Southernfink

      You’re joking if you thought that Mr Zuesse would go and work for any part of Newscorpse.

  • MKEPackFan

    It does not matter who the people vote for. Hillary will rig the vote either way. She did it against Bernie and she’ll do it against Trump. She’d just prefer not to have to to make her look cleaner. I am against this rhetoric 99.99% of the time and I usually roll my eyes when conservatives say this, but I honestly think we need a new revolution. Tear down the government , tear down the constitution, and rebuild it from the ground up. Obviously most things will stay with the constitution like the various freedoms. None of that should be removed. But we need a government reset button. I want to leave the country if EITHER of the two candidates gets in.