On Sept. 2, the FBI released a lengthy explanation of its investigation of
Hillary Clinton and a summary of the evidence amassed against her. It also released
a summary of Clinton’s July FBI interrogation.
The interrogation was in some respects standard and in others very troubling.
It was standard in that she was confronted with emails she had sent or received
and was asked whether she recalled them, and her judgment about them was challenged.
The FBI was looking for gross negligence in her behavior about securing state
The failure to secure state secrets that have been entrusted to one for safekeeping
is known as espionage, and espionage is the rare federal crime that does not
require prosecutors to prove the defendant’s intent. They need only prove the
defendant’s gross negligence.
At one point during the interrogation, FBI agents attempted to trick her, as
the law permits them to do. Before the interrogation began, agents took the
hard copy of an innocuous email Clinton had sent to an aide and marked it “secret.”
Then, at her interrogation, they asked Clinton whether she recognized the email
and its contents. She said she did not recognize it, but she questioned the
“secret” denomination and pointed out to the agents that nothing remotely
secret was in the email.
By examining the contents of the email to see whether it contained state secrets,
which it clearly did not, Clinton demonstrated an awareness of the law – namely,
that it is the contents of a document or email that cause it to be protected
by federal secrecy statutes, not the denomination put on it by the sender.
This added to the case against her because she later told the FBI that she
had never paid attention to whether a document contained state secrets or not.
In the strange world of espionage prosecution, this denial of intent is an admission
of guilt, as it is profoundly the job of the secretary of state to recognize
state secrets and to keep them in their secure government-protected venues,
and the grossly negligent failure to do so is criminal.
The FBI notes of the interrogation recount that Clinton professed serious memory
lapses 39 times. She also professed ignorance over what “C” means
in the margin of a government document. “C” in the margin means “confidential,”
which is one of the three levels of federal state secrets. The other two levels
are “secret” and “top secret.” Under federal law, Clinton
was required to keep in secure government venues all documents in those three
categories. The FBI found that she had failed to do so hundreds of times.
By denying that she had paid attention to notes in margins designating the
presence of secrets, by denying that she recognized a secret when she saw one
and by denying that the location of planned drone strikes is secret (an obvious
secret with which FBI…