Hillary Clinton’s biggest problem this election season is not Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump. Nor is Mrs. Clinton’s biggest problem several inspectors general, the intelligence community, or the entire Republican ecosphere colluding to turn her home-brew email system into a fake scandal. At the moment, her biggest problem is the federal judiciary and the judges who enforce Freedom of Information Act, writes Kimberely A. Strassel in the WSJ.
The judges have taken unprecedented steps to resolve this case. It is exceedingly rare—almost unheard of—for a judge to allow discovery in a FOIA proceeding. This is a testament to how grave Mrs. Clinton’s email problem is. In the usual course of things, an outside group demands documents, a judge requires a federal department to hand them over, and the public learns something.
Fueling the judges’ suspicions has been new evidence that Mrs. Clinton didn’t turn everything over. Judicial Watch recently obtained emails showing that State Department and National Security Agency personnel had big concerns with Mrs. Clinton’s early demands that she be allowed to use a BlackBerry for secure correspondence. They wanted her to sit at a computer in a secure facility—as everyone else does. These documents include a February 2009 email from then-Clinton chief of staff Cheryl Mills to her boss, crowing that State was coming around to Mrs. Clinton’s demands, and a return email the same day from Mrs. Clinton saying, “That’s good news.”
These are clearly work-related emails. They speak to the question of Mrs. Clinton’s communications while at the State Department. They aren’t about yoga routines. And yet, guess what? That email chain was not included in the 55,000 pages of documents Mrs. Clinton turned over. Perhaps it was an oversight, but far more likely, the Clinton team—knowing the firestorm over a home-brew system—chose to withhold documents showing that State and NSA considered Mrs. Clinton’s email demands unsafe and unreasonable. What else did Mrs. Clinton choose to withhold from the public?
The talented Mrs. Clinton has seemingly been able to outfox investigators, Congress, inspectors general, and the press. “But she made the error this time of playing games with a law that federal judges take seriously, and that gives outside watchdogs real leverage.” Read more from Ms. Strassel here.