Clinton instructed an aide to remove the classification marking from information, a federal offense.
The latest batch of Hillary Clinton emails released by the State Department early Friday contain what may be the smoking gun that forces the Justice Department to charge the former secretary of state with a crime, according to former federal prosecutor Joseph diGenova.
“This is gigantic,” said diGenova. “She caused to be removed a classified marking and then had it transmitted in an unencrypted manner. That is a felony. The removal of the classified marking is a federal crime. It is the same thing to order someone to do it as if she had done it herself.”
On the June 17, 2011, email chain with senior State Department adviser Jake Sullivan, Clinton apparently asked Sullivan to change the marking on classified information so that it is no longer flagged as classified.
Clinton, using her private email server, asks for “the TPs,” apparently a reference to talking points being prepared for her. Sullivan, who is using his official State Department email, responds, “They say they’ve had issues sending secure fax. They’re working on it.” Clinton responds, “If they can’t, turn into nonpaper w[ith] no identifying heading and send nonsecure.”
It’s not clear if Sullivan actually followed through on Clinton’s orders. But if he did, it may expose Clinton to serious legal jeopardy.
“This makes it impossible for the bureau not to recommend charges,” diGenova said of the FBI. “This makes it impossible not to go forward, and it certainly ties the hand of the attorney general.”
Some have speculated that while the FBI may recommend charges, Attorney General Loretta Lynch might try to avoid doing so for political reasons.
The revelation also appears to put the lie to Clinton’s claim that she never handled classified information on her server.
“I did not send nor receive anything that was classified at the time,” she has claimed. By instructing her aide to send her material marked classified, it is clear that she not only may have received classified information, but that it was indeed “classified at the time.”
“This means that when she said, ‘I never received anything marked classified,’ she in fact did,” diGenova said.
David Bossie, president of the watchdog group Citizens United, said the email could become the emblem of Hillary’s email scandal.
“It proves that Hillary Clinton affirmatively instructed senior staff to send classified data to an unsecured server,” he said. “With that, it cements into history, much like the famous Bill Clinton finger wag.”