Like a trio of famished buzzards, three ugly words have started to circle over Hillary Clinton: obstruction of justice.
After reviewing the FBI's recently released E-mailgate files, House Government Oversight Committee chairman Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah) on Tuesday wrote U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Channing Phillips.
"The Committee identified a sequence of events that may amount to obstruction of justice and destruction of evidence by Secretary Clinton and her employees and contractors, including her attorneys, employees of Platte River Networks," and others, Chaffetz explained. He then asked Phillips to investigate Clinton and company for possibly violating 18 U.S. Code Â§ 1001, 1505, or 1519. Making false statements in or obstructing federal proceedings can trigger prison sentences of up to five years. Destroying records in federal probes can cost up to 20 years behind bars.
Hillary now will campaign for president as the chant, "Lock her up!" rings in her ears - and correctly so. As the Washington Examiner's Byron York detailed, this case's timeline demands prosecution.
On September 20, 2012, just nine days after the deadly Islamic-terrorist attack on the U.S. facility in Benghazi, the House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security sent then-secretary of state Clinton a request for any records relevant to the assault, its precursors, and its aftermath.
Clinton received additional document requests in August 2013 and May 2014.
On March 2, 2015, news erupted about the existence of Clinton's secret, unsecured, do-it-yourself private server. The next day, the House Select Committee on Benghazi sent now-former secretary Clinton's attorney, David Kendall, a letter requesting that he and Clinton "Preserve all e-mail, electronic documents, and data ('electronic records') created since January 1, 2009" and in Clinton's control.
As if foreshadowing Team Clinton's actions, the letter asked Kendall to "prevent the partial or full destruction, alteration, testing, deletion, shredding, incineration, wiping, relocation, migration, theft, or mutation of electronic records."
On March 4, 2015, the Benghazi Committee sent Clinton a subpoena for "all records in unredacted form" related to Benghazi for all of 2011 and 2012.
Then, on March 25, 2015, according to the FBI, employees at Colorado-based Platte River Networks, which managed Clinton's server after it was removed from her basement, "held a conference call with President Clinton's staff." The FBI reports that a PRN staffer "sometime between March 25-31, 2015 deleted the Clinton archive mailbox from the PRN server" with BleachBit, the digital equivalent of Ajax and Brillo pads.
The FBI further explained that "at the time [the PNR staffer] made the deletions in March 2015, he was aware of the existence of the preservation request and the fact that it meant he should not disturb Clinton's e-mail data on the [PRN] server." PRN staffers held a March 31, 2015, conference call with David Kendall and Cheryl Mills, Hillary's State Department chief of staff. PRN's attorney instructed its employee "not to comment on the conversation with Kendall based upon the assertion of attorney-client privilege."
Atop this corruption, Clinton and her top aides prove that amnesia is contagious.
Republican National Committee researchers analyzed the E-mailgate-related FBI statements, depositions, and other testimony by Clinton, Mills, Clinton aide Huma Abedin, and State Department official Patrick Kennedy.
Among them, they said things such as "I don't recall" or "I don't know" 327 times.
Is this a crime?
"Even a single instance of claiming lack of memory when it's clear that the person has distinct memory would be culpable," former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy tells me. He adds, "327 times would be overwhelming."
The most important question here might be the most obvious: What was Hillary hiding?
If her work e-mails - among some 17,448 that she testified under oath that she surrendered to State, but actually suppressed - involved only her official duties, Clinton should have no reason to cover them up. After all, she said she wanted them public, "for everyone to see." The balance of e-mails, she also said at her March 10, 2015, scandal-kickoff press conference, concerned "planning Chelsea's wedding or my mother's funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes." Why BleachBit that?
Clinton, a calculating Yale attorney, has been in public life since she joined the House Judiciary Committee's Watergate staff in 1973. After more than 40 years in and around government and the law, what was so potentially devastating on her outlaw server that Hillary Clinton would destroy it - even at the risk of getting locked up for obstruction of justice?
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