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Peter Robinson has asked a question that is on everyone’s mind. Should the FBI be required to release the Huma Abedin/Anthony Weiner emails? The answer to that question is no.
There are at least two serious difficulties. The first is that out of the cache of over 650,000 emails, only some fraction of them is relevant. The ones that are unrelated to the Hillary Clinton server are obviously out of bounds. But the more difficult issue is that the FBI cannot release those emails that are classified without creating some serious national security complications.
The same is true, moreover, for Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin, assuming that they still have these emails in their possession. They could surely release them if they contained no classified information. But they surely cannot release these emails if they do contain classified information.
But by the same token, they cannot say that they refuse to release them because they contain classified information: that admission would be evidence enough that they illegally shared information, which would be grounds for the prosecution of both women. Abedin should not have had access those emails and Clinton should not have shared them with her, unless Abedin had the requisite security clearance, which it seems she did not. Indeed, right now Clinton could well be caught in a lie if the number of emails found on the Abedin/Weiner computer exceeds the pitifully small number of emails that Clinton acknowledges she sent over her private server.
At this point, the Clinton campaign has only one alternative, which is to excoriate James Comey for sending a notice to Congress that he was reopening the Clinton investigation based on new information. But what were the alternatives? Surely he could not just release that information if it contained classified documents. But could he have conducted the investigation in secret until the matter was resolved? Yes, but what would be the reaction if the investigation was made public only after Clinton wins the election, at which point some irate voters at least will be miffed that they were not given that information before hand?
Worse still, and this could easily happen, the President-elect will come to office while saddled with a major ongoing criminal investigation. In addition, if Comey does not release this information, it could come out anyhow, for someone could leak the fact of the new investigation, putting Comey in the uncomfortable position of explaining why he concealed it in the first place.
Another alternative is to kill the investigation altogether, which apparently is what people in the Justice Department have urged. But this only points out yet another difficulty in public administration. It is very difficult to play catch-up. It does take much knowledge to realize that Comey had engaged in a major whitewash of Clinton when he recommended against prosecution in his July 5, 2016 message, which offered, to say the least, an utterly unconvincing explanation for shutting down the entire investigation. Indeed, the difficulty goes back further, for the question is why did Comey slow-walk the entire investigation when he had sufficient evidence to go forward as early as March 2015 to recommend charges be filed against her?
Nor is there any reason to think the surprises will stop coming either before or after the investigation. In all likelihood, there are many foreign governments and perhaps many private parties who were able to gain access to the Clinton homebrew server. Any one of them at any time could dump more information that will be impossible to ignore. No one knows what that information will be, but it is certain to embarrass both Clinton and the United States, and perhaps compromise our allies as well.
The early evidence seems to be that the simple fact of the existence of unexplained emails on her private server is hurting her in the upcoming elections, as well it should. Even some one with her undeniable political skills may not be able to survive the maelstrom that is sure to envelop her in the days to come. Pity she will never withdraw.