Hillary Obstructs Congress

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from The Wall Street Journal,

She erased emails after the Benghazi probe wanted to see them.

If the House panel investigating Benghazi really wants to get a look at Hillary Clinton’s emails, perhaps it should subpoena the Chinese military. Beijing—which may have hacked the private server she used to send official email as Secretary of State—is likely to be more cooperative than are Mrs. Clinton and her stonewall specialists now reprising their roles from the 1990s.

On Friday Mrs. Clinton’s lawyer, David Kendall, disclosed that he couldn’t cooperate with the Benghazi committee’s request that she turn over her private server to an independent third party for examination. Why not? Well, the former first diplomat had already wiped the computer clean.

Of course she had. What else would she do?

The timing of the deletions isn’t entirely clear. Benghazi Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy says they appear to have been deleted after Oct. 28, 2014, when State asked Mrs. Clinton to return her public records to the department. That could qualify as obstruction of Congress, as lawyer Ronald Rotunda recently argued on these pages.

The deletions certainly violate Mrs. Clinton’s promise to Congress on Oct. 2, 2012, when the Benghazi probe was getting under way. “We look forward to working with the Congress and your Committee as you proceed with your own review,” she told the Oversight Committee. “We are committed to a process that is as transparent as possible, respecting the needs and integrity of the investigations underway. We will move as quickly as we can without forsaking accuracy.”

Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Kendall say the vanishing emails don’t matter because State and the committee already have all the relevant documents and emails they’ve asked for. But State and the committee don’t have the actual emails, only the printed copies she provided to State.

And State had previously assured the committee it had everything it had asked for before Mrs. Clinton coughed up 850 pages of email copies from her private server this month—emails State couldn’t turn over before because she hadn’t provided them despite clear State Department policy that she and other officials do so.

Mrs. Clinton’s real message to Congress: You’ll see those emails over my dead body.

Mrs. Clinton is a student of history. In the 1970s she served as a lawyer on the House Judiciary Committee that investigated Watergate. There she saw how Richard Nixon’s release of his tape-recorded conversations led to his resignation from the Oval Office. It appears she absorbed the lesson that Nixon should have burned, er, wiped clean, the tapes.

Two decades later, Mrs. Clinton was First Lady and her billing records from her days at the Rose Law Firm in Arkansas were under federal subpoena. For two years no one could find them.

The question now is what Congress can do, if anything, to retrieve those “wiped” emails. In theory, the House could subpoena Mrs. Clinton’s emails and take her to court. But Mr. Gowdy concedes that going this route would take “years and years.” Meantime, Mrs. Clinton would make Lois Lerner of IRS infamy look like a model of cooperation.

Eric Holder’s Justice Department isn’t about to investigate, so the sanction will have to be political. Team Hillary and her media palace guard think the email story will fade, and they’ll help by calling it “old news” within a fortnight.

It’s going to be fascinating to see if the voters are as eager as Democrats to be governed again by Clinton-Nixon mores.

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