This really doesn’t seem that difficult. Negligent handling of classified government information is a crime, whether you intend to be negligent or not.
Hillary Clinton negligently handled classified government information. So did her top aide, Huma Abedin, who routinely forwarded classified government information to her husband, Anthony Weiner. Not just one or two pieces of classified information. Hundreds of pieces from thousands of emails – all to a man who lacked security clearance.
Hillary and Huma both say they didn’t mean to do it. It doesn’t matter. People who kill their children by an act of carelessness don’t intend to do so. That’s the very definition of negligence – by failing to take reasonable care, something bad happens.
And since the law forbids negligence, it doesn’t matter whether there was intent or not – it’s still a crime demanding prosecution. Again, not difficult. Yet the embattled FBI Director James Comey decided that a lack of intent to break the law meant that both Hillary and Huma could walk without consequences.
At least one guy in the U.S. Senate was not pleased with that decision. Ted Cruz grilled Comey relentlessly over his inexplicable decision, and as you would expect, it didn’t go well for Comey:
“You described the reason why the case was closed against Ms. Abedin as that you could not determine she was aware her conduct was unlawful…Any first year law student learns in criminal law ignorance of the law is no excuse, and that mens rea does not require knowledge that conduct is unlawful.
In fact, the governing statutes – 18 USC 793f and 18 USC 798a – have no requirement of a knowledge of unlawful [intent]…under the terms of that statute, the fact pattern you described in this hearing [of Abedin’s behavior] seems to fit that statute directly. In that, if I understood you correctly, you said Ms. Abedin forwarded hundreds or thousands of classified emails to her husband on a non-government, non-classified computer. How does that conduct not directly violate that statute?”
The best response for Comey would have been to simply cue the sound of crickets. Instead, he attempted to answer by suggesting that company practice “for generations” has been to require intent even if the law doesn’t call for it. In other words, Comey admits that he arrived at his conclusion not to prosecute Abedin (or Clinton) not on the basis of the law, but his own preference.
Cruz was understandably incredulous:
“On its face, anyone dealing with classified information should know that conduct is impermissible. And let me ask you, how would you handle an FBI Agent who forwarded thousands of classified emails to his or her spouse on a non-government computer?”
Ouch. Obviously everyone of us knows the answer, but Comey decided to pretend like we didn’t:
“I’m highly confident they wouldn’t be prosecuted.”
Unless they’re affiliated with Clinton, Inc., rational people are highly confident that’s not the case.