Apologists for Hillary Clinton are spouting legal "nonsense" by comparing her off-the-books email setup as secretary of state to personal email use by a predecessor, Colin Powell, or by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, past federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy told Newsmax TV
"First of all, to point to other lawbreakers as a defense doesn't really help," McCarthy, author, legal columnist and former chief assistant U.S. attorney for New York, told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner. "Even if those people were guilty … that wouldn't make Hillary not guilty."
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McCarthy, who prosecuted the first World Trade Center bombers in 1995, also said they-did-it-too doesn't hold up legally.
"I don't see what Jeb Bush has to do with it at all, because he was governor of Florida and federal law was irrelevant with respect to him," said McCarthy.
"With respect to Powell," he said, "first of all, there's no evidence that he systematically evaded the federal records-keeping requirement, which is what Mrs. Clinton did. Also, the law that Mrs. Clinton had to follow was actually updated during the Obama administration in a way that didn't apply to Powell.
"So legally it's nonsense," said McCarthy. "But I guess it makes for a good talking point."
McCarthy said that Clinton could be found in violation not just of government regulations — meaning "a guideline that doesn't have any real penalties" — but of federal criminal statutes, including one outlawing embezzlement.
"Embezzlement is a concept that normally just applies to money," he said, "but in the case of the federal provision, it actually envelops government records as well."
McCarthy also referred to the Federal Records Act, which carries a maximum three-year prison term and potential disqualification for federal office if it's violated.
"So they're fairly serious provisions," he said.
The questions about email intersect with other Clinton State Department issues, said McCarthy: Clinton's handling of the deadly 2012 attacks on the U.S. embassy compound in Benghazi, Libya; and her family foundation collecting funds from foreign governments while she was in office.
McCarthy said that thanks to the email story breaking, "now we know that the prior investigations [of Benghazi] didn't have the benefit of any [email] communications Mrs. Clinton had."
He credited the Clinton Foundation with doing good works. "But certainly part of it is a cash shakedown operation," he said, "and it's been fabulously successful at collecting tens of millions of dollars from governments … that have business with the United States. So it's very shady in terms of conflicts of interest and the like."
"That business was also carried on over this email system that the Clintons set up," he said of the private email accounts, as well as the email server for managing the data that was installed at Clinton's house.
"And another very serious problem, of the many, is that we don't really know what vulnerabilities there were to the system," said McCarthy. "It seems it could easily have been hacked by foreign actors."
He said we "probably will never be able to get to the bottom of it, because the system allowed her to erase things without a trace. We have to take her word for it — ha! — for the fact that whatever she says is on it is all that was on it."
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