Last week Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly reported the possibility of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton committing a felony by failing to turn over all required documents to the Department before leaving her position in 2013. If Clinton signed a standard Separation Agreement, which is required of all State Department employees, there could be serious legal consequences for her keeping 55,000 emails on a personal server in her home for nearly two years after her departure. As a reminder:
Every person who works inside the State Department must sign an official Separation Statement, which is a document requiring an inventory be taken of personal documents departing officials plan to take with them. These documents must be submitted to and approved by Department records officials. According to the State Department Records Management Handbook, officials who fail to turn over documents can face, "fines, imprisonment or both for the willful and unlawful removal or destruction of records as stated in the U.S. Criminal Code." Clinton has argued that she has turned over all the proper documents to the State Department, but just did it two years after leaving her position.
"State Department regulations also say that departing officials have to make sure that all of their official records are in the files of the Department of State upon departure. That couldn't be any clearer," Former DOJ Attorney Shannen Coffin said last night on The Kelly File.
"If she signed it [Separation Statement], as you read the law and the manual itself which refers to the Criminal Code, if she signed that saying she had given them everything back, every federal record she had in her possession when in fact she had thousands of documents and thousands of emails sitting on her home server, did she violate the law? Did she commit a crime?" anchor Megyn Kelly asked Coffin.
"If that's the case, then there's no question. The form itself says, 'Hey, before you sign this understand that you are certifying something that we can prosecute you for.' Making a false statement in this context, knowingly and willfully, which I can't imagine anything more knowing an willful than knowing you have 55,000 records sitting in your home, if you do that, it is a felony punishable under 18 U.S.C. 1001," Coffin said.
Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino told Kelly the same night that the State Department should be able to produce the document within 24-hours. It's been nearly a week and the State Department can't seem to find Clinton's file, which would contain the Separation Agreement if she signed it.
"Last week you were asked about whether the Department has a record of former Secretary Clinton signing the separation form..." Associated Press reporter Matt Lee asked yesterday."I don't have an update on this Matt, we're still working on it," State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said yesterday.
"The Human Resources Department presumably has a file on every employee, it can't be that difficult," Lee followed up.
State Department officials know exactly where that form is if Clinton signed it as she was supposed to. If she didn't sign it, officials and Clinton have an obligation to explain why not and why Clinton was held to a different standard than every other State Department employee. Right now, they're simply taking advantage of time and hoping this email scandal leaves the news cycle before responding.