If Democrat Hillary Clinton’s email scandal leads to a criminal prosecution, it could be a direct result of a law that Congress passed with her support when she was a senator from New York.
Clinton’s frontrunner status in the Democratic presidential nomination sweepstakes has been called into question amid reports that she stored classified information on a private email server while secretary of state and then destroyed those documents.
Some have suggested that obstruction of justice charges cannot be brought against her because she deleted the emails before there was any investigation. But former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who discussed the issue on “The Laura Ingraham Show,” said an amendment to the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 made it a crime to destroy records if an investigation might reasonably be foreseen.
The law, passed in response to corporate accounting and auditing abuses in the late 1990s and early 2000s, made it a criminal act to destroy records that are subject to an investigation “or in relation to or contemplation of any such matter or case” that could arise.
“And, in fact, when Hillary Clinton was in the Senate, she voted for that amendment,” said Mukasey, a former federal judge who served as attorney general under President George W. Bush. “If you have reason to believe that somebody is going to want a record, and you trash it, then the fact that they don’t yet want it but will want it later on doesn’t save you.”
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Mukasey told Ingraham on Tuesday that the email investigation could have far-reaching political and legal ramifications for Clinton.
“I think it’s reached a critical mass, in the sense that there’s just a lot going on, and a lot of moving parts,” he said. “But the FBI isn’t going to get confused.”
Mukasey pointed to the case of Gen. David Patraeus, who ended up resigning in disgrace and pleading guilty to a crime in connection with mishandling classified information.
Clinton’s handling of classified material could have real-world consequences, Mukasey said.
“This is certainly no more complicated than that,” Mukasey said. “And I think they are going to pursue it.”
Clinton’s handling of classified material could have real-world consequences, Mukasey said. He noted reports earlier this year that foreign hackers stole millions of records from the Office of Personnel Management.
“If they can get into the records of the Office of Personnel Management, I would think it would be child’s play for them to get into a private server that’s run by a commercial company, and that it would be a very attractive target if that server contained information related to our foreign relations ” he said.
Mukasey said Biden likely would be less quick to compromise Obama’s agenda for political reasons.
From a political standpoint, Mukasey said the email investigation is “making (Hillary Clinton) increasingly unattractive.” He questioned how deep the affection for Clinton runs within the Democratic Party, notwithstanding the high favorability ratings she regularly scores in surveys of the party faithful.
He also said that Vice President Joe Biden, who is mulling a late entry into the Democratic race, might be a better vehicle, from President Obama’s perspective, to carry on Obama’s legacy.
Mukasey said Biden likely would be less quick to compromise Obama’s agenda for political reasons. He also noted that Clinton, as the country’s first female president, might diminish Obama’s accomplishment as the country’s first black commander in chief.
“Biden wouldn’t overshadow him in that way,” he said.