Last weekend, The New York Times published a long piece about the effect the FBI had on the outcome of the 2016 presidential campaign. As we all know, Donald Trump won a comfortable victory in the Electoral College while falling about 3 million votes behind Hillary Clinton in the popular vote.
I believe that Mrs. Clinton was a deeply flawed candidate who failed to energize the Democratic Party base and who failed to deliver to the electorate a principled reason to vote for her. Yet when The New York Times reporters asked her why she believes she lost the race, she gave several answers, the first of which was the involvement of the FBI. She may be right.
Here is the back story.
In 2015, a committee of the House of Representatives that was investigating the deaths of four Americans at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi learned that the State Department had no copies of any emails sent or received by Mrs. Clinton during her four years as secretary of state. When committee investigators pursued this — at the same time that attorneys involved with civil lawsuits brought against the State Department seeking the Clinton emails were pursuing it — it was revealed that Mrs. Clinton had used her own home servers for her emails and bypassed the State Department servers.
Because many of her emails obviously contained government secrets and because the removal of government secrets to any non-secure venue constitutes espionage, the House Select Committee on Benghazi sent a criminal referral to the Department of Justice (DOJ), which passed it on to the FBI. A congressionally issued criminal referral means that some members of Congress who have seen some evidence think that some crime may have been committed. The DOJ is free to reject the referral, yet it accepted this one.