Hillary Clinton’s case isn’t interesting enough to the public to justify releasing the FBI’s files on her, the bureau said this week in rejecting an open-records request by a lawyer seeking to have the former secretary of state punished for perjury.
Ty Clevenger has been trying to get Mrs. Clinton and her personal attorneys disbarred for their handling of her official emails during her time as secretary of state. He’s met with resistance among lawyers, and now his request for information from the FBI’s files has been shot down.
“You have not sufficiently demonstrated that the public’s interest in disclosure outweighs personal privacy interests of the subject,” FBI records management section chief David M. Hardy told Mr. Clevenger in a letter Monday.
“It is incumbent upon the requester to provide documentation regarding the public’s interest in the operations and activities of the government before records can be processed pursuant to the FOIA,” Mr. Hardy wrote.
Mrs. Clinton, is the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, former chief diplomat, former U.S. senator, and former first lady of both the U.S. and Arkansas.
Her use of a secret email account to conduct government business while leading the State Department was front-page news for much of 2015 and 2016, and was so striking that the then-FBI director broke with procedure and made both a public statement and appearances before Congress to talk about the bureau’s probe.
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In the end, the FBI didn’t recommend charges against Mrs. Clinton, concluding that while she risked national security, she was too technologically inept to know the dangers she was running, so no case could be made against her.
The FBI says it will only release records from its files if a subject consents, is dead, or is of such public interest that it overrides privacy concerns.
Mr. Clevenger said he thought it would have been clear why Mrs. Clinton’s case was of public interest, but he sent documentation anyway, pointing to a request by members of Congress for an investigation into whether Mrs. Clinton perjured herself in testimony to Capitol Hill.
“I’m just stunned. This is exactly what I would have expected had Mrs. Clinton won the election, but she didn’t. It looks like the Obama administration is still running the FBI,” Mr. Clevenger told The Washington Times.
“How can a story receive national news coverage and not be a matter of public interest? If this is the new standard, then there’s no such thing as a public interest exception,” he said.
The FBI didn’t provide comment Tuesday when asked how it balances public interest versus privacy in open-records requests.
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Seeking to clear up any confusion over the level of public interest, one person forwarded to The Washington Times a petition started on the White House website to demand release of the documents.
“The assumption made by Mr. Hardy that such a release is not in the public interest is invalid and the FBI should immediately release these documents,” said the petition, started by user “C.S.”
• Stephen Dinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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