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Comey & the reset button on honesty in government

| Thursday, June 9, 2016, 8:55 p.m.

When James Comey became the chief U.S. law-enforcement officer in 2013 as FBI director, he probably never thought he would face indicting the heir apparent leader of the party under which he would serve.

The facts regarding presumptive Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton's actions surrounding the use of an unsecure private email server for conducting government business show that she violated about 10 federal statutes. Several are national security-related felonies, just three of which include: disclosure of classified information (22 of the documents were top secret); unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents; and destruction of evidence (erasure of the hard drive and deletion of about 30,000 emails by Secretary of State Clinton) after a government investigation had commenced (Benghazi hearings began Oct. 10, 2012).

Clinton ignored cybersecurity warnings from the State Department and showed reckless disregard for the nation's security. Her private email server — hosting voluminous classified and top secret information — ended up being repeatedly breached and exposed by notorious Romanian hacker “Guccifer,” the Russians and others, according to cyber forensic experts.

Now more than ever, the American people need to see that both lawlessness and dereliction of duty are not given a pass and that no one is above the law.

But the reasons for this step go deeper. Hillary Clinton has been an integral part of the Clinton Foundation, which is unprecedented in size and global scope as an influence-peddling political slush fund. According to the foundation's own recent tax returns, just 10 percent of expenditures go to charitable grants, with the bulk of the expenditure balance spent on salaries, fundraising, travel and conference organizing.

The record also shows the Clinton Foundation received large contributions from several business magnates, who soon thereafter received Clinton State Department clearance for controversial business deals. Saudi Arabia contributed $10 million to the Clinton Foundation before Hillary became secretary of State. A few years later, the Clinton State Department formally cleared the largest single sale of military aircraft to the Saudis.

Even though Clinton claims she adopted an unconventional private email system out of “personal convenience,” the most probable explanation for her circumventing longstanding federal rules was simply to conceal a conflict of interest in continuing a role in the Clinton Foundation while also serving as secretary of State.

As the FBI investigation nears completion, Mr. Comey might find encouragement from former President Theodore Roosevelt, who declared: “We cannot afford to differ on the question of honesty if we expect our republic permanently to endure. … Unless a man is honest, we have no right to keep him in public life; it matters not how brilliant his capacity.”

A central issue of the November election is to choose new leadership and disabuse the American citizenry of accepting dishonesty and abuse of power in government. If Mr. Comey can rise above political pressure and do his job, he has a unique opportunity to press the reset button on government corruption and bring about an essential course correction in these troubled times.

Scott Powell is senior fellow at the Discovery Institute in Seattle and managing partner of RemingtonRand LLC.

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