Wait, what? Clinton may not have understood classified marking system?

In his testimony yesterday before the House Oversight Committee, FBI Director James Comey acknowledged at one point that it was not clear whether then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fully understood the government’s marking system for classified messages.

The video that follows captures two exchanges with Republican members of the committee. The first is with Florida Congressman Ron DeSantis , the second North Carolina Congressman. Mark Meadows .

DeSantis opens by asking Comey about the information that was marked classified on Clinton’s email server: “That information you found — would somebody sophisticated in those matters, should this have been obvious, that was very sensitive information?”

Comey answers affirmatively, but then returns to the question himself a few minutes later:

FBI Director James Comey: I just want to take one of your assumptions about ‘sophistication. I don’t think our investigation established she was particularly sophisticated with respect to classified information and the levels and treatment.

Congressman Ron DeSantis: Isn’t she an original classification authority though?

Comey: Yes, sir, yes, sir.

DeSantis: Good grief!

Matters get worse when Meadows grilla Comey on whether he was testifying that Clinton didn’t know what a classified marking is. Here’s Comey’s answer:

It’s an interesting question whether she … was actually sophisticated enough to understand what a C in [parentheses] means.

You asked me if I would assume someone would know. Probably before this investigation, I would have. I am not so sure of that any longer. I think it’s possible — possible — that she didn’t know what a C meant when she saw it in the body of an email like that.

The conversation about Clinton’s private server, which began years ago with flat denials from her, then later progressed to her acknowledgement that maintaining a private server was a bad idea and that she wouldn’t do it again, has now gone way beyond “the dog ate my homework” phase. The FBI director stated categorically that this woman who aspires to the presidency of the United States may lack the sophistication to deal with state secrets. Isn’t that kind of sort of important for the person entrusted with running our country? Is the nation willing to give her another chance to master the learning curve?

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles

Ben Bowles is a freelance writer.


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