Editorial: Clinton email probe needs special prosecutor
With Hillary Clinton running for president, it is hard to keep separate legitimate questions about whether her unorthodox email practices while secretary of state compromised national security from the partisan mud-slinging that comes with a political campaign.
Likewise, as the likely Democratic standard-bearer and former cabinet officer in the Obama administration, it is a stretch to assume the Justice Department will do a vigorous and impartial investigation into the email controversy and be entirely forthcoming with the results.
For the sake of everyone's credibility, a special prosecutor should be appointed with the tools to quickly answer the questions before the presidential primaries begin.
That's not a lot of time. The urgency of getting to the bottom of this argues for the tools a special prosecutor can bring to a probe.
Despite Clinton's insistence that she did nothing out of the ordinary, a federal judge ruled in a Freedom of Information Act case Friday that she had violated government policy by storing official messages on a private server. He ordered the State Department to work with the FBI, which is probing whether national security has been compromised.
An investigation should include the deposing of Clinton, who has been caught in one deception after another in trying to explain away the private email account over the past several months.
Her lack of veracity mandates that she be placed under oath and asked the questions any other government official would be asked in a similar situation. Her standing as a presidential candidate should afford her no special privileges.
As much as Clinton tries to dismiss this as a politically-driven attack, the facts and her own actions suggest otherwise.
Clinton stonewalled for months on turning over her emails, and only did so on the order of a judge. Even then, she scrubbed the server of half of its 60,000 emails, and gave a back-up thumb drive to her attorney, in violation of security protocol.
For months she claimed to have kept no classified information on the server. But inspectors general for the intelligence community found 40 pieces of classified material in a small sampling of the emails that remained, and concluded as many as 1,500 emails may have held national secrets.
Others have faced criminal prosecution and were convicted for far less careless handling of classified information, including Gen. David Petraeus, who shared secret material with a biographer who had a security clearance.
FBI agents are trying to reconstruct some of the deleted emails, and may or may not be successful. Clinton should be asked under oath what those emails contained, and why she deleted them.
She should also have to answer why she willfully violated State Department rules in maintaining the unsecured private server. What was she hiding?
It's unfortunate the investigation is unfolding in the heat of the presidential campaign. But Clinton brought that on herself by not being forthcoming when the private server was discovered.
Those investigating Clinton's use of the server and whether she compromised national security in doing so should not have to worry about being throttled by politics. The only way to assure that is to appoint a special prosecutor.