It's a common claim in social media that Hillary Clinton should be convicted of criminal charges and sentenced to a prison term because of how she accessed classified information. A notable claim to this effect has been made by Donald Trump:

Look, she has done things that are absolutely wrong and absolutely illegal no matter how you look at it [...] What the Democrats are doing is preserving her to run for office. Anybody else who did what she did would now be sitting in the clinker.

He has also been quoted saying:

People are in jail right now for doing five percent of what she did and the Democrats are not going to prosecute her, and it’s frankly a disgrace.

There are many internet articles refuting or supporting the potential for criminal charges, but they all require speculation based on what she could be charged with, and how likely that charge sticking is.

So how true is this claim? Are there any former (or current) officials who have been convicted of something similar? If so, are they in prison?

closed as primarily opinion-based by vartec, Oddthinking Jun 3 '16 at 0:04

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 1
    @Will Your title ("Would anyone other than Hillary Clinton be imprisoned for improper data access?"), quoted claim ("Anybody else who did what she did would now be sitting in the clinker."), and questions in the final paragraph ("Are there any former (or current) officials who have been convicted of something similar? If so, are they in prison?") are all different, might have different answers, and inject different levels of subjectivity. I'm pretty sure it's only on topic here to ask whether the quoted claim is true. Could you clarify your question? – user30557 Jun 2 '16 at 23:45
  • 1
    Apparently Colin Powell and senior staff for Condoleezza Rice (two recent secretaries of state) have also had investigations around use of personal email accounts to receieve classified information. I don't know enough about the specifics to say how comparable they are though, maybe someone else can develop this into a full answer – user568458 Jun 2 '16 at 23:47
  • The Justice department concluded that Alberto Gonzalez mishandled highly classified documents as Attorney General. He was not criminally charged because even though he had violated the law, there was no unauthorized disclosure of classified information. – Mark Jun 3 '16 at 1:05
  • 1
    How often do you read in a newspaper article that the newspaper quotes a person who speaks off-the-record because they aren't allowed to officially speak to the press? Quite often those people speak about classified information and violate secrecy provisions. It's also worth noting that Sarah Palin had a similar problem with using a private email server for her official business. – Christian Jun 3 '16 at 8:59
  • 1
    I think the problem with this claim is that there is no "anybody else who did what she did," to compare to and that not all the information regarding the investigation has been released. I'll think about an edit, but for now I agree it's primarily opinion-based. I think "Primarily opinion-based" describes Donald Trump perfectly. – Will Jun 3 '16 at 13:12

General David Patraeus (former Director of the CIA) mishandled classified documents.

He was charged with, and plead guilty to a violation of 18 USC 1924 (unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material). (NPR, Washington Post)

Section 1924 says that whoever violates that section "shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both".

General Patraeus was fined $100,000 and given two-years probation.

  • 10
    Not sure how comparable this is - Petraeus intentionally passed classified documents which "included code words for secret intelligence programs, identities of covert officers, war strategy" to a personal contact (his biographer and ex-mistress) who didn't have security clearance, for personal gain (his biography). Seems a bit of a stretch to compare this to what Clinton's accused of? – user568458 Jun 2 '16 at 23:25
  • 1
    Okay, then don't conclude that Secretary Clinton will suffer the same fate. I'm not saying she will. – user30557 Jun 2 '16 at 23:39
  • She intentionally exfiltrated/leaked ALL of her controlled email communication to an unauthorized source (essentially the entire internet, but at minimum some ISPs, some lawyers, and 3rd party agency). She then intentionally destroyed evidence. Patraeus leaked SOME of his controlled information to ONE unauthorized source. It is very much comparable. – Physics-Compute Oct 13 '16 at 19:42
  • 5
    Patraeus committed more blatant crimes with intent, and received no jail time, so the examples shows that "anyone else would be in prison" to be factually untrue. It's a good example. – PoloHoleSet Oct 19 '16 at 21:16

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .