The media went crazy the other day when Donald Trump, Republican nominee for the 2016 Presidential election, suggested that if Russia had the remaining 33,000 missing emails from Hillary Clinton’s private server, it might be kind enough to hand them over. There was much grinding and gnashing of teeth, with some even going so far as so accuse Mr. Trump of treason for inviting a foreign government into our own affairs. Although at the outset it could be suggested that Mr. Trump was speaking in jest, it may just be that he’s more familiar with our international law than the rest of us.
In June of 1999, The United States of America and the Russian Federation signed “Treaties and Other International Acts Series 13046: Mutual Legal Assistance”. It holds the seal of the United States State Department and the following note on the first two pages:
NOTE BY THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE
Pursuant to Public Law 89—497, approved July 8, 1966 (80 Stat. 271; 1 U.S.C. 113)—
“. . .the Treaties and Other International Acts Series issued under the authority of the Secretary of State shall be competent
evidence . . . of the treaties, international agreements other than treaties, and proclamations by the President of such treaties and international agreements other than treaties, as the case may be, therein contained, in all the courts of law and equity and of maritime jurisdiction, and in all the tribunals and public offices of the
United States, and of the several States, without any further proof or authentication thereof.”
Under this Treaty, Article 2, section 2 reads “Legal assistance under this treaty shall include… (2) providing documents, records, and other items;”
In short, this means that if either country, Russia or the USA, holds information pertinent to an ongoing legal case (which with regards to Mrs. Clinton’s emails, is still very much pertinent, as the Democrats have accused Russia for the DNC email hack and more), the partner country can submit a request in writing for that information to be turned over.
The irony of all this, of course, is that the treaty was signed by Mrs. Clinton’s husband, former President William Jefferson Clinton. When it was fully ratified some years later, it was passed unanimously by the 106th Senate (Treaty doc 106-22), of which Mrs. Clinton herself was a part (D-NY).
The full text of the treaty can be seen here: Mutual Legal Aid Treaty