Hillary Clinton’s email scandal is not going to go away, even if Clinton tries to make jokes about it. As an example of the response her actions have received from the media, last weekend the editorial board of USA Today had an editorial entitled, Clinton email controversy is no joke: Our view. The subtitle: Presidential candidate can laugh all she wants, but FBI investigations can’t be dismissed.
Now that top secret information, intelligence agency inspectors general, the FBI and federal judges are involved, the matter is far from amusing.
Clinton, though, seems to think she can dismiss the controversy by making light of it. Earlier this month in Iowa, the presidential candidate joked to a crowd of Democratic Party faithful about sending future communications over the app Snapchat, which famously makes text and photos disappear soon after they are viewed. At a testy press availability on Tuesday, Clinton went for the laugh line again after being asked whether her email server had been wiped clean. “Like with a cloth?” she replied, adding that nobody talks to her about the email controversy except reporters.
Maybe she doesn’t get asked about it at tightly controlled town meetings, but the episode raises serious questions about the Democratic front-runner’s decision-making and commitment to openness in government. One of the many reasons that it was a bad idea to mix personal and business messages is well known to anyone with an email account: As hard as you might try, you can’t control what comes into your inbox. And if you’re the secretary of State, that’s inevitably going to include some sensitive information.
Last week, a Justice Department national security investigation kicked into higher gear after intelligence agency officials determined that top secret information had indeed passed through the private email account. The FBI has taken control of the server and thumb drives storing backup data. The number of potentially classified emails involved jumped from a handful to more than 300, according to a State Department count filed in federal court. A federal judge overseeing a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit said, “We wouldn’t be here today if this employee” — Clinton — “had followed government policy.”
…Scandals surrounding Clinton and her husband have a habit of being stoked by both the Clintons’ penchant for secrecy and their political enemies’ overzealousness. Amid all the investigations and lawsuits, a resolution of the email affair will be long in coming. A couple of things, however, are already clear.
One is that Clinton and her team should have turned the server over to the State Department’s inspector general, or perhaps the National Archives, for an independent, confidential sorting of the 62,000 messages. Instead, they took it on themselves to delete about half the messages as personal and scrub the server, raising inevitable suspicions about a coverup.
Another is that, contrary to the Clinton camp’s assertion that the controversy is a lot of “nonsense,” federal computer security is no joke. Regardless of whether Clinton broke any laws, her decisions about the server represented bad judgment bordering on recklessness.
This is hardly the first time that USA Today has been critical of Clinton’s actions and of the falsehoods she has told since the scandal broke. Last week a Fact-check article showed that pretty much everything Clinton has said in her defense is false, stating “Clinton convicted herself with a multitude of misleading and error-riddled email apologies.”
They are not the only ones to find this. Multiple fact-check articles have exposed false statements made by Clinton regarding the scandal, including Factcheck.org which found multiple untrue statements in Clinton’s CNN interview. The Washington Post Fact Checker has awarded Clinton Three Pinoccios on more than one occasion, including for Hillary Clinton’s claim that ‘everything I did [on e-mails] was permitted’. The top Freedom of Information Act official at the Justice Department has stated that Clinton was in violation of the rules and the State Department’s top Freedom of Information Act officer has called her use of a private server unacceptable.
While the email has received most of the coverage since the Justice Department took possession of the server and classified documents were found, the Clinton Foundation scandals are closely related. In May, the editorial board of USA Today had an editorial entitled Only the Clintons seem blind to foundation’s conflicts: Our view.
These scandals call into question whether Democrats can take the risk of nominating Hillary Clinton, and hopefully some are also questioning the ethics of allowing her to be their candidate. Talk of Joe Biden running has replaced most of the non-Trump campaign news. Bidens meeting with Elizabeth Warren over the weekend further fueled all sorts of speculation, as did the The Wall Street Journal headline: Joe Biden Is Leaning Toward a 2016 Run.
The Washington Post directly ties this to Clinton’s scandals:
His consideration of another campaign comes as front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton has fielded mounting questions about her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
The news that the FBI is investigating whether the system put any classified information at risk has rattled some top party financiers, particularly donors who were major players in Obama’s fundraising network who have little personal history with the Clintons. In the last few weeks, e-mails and calls have been flying back and forth between top bundlers as they try to assess how serious Biden is and whether Clinton is on shaky ground.
“The network is starting to reach out,” said one major Obama fundraiser, who requested anonymity to discuss private conversations. “I’m getting calls from people saying, ‘We’re waiting for him to announce.’ People are nervous and weary of the Hillary side show, of the emails.”