From the editors of The Washington Post:
Hillary Clinton’s use of private e-mail reflects poor judgment
By Editorial Board March 4
Hillary Rodham Clinton has served as first lady, a senator from New York and secretary of state. She is no newcomer to the corridors of power. Her decision to exclusively use a private e-mail account while secretary suggests she made a deliberate decision to shield her messages from scrutiny. It was a mistake that reflects poor judgment about a public trust.
It reflects poor judgement on the part of the former Secretary of State? Well, yes, it does, but Mrs Clinton’s demonstrated habit of exercising poor judgement won’t stop the editors of the Post from endorsing her is she is the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee!
Under the rules as they existed during Ms. Clinton’s time as secretary, from 2009 to 2013, government officials were not strictly required to use official e-mail accounts. However, in 2011 the White House spokesman, Jay Carney, said, “We are definitely instructed that we need to conduct all of our work on our government accounts . . . .” He said it was “administration policy” to use government accounts. Did this not apply to Ms. Clinton at the State Department?
Silly editors! The rules have never applied to the Clintons, either one of them.
If government officials did use private e-mails for public business, they were required to consider the e-mails to be equivalent to government records and to preserve them. Ms. Clinton took her e-mail with her when she left office in 2013, and then, in December, when asked by the State Department, turned over 55,000 pages of e-mails from the private account. Her spokesman said that in cases when she wrote to department officials at their formal addresses, those e-mails should still be in the department’s system. President Obama signed amendments to a law last November that require government employees who use private e-mail for official business to forward it to government systems within 20 days.
Which means that even if it was not illegal for Mrs Clinton to use a private server, it was illegal for her to fail to forward everything to the government within that twenty-day time frame.
Ms. Clinton is not the first high-ranking government official to write private e-mails about public business. But a host of questions arise from her decision to use private e-mail exclusively while serving as secretary. How secure was the private e-mail? What was her motive? Did anyone ask why the secretary of state was breaking with an announced administration policy? Why did she not turn over the e-mails promptly upon leaving office? Has she withheld anything?
Did anyone question her activities? Silly editors: no one ever questions the Clintons, at least no Democrats do.
It may be that Ms. Clinton used private e-mail because she anticipated Republicans would be on the prowl for scandal and wanted to control what part of her record might be scrutinized. Such fears would have had ample basis, but they do not excuse a penchant for control and secrecy that she has exhibited before — and that remains a worrying attribute as Ms. Clinton possibly enters a presidential campaign. Nor is fear of partisan criticism an even remotely valid excuse for using a private channel for official business.
Really? Mrs Clinton might have anticipated that Republicans would be on the prowl for scandal? Is the solution to that to hide government documents, or not to get involved in scandals in the first place? Funny how that concept failed to occur to the Post.
Mrs Clinton is supposed to hold a press conference on the subject this afternoon; if it has already occurred, I haven’t heard the results yet. But it doesn’t matter: whatever she said was a lie; when it comes to the Clintons, if it is a choice between telling a lie that can’t help them, or a truth which won’t hurt them, they will always choose to tell the lie, because that is simply their nature.
And now, I have seen the Associated Press story on Hillary Clinton’s press conference, and the first word that came to my mind was: liar!
“I fully complied by every rule I was governed by,” Clinton said in her first public comments since it was disclosed last week that she exclusively used a private email and server for government business.
In a 20-minute news conference, Clinton described her decision to rely on her private account as a matter of “convenience” and a way to avoid carrying two devices. She said she had never used her personal email to discuss any classified information.
Really? The Secretary of State “never used her personal email to discuss any classified information,” yet she found carrying a second device — and isn’t that what she had personal aides around to do? — an inconvenience? To believe Mrs Clinton, we must also believe that she never, not even once, found it necessary to communicate some of the very important information she had in her possession, and that was in her area of responsibility, by what was the quickest way possible.
Clinton said her server would remain private. She also said she had discarded thousands of personal emails, such as communications related to her daughter’s wedding or her mother’s funeral, but she insisted she had given the State Department all relevant emails.
Oh, so thousands of e-mails were discarded, and we are supposed to trust her that all of them were personal in nature, as determined by her, but she is retaining private control of her server, so that her claims cannot be verified?
Mrs Clinton is engaging in damage control, but it won’t work. There is no way that she can retain control of the server, and claim that all of the relevant e-mails have been turned over to the State Department; that is something for the State Department to determine, not Mrs Clinton and her aides. Even if the State Department decides not to pursue this, there will be plenty of Freedom of Information Act lawsuits to force the server to be turned over, and the longer she fights those, the longer they will fester and damage her assumed presidential campaign.
If Hillary Clinton were an actually honest person, she would have turned over the server to the State Department, right away, to stop those lawsuits, and to demonstrate that she has nothing to hide. Her problem is that she didn’t do the right thing initially, and cannot do the right thing now, because she is a fundamentally dishonest person.
Of course, both Mrs Clinton and her husband have long seen themselves as above the law, and it might just be true: despite cattle futures and Rose Law Firm billing records and Paula Jones’ lawsuit and false testimony to prosecutors, the Clintons are free, untouchable and wealthy. But facing a (probable) presidential campaign, starting when Mrs Clinton is already 67 years old, she might just find that she isn’t quite as untouchable as she thinks when it comes to the judgements of the actual voters.