I have actually attempted to avoid writing about Hillary Clinton’s emails. However, when new information comes out, I feel obligated to say something. One recent bit of new information is the State Department Inspector General‘s report on Secretary of State Clinton’s email server.
On Wednesday, The Los Angeles Times posted an article about Mrs. Clinton’s email server that included the following:
Clinton has long said she used a personal email server solely as a matter of “convenience.” But the result wasn’t very convenient; because of State Department spam filters, Clinton’s emails weren’t getting through to her own department. According to the report, when an aide proposed giving her a government email address, Clinton agreed, but added: “I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.”
Clinton has emphasized that the law did not prohibit her from using personal email for official business – and that’s true. But the inspector general notes that State Department rules required her to get permission to use a personal server, and she never complied.
And Clinton has said she turned over all her business-related emails as soon as the State Department asked for them. The inspector general says her submission of documents was “incomplete” and later than the law requires.
On May 28, The Washington Post reported:
Clinton initially sought to downplay the report as old news. “It’s the same story,” she told Univision anchor Maria Elena Salinas. “Just like previous secretaries of state, I used a personal email. Many people did. It was not at all unprecedented.
Except that it was. While other secretaries of state had used personal email addresses, none of them had exclusively done so. And as Helderman and Hamburger noted, the State Department IG report scolded Clinton not only for using the email address exclusively but also for slow-walking the release of those emails to the State Department.
Judicial Watch recently posted a download of an education panel they hosted on March 23 about Hillary Clinton’s emails. Judicial Watch is an organization that has been working toward more transparent government for a number of years. They have held both Republican and Democratic administrations accountable. Their panel included Jason Leopold, an investigative reporter for Vice News, Joe diGenova, attorney and former U.S. attorney, Dan Metcalfe, head of the Collaboration on Government Secrecy for the AU law school; a non-partisan educational project devoted to openness in government, freedom of information, government transparency, and a study of government secrecy in the United States and internationally, Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, and Michael Bekesha, an attorney for Judicial Watch.
The report is twenty-four pages long. Here is one excerpt:
Joe diGenova stated:
I believe Mrs. Clinton decided from the beginning of her tenure as a constitutional officer — she is a constitutional officer — that she would procure a server with the assistance of the State Department, including having them install it in her home in Chappaqua. When she did that, Chappaqua became the State Department. Those records were in fact in the possession of the United States government at that point. I am going to be fascinated by the argument she is going to make that they were not. She moved the secretary’s office from Foggy Bottom to Chappaqua. There is simply no disputing that. She made a decision that her business would be conducted on that server. That was her decision. It wasn’t anybody else’s decision. When she did that, she transferred federal records into that house and into that server. They may very well argue whatever they want to argue about it, but I think they are going to have a really tough time convincing anybody those were not government records from day one in her possession in that place. What is crucial, is that nobody knows what she ordered deleted. Her representations are irrelevant. They mean nothing. They are of limited evidentiary value, given the scheme that was worked out here to deny access and to deny information.
It does matter that Mrs. Clinton used a private server. The server was not encrypted, and many people who understand computers have stated that it would have been very easy to hack into that server. On May 25th, NBC News reported that Guccifer, a known hacker, claimed that he had broken into Mrs. Clinton’s server. That has not yet been proven, so we will wait for further news.
If you check the sources on this story, you will see that this is not simply the right-wing press reporting on Hillary Clinton’s emails. There is a genuine problem here, and the truth matters. This story shouldn’t be about the election, but because Mrs. Clinton is running for President, it seems to be that way. The story is actually about whether or not all Americans are treated equally under the law. Whether or not that is true remains to be seen.