Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Blogger Candidate Forum: Those Emails

Secretary Hillary Clinton checking email
Hello Everyone:

It is Wednesday, which means it it time for the weekly installment of Blogger Candidate Forum.  Before we get going on Hillary Clinton, let us acknowledge yesterday's Washington State Republican Primary.  In case you have been off the grid, Donald Trump.  Not news when you are the only one on the ballot.  The next round of presidential primaries is on JUNE  7, with the big one in California.  Now, shall we talk about Secretary Hillary Clinton?

Let us start with the obvious, for all intents and purposes, Madame Secretary will be the Democratic party nominee.  Another obvious observation, is the impact of the State Department inspector general's report on Madame Secretary's email practices.  Madame Secretary was not the only top State Department official with questionable email usages.  Others include: former Secretaries of State Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice, and Madelaine Albright.  Chris Cillizza reports in today's Washington Post, "The report....badly complicates Clinton's past explanations about the server and whether she fully complied with the laws in place governing electronic communication." (; accessed May 25, 2016)  The newly released reports gives more than ample fuel to the Trump campaign narrative of "Crooked Hillary."  Surprisingly the Sanders campaign has not made any statement about the report.  Perhaps that is all well and fine because, Senator Bernie Sanders has not made this issue a focus of attack on Madame Secretary.

Secretary Clinton before the House Select Committee on Benghazi
In a related article, also in the Post, Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger write, "The inspector general, in a long awaited review...found that Clinton's use of private email for public business was not appropriate method of preserving documents and that her practices failed to comply with department policies meant to ensure that federal record laws are followed."  (Ibid) Well, yes.  The report goes on to say that Madame Secretary "...should have printed and saved her emails during her four years in office or surrendered her work-related correspondence immediately upon stepping down in February 2013."  She provided those documents in December 2014.  In Blogger's estimation, not printing or saving her emails is not a crime.  Careless, yes but not a crime.  Really, how many of us save and print out our work-related correspondence, then surrender them when we leave our job?

Attorney General Loretta Lynch
The real question remains did any of those emails contain sensitive information that placed American lives and assets in danger?  Also, was the server vulnerable to hackers?  The answers to these and many more questions may not come for months or years, if at all. The report also revealed that a top aide to Madame Secretary was warned, as far back as 2010, that her private system "...may not properly preserve records but dismissed those worries, indicating that the system passed legal muster."  (Ibid)  The inspector general report said it could not present any evidence by legal counsel.  Further, the report revealed that there was "some awareness" of her email habit by some of her staff members.  For her part, Madame Secretary has long maintained that the State Department knew about her private emails.

Secretary Hillary Clinton addressing the Democratic National Committee
Rosalind S. Helderman and Tom Hamburger continue. "...the report also provides a striking example of a department official appearing to shield the system from scrutiny.  When an IT staffer raised concerns in 2010 that the system may not properly preserve records, the official said the system had been review by attorneys..."  What this seems to indicate that someone at the State Department knew about the server and sought to protect Madame Secretary.  In fact, this unknown person told the IT staffer never to speak of Madame Secretary's email again.  It sounds like something out of a political thriller.  The thing to look for in the Federal Bureau of Investigation's probe, the last person interviewed by FBI.  He or she is the subject of the investigation.  Rumor has it, that it is not Madame Secretary.

United States Department of State
 Secretary Hillary Clinton's press secretary, Brian Fallon, tweeted,

GOP will attack HRC because she is running for President but IG report makes it clear personal email was not unique at State Department  (9:22 AM-25 May 2016 @brianefallon)

The Clinton campaign has spent months painting the IG Office's as beginning overly aggressive and cooperating with congressional Republicans to portray Madame Secretary in the worst possible way.  This sounds disingenuous considering that the IG was appointed by President Barack Obama.  This is the same issue she faces if Madame Secretary tries to was dispersion on the FBI investigation.  The very same FBI overseen by Pres. Obama appointee Loretta E. Lynch.  Does this mean that a DEMOCRATIC administration filled with DEMOCRATIC appointees is out to get her?

There is some credibly to Mr. Fallon's argument that Madame Secretary is far from the first Secretary of State to use less-than-airtight  methods for ensuring the preservation and securing of her email.  The report is particularly critical of former President George W. Bush's first Secretary of State Colin Powell who acknowledged that he used his personal email account for business and failed to follow with department policy regarding compliance with public record laws.

AG Lynch suggested that the White House "stay silent" on email probe
The IG's report does highlight two major differences between Secretary Hillary, current Secretary of State John Kerry, and former secretaries Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice regarding email practices.  First, Madame Secretary is, so far, the only secretary of state to use a private server and email address for businesses while serving as the nation's top diplomat.  The others maintained separate private and government email addresses.  It is never, ever a a good idea to co-mingle your private and work correspondence regardless of what you do.  You never know who has access to your email.  Is co-mingling correspondence make her guilty.  No, it is not but it does make her stand out among her peers.  The second and most obvious point is Madame Secretary is running for president and is the likely nominee for her party.

The presumptive nominees
As the likely nominee for her party, Secretary Hillary Clinton should be under greater scrutiny then Secretary Rice, who has never expressed interest in elected office.  This is also true because her campaign  has made her tenure at State the center of her argument for why anyone would elect her President of The United States.  Every aspect of her tenure should be closely examined: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

There is also the perception issue.  Madame Secretary has been portrayed as dishonest and untrustworthy by both Mr. Trump and Senator Sanders.  Certainly, this report makes the task of changing that impression significantly harder.  The silver lining here is that Republicans are about to nominate a man whose numbers in the trustworthy, honesty, and readiness categories are even lower than hers.  In this way, it makes the job of shedding the "Crooked Hillary" label a little easier.

No doubt this is a bad day for Secretary Hillary Clinton but she will overcome it.  Her task, right now, is to be as forthcoming with the American public as possible.  The results of the FBI probe are still in the wings but there is little evidence to suggest that there was any malicious intent to flaunt classification rules.  Yours truly does not believe there was malicious intent either.  Naturally, there are those outside the federal government who believe otherwise and that is fine with Blogger.  Rather jump to any conclusions, yours truly believes that it is best to take a wait and see approach.  The FBI is expected to conclude their probe this summer.  Then we will what comes next.

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