Hillary Clinton email server to remain an issue

May 27, 2016 1:00 am

Hillary Clinton, former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential candidate. Photo / Bloomberg

Hillary Clinton is telling voters not to trust Donald Trump. But a new government report about her use of a private email server as secretary of state is complicating that message.
The sharp rebuke from the State Department’s inspector-general, which found Clinton did not seek legal approval for her homebrew email server, guarantees that the issue will remain alive and well for the likely Democratic presidential nominee.
The new report comes at a particularly challenging time for the Clinton campaign, as she faces a two-front war against presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump and primary rival Bernie Sanders.
Already, Clinton faces questions about her trustworthiness, with months of polling showing voters give her low marks for integrity.
It’s a narrative that Trump has been eager to encourage. In the early weeks of his general election campaign he’s dubbed Clinton “Crooked Hillary” – a moniker intended to underscore questions about integrity.

“She had a little bad today, as you know. Some reports came down, weren’t so good,” Trump told thousands of supporters packed into the Anaheim Convention Centre.And he’s focused on the scandals of her husband’s administration, insinuating that questions still remain about those controversies.
Sanders made no mention of the inspector-general report during a rally in Cathedral City, near Palm Springs.
While she’s a mere 78 delegates from capturing her party’s nomination, Clinton has been unable to edge her primary rival out of the race – or win over his most passionate backers.
Clinton avoided questions about the report at her campaign events yesterday, ignoring reporters who tried to press her on the issue.
Her campaign cast the report as little more than a rehash of existing information about her email set-up, saying the finding showed that problems with record retention dated back years at the department.
They highlighted that other officials failed to follow department policy by using a personal account to conduct government business.
But the new information released by the State Department does call into question some claims made by Clinton herself, most notably her argument that she appropriately preserved her correspondence and that she was happy to “talk to anybody, any time” about the matter.
One of the two big dominoes in the Hillary Clinton email controversy toppled Wednesday: The State Department’s inspector general released its report on the email practices of Clinton and a number of other past secretaries of state. (The other major domino is, of course, the FBI investigation into Clinton’s decision to exclusively use a private email server while serving as the nation’s top diplomat.)
The report badly complicates Clinton’s past explanations about the server and whether she complied fully with the laws in place governing electronic communication. And it virtually ensures that Clinton’s email practices will be front and center in Donald Trump’s fusillade of attacks against her credibility and honesty between now and Nov. 8.
Here’s the key passage from the Post article on the report:
“The inspector general, in a long awaited review obtained Wednesday by The Washington Post in advance of its publication, found that Clinton’s use of private email for public business was ‘not an appropriate method’ of preserving documents and that her practices failed to comply with department policies meant to ensure that federal record laws are followed.”

Oomph. Double oomph. Heck, that might merit a triple oomph.Clinton used an inappropriate method of preserving her documents. Her approach would not have been approved if it had been requested by a more junior member of the State Department staff. The report also suggests that despite a Clinton aide’s insistence that the method of preserving her emails had been submitted to a legal review back in 2010, there is no evidence that such a review took place. And, here’s the kicker: Clinton refused to sit for a formal interview.
The Clinton campaign will push back hard on this report – as it has against anything that suggests she was at all in the wrong in the creation and protection of her email server. Here’s how her press secretary, Brian Fallon, put it on Twitter:
“GOP will attack HRC because she is running for President, but IG report makes clear her personal email use was not unique at State Dept.”
Clinton’s team has spent months casting the State Department Inspector General’s Office as overly aggressive and working hand in hand with congressional Republicans to cast the former secretary of state in the worst possible light.
That’s a very hard story to sell given that the current inspector general was appointed by President Barack Obama. It is, by the way, the same problem Clinton faces when she tries to cast skepticism on the ongoing FBI investigation. This is an FBI that is overseen by an attorney general – Loretta E. Lynch – who was also appointed by Obama. It’s tough to make the case that a Democratic administration filled with Democratic appointees are all somehow out to get the presumptive Democratic nominee for president.
Then there is the argument, which Fallon makes above, that Clinton was far from the first secretary of state to use less-than-airtight methods to ensure the preservation and security of her email correspondence. As the IG report makes clear, she wasn’t. Again, the Post report:
“The 83-page report reviews email practices by five secretaries of state and generally concludes that record keeping has been spotty for years.
“It was particularly critical of former secretary of state Colin Powell – who has acknowledged publicly that he used a personal email account to conduct business – concluding that he too failed to follow department policy designed to comply with public-record laws.”
There are two very important differences among Clinton, Secretary of State John Kerry, and former secretaries Powell and Condoleezza Rice when it comes to email practices.
The first is that Clinton is the first and, to date, only secretary of state to exclusively use a private email address and server to conduct her business as the nation’s top diplomat. All of the other names above maintained both a private and a government-issued email address. That alone doesn’t make her guilty. But it does make her unique.
Second, Clinton is the only one of that group who is currently (a) running for president and (b) the very likely nominee for one of the country’s two major parties.
Because of her elevated status in our political world, she is – and should be – subject to more scrutiny than, say, Powell, who hasn’t voiced an interest in running for president in 20 years. That’s particularly true because Clinton has put her time at State at the center of her argument for why she should be elected the 45th president of . Look at what I have done and judge me by it, she says. That has to include the bad as well as the good.
This is a bad day for Clinton’s presidential campaign. Period. For a candidate already struggling to overcome a perception that she is neither honest nor trustworthy, the IG report makes that task significantly harder. No one will come out of this news cycle – with the exception of the hardest of the hard-core Clinton people – believing she is a better bet for the presidency on May 25 than she was on May 23.
Clinton remains blessed that Republicans are on the verge of nominating Donald Trump, a candidate whose numbers on honesty, trustworthiness and even readiness to lead are worse – and in some cases, far worse – than hers. But Trump’s task of casting her as “Crooked Hillary” just got easier.

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton has defended using a private email server while serving as secretary of state, saying the email controversy will not affect her White House bid.
In an interview with CNN on Thursday, Clinton insisted her actions were no different than that of her predecessors, and claimed that she would not allow the issue to dog her election campaign.
“There may be reports that come out, but nothing has changed,” she said, a day after the release of a critical US State Department investigation, which slammed her use of personal email for government business.
“It’s the same story. Just like previous secretaries of state, I used a personal email. Many people did. It was not at all unprecedented,” she said.
Republicans have long speculated that the federal investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was US secretary of state could result in criminal charges against her.
More than 2,000 emails sent and received by Clinton while working as the top US diplomat between 2009 and 2013 include classified information, which the government bans from being handled outside secure, government-controlled channels.
Earlier this month, a US federal judge in Washington said he might order Clinton to testify under oath about whether she used a private email server.
US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan signed an order granting a request from the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch to question six current and former US State Department staffers about the creation and purpose of the private email server.
On Thursday, Clinton reiterated that she made a “mistake.”
“As I said many times, it was a mistake and if I could go back, I would have done it differently,” she said.
“I understand why people have concerns about this, but I hope voters look at the full picture of everything that I’ve done,” she stated.
Clinton has come under fire for using her private email account and server. Critics, including presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, say she endangered government secrets and evaded transparency laws.
Trump, who Thursday reached the milestone of 1,237 delegates necessary to clinch the nomination, attacked Clinton’s “bad judgment” about using a private email account and called the State Department’s report “devastating.”
“This was all bad judgment,” Trump during a news conference in North Dakota. “Probably illegal.”
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