As a rule, these are words no politician wants to be speaking in the days leading up to the launch of a major campaign:
“What I did was to direct, you know, my counsel to conduct a thorough investigation …”
“I fully complied with every rule that I was governed by.”
“They were personal and private, about matters that I believed were in the scope of my personal privacy.”
As a rule, a candidate wants to take flight on outstretched wings of hope, not scramble in the dirt on the crabbed limbs of legal compliance. Every day spent saying “Trust me, my lawyer’s O.K. with it” is a bad day–and worse if she appears to be reading from lawyer-vetted notes.
As a rule, these would be dire, perhaps fatal, markers of a campaign crashing on takeoff. But in this case the politician was Hillary Clinton, whose carefully laid plans to unveil her latest presidential bid hit turbulence on March 10 as she fumbled her way through an awkward press conference in a corridor at the U.N. At issue: Clinton’s decision to ignore White House guidance as Secretary of State and instead conduct government business through a private email account hosted on her family’s personal server.
The Clintons play by their own set of rules. And in this case, the former Secretary of State explained, those rules bless her decision to erase some 30,000 emails from the family server despite knowing that the emails had become a subject of intense interest to congressional investigators. These were merely “private personal emails,” Clinton averred, “emails about planning Chelsea’s wedding or my mother’s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends as well as yoga routines, family vacations, the other things you typically find in inboxes.” After she finished taking questions, Clinton’s staff disclosed that no one actually read through those 30,000-odd documents before she “chose not to keep” them.
—David von Drehle (emphasis mine). No one who inspires the writing of these words has any business whatsoever being president of the United States.