Look, I really don’t want to make my blog into Clinton E-mail Central, but there really cannot be enough emphasis on this story, or on the fact that Hillary Clinton has no business being the next president of the United States, and her camp has no business having any proximity whatsoever to political power. Let us examine the latest reasons why:
James Carville admits that Clinton deleted her e-mails because she wanted to frustrate congressional review and oversight of those e-mails. For the words “congressional review and oversight,” Carville uses the name “Louie Gohmert,” but of course, Congress does have 534 other members in addition to Louie Gohmert, and it is disingenuous to believe–or pretend to believe–otherwise.
SINCE open letters to secretive and duplicitous regimes are in fashion, we would like to post an Open Letter to the Leaders of the Clinton Republic of Chappaqua:
It has come to our attention while observing your machinations during your attempted restoration that you may not fully understand our constitutional system. Thus, we are writing to bring to your attention two features of our democracy: The importance of preserving historical records and the ill-advised gluttony of an American feminist icon wallowing in regressive Middle Eastern states’ payola.
[. . .]
If you, Hillary Rodham Clinton, are willing to cite your mother’s funeral to get sympathy for ill-advisedly deleting 30,000 emails, it just makes us want to sigh: O.K., just take it. If you want it that bad, go ahead and be president and leave us in peace. (Or war, if you have your hawkish way.) You’re still idling on the runway, but we’re already jet-lagged. It’s all so drearily familiar that I know we’re only moments away from James Carville writing a column in David Brock’s Media Matters, headlined, “In Private, Hillary’s Really a Hoot.”
When you grin and call out to your supporters, like at the Emily’s List anniversary gala, “Don’t you someday want to see a woman president of the United States of America?” the answer is: Yes, it would be thrilling.
But therein lies the rub.
What is the trade-off that will be exacted by the Chappaqua Republic for that yearned-for moment? When the Rogue State of Bill began demonizing Monica Lewinsky as a troubled stalker, you knew you could count on the complicity of feminists and Democratic women in Congress. Bill’s female cabinet members and feminist supporters had no choice but to accept the unappetizing quid pro quo: The Clintons would give women progressive public policies as long as the women didn’t assail Bill for his regressive private behavior with women.
Now you, Hillary, are following the same disheartening “We’ll make you an offer you can’t refuse” pattern. You started the “Guernica” press conference defending your indefensible droit du seigneur over your State Department emails by referring to women’s rights and denouncing the letter to Iran from Republican senators as “out of step with the best traditions of American leadership.”
None of what you said made any sense. Keeping a single account mingling business and personal with your own server wasn’t about “convenience.” It was about expedience. You became judge and jury on what’s relevant because you didn’t want to leave digital fingerprints for others to retrace. You could have had Huma carry two devices if you really couldn’t hoist an extra few ounces. You insisted on piggybacking on Bill’s server, even though his aides were worried about hackers, because you were gaming the system for 2016. (Or even 2012.)
The headline says it all: “Hillary Clinton’s ‘Thorough’ Email Review Was a Keyword Search.” And frankly, that’s frightening:
Per observations by Time magazine and the Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf, the dodgy justification Hillary Clinton gave this week for conducting official business on a personal email account might be even dodgier than it first appeared.
At her Tuesday press conference, Clinton said her team had employed a “thorough process” to identify “all my emails that could possibly be work-related” so they could be handed over to the State Department. Time notes that the explanation of this process (given in a document subsequently released by Clinton’s staff) doesnt make it sound all that thorough:
First, the lawyers searched all emails with a “.gov” email address in any address field, which yielded 27,500 emails—more than 90% of the total correspondence ultimately provided to State.
Next they searched for the first and last names of more than 100 State Department and other U.S. government officials … Then they sorted and checked for “misspellings or other idiosyncrasies” to locate documents the search might have missed.
Finally, they performed a search for specific keywords, including “Benghazi” and “Libya.” It is not clear how many such terms were used as filters.
So instead of actually reading all the emails to determine which were germane—which might sound like a lot of work but is actually something that junior legal employees are quite used to doing, as they’ll tell you on the one night a week they don’t sleep, using a sports coat as a pillow, behind a filing cabinet at the office—the Clinton team did an automated search for certain words and threw away everything else. (Clinton has said emails that weren’t work-related were deleted.) This means, for example, that messages to top aides who also didn’t use State Department accounts wouldn’t have come up unless they also involved one of the keywords. And as Friedersdorf points out (and as anyone who has ever sent an email about a complicated subject realizes), humans don’t always communicate by using full proper nouns:
[. . .]
It was only in December 2014—and only after a request from the State Department—that Clinton submitted her dubiously compiled file of work-related emails for archiving.
Just in case we haven’t reiterated this enough, no one should believe anything Clinton had to say in her recent disaster of a press conference:
Hillary Clinton’s defenders say she’s sufficiently explained why she set up a do-it-yourself home email system when she was secretary of state, insist there’s nothing to see here, and it’s time to move on.
You know who disagrees?
The senior-most freedom-of-information official in the executive branch of the United States government for over a quarter-century, whose job it was to help four administrations — including the Clinton White House — interpret the Freedom of Information Act, offer advice, and testify before Congress on their behalf.
Daniel Metcalfe doesn’t buy her explanation. In fact, he calls it laughable.
“What she did was contrary to both the letter and the spirit of the law,” says Metcalfe, the founding director of the Justice Department’s Office of Information and Privacy, which advised the rest of the administration on how to comply with the law. Metcalfe ran the office from 1981 to 2007.
“There is no doubt that the scheme she established was a blatant circumvention of the Freedom of Information Act, atop the Federal Records Act.”
Metcalfe says he doesn’t have any partisan axe to grind. He’s a registered Democrat, though steadfastly non-partisan. He says he was embarrassed to work for George W. Bush and his attorney general, and left government for American University, where he now teaches government information law and policy.
Clinton claimed in her recent disaster of a press conference that “the ‘vast majority’ of emails were sent to other State Department employees and therefore automatically archived.” However, “State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki on Friday told reporters that it wasn’t until last month that the State Department started automatically archiving emails — and it’s only being done for senior staff.” The automatic archiving is supposed to be applied “to all employee mailboxes by the end of 2016.” Yet another way in which the Clintons have worked to undermine transparency.
Apparently, the Obama White House is concerned that all of this signals a return to Clintonian craziness. They have a right to be concerned; in any just world, Clinton’s political ambitions will and should suffer as a result of her ham-handed attempt to keep her communications hidden from the rest of us, and seeing as how Clinton remains the overwhelming favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination–showing the weakness of the Democratic field in general–the Democratic party will suffer for all of this. (Of course, a fair point can be made that the longer this scandal persists, the more Clinton will undermine her case for the Democratic presidential nomination, and the more 2016 will resemble 2008.)
Most people–even politicians–communicate by being relatively straightforward with others. Not the Clintons. Do we really want to spend the next four–and possibly eight–years parsing every word these people have to say?