Where You Stand, Where You Sit, and Email

I was too overwhelmed with work to write about it yesterday but as you undoubtedly know the State Department’s Inspector General released a report on Sec. Clinton’s handling of email that was highly critical of Sec. Clinton among others. From Jonathan Allen’s report at Reuters:

Hillary Clinton broke government rules by using a private email server without approval for her work as U.S. secretary of state, an internal government watchdog said on Wednesday.

The long-awaited report by the State Department inspector general was the first official audit of the controversial arrangement to be made public. It was highly critical of Clinton’s use of a server in her home, and immediately fueled Republican attacks on Clinton, the Democratic front-runner in an already acrimonious presidential race.

The report, which also found problems in department record-keeping practices before Clinton’s tenure, undermined Clinton’s earlier defenses of her emails, likely adding to Democratic anxieties about public perceptions of the candidate. A majority of voters say Clinton is dishonest, according to multiple polls.

The report concluded that Clinton would not have been allowed to use the server in her home had she asked the department officials in charge of information security. The report said that staff who later raised concerns were told to keep quiet. Several suspected hacking attempts in 2011 were never reported to department information security officials, in breach of department rules, it said.

The editors of the Washington Post declaimed:

HILLARY CLINTON’S use of a private email server while secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 has been justifiably criticized as an error of judgment. What the new report from the State Department inspector general makes clear is that it also was not a casual oversight. Ms. Clinton had plenty of warnings to use official government communications methods, so as to make sure that her records were properly preserved and to minimize cybersecurity risks. She ignored them.

and the editors of the Wall Street Journal add:

Hillary Clinton has said for more than a year that her use of a private email server as Secretary of State violated no federal rules and posed no security risk. Only the gullible believed that, and now everyone has proof of her deceptions in a scathing report from State Department Inspector General Steve Linick.

The report obtained by news outlets Wednesday is ostensibly an audit of the email practices of five secretaries of State. But the majority of the report, and the most withering criticism, focuses on Mrs. Clinton. The IG concludes that the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee broke federal record-keeping rules, never received permission for her off-grid server, ignored security concerns raised by other officials, and employed a staff that flouted the rules with the same disdain she did.

Whether the report is “scathing” or a “nothingburger” depends somewhat on where the author sits. Austin Bay remarks:

In a pre-release copy of a report on Hillary Cinton’s failure to obey federal record-keeping laws, which Politico obtained, the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General (OIG) delivers an 83-page doozy.

The State Department inspector general’s office concluded that the former Secretary of State violated legally-mandated record keeping requirements. Quote: “Secretary Clinton should have preserved any federal records she created and received on her personal account by printing and filing those records with the related files in the Office of the Secretary. At a minimum, Secretary Clinton should have surrendered all emails dealing with Department business before leaving government service and, because she did not do so, she did not comply with the department’s policies that were implemented in accordance with the Federal Records Act.” (That’s on document page 23, page 26 of the pdf. Check it out.)

Bureaucratese riddles that last sentence, but the message is clear: she broke the law. Hillary Clinton has indeed done something wrong—her claims of innocence to the contrary.

while Josh Marshall, always a reliable weathervane of the DNC position, wearily writes:

A brief note on the State Department IG Report on the Clinton email issue. The ledes of a lot of stories present this as a rough hit for Clinton, bad news blah blah blah. Let’s focus on the essential point: Despite the fact that there are some real questions about the impartiality of the IG, the report says the issues with the management of the Secretary of State’s emails are of longstanding and go back with the last five Secretaries of State. The report also singles out Colin Powell, who had a similar set up. The criticism is there. It definitely wasn’t a good arrangement. But to see this as a damaging report after the hyperbolic and frequently insane coverage of this issue is crazy. This was never more than some poor judgment overlayed by a big bureaucratic pissing match all slathered over by a thick layer of partisan game playing and media derp.

Like most Clinton scandals, if there there hadn’t been months, maybe more than a year of weird conspiracy theories, expected perp walks and general nonsense, one might read this and say, wow, that’s disappointing. But after all that, it’s just a big nothingburger. Like it almost always is.

The reactions from defenders of Hillary Clinton follow a well-trod path: it’s old news and everybody does it. Neither of those is exculpatory. And arguing that everybody does it is the basis of Donald Trump’s campaign. Indeed, it seems to me that if that’s your argument, you’re advocating a vote for Trump, the “Control-Alt-Delete candidate”.

The IG’s report increases the urgency of the FBI’s report on its investigation. If the FBI fails to indict, it will call the agency’s integrity into question and, based on the leaks from the FBI, I would expect some insurgency from within the organization.

I hope the report is forthcoming before the California primary. That would, at least, provide the Democratic Party with some options that may be foreclosed later on.

10 comments… add one
  • ... Link

    I was wondering how long it would take one of the Dems to accuse the IG office of being run by the RNC. Didn’t take long! My God, who knew that DC was almost entirely Republican?

  • walt moffett Link

    Interesting to see how quickly the idea of open, transparent government fades away.

  • Guarneri Link
  • PD Shaw Link

    I don’t think Joe Scarborough speaks for much of MSNBC, but this morning’s mash-up of Clinton statements contrasted with the findings in the report was pretty devastating, for those few of us who watched. November seems far away though.

    California’s primary voting began May 9th. The early voting system is stupid in the context of how primaries are run as a sequence of contests developing through continuous interactions that build on previous contests. How many votes did Bush and Rubio et al. get after they left the race?

  • Bird Dog Link

    The report reinforces the Crooked Hillary schtick that Trump has been using. It’ll hurt her because it reinforces the majority perception that she’s neither honest nor trustworthy. Her response–and the responses from her operatives–has not helped. Most of us are sick and tired of the Clintonian slime. When it’s found that they engage in ethically deficient, they lie, then muddy the waters, then stonewall, rinse and repeat.

  • Jan Link

    “Lie, stonewall, muddy the waters, rinse & repeat” is a tactic prolifically used in the Obama administration too – F & F, AP gate, IRS targeting, Benghaz, infinitum.i

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