The ethics issue here is very straightforward and uncontroversial. As the New York Times put it:
“Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record. Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.”
I don’t know why the Times says “may have violated.” Her exclusive use of personal e-mail does violate the rules, and in fact the law, as the Times correctly states in the final sentence. Moreover:
1. This is a blatant example of Clinton again refusing to abide by rules and laws other officials are required to abide by. As the Washington Post notes, it was intentional: Clinton’s personal account was established on the same day that Clinton began her confirmation hearings to be Secretary of State., and the expiration on the domain is shortly after the 2016 election.
2. The episode shows that her staff and the entire Obama administration allowed such a breach to continue, when they had to be aware of the issues it raised.
3. The practice creates an appearance of impropriety by a high government official, which is forbidden by law. How does anyone know what e-mails were deleted? Why would Clinton do this, if not for some questionable purpose?
4. It created a security risk. The U.S. government goes to considerable pains to protect the security of official e-mail. Personal accounts are not as secure. Mrs. Clinton risked exposing government secrets and sensitive in formation by using an account that could be hacked.
5. It was a stupid thing to do. It was reckless, and shows terrible judgment as well as carelessness, arrogance, and a lack of professionalism.
So to answer the first question, “How can anyone trust her?,” the answer is, assuming the word “reasonably,” they can’t.
But we already knew that.
As for the second, “Is there nothing her supporters won’t excuse?,” my tentative answer is “Apparently.”
This is greatly abetted, of course, by the media. I heard CNN’s Chris Cuomo start his report on this by saying, fatuously, “Controversy or NON-troversy?” Sure, Chris, why would it be a big deal to discover that the Secretary of State and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee in 2016 violated federal law, conspired to keep control over her perhaps damning e-mails, wasn’t monitored by the government and did so intentionally? Having the media frame the story as another political “does it or doesn’t it matter?” argument allows Democrats to default to a “she’s ours, so this is just more Hillary bashing” defense.There is no controversy: it matters. It’s bad. It’s wrong. It is unethical, and is an objective indictment against Clinton’s trustworthiness and fitness to serve. It isn’t a partisan spat. I would think eventually Democrats would reach a tipping point, and have to concede that Clinton is not Presidential material, but perhaps not.
At this point, the Democrats’ and progressives’ stubborn insistence on defending Hillary Clinton is ethically identical to the Fox News defense of Bill O’Reilly. It is disgraceful.
Sources: Quartz, Washington Post, New York Times
51 thoughts on “Hillary’s E-mail Ethics Breach: The Only Questions Are 1) “How Can Anyone Trust Her?” and 2) “Is there Nothing Her Supporters Won’t Excuse?””
Question 3) “What difference, at this point, does it make?”
“I would think eventually Democrats would reach a tipping point, and have to conceded that Clinton is not Presidential material, but perhaps not.”
A few months ago I would have said you were dreaming, Jack, but, with Hilary’s numbers slipping more and more against the as-yet-undecided Republican field, more damning evidence of her incompetence emerging every day, and the increasingly desperate and shrill partisan attempts to lie, evade, intimidate, whatever it takes to set her up to be pushed across the line next year and keep the narrative of “America elected the first female president right after the first black president” on track, I think there is at least a chance that the powers that be are going to have to have a meeting in some secret place with Clinton and tell her “This isn’t going to happen. Tomorrow you are going to tell the press to expect a major announcement. The day after you are going to announce that you are not going to pursue the Presidency further. The reason or reasons you give for not doing so we leave to you: advancing age, less-than-perfect health, not wanting to go back to the strains of high office, or the old standby of unspecified “personal reasons” are all good ones. Then you are going to fade from the scene. You are going to go back to upstate New York. You are going to live quietly. You are going to coo over your granddaughter. You are going to enjoy all the money you have earned. You are going to be happy. Most of all, you are NOT going to be the future of this party or this nation. This nation has had a disabled president, a Catholic president, and a black president. One day, probably before we reach the midpoint of this century, it will have a female president. However, no one person is entitled to be that female president, least of all you.”
Why do people always pull quotes from my posts with typos in them?
A: Because it’s hard NOT to.
I would think eventually Democrats would reach a tipping point, and have to concede that Clinton is not Presidential material…. (This it is not a quote; it is a plagiarism — motivated by the pure desire, bordering on obsession, to correct a typo …. as long as the typo wasn’t mine to begin with; that’s someone else’s responsibility).
The bottom line is obvious, I think. At this point, it seems that the Democratic Party has no alternative. Official pull-back from Clinton’s inherited popularity at this point would be seen as a terminal weakness, an admission of bad judgment, ignorance, blindness, hidden agenda, etc. in the first place. There is still time; the question is whether there is a (more) qualified candidate.
And if it makes it easier to remember, Chappaqua has two p’s, just like Chappaquiddick.
If you’d like, when I pull one, I’ll correct it…if I see it.
I am living in The House of Cards. And don’t even have Kevin Spacey to make it somewhat palatable. Jesus.
1) So what we’re saying is that any of those emails that we can never get access to could completely clear up this Benghazi mess. That’s good enough for me. She’s crystal clear on that topic and all others!
2) She probably used a personal email account so no one could record racist jokes about Obama she shared with her confidants. Ha!
3) This is just another sweep under the rug no big deal situation that really isn’t important why are we worried about this at all, seriously folks way more important things to do in the world let’s focus on real issues since there’s great items of more gravitas to worry about don’t look here WAIT A LOW LEVEL REPUBLICAN ON A JUNIOR SENATOR’S STAFF DID IT ALSO????? CHRIST! SKEWER THAT MAN!!!!!
4) No but really, the Democrat Lap Dogs in the media will make sure this isn’t noticed for more than a day.
Standby for “manufactured crisis” and “emailer” (analogous to birther) accusations in comments sections everywhere.
Okay maybe I’m missing the point, but Chapaqua is not upstate NY.
You owe me a keyboard. VERY funny, you bastard….
I hate to say this, but I don’t get it.
I shall explain: in order to deflect criticism, Hillary fans (and others) have mastered the device, a classic logical fallacy, of focusing on a minor, tangential detail mistated or erroneously reported, and debunking that as if it is the substance of the matter. Dan picked up on the comment referencing sending Clinton back to “upstate New York” and treated it as if that error rendered the whole controversy moot. He did it in such a deadpan, matter of fact way that V-8 came out my nose.
To NYC folks, everything north of the Bronx is “Upstate New York” or “Hayseed Country”… or so I’m told!
Yes. I don’t pay close enough attention to the defenders of Hillary apparently, and hadn’t noticed that particular pattern.
forgot the subtitle to the song: So Long Hillary, I think it was
Liberal Dan? He seemed so bright.
“ethically identical to the Fox News defense of Bill O’Reilly.”
How about in terms of magnitude and frequency?
The American electorate (or, let us call it the mass of people and non-people who will be credited for electing her) is poised to elect Hillary Rodham Clinton the 45th President of the United States. Henceforth, I shall be calling her Tyrannosaurus Regina, or just T. Regina: a living fossil, exalted above all other fossils, in a land of the dead leading the dead, in living extinction (never thought that was possible, living extinction that is, but, there are the Clintons). Even in my least charitable moments, I can not stomach referring to Hillary as the POTUS, when the “country” to preside over is so surely and quickly ceasing to be a people and territory worthy of leading, let alone worthy of being referred to any longer as a country, let alone a great country. At this point in her candidacy, I feel on track to become a suicide-bombing Islamic radical within the next six months. “Allahu Akhbar.” What difference, at this point, does it make, indeed?
How about T. VAgina?
I thought of that, but decided the female T. Rex analog was close enough.
Is that pronounced “Vah-Gee-Nah”?
Nope, same as the city in Canada, which is Rayj-EYE-nah, according to my Canuck friends.
I love it, Tyrannosaurus Regina! Goes along with my praetorian guard for the news media! I for one would welcome a resurgence in the use of Latin.
Ever think about these secret service agents who could do such good with so little effort?
It appears that she saved her emails, so I wonder why she did this? I agree that this is very bad.
Why is right. And why didn’t anyone…an aide, anyone, say, “Uh, Ms. Secretary? Why are you doing this? You do know it’s going to cause all sorts of problem, right?” The trick is, think of any benign explanation.
I don’t doubt there’s a battalion of youthful leftist dogmatists detailed by the DNC to scour all the bureaucratic regulations and laws to find some muddled wording, odd cross references, loopholes or seeming inconsistencies that can be wildly interpreted as authorizing the Secretary of State to defer to a personal account.
Once manufactured, I’m sure this will be communicated as though it’s a perfectly acceptable practice. Then when a republican does it, it will found that he’s still wrong via another interpretation of Byzantine regulations.
Is that the best you can do?
Well, you know, that is sort of what appears to be happening, The fact that Colin Powell (also known as “ethically impeccable and never shown to be sneaky at any point in his life unlike people named Clinton” Colin Powell) also used a personal account for some communications, and this is being used as “precedent” by the Clinton defense team.
Is it really? Politics, and not just American politics, but politics in general has been interesting for the last five or so years. Everyone is scouring records and laws for really obscure loopholes or straight up legislation that allows them to do things that those laws either didn’t plan for, or should have faded into obscurity. I don’t think that Team Rex will be able to justify this, but if you think an army of peons isn’t combing communications legislation to try to spin this, I think you’re naïve.
He meant to say “youthful leftist flying monkeys”. Hope that clears things up.
1) As far as I can throw her, one-handed, uphill, against a strong wind.
Having said that… I use my uni e-mail for university business, my private e-mail otherwise. In cases where the line is blurred, I CC to my uni address or private one respectively so I have the audit trail on both.
I archive everything I write. I’m also really careful not to write anything I don’t want archived. I know too much about the capabilities of both governments and other nefarious organisations to listen in. The only way of ensuring privacy is not to send.
Having such audit trails has saved my bacon more than once.
A shared email account, with all messages saved as drafts and not sent.
And pgp encryption. VPN, TAILS, TOR, etc.
Here’s the timeline: Clinton left the State Department on February 1, 2013. Back in 2011, President Obama had signed a memorandum directing the update of federal records management. But the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) didn’t issue the relevant guidance, declaring that email records of senior government officials are permanent federal records, until August 2013. Then, in September 2013, NARA issued guidance on personal email use.
Clinton still has some questions to answer, two that I can think of: Why did she not take a state.gov address? And is the Times accurate in writing that “her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act”? If she can’t put forward persuasive answers to these two questions, then there may still be something here.
But the Times has some questions to answer to: Did you know that the new regs went into effect after Clinton left office? And if you didn’t, why not? And if you did, why did you leave that fact out of the story?
What, was she using a Yahoo account? Even if there is not a sinister reason (e.g., I want to take foreign bribes and would prefer not to use that pesky state.gov address), the security implications here are quite serious.
It was a “clintonemail” account, as in, the physical server was actually in her house. And it being her property makes it harder to subpoena information from those emails, or some such legal chicanery. And contrary to what Beth says above, there would be no way of knowing whether or not she saved or deleted information. Playing it close to the chest, indeed.
So…less safe from the North Korean hackers…but more protected from the Freedom of Information Act/US government/vast right wing conspiracy…
I don’t see Beth defending Clinton here at all. Or has “Beth” somehow become a generic term? If so, I think it’s unfair.
I’m not defending this at all. I’m questioning the whole damn thing. And, even if the server is in her house, the emails are still out there. Plus, delete does not mean delete. I’d like to get my hands on that server ….
You and I, both. Don’t think Hill would like it, though.
It’s in a secret place guarded by a hundred-headed-dragon only some of whose heads sleep at a time.
Ah, but they will ALL go to sleep if you sing “America The Beautiful” to them.
I don’t think you’re defending her either. Sorry if it came off that way. I just meant that we really wouldn’t have any way of knowing whether she saved all of her emails or not. (Based on a comment, way farther up there, that mentioned that it seemed as if she had saved them.) If, as I understand it, she was in possession of the server itself, then she’s the letter writer and the mail carrier, and the post office. There’s no outside way to verify what has and has not been deleted.
Occam’s Razor suggests that Hillary was just preempting all manner of potential scandals due to certain people having the legal right to snoop her official emails.
What could be safer than firstname.lastname@example.org?
I don’t know all the particulars yet, but I pray to God that they find out that high-level classified information was transmitted via her email. I want to see this horrible bitch rot in a cell until her bones turn to dust. She had blood on her hands long before Benghazi.
Maybe she got her own email address because the rest of the federal government seems to be so bad at finding them?