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.