Hypocrisy has always been a Republican strong suit, so the current iteration regarding Hillary Clinton’s email server is by no mean a surprise. Hyperventilating Republicans rush to the cameras claiming they’ve found the smoking gun proving their political opponents aren’t just wrong, but that they’re criminals. Traffic hungry reporters take “off the record” spin and run with it, publishing dramatic (and click-driving) stories predicting perp walks any day. Then months later, when the facts actually come out, there is far less to the story than meets the eye.
We saw it in its purest form during the Dan Burton Whitewater years and more recently with a string of supposed Obama Administration scandals from Fast and Furious to the IRS. Lois Lerner may have been guilty of bad management but, despite the calls of Republicans from both ends of Capitol Hill, she is most definitely not in jail.
And it is happening again right now with the overblown, misunderstood controversy regarding Hillary Clinton’s decision to use a private email server during her service as secretary of State.
They could not get any traction on Benghazi because there just wasn’t anything there that hasn’t been done by Republicans ten times worse. Now the email thing-a-ma-bob is even more ludicrous given that George W. Bush actually used Republican National Committee servers for over 22 million emails during his term of office.
Then there’s the inconvenient truth that Condoleezza Rice AND Colin Powell, both Republican Secretaries of State, used personal email servers during their tenures and not a peep was heard from the senile old white men in the Republican Party.
There may be legitimate questions to be asked about that Clinton’s decision of course. Clinton herself has said she regrets it. And Republicans who want to argue it shows bad judgment certainly are entitled to do so, but not without admitting they were perfectly fine with Republicans, including their President, doing the exact same thing or worse.
But a bad decision is not a crime; neither for the above Republicans nor for Clinton. Using a personal email server for State Department work during Secretary Clinton’s tenure was not a crime; the statute requiring official email accounts for official business wasn’t even passed until 2014….after Clinton had stepped down as Secretary of State.
And receiving or transmitting information that was not known to be classified at the time also was not a crime. This is true even if the information was mislabeled or misclassified. And reports that a larger number of emails are now under review don’t change this — the essential fact remains that there is no evidence that Secretary Clinton sent or received any email marked classified.
But again, facts that Republicans have done the same or worse is irrelevant to the nastiest political party of all time.
The truly sad and reprehensible aspect to this entire charade is that the media has remained mute on these inconsistencies and hypocrisies. What the hell are they doing for their pay, these so-called journalists of today? I suppose it’s more or less expected that politicians act like slimeballs, but now that the once-sacrosanct rule of journalism to report the unbiased truths has vanished. In its place are shells of what they used to be. One network, which I really don’t think needs to be named although its initials are Fox News, makes no bones about the fact that their main purpose is to promote the conservative agenda regardless of the veracity of what they report.
Secretary Clinton obviously went to great lengths to identify and preserve official emails as the law requires, turning over so many records that the government actually returned more than 1000 emails on the grounds that she had produced information that was clearly personal. And while U.S. government servers were hacked, there is no indication that Secretary Clinton’s server ever was.
Some say that following the letter of the law wasn’t good enough and question whether using the server was in keeping with the spirit of the law. That’s a fair question. Our view is that the efforts to preserve emails and produce those even arguably dealing with official matters show fealty to the spirit of the law. As does that fact that one other secretary of State also used private email for official business and virtually every Administration in the Internet era has been bedeviled by the mixing of personal and official emails at one time or another. Others may see it differently, but fundamentally, debating whether someone followed the “spirit of the law” concedes there was no crime.
As to the alleged mishandling of classified information, once again, the relevant law is crystal clear. The pertinent federal statute requires “knowingly” transferring classified information to an unauthorized location. Transmitting information that wasn’t known to be classified — even if the failure to classify was an obvious mistake — is not a crime under this statute. The latest reporting makes clear that even the emails the CIA now contends contained Top Secret information had no classification markings and did not reference any sensitive intelligence methods or contain any other hallmarks of classified sourcing.
Partisans and pundits trying to find a way around this obstacle are hoping to find a way to convict without the requisite knowledge and intent, perhaps by arguing that negligence should be good enough. But the deeper they dig into antiquated and inapt statutes involving the theft of battle plans and the like, the more obvious it becomes that no crime was committed here. And all the wishful thinking in the world from opportunist political opponents can’t change that.
Politics is a contact sport and it’s no surprise that those looking to keep a controversy in the news turn to ever more hyperbolic language and inflammatory charges. But that doesn’t make it right.
Voters looking to evaluate these candidates should not have to wade through rivers of mud and phony outrage.
Republicans hoping to beat Hillary Clinton aren’t going to be bailed out by some mythical criminal prosecution in a case where there is clearly no evidence of any kind of crime. Perhaps they should spend a bit more time developing policies that might appeal to middle class Americans and a bit less on fantasy indictments and hysterical talking points that speak only to their extremist base.