Thursday, May 26, 2016

Vindication

Hillary Clinton has said over and over that if she had to do it over, she wouldn’t have kept her e-mail on a private server.  Okay, fair enough; I don’t think there’s anyone outside of the Orcosphere that wouldn’t at least accept that and move on to something more important such as why did NBC cancel “The Mysteries of Laura.”  But now that the Inspector General has released the report criticizing her for it, the knives are out.  Some are going so far as to suggest that she drop out of the race.

I’ve already quoted Josh Marshall’s summary on the subject.  But we all know that Talking Points Memo is a liberal organ (and probably in the tank for Hillary, amirite?).  Okay, well what about Forbes?  You know, that magazine that could hardly be called a left wing mouthpiece.  Here’s contributor Charles Tiefer’s take on it.

The report released Wednesday by the State Department Inspector General on its email records management is being reported as heavy-duty criticism of former Secretary Hillary Clinton. However, the report has more in it that vindicates Clinton than nails her.

It does not add any new serious charges or adverse facts. And, it shows she was less out of line with her predecessors, notably Colin Powell, than has been charged. Powell’s handling of his email was so similar, in fact, that when House Republicans drag this issue through hearings up to Election Day, Powell should be called as a witness – a witness for Clinton. To put it differently, she is having a double standard applied to her. Here are five key aspects of the report.

First, and foremost, it is simply not about classified email. It is about regular, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, unclassified email. Yet it is the classified email, not these messages, that are the focus of the FBI investigation of Clinton. In other words, the report does not, and cannot, talk about the most serious issues. It is about a sideshow. If you are serious about the email charges against Hillary, you should keep your powder dry until at least Clinton is interviewed by the FBI in a matter of weeks, and then until the result of that probe is released.

Moreover, it is no accident that this report does not deal with the most serious issues: The FBI expressly told the State Department IG to stay away from classified records. That would have involved the State Department IG interfering with and possibly foreshadowing the FBI criminal investigation. But, this meant the FBI left the State Department IG with a subject involving much less grounds for potential criticism of Clinton, as we see in this report.

Second, there is not that much new information about Clinton in it. Certainly, the widely-reported fact that it’s an 83-page report makes it sound like it is big. But half is appendices. Half of the rest is not about the Secretary’s emails, but about cybersecurity. Of the two-dozen pages that are even remotely about Secretaries’ emails, a lot is taken up by retracing the dreary history of records and archival policy. The remainder involves all the secretaries going back two decades – not just Clinton and Powell, who are alike, but also ones of no particular interest, like Madeleine Albright, Condoleeza Rice, and also John Kerry. There’s just not a lot of new facts about Clinton.

Look at the press coverage. You will not find mentions of major new facts in the IG report.

Third, where the report does add to our knowledge, is about Colin Powell, who served from 2001-2005. Powell did all his email business on a private account. All of his emails on official business were apparently in a private account. It is not clear why a great deal of what is said against Clinton’s emails, could not be said against Powell’s. Moreover, Powell’s similar practices can hardly be blamed on his being a novice about security. He not only had been Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he had been National Security Adviser. He had jurisdiction over all the intelligence agencies. Since Powell, with unimpeachable security credentials, felt fine using private email for official business, why are we climbing all over Clinton? It is, to be blunt, a double standard.

It’s often been said by the Clinton’s critics and the punditocracy that Bill and Hillary Clinton don’t play by the same rules as everyone else.  But it can also be said that they are held to different standards than everyone else.  Bill Clinton was impeached for a lying about an affair by a group of men that were having their own dalliances, including one who was just sentenced for lying about having sex with teenage boys.  So holding Hillary Clinton up to a different standard for her e-mail practices is just more of the same.

HT to Melissa.

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