Paul has summed up very well the high points of Hillary Clinton’s presser this afternoon. You can read the transcript here. On the most fundamental question, Hillary said, in essence, “That’s my story and I’m sticking to it”:
First, the laws and regulations in effect when I was secretary of state allowed me to use my email for work. That is undisputed.
But did they allow her to use a personal email account and a private server exclusively? State Department regulations acknowledged the reasonableness of using a private account under limited circumstances, e.g. an emergency, but the general policy was that a State Department account should be used for email:
It is the Department’s general policy that normal day-to-day operations be conducted on an authorized AIS [Automated Information System], which has the proper level of security control to provide nonrepudiation, authentication and encryption, to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and availability of the resident information.
Hillary obviously violated that “general policy.”
Hillary repeatedly claimed that her situation is really no different from that of any other federal employee, who at any given moment might choose to use a private email server rather than a government account:
QUESTION: How could the public be assured that when you deleted emails that were personal in nature, that you didn’t also delete emails that were professional, but possibly unflattering? …
CLINTON: Well first of all, you have to ask that question to every single federal employee, because the way the system works, the federal employee, the individual, whether they have one device, two devices, three devices, how many addresses, they make the decision.
So, even if you have a work-related device with a work-related .gov account, you choose what goes on that.
So, Hillary tells us, any federal employee might choose to circumvent the regulations by sending a particular email on a private account. But there is an obvious difference here: Hillary never used an official account; therefore, she could wait until two years after her tenure as Secretary of State was completed, and then decide what to delete, based on what, in retrospect, could be politically embarrassing.
Speaking of deletion…Hillary admitted that thousands of emails have been deleted from her private account, but we will never know what they were, since “the server will remain private.” Who actually decided which emails to delete? Hillary indicated that “my counsel” did it, based on her direction. So she has added a layer of attorney-client privilege that may make it more difficult to find out what instructions she gave, and what was done.
Hillary said that the deleted emails were “personal”:
…emails about planning Chelsea’s wedding or my mother’s funeral arrangements, condolence notes to friends as well as yoga routines, family vacations…
But we know that the deleted emails weren’t just about weddings and yoga. Hillary’s private email account came to light when a hacker called Guccifer broke into the email account of Democratic political operative Sid Blumenthal, and found a trove of emails between Blumenthal and Hillary. The emails related in part to Benghazi; you can read a couple of them here. Blumenthal passed along detailed information he had gotten from confidential sources about the terrorist attack. These emails obviously relate to Hillary’s duties as Secretary of State, not funerals or family vacations, yet news accounts indicate that they were not included in the documents she supplied to the State Department.
One of the concerns about Hillary’s private email server is, of course, security. It seems almost inconceivable that the Russians, the Iranians, the Chinese and the North Koreans weren’t reading every email Hillary wrote. What she had to say about that this afternoon was laughable:
CLINTON: Well, the system we used was set up for President Clinton’s office. And it had numerous safeguards. It was on property guarded by the Secret Service. And there were no security breaches.
Set up by whom? Did the system comply with the State Department’s security standards with regard to encryption and so on? I highly doubt it. And the property was guarded by the Secret Service? That is actually pretty funny–as though the security risk were that someone would break into the Clintons’ house and steal the server! Actually, of course, the risk is that hostile governments could electronically penetrate the server and read our Secretary of State’s email communications, which, in all probability, happened. Hillary concludes that “there were no security breaches.” Really? How would she know that? Obviously, Hillary has no idea whether the server in her house was penetrated by foreign agents or not. How dumb does she think we are? Wait, don’t answer that…
Knowing that security is a sensitive point, Hillary insists that she never used her email account to send classified information:
I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email. There is no classified material.
Given that she was Secretary of State, and knowing how low the threshold for classified information can be, I simply don’t believe her. But beyond that, how about the emails she received? Did no one ever send her anything that was classified? Again, it seems inconceivable that this could be true. Her email traffic can’t possibly be that inconsequential; the Blumenthal emails, for example, may have been of considerable interest to foreign powers even though Blumenthal is a private citizen and they were not classified.
Bill Clinton was a political magician. Hillary Clinton is not. With Hillary, you can see the rabbit ears sticking out of the hat, even as she is trying to distract you with patter. If I were a Democrat, I would be worried about 2016.
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