Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Hillary's E-Mail Dilemma

    Let's get one thing straight: people are not out to get Hillary Clinton because of her private e-mail server. Hillary Clinton used a private e-mail server because people are out to get her. Yes, she apparently bent and broke the rules, and everyone,  including Clinton, has said how stupid this was. I don't think it's stupid. I think it was the best of several bad choices.

    You see, Hillary Clinton doesn't have the option of doing the right thing and not getting attacked. She has not been allowed that option in twenty years.

    If Clinton had used a government e-mail address, she would be getting hammered, right now, for using her government e-mail address for political purposes. Count on it. Because try as she might, some personal and political e-mail would have been sent to her [email protected] address, and this would be treated as a huge scandal.

    Really? Would people really make an objection to that? Sure. Let's not forget the big, terrible Al Gore scandal where he was raked over the coals for "illegally fund-raising on federal property" because he made some phone calls from his office. This is the Vice-President of the United States, who not only worked but lived on federal property, and was only occasionally off federal property. The press went right along with that scandal, and it became a major Bush talking point in the 2000 election. This is all on record. If you've forgotten, well, you're lucky. Hillary Clinton does not have the luxury of forgetting. In fact, the luxury of forgetting is part of her problem, in that it frees the rest of us -- the press, the Republicans, the voters -- from any obligation to even basic consistency in how we treat her.

    But come on, you say. How hard is it to keep two e-mail accounts separate? Can't everyone do that? as someone who uses multiple e-mail accounts, let me say: no. You can't. It's impossible. Or rather, YOU can keep your work and personal accounts strictly separate, and only send the appropriate messages from each one. What you can't do is make everyone else keep your e-mails separate. You will, I promise you, get some e-mail sent to the wrong address every week, That is inevitable. So Secretary Clinton would have been exposed every time one of her political connections forgot to type "[email protected]" and typed "[email protected]" instead. Every piece of misrouted polling data, unsolicited political advice, or personal gossip would have exposed Clinton to trumped-up charges of using federal resources for political ends.

    (That would have been the play: she misused government property, the State Department's web server and routers, for campaign purposes. And everyone would have nodded very solemnly about how terrible that was.)

    And of course, anything sent to her government account would have been ripe for leaking, including embarrassing personal tidbits and actual political strategy (which no longer works if the opposition knows it, yes?). If you feel any doubt that people would actually leak that stuff, you're allowing yourself the luxury of amnesia again. Because things like that just got leaked in this investigation. It was in all of the papers: this e-mail with Sidney Blumenthal, that e-mail with Huma Abedin, all of the things that Clinton had an interest in keeping private and the public had no legitimate security interest in knowing. And all of that was illegally leaked by sworn government agents who were allegedly investigating e-mail security.

    You may have forgotten, but Clinton can't, that she and Bill have been pummeled for years by leaks of material that is illegal to disclose to the press. The impeachment days sailed on a daily tide of sealed grand jury testimony leaked by the investigators. The people investigating Bill in search of a crime actually committed the crime of violating grand jury secrecy on a weekly basis. Why would Clinton think this time would be different? Looking back over the last year, it is clearly not different.

    Chew on this: our politics have gotten to a place where the Secretary of State could not trust her e-mail to a government server because she could not trust other government officials, including law enforcement officials, to keep it secure. She had to take as granted that federal law enforcement officials would illegally leak confidential material to cause her harm. Confidential material was held on a private server because the Secretary of State believed -- quite rightly -- that her fellow government officials would not keep it safe. Think about that one for a while.



    Doc you raise an interesting point about the potential of a campaign email scandal, but this is not the Scylla vs Charybdis dilemma you're portraying. She avoided a pothole by driving into a tree. No matter how hard they might have tried to hit her for using a government email for campaign purposes, it would not have been as bad as this. Her actions are the subject of two investigations, not by congressional Republicans. By the FBI and the State Dept, and latter has just issued a fairly damning report.

    So yes, it was the stupid choice. It was also the unethical choice. Deliberately violating FOIA does not compare to receiving mis-addressed emails or mistakenly sending a message from the wrong account.

    Yes, I know about the report. I read the paper today.

    But what Clinton has done, while not right, is a response to years of lawbreaking by others, including by sworn nd LEOs and prosecutors. She wrong about the law, but not about the situation. Because the law never applied to people going after the Clintons.

    She is paranoid AND people are out to get her. But don't tell me it would be better if she had done x, y, or z. Because the game is that whatever Clinton chooses is wrong, and of course everything would be great if she just did the other thing.

    Using gov't email for personal purposes - e.g., Bill put the chicken in the oven at 5:30, I'll be home at 7 - is not prohibited.  Moreover, she could have easily maintained a separate email address for non-State Department business as many others did at the time and do now.

    I guess you didn't read Dr. Cleveland's post or you would know that he wasn't talking about personal emails of this sort. 

    From the OP -" And of course, anything sent to her government account would have been ripe for leaking, including embarrassing personal tidbits"  As I noted, she could have maintained a personal email address for her personal email.

    Of course you can.  What you can't control is what other people send you. In my work, all of my sent and received emails are archived for 7 years and can be randomly viewed by members of our compliance team.  It doesn't matter how diligent I am about sending personal stuff from Gmail, the Chief Compliance Officer still knows that my wife calls me a bunny. It only takes her sending one personal note to the wrong account.

    More fun with this -- at a previous job, during a routine SEC audit, the examiner requested all references to American Express, because it was a stock held in one of the portfolios and they just wanted to peak at the research emails pertaining to one of the investments.  What the examiner got was a high octane fight between the CEO and his wife, about charges on their personal Amex.


    Saying what time to put chicken in the oven and what time you'll be home is not embarrassing. Personal but not embarrassing.  This is not what he was talking about, and you ignored the problem of anything political going into an email getting all the Hillary-goons going again.

    Doc, I'm not playing any game here. I don't have it out for Clinton. I think Benghazi is a joke, I don't care about Wall Street speeches, and I generally approve of her policies. But I've been very critical about her use of a private email server from the very beginning. In my response, I explained why X is in fact much worse than Y--using the Y example you provided. For you to respond, oh X, Y, Z it doesn't matter because people are always out to get her, is 1) a dismissal of my argument without engaging it, and 2) kind of nihilistic--as if to say that whatever Clinton chooses, she will be attacked, so all choices are equal

    You don't care about Wall Street speeches?  I don't believe that.  You're the one who says we need a revolution.

    Paid speeches to investors are not the cause of America's problems.

    PS I'm not getting into an argument about this. It's not relevant to this thread.

    I do genuinely believe that whatever Clinton chooses, she will be attacked. That seems to me exactly how things operate. But I didn't mean to dismiss you out of hand, and by "game" I generally mean the standard media spin.

    I don't love the private server. But then, I didn't love Bill's perjury. That was a clear violation of the law. These are objectively bad Clinton behaviors that they rightly or wrongly (or perhaps both rightly AND wrongly) see themselves as being pushed into. 

    I think the larger point is that since the rules never apply when you're going after the Clintons, they have to choose between playing by the rules and getting punished for it, or trying to escape punishment by breaking rules. I don't applaud their choice, but I also think we need to ask who else contributes to this behavior.

    "I didn't love Bill's perjury. That was a clear violation of the law." - actually no - it wasnt germane to the investigation, so he was under no legal obligation to answer truthfully. In a real court of law rather than that kangeroo court, he would have been under no obligation to sacrifice his rights. Even the debarment was over what standards lawyers should maintain, which in this case was laughable - no lawyers had affairs and kept them hush hush? Even Bill Cosby's been able to keep much more draconian non-consenting stuff at bay for decades. And Ken Starr's angle was "have you ever had sex with anyone?" - what a travesty.

    So yes, we should try to understand why Hillary made this choice, and yes, we should criticize spurious Republican attacks like Benghazi and Vince Foster. But it doesn't follow that we should refrain from criticism or second-guessing. The email server was not just ethically wrong, it was politically stupid and has caused far more damage than the threat of campaign-related emails from government accounts.

    And unfortunately, this is a pattern with the Clintons. Bill had good reason to perjure himself, but that choice ultimately caused much more political damage than if he had been honest. It was wrong, and it was stupid. As usual, the cover up was worse than the crime.

    Moreover, there were numerous unforced errors during the Clinton administration--errors that the GOP blew out of proportion but still errors of judgment: whitewater, travelgate, filegate, dubious pardons, Lincoln's bedroom fundraising, etc. Compare Bill Clinton's presidency with Obama's. The right wing also broke the rules to attack Obama, yet Obama has led one of the most scandal-free administrations in recent history, while Clinton's was one of the most scandal-plagued.

    In short, I think you've got it backwards. The Clintons never had high regard for playing by rules. Republican attacks have just made them more self-righteous about it.

    It wasn't stupid, as Doc Cleveland noted. It was a choice. She could have had her Benghazi and federal lawsuits over any personal mails done on public property or whatever other double-standards they would use to broil her, or she could have walled things off and had some control while she did her job. Note that it worked for the duration of her stint at SoS, and it only came up last summer, 2 1/2 years after she'd finished.

    Susan Rice went on national TV the day after Benghazi and said something like "we think it was a protest over an anti-Muslim video that got hijacked by an extremist mob, but we're still investigating what happened" or "that's the best we know at the moment", and they roasted her over the coals for the next year proclaiming she lied and hid stuff when there were recordings and transcripts. Let me lay that out, because Chris Wallace still says she lied and said it wasn't Al Qaeda. And this is the bullshit that every Democrat has to deal with, but especially Hillary, and there's no fair and balanced press nor politicians who are going to vigorously vet and rebut wrong statements cause they can't even be bothered to debunk the continual stream of lies Trump puts out - they just give up. Give these fuckers access to Hillary's data? screw 'em. Here it is:

    MS. RICE: Well, Jake, first of all, it’s important to know that there’s an FBI investigation that has begun and will take some time to be completed. That will tell us with certainty what transpired.

    But our current best assessment, based on the information that we have at present, is that, in fact, what this began as, it was a spontaneous — not a premeditated — response to what had transpired in Cairo. In Cairo, as you know, a few hours earlier, there was a violent protest that was undertaken in reaction to this very offensive video that was disseminated.

    We believe that folks in Benghazi, a small number of people came to the embassy to — or to the consulate, rather, to replicate the sort of challenge that was posed in Cairo. And then as that unfolded, it seems to have been hijacked, let us say, by some individual clusters of extremists who came with heavier weapons, weapons that as you know in — in the wake of the revolution in Libya are — are quite common and accessible. And it then evolved from there.

    Full transcript.

    CBS’s “Face the Nation”

    MS. RICE:  So we’ll want to see the results of that [FBI] investigation to draw any definitive conclusions. But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy– –sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that– in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.

    BOB SCHIEFFER: But you do not agree with him that this was something that had been plotted out several months ago?

    MS. RICE: We do not– we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.

    MR. SCHIEFFER: Do you agree or disagree with [the previous guest, the president of Libya’s general national congress] that al Qaeda had some part in this?

    MS. RICE:  Well, we’ll have to find out that out. I mean I think it’s clear that there were extremist elements that joined in and escalated the violence. Whether they were al Qaeda affiliates, whether they were Libyan-based extremists or al Qaeda itself I think is one of the things we’ll have to determine.

    On a scale of one to 10 how bad is this compared to anything the Republicans have done?  Anything Donald Trump has done? (I don't know what Bernie Sanders has done, but I suspect he's not purity personified, either.)  There are two schools of thought about this "fairly damning report", and I've seen both sides today.  I have to agree with Doc here.  She shouldn't have done it, she admits she shouldn't have done it, but she no doubt did it because after 20 years of hounding she has a hard time trusting anyone to do the right thing with even her emails. 

    There is no proof she did if for nefarious purposes. In fact, just the opposite.  Using it to prove how awful she is may not seem fruitless to you but all I'm seeing is something about nothing.  I'm waiting for the meat.

    Mona, shielding federal records from public scrutiny is in itself a nefarious purpose.

    Actually most records are shielded from public scrutiny, if you follow the lack of success with most FOIA requests, whether surrounding Iraq, Gitmo, the US dragnet, bank bailouts, et al. The FBI for one regularly stonewalls and misdirects. The courts have been rather helpful to administrations sandbagging these last 15 years. It's only with the Clintons & circle that "appearances" take precedent over any actual harm done.

    Quibble, quibble, quibble. 

    Yes, and Ken Starr leaking grand jury info to the press was unethical and illegal, but there's no way anyone's gonna hold him responsible for that  - only friends of Bill and Hillary. What was Henry Cisneros' big crime? Susan McDougal's? Betsey Wright? All fair game once they start digging.

    What makes you say LEOs leaked the Blumthal emails?  I always assumed (without proof but it seems pretty likely) that they were leaked by someone on the Committee to Find Something Anything Bad Related to Bengazi. I mean, why subpoena unless you plan to publish, and if there's no justifiable reason to publish officially then going through "guccifer" is the obvious play. 

    Thanks for this, Doc.

    For Progressives, nothing concentrates the mind like the prospect of an immediate hanging. Before they pull the floor bolts, may I reiterate my objections to the ethical practices of Hil--a---- 



    I realize that Doc´ s real subject was the permanent anti Hillary campaign.

    I have no direct knowledge but my guess is that the  IG thinks his job is to make sure there´s a red check mark in every  red box and a black check in every black one. As a friend often says : ¨if we wanted someone to think for himself, we wouldn´t have hired you.¨

    When the most senior people in the government routinely violate a supposedly important regulation the intelligent response is to change  the regulation. 

    I'd so love to let this lie.  But it seems that Clinton and her supporters can't simply admit she's in the wrong and move on.  So here we go again.

    Without citation, Flavius writes: "When the most senior people in the government routinely violate a supposedly important regulation the intelligent response is to change  the regulation."

    In fact, the most senior people in the government did not routinely violate the pertinent regulation which was finalized after Condi Rice left office and required Clinton to maintain her government emails at the State Department.  Yes Powell and Rice also used private email addresses but they were not covered by the CFR section that Clinton violated and, in any case, their practices were not identical to Clinton's. 

    Per Chris Cillizza at the Washington Post, "Clinton is the first secretary of state to ever use a private email address exclusively to conduct her business. Period. That was and is unprecedented."

    So John Kerry uses private email "non-exclusively", including the occassional classified email from hos iPad.

    Considering all the supermodels had their nude pics hacked off Apple cloud, maybe he'd be better off using Hillary's private server.

    And was she a better secretary of state as a result,I wonder.

    Latest Comments