Monday, August 31, 2015

Hillary Clinton's Emails

Often, I feel the need to write something on this blog because I strongly feel that it is being under-reported elsewhere. This is one of those posts.

What's going unreported is the real back-story behind the Hillary Clinton email scandal which is threatening to undermine her presidential aspirations. She still leads in the polls in Iowa. She still leads them nationally. Only in New Hampshire does she trail Bernie Sanders, and good ol' Bernie can't win with just that. But there's a real sense that Hillary may be damaged goods. Is she?

I argue not, and if the media were doing its job, I feel that everyone would  know that. Here's why:

The State Department has already said that Clinton did no wrong. In an official statement on CNN, spokesman John Kirby, a Rear Admiral in the Navy before joining the State Department, told Chris Cuomo that there were no policies in place at the time Hillary was Secretary of State that prohibited her use of a private email server for official business. Chris Cuomo then pressed the Admiral regarding a possible change in 2009 which Clinton violated, and Kirby guardedly said that he did not believe that there were such changes.

The changes Cuomo referred to were from the National Archives, which is not part of the State Department. In 2009 they said that agencies allowing employees to do official business on nonofficial email accounts had to ensure that any records sent on private email systems are preserved “in the appropriate agency record keeping system.” This, Clinton did, with such correspondence going from her private email to government email addresses, thus preserving them. Even if this were not the case, Clinton would only have violated a regulation from the Archives, a government agency which ranks fairly low on the overall totem pole. For Cuomo to imply that this meant Hillary was in serious violation of any major rule is biased reporting, in this author's opinion.

Now, here's the important part. There are three government organizations investigating Hillary's email usage during her tenure as Secretary of State. One is the Justice Department, which is investigating whether any regulations were violated. Another is the FBI, which is keenly interested on whether or not classified information may have been leaked. And lastly, there is the House Select Committee on Benghazi, which is comprised of seven Republicans and five Democrats, with the Republicans controlling the chair. (The chairman is Republican Trey Growdy of South Carolina.) The State Department has already absolved her. But what about the other three investigating bodies?

The Justice Department is likely to exonerate her after review. After all, if the State Department already has, then the issue about whether or not Hillary violated any rules or laws is moot. That's one down.

The FBI will most likely exonerate her as well, unless there really was something she leaked which was clearly and unambiguously classified. That's a whole separate issue, but for now, the FBI will say she did not commit any serious breeches of information. I suspect, however, that the FBI will also seriously chastise her. That would be a blow, but if the FBI clears her, she'll gladly endure it. That's two down.

And the Select Committee on Benghazi? Well, that's where politics is most likely to be played. But there are five Democrats on that committee, and they're not likely to let too many shenanigans take place. That means they may try something, but a manufactured October surprise is unlikely. This board will not find a direct link between this scandal and anything that happened with the Benghazi attack, because there isn't one.

That's all three! And presuming these three events take place before Iowa's primary, Hillary will be our next president.

Ah, but that's the trouble! Will these three investigations conclude their snooping and sniffing around in time? Will Joe Biden jump in beforehand and add a new option for wary Democrats? Clearly, the sooner this all wraps up, the better for the Hillary campaign. And this is the part where the media just plain missed it. There should be a watch on all three investigations! THAT'S the real news story! And I'd go so far as to say this needs to be a special feature. After all, so much of the Clinton campaign hinges on it, and consequently, so does much of our nation's potential future. Were it up to me, all three major networks would do a countdown to a statement release. "It's been 143 days since the start of the FBI's investigations into Secretary Clinton's email controversy, and no word yet on any conclusions." That type of thing. For that matter, Hillary supporters should broadcast this as well as a means of putting pressure on the agencies to resolve things quickly. I know I certainly will.

But is there anything really here with this so-called scandal? Anything at all? Well, let's take a look: So far, the worst of the accusations has been that Hillary passed some sensitive information to Huma Abdein, Hillary's long-time aide. Not classified, just sensitive. How sensitive? We're not sure. It might be rumors about Prince Harry, for all we know. Abdein, in turn, is the wife of Anthony Weiner, who was recently scandalized when it was revealed he had "sexted" several women with pictures of his own anatomy (which the press simply devoured). So the accusation is, apparently, that some sensitive information was appropriately shared with her aide, which was then inappropriately shared with a philandering husband. Oh, and by the way, there is no evidence at all for this last part. Scratch that one.

Next up is good ol' Dick Cheney. He's calling Hillary's email use "sloppy" and "unprofessional." Now, this is the same man who has never been above outright lying to the American public in order to achieve his political ends, so if that's the worst he's got on her, it seems clear that he hasn't much of a case. Scratch that one as well.

And really, that's about it. So much for scandals! But it's not like there isn't some legitimate concern regarding all this. Several things have been retroactively been labeled as "confidential" or "sensitive." This has exposed a real problem within government, which is that different agencies regard different things as classified or confidential at different times. So the FBI might consider something classified when the State Department does not. What's worse, they could change their minds later about what's classified or not! What a mess! This is a real concern which needs to be addressed, and this controversy has shed some light on the need to do so. But that in and of itself is not a bad thing.

So that's my take on it. We're waiting to hear from the FBI, and the Justice Department. Everything else reported about the emails is just plain smoke. But it's rumor-mill smoke, so people will pay attention, unfortunately. The Special Committee will take its own sweet time, so that agency can be safely written off. Hillary's fate is now in the hands of two federal agencies, and at least one of them won't particularly care about the primary schedule.

Perhaps that's why Hillary has pivoted on this lately. She hasn't been dismissive or scoffing any more. Now, she's contrite, acknowledging that her email use, while allowed, was a mistake, and one which she takes responsibility for. For some, that's waffling, but this has always been a Clinton strength - to adapt and re-tool when necessary in order to achieve the greater goal and the greater good.

Hillary's still my pick. But it's largely out of her hands, now.

Go FBI! Go! Read! Research! Conclude!

(As if they'll ever listen to me.)



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