Clinton Faux Scandal I – Hillary's Emails
Kevin Drum has read the entire FBI report on Hillary Clinton’s emails so we don’t have to and its conclusions exonerate Clinton. Hillary’s private email was originally hosted on a server at her home. When she became Secretary of State, Clinton was informed that she could not link personal email accounts to Department of State mobile devices. So, in order to keep track of her government and personal email, she would have to carry two different devices. She decided she would rather not do that and so kept her personal device for both personal and State email. In fact, she contacted Colin Powell immediately after Obama was sworn in and asked about his use of a personal Blackberry during his tenure as Secretary of State. Powell replied that he used one although he was concerned that all his emails including his personal ones would be considered “official records”. He got around this by using a system that did not archive his emails at all. However, Hillary did archive her emails, both on the private server at home and then when her email migrated to a hosted service in late 2013. For a better understanding of Hillary’s motivations, Drum also has an excellent post that points out that, having made the decision to use just one personal email account, Hillary also wanted to make sure that her personal emails would not be subject to a Freedom of Information request, just as Powell had warned.
There was no restriction on the use of personal email accounts for State business, although State did send out a recommendation in 2011 that personal email accounts not be used. This was a recommendation, not a prohibition. Apparently, Clinton used 13 individual devices that were used to send emails but only eight of them were used during her tenure as Secretary of State. She only used one device at a time but apparently had difficulty with new versions. After migration, the SIM cards on all those devices were destroyed. Clinton deleted email regularly and emails were apparently purged when she changed devices. While within the physical Department of State building, personal devices were not allowed. Hillary complied with this rule at all times by checking her mobile device in the State Diplomatic Security Service. Only thirteen State Department employees maintained email contact with Clinton on her personal device. She was NOT doing all her State business through her personal Blackberry. After she was requested to produce her State emails, an attorney went through the emails and segregated the business from personal emails. Hillary was in no way involved in that process. Emails that were deleted in 2015 were solely the responsibility of the service hosting Clinton’s emails. Platte River Network (PRN) was aware of the document retention order but screwed up by deleting some of Hilary’s archived emails. Also remember that Hillary had left the Department of State in early 2013.
The FBI report seems to indicate that Hillary did not initiate any classified e-mails. Of the three classified emails that the FBI did find, two were not classified at the time of sending and all were part of an email chain that was forwarded to Clinton. It was quite common for State employees to use personal email accounts and discuss business in a roundabout way that would not break the rules for classified material. It is also important to note that a “state.gov” email account that Hillary could have used is NOT a secure account. Classified material is required to be sent over a separate State Department system. In addition, State Department employees have only guidelines to help them determine whether a document they are putting together should be classified. Subsequent review may deem the document to be classified but the author may not have thought so when it was written. Finally, the FBI report shows that there is no indication Clinton’s email account was ever hacked.
I will leave it up to Kevin Drum to summarize: “That said, this report is pretty much an almost complete exoneration of Hillary Clinton. She wasn’t prohibited from using a personal device or a personal email account, and others at state did it routinely. She’s told the truth all along about why she did it. Colin Powell did indeed advise her about using personal email shortly after she took office, but she chose to follow the rules rather than skirt them, as Powell did. She didn’t take her BlackBerry into her office. She communicated with only a very select group of 13 people. She took no part in deciding which emails were personal before handing them over to State. She had nothing to do with erasing information on the PRN server. That was a screw-up on PRN’s end. She and her staff all believed at the time that they were careful not to conduct sensitive conversations over unclassified email systems. And there’s no evidence that her server was ever hacked.” This should be the end of it but because her name is Clinton we know that it won’t.