Reader ScottW summarized this very thorough explainer from the Washington Post of March 27: “How Clinton’s email scandal took root”. Hoisted from comments and very lightly edited:
Some takeaways from the Clinton email server scandal per the Post’s article:
1. No State Department head (probably no government employee) ever exclusively used a private email server for both private and public email messages.
2. The private server was not encrypted for two months after Sec. of State Clinton commenced using it.
3. Bryan Pagliano, the individual in charge of “security” and maintenance of the server, originally installed it for the Clinton Foundation and other private family email users.
4. That same individual was hired at State to “moonlight” in maintaining Clinton’s private server. Experts claim a team of people is needed to run such a site. The three supervisors of this individual at State did not even know he was working on Clinton’s private server.
5. Clinton was told early on she should not (nor should any government employee) use her private Blackberry for State business. She was warned it could be hacked into and used as a listening device. She said she understood. She nevertheless continued using it throughout her tenure at home and abroad.
6. When the first FOIA for her email messages was initially submitted she responded there were none.
7. Only after the Benghazi controversy heated up, did she admit there were over 30,000 email messages concerning State Department Business. She unilaterally claimed another 30,000 plus emails were private. Side note: Public officials normally don’t have the luxury of deciding which email messages are public business, as opposed to private matters.
8. She stated there were no classified documents on the private email survivor.
9. Over 2,000 classified email chains were found on the server. Clinton claimed they were all classified after the fact. This is not true. A unspecified number were in fact classified (or of higher classification) at the time they landed on her server. Clinton herself authored emails that contained classified material.
10. Clinton’s claim of convenience in using one device relates to the 7th floor at State in which she worked. They offered to put in a terminal for her to check and send private email messages from her 7th floor office. Clinton does not use desktop computers and declined the workaround.
11. Clinton did what Clinton wanted to do despite FOIA regulations, security concerns, etc. She wanted to bring her private Blackberry into her office and use a single device abroad. And that is exactly what she did.
Any other government official engaging in such widespread misconduct would be fired, possibly prosecuted, and would lose her security clearance.
Clinton’s email hairball foreshadows her character as President. As ScottW comments: “Clinton did what Clinton wanted to do.” And that’s regardless of what she said, and despite advice given to her in good faith. So if Clinton wants TPP, a Grand Bargain, or war in [insert country here], that’s what she’ll go for, regardless of what she says on the trail, or the counsel of the wise.
Clinton’s email hairball foreshadows the nature of her administration. As WaPo says:
From the earliest days, Clinton aides and senior officials to use her private email account, documents and interviews show.
Throughout, they paid [i.e., broke] governing the handling of classified material and the preservation of government records, interviews and documents show. They also neglected repeated warnings about the security of the BlackBerry while Clinton and her closest aides took obvious security risks in using the basement server.
In other words, Clinton’s staffers, rather like Erlichman and Haldeman, regard themselves not as public servants, but as Clinton’s servants.
Both Yves and I scanned the last release of Clinton emails, and were shocked by the slavish sycophancy of Clinton’s inner circle. In fact, in the higher levels of the Democratic nomenklatura where Clinton resides, sycophancy is pervasive. Thomas Frank in Harpers reports on a Clinton Foundation production:
Everyone strode with polished informality about the stage, reading their lines from an invisible teleprompter. And back and forth, the presenters called out to one another in tones of supportiveness and sweet flattery. …
In her introduction to the event, for example, the TV star America Ferrera, who has appeared at many Clinton events both philanthropic and political, gave a shout-out to the “incredible women who have brought us all here today” and the “amazing girls” whose conversation she had been permitted to join. Then Chelsea Clinton, who announced herself “completely awed” by the “incredible swell of people and partners” who had participated in some event the previous day, invited us to hearken to the “inspiring voices of leaders, of communities, of companies, of countries.”
Those were just the first few minutes. It kept on like that for hours. When someone’s “potential” was mentioned, it was described as “boundless.” People’s “stories” were “compelling” when they weren’t “inspiring,” “incredible,” or “incredibly inspiring.” A Kenyan activist was introduced as “the incomparable.”
“Incredible swell.” Citizens, considering Clinton for a moment as a public official, would be better served were her subordinates to focus on “laws and regulations,” as opposed to “accommodating [her] desire.” As Richard Nixon famously said: “When the president does it, that means that it is not illegal.” A similar dynamic seems to be at play in HillaryLand.
All that said, a few of the Inside Baseball issues:
A) Obama can’t endorse Clinton until this matter is resolved, because if he does so before the FBI issues the all clear, he looks like he’s dictating the outcome of an investigation. (Obama also hates to look bad; he’s like a cat walking backward away from a dish of spilled milk if he thinks he’s going to look bad. Therefore, he can’t be happy with Clinton at all.)
B) Clinton would doubtless prefer Obama’s endorsement before the Democratic National Convention (July 25-28), or even before the California primary (June 7).
C) The FBI, purely for its own motives of maintaining institutional prerogatives, will not take kindly to having the timing of its investigations dictated by the electoral calendar, corrupt and politicized though they are.
D) The FBI granted Bryan Pagliano immunity. Generally, that’s the classic investigative technique to gather information to indict people higher up the food chain.
E) None of the higher-ups — that we know of — have lawyered up. Except Clinton, of course.
F) Typically, an underling takes the fall. But which underling? Huma Abedin? That’s the same as taking down Clinton herself! And the WaPo story makes clear that Clinton’s entire inner circle either knew, or should have known. (And who knows what other peccadill[o|a]s will come out, under that scenario?)
G) FBI Director James Comey, a director of scandal-plagued HSBC Holdings, appointed Patrick Fitzgerald, who headed the Valerie Plame investigation when he worked for the Bush administration. Fitzgerald indicted “Scooter” Libby, but most definitely not Libby’s boss, Vice President Dick Cheney. So in regard to point F, the administration might take the view that Comey has a track record of getting the toothpaste at least partially back in the tube.
Shorter: There’s fire here, not just smoke.
NOTE Of course, Clinton privatizing her public email is corrupt by definition.