The Hillary Clinton Email Scandal Explained
For what it’s worth, I don’t think this scandal will upend Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign because it’s very complicated and confusing, and at the end of the day voters will simply not care enough to hold it against her. The Clintons have had baggage of one sort or another since they emerged on the political scene in 1992 and they always manage to land on their feet. I’m not saying this is a good thing (and it’s one of the main reason I’ve never been a fan of the Clintons), but when compared to the mere fact that Donald Trump is way ahead amongst Republicans for their 2016 nomination, for me it’s no contest.
I probably wouldn’t talk to her about it either, mostly because this story has been dragging on for so long I don’t even remember how it started. How’d we even get here?
For the four years she was secretary of state, Clinton never used an official state.gov email address. Instead, she relied exclusively on a private email account housed on her own personal server to conduct her government business. Those facts went unnoticed—or at least unaddressed—by the State Department until this past summer, when agency officials were responding to a request for documents from congressional investigators and realized they couldn’t find a single email to or from a Clinton government email address.
So then what happened?
After a specific request from the State Department—that came nearly two years after she had left office—Clinton turned over 30,490 messages to the agency that she and her team deemed to be possibly work-related. Clinton and her staff, though, say they also destroyed 31,830 messages that they decided were personal. The private server was then subsequently wiped clean.
And how did everyone else find this out?
Hillary’s unorthodox, nongovernmental email setup was revealed to the public by the New York Times in March of this year in a report that prompted the major controversy that still hangs over her presidential campaign and will for the foreseeable future.
So is this just a transparency and trust issue?
It began that way. But a story about Clinton appearing to seek out a legal gray area from which to do business has since become one about her putting classified information at greater risk than it needed to be.
Wait, I thought Clinton once said she never sent or received classified information with this account?
During her first public comments about the controversy back in March, Clinton was adamant that no classified information of any kind was kept on her account or server: “There is no classified material.” That stance, though, has been subtly but significantly changing as more information comes to light. Late last month Clinton revised her answer to: “I did not send nor receive anything that was classified at the time.” And then on Tuesday it shifted again, to: “I did not send any material that was marked or designated classified.”
Why the change?
The inclusion of “at the time” allows for the possibility that information she sent or received was classified after the fact. The “marked or designated” tweak allows for the possibility that someone sent her classified information without properly marking it as so, and that Clinton then passed along that information without knowing it was sensitive.
Hold up. I forget why it’s bad for her to have classified information on her personal server.
The biggest concern is that it put that information at greater risk of being hacked into than if she would have simply relied on a secured government account. (There’s no evidence that anyone was able to hack into her account or gain access to that information.)
So is Clinton now basically admitting that there was classified info on her server?
In a word: yes.