Self-serving stance on emails is doing Hillary Clinton no favours

Usborne  in the USA: At the very least, the presidential hopeful seems guilty of poor judgement

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The personal email server that Hillary Clinton used as US Secretary of State is beginning to look like an aircraft’s “black box”. The FBI is examining its every silicon synapse for details of every email she sent, received, saved and trashed. Did any constitute a breach of national security? Democrats are afraid.

Even if she holds off the vigorous challenge of Senator Bernie Sanders from the left and secures the party’s nomination, it is reasonable to ask what kind of shape she will be in come the election, when she will face the Republican pick. Is “Hillary One” merely flying through a patch of turbulence or are we witnessing a crash in motion, possibly a politically fatal one?

In March, Ms Clinton said the “homebrew” server was used for convenience. About 30,000 emails were handed over to the State Department for review, while a similar number that she deemed “personal” were withheld. The latter have since vanished. And the server was wiped clean, a fact Ms Clinton’s personal lawyer, David Kendall, confirmed in a letter to members of a US Senate investigative committee.

Hillary Clinton at a campaign event in New Hampshire on August 10th. Clinton has agreed to hand over her personal email server to the FBI.

Talking to the media in Las Vegas on Tuesday, she admitted that “in retrospect, this didn’t turn out to be convenient at all” and added: “I regret this has become such a cause célèbre.” Pressed on whether she had ordered the server to be wiped clean, she responded sarcastically: “What, like with a cloth or something? Nobody talks to me about it other than you guys.” She meant us lot, the reporters.

To be sure, none of the ongoing investigation is criminal in nature. And she may be right in intimating that most voters have other things to worry about rather than whether or not she breached a few protocols when deciding that the government’s emailing arrangements didn’t suit her. Yet brushing this off as just another Fox News sabotage-Hillary conspiracy gets less easy by the day.

The intelligence community’s Inspector General now says he has located two emails containing top-secret material in a sample of 40 that should have been labelled as such and apparently were not. Separately, we learn that an additional 300-odd emails have been flagged for special review in case they too were treated without appropriate caution.

It’s not great that those first two emails seemingly pertained to the ransacking of the US diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that became a blot on her record at the State Department. Republicans who subpoenaed Ms Clinton to hand over all Benghazi emails to their investigating committees are asking precisely when her server was wiped clean. It would be dangerous for her campaign – and there is no evidence of this – if it turned out that the sanitising of the server happened after the subpoenas were issued.

If nothing of the sort happened, Ms Clinton will get through these bumps. Yet we still feel queasy. At the very least, she seems guilty of poor judgement in the handling of sometimes sensitive cables while diplomat-in-chief. She also seems guilty of poor judgement as a candidate. Making jokes about this will offend even some of her most loyal friends. And if there was nothing to hide, why didn’t she hand over everything, including the server, in March?

Here’s what could be really damaging: voters think they know why. It’s because Ms Clinton can’t be trusted. She thinks she is above the law, hence the private server in the first place, and she will be damned before she surrenders to her tormentors even if she knows she will have to eventually. This is how many Americans, even Democrats, have seen Ms Clinton for a long time. The server fandango is simply reinforcing these impressions. That’s why some in the party are already calling Mayday.