Hillary Clinton is responding to last week's bombshell by scrupulously adhering to her scandal playbook: Downplay, deflect, deny. An email released late last week appeared to show then-Secretary Clinton instructing a subordinate to transmit classified materials through non-secure means in 2011. When a secure fax system failed to work properly, an impatient Clinton requested that the materials she needed be turned "into non paper w no identifying heading and [sent] nonsecure." The State Department reacted to this apparently incriminating exchange by calling into question whether the information was ever actually sent (which isn't exactly exculpatory for Hillary), and suggesting that it may not necessarily have been classified in the first place. One problem with this explanation is that in light of Hillary's, shall we say, less than assiduous approach to handling classified data, the notion that she'd be a stickler about sending sensitive, but unclassified, information through non-secure means strains credulity. Plus, the talking points she was seeking at the time have since been redacted, as has the subject matter of those talking points -- albeit under the 'internal deliberations' FOIA exemption. Are we to believe that their contents were not secret? Also, why else would she ask for identifying markings be stripped away before being 'sent nonsecure'? Appearing on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday, Mrs. Clinton regurgitated State's explanations and declared her actions "common practice" and a non-issue:
Ed Morrissey has a good breakdown of Hillary's dissembling here, succinctly stating, " If the information was unclassified, this e-mail would have been entirely unnecessary." Network anchor John Dickerson doesn't quite allow her 'much ado about nothing all over again' spin to go unchallenged, pointedly noting that an active FBI investigation into various elements of her email scheme remains underway. Hillary laughably asserts that she's treated classified information properly and assures viewers that no classified material was sent. Say, doesn't that sound familiar? She goes on to express full confidence in her colleague Jake Sullivan, whom she hails as meticulous and careful on these issues. He may, in fact, have been much more meticulous and careful than she was. In addition to the recently-revealed email chain, Clinton also asked him to side-step protocols in 2010, which he resisted. In the CBS interview, Hillary also responds to a question about this email, in which she evinced shock that a State Department official was using private email to conduct official business -- which is precisely what she did throughout her entire tenure as America's top diplomat, utilizing a private, unsecure server to do so, no less. Hillary basically dodges here, noting she herself emailed her colleagues through their government accounts so that they'd be memorialized as part of the official record. "The vast majority of my emails are in the government system," she says. Two problems: First, several of her top aides have been revealed to have also used multiple private email accounts to conduct government business. There were gaps all over the place. Indeed, State's entire email archiving systems been demonstrated to be woefully inadequate. Remember this?
State Department employees are falling short of their responsibilities under federal law to preserve emails as official records and in some cases are deliberately declining to archive communications as records to avoid disclosure, the agency’s inspector general has found. In a report released on Wednesday, the inspector general also found that many employees did not understand the archiving system or rules for which emails should be flagged as official records. The report raises questions about compliance with archiving rules at the State Department, with the agency under fire for its management of public records inquiries.
Reuters has reported that "Clinton and her senior staff routinely did not follow the regulations in the department's Foreign Affairs Manual" (emphasis mine). Hillary has played fast and loose with the facts on this front in the not too distant past, earning rebukes from nonpartisan fact-checkers. Second, Hillary and her lawyers unilaterally and permanently destroyed -- or at least attempted to -- more than 30,000 of the emails from her server, which they then tried to wipe clean. She's sworn under oath that all of the withheld or deleted emails were entirely personal in nature and unrelated to work. This is a veritable lie. Whether or not authorities with access to a more complete set of facts and context can conclusively prove that the "send nonsecure" episode represents a federal crime, it's undoubtedly another blow to Clinton's public image and credibility. Veteran journalist Bob Woodward explained the nature of this new headache on Fox News Sunday (via America Rising):
Hillary looks like she's trying to "subvert the rules," Woodward says, once again demonstrating that she "feels immune" and "lives in a bubble." And how do voters feel about this arrogant and unaccountable self-stylized heroine of the people?
She now trails Rubio and Cruz in the RCP average -- and barely edges Ben Carson and Chris Christie by less than a point. The only potential rival she consistently outperforms, the Fox poll cited above notwithstanding, is her old friend and donor Donald Trump. As Hillary tries to wriggle off the hook on this latest email development, she can rest assured that her trustworthiness rating is underwater by a mere 26 percentage points. I'll leave you with this, without further comment, other than to say that it's worth 95 seconds of your time: