Matt covered this exchange last night, but it's worth revisiting because it highlights an important point. Ever since Trey Gowdy's Benghazi committee discovered the existence of her unsecure private email server months ago, Hillary Clinton has been dogged by a scandal of her own making. She's offered many public assertions on the issue, several of which have been proven false by subsequent evidence: (1) She did not set up the server for the convenience of accessing email through one mobile device, (2) she did not follow every rule and regulation, let alone go above and beyond her obligations, (3) she did not use just one email account/address while at State, (4) there was quite a lot of classified material on her server, and (5) she did not turn over all work-related emails to the State Department. Having seen her hopes dashed that nobody would ever discover or ask questions about her national security-compromising scheme, Mrs. Clinton scrambled to get out in front of her political problem by issuing what turned out to be a string of provably false statements. One fact that hasn't been in dispute for some time is that her original server was wiped clean after her team of lawyers tried to permanently delete tens of thousands of emails Clinton claims are purely personal in nature. (It now appears that the deletion was not necessarily permanent and that some or all of those emails may be retrievable). But when pressed on this question by Fox News' Ed Henry in Nevada yesterday, Clinton engaged in verbal gymnastics to avoid taking responsibility for the wiping of her server:
Hillary says that her team went through a "painstaking process" of releasing thousands of emails. They initially said this process entailed using broad keyword searches and deleting everything else, then changed their story. Her "55,000 pages" of emails lines refers to printed pages, in an effort to sound comprehensive. Of course, they also deleted 32,000 emails without any supervision or outside oversight. Her insistence that she handed over "every single thing" that pertained to her work as Secretary of State has already been disproven. Her discussion of what she should have done "in retrospect" is choice; logic dictates that the creation and use of her private server was designed from the beginning to exert total control over what the public could ever see. This is what NBC's national security sources believe, a conclusion buttressed by Hillary's own debunked excuse for her actions. When Henry drills down on the wiping of the server, Clinton says she has "no idea" about how any of it worked -- attempting to claim credit for turning over the server she defiantly withheld for months, and uncorking her cringe-worthy "with a cloth?" line. It is possible that Mrs. Clinton didn't understand that a man with a gun standing next to an email server in her basement (or in a small-time IT firm's bathroom closet) isn't a safeguard against hacking. It's inconceivable that she thinks "wiping a server" refers to exterior cleaning. This was a deflection. A bad joke.
After having stated that she was the official in charge of these decisions -- wrongly suggesting that she alone had the final say on these matters -- Clinton went out of her way to avoid saying on camera that she's the person who ordered the server to be wiped clean. This would be the same server she demanded be installed, unilaterally culled by her team, and kept away from Congressional investigators. Remember, Team Clinton only allowed its tech firm to hand it over after the FBI requested it. That's the opposite of forthcoming and proactive cooperation, especially since it was blank by that point (or so they thought). Hillary's awkward dance routine, repetition of misleading talking points, and unresponsiveness to basic questions after months or preparation seem to confirm the real problem her campaign is struggling to confront: There is no credible spin on this, and none of the answers they might considering offering are good for her on the merits. A prominent Hillary ally was reduced to effectively arguing, "what difference, at this point, does it make?" on CNN last evening:
In another sign of how little they've got to offer on substance (aside from Hillary cutting the presser short and literally shrugging off reporters' shouted questions), Clinton's spin team has begun blaming the system of how sensitive information is classified as a means of distraction. Pro tip: Whining about unfair and cumbersome classification protocols rings hollow when you're in full damage control mode over putting large quantities of classified information at risk through your own self-interested, reckless actions. Hillary Clinton is a bad candidate plagued by systemic ethical shortcomings and persistent honesty and likability problems. But critics flirting with smugness over her flaws ought to bear two things in mind. First, the likelihood of an indictment or prosecution by the politicized Obama Justice Department seems quite slim. "No indictment, no charges, old news." That'll be the mantra. Second, despite her bad favorable ratings and head-to-head struggles in a number of recent polls, CNN's latest national survey (admittedly an unusually strong series for her) shows Hillary breaking 50 percent and leading all Republican challengers by at least six points. After weeks of lackluster campaigning under a dark ethical cloud. A final note: Guess who's closest to Hillary in that CNN poll?
CNN poll matchups among RVs: Hillary-Jeb 52-43. Hillary-Trump 51-45. Hillary-Walker 52-46. Hillary-Carly 53-43.— Byron York (@ByronYork) August 19, 2015
That's a clear outlier a this point, but keep an eye on that particular hypothetical match-up.