No Apology: Clinton Says Her Private Email System ‘Was Allowed’

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Sep 08, 2015 1:00 PM
No Apology: Clinton Says Her Private Email System ‘Was Allowed’

The former first lady was unapologetic about utilizing a private email system while serving as our Secretary of State on Monday, telling the Associated Press what she had setup in her home at Chappaqua, New York “was allowed.” She also was adamant that the questions surrounding her private email address hasn’t had an impact on her campaign:

Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday she does not need to apologize for using a private email account and server while at the State Department because "what I did was allowed."

In an interview with The Associated Press during a Labor Day campaign swing through Iowa, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination also said the lingering questions about her email practices while serving as President Barack Obama's first secretary of state have not damaged her campaign.

"Not at all. It's a distraction, certainly," Clinton said. "But it hasn't in any way affected the plan for our campaign, the efforts we're making to organize here in Iowa and elsewhere in the country. And I still feel very confident about the organization and the message that my campaign is putting out."

Yet even in calling the inquiry into how she used email as the nation's top diplomat a distraction, Clinton played down how it has affected her personally as a candidate.

"As the person who has been at the center of it, not very much," Clinton said. "I have worked really hard this summer, sticking to my game plan about how I wanted to sort of reintroduce myself to the American people."

As she has often said in recent weeks, Clinton told AP it would have been a "better choice" for her to use separate email accounts for her personal and public business. "I've also tried to not only take responsibility, because it was my decision, but to be as transparent as possible," Clinton said.

Clinton’s position is somewhat grounded in reality, though the notion that this hasn’t impacted her campaign verges into fantasyland. Mrs. Clinton finally turned over her server to the Justice Department for analysis, where the FBI noted that there was at least one attempt to wipe it clean.

Over 300 emails that have been sent through that server have been flagged for further review due to concerns that they contained classified information. There’s the allegation that someone within Clinton’s circle of trust removed the classification markers on the documents sent, which is illegal. This is a big deal.

Moreover, this “what I did was allowed” attitude only exacerbates what people already don’t like about the political power couple: they play by their own rules. It’s an aspect that made the national security community nervous about the Clintons to begin with–and this seemingly blatant disregard for protocol regarding handling classified national security information only reaffirms their fears.

This email fiasco has impacted the race. While Democrats obviously still back her, her support in Iowa has dropped by a third since June. She’s experienced some of the worst favorable ratings in her career, and she’s not seen as a trusted or honest person. I wonder where that sentiment comes from? So, yes, concerning the Democratic primaries, it really hasn’t changed the campaign. The map still favors her to be the 2016 Democratic nominee, even with Sen. Bernie Sanders surging in Iowa and New Hampshire. It’s entirely possible that Feel the Bern could pay off some dividends for Sanders in both of those primaries, but his base of support isn’t deep, comprised of mostly white, educated liberals from urban areas. To be competitive in the long run, Sanders needs to take a large chunk of nonwhite Democrats, southerners, and moderates who are more drawn to Mrs. Clinton. 

Lastly, what Clinton did was certainly not allowed if you read the regulations from the National Archives and Records Administration back in 2009.

"Agencies that allow employees to send and receive official electronic mail messages using a system not operated by the agency must ensure that Federal records sent or received on such systems are preserved in the appropriate agency recordkeeping system."

One would think that an email system that is designed to bypass FOIA requests would set off red flags. Oh, and the State Department really didn’t start archiving senior level communications until after this story broke in March.

On the other hand, maybe this email story hasn’t impacted Clinton. It could be that she’s an awful candidate, who just can’t seem to get on the good side of the American electorate. In either case, she looks terrible, or in the words of Donald Trump: she’s a total 'loser.'