It is likely that you have already drawn a conclusion about the legality of Hillary Clinton’s machinations with her private email server and her handling of classified information. As you are also likely a Republican, if you are reading this blog post, your judgment is most probably negative, and not minimally so.
However, you may be interested in the take of the left-leaning (and usually very left leaning) Washington Post writer and fact checker, Glenn Kessler. Kessler gives an honest (at least from the perspective of the “left”) assessment of the truthfulness of the candidate’s statements to date.
My friends, if the Washington Post thinks Hillary is “skating on the thin edge of the law,” then almost without doubt she has crossed it and can no longer see “the line” from where she currently stands. The piece focuses on her very careful choice of phrases that keep her infinitesimally on the “right side of the law.”
I think you will find this interesting. As well, it references her statements for those who require “details.”
Fact checking the Hillary Clinton email controversy
It’s been one year since it was learned that Hillary Clinton had set up a private email system when she was secretary of state — a revelation that has dogged her campaign for the presidency.
The Fact Checker has run 10 fact checks on the issue, mostly regarding dubious statements that Clinton had made to defend her actions. (We also had one fact check each on the Democratic spin and the Republican spin on the issue.) Reviewing our conclusions again, it appears Clinton often used highly technical language to obscure the salient fact that her private email setup was highly unusual and flouted existing regulations.
As always, The Fact Checker welcomes suggestions from readers for additional claims on the email controversy to fact check.
March 10: The Fact Checker compiled an extensive timeline concerning government rules and regulations on the use of private email accounts and Clinton’s actions. The timeline shows that before she became secretary, the State Department made clear that certain email records should be retained and that official communication systems were preferred. During Clinton’s term as secretary, regulations were tightened concerning the preservation of email records, and concerns were raised about the use of personal email accounts for official business. But the legal requirement to immediately preserve emails from nongovernment email accounts was not made mandatory until nearly two years after she stepped down.
March 10: Senior Democratic lawmakers argued that Clinton was the only secretary of state to produce so many records and that her production of emails was a transparent act that is unprecedented compared with her predecessors. These were technically correct but fundamentally misleading statements, intended to deflect from the central issue: Clinton exclusively used a personal account, and did not provide records until she was requested to — after she left office. The Democrats earned Three Pinocchios.
March 16: We examined a series of statements made by Clinton at her major news conference designed to address the growing controversy — and determined that many of her claims were wanting. The pattern continued over the next year.
July 9: We examined Clinton’s claim that “everything I did was permitted” because “there was no law … there was no regulation.” We concluded that with her very careful language, Clinton skirts some of the important issues concerning her private email account. She appears to be arguing her case on narrow, technical grounds, but that’s not the same as actually complying with existing rules as virtually everyone else understood them. She earned Three Pinocchios.
Aug. 27: The issue of classified material in Clinton’s emails grew in importance after the Inspector General for the Intelligence Committee wrote Congress to say that some of the emails “contained classified State Department information when originated.” Again, we found that Clinton’s very careful and legalistic phrasing raised suspicions. The classification rules are complex, but, legal technicalities aside, the question is whether classified information was exchanged over her private email system. The answer is yes, and so Clinton earned Two Pinocchios for excessively technical wordsmithing.
Sept. 10: Clinton’s careful language that her email operation was “fully above board” once again obscures some basic truths about her decision to only use a private email system for government business: It was unusual, and it skirted the edge of the rules. Clinton obviously received emails from hundreds of people who realized she was using a private email address. But whether they understood it was her only means of electronic government communication is another question. Clinton again earned Two Pinocchios.
Sept. 28: A number of readers asked the Fact Checker to explore Clinton’s stated timeline about her dealings with the State Department concerning her private email system, after new questions arose in light of The Washington Post’s report that the State Department confirmed that the triggering event to seek her emails was the congressional investigation into the 2012 Benghazi attacks that left four Americans dead. We concluded Clinton appears to be sticking to her timeline because it obscures the fact that she exclusively used a private email for company business. She earned Three Pinocchios.
Nov. 9: During congressional hearings, Clinton claimed that 90 to 95 percent of her emails were in the State Department system. She even wrongly suggested this calculation had been made by the State Department, when actually it was calculated by her staff. While not all of the emails she submitted to the State Department have been released, what has been made available so far suggests that a substantial majority are to and from at least one “state.gov” email address. It is not an unreasonable assumption that these emails are contained somewhere within the bowels of the State Department. But we gave Clinton Three Pinocchios because she cannot make a definitive statement and certainly cannot attribute that to the State Department.
Feb. 4: We dug deep into the question of how “top secret” emails could have been located on Clinton’s unsecure email arrangement. The emails in question were sent on an unclassified system — as they would have been if she had followed standard protocol and used a state.gov account. Under State Department practice, a request for public release of her emails would have been subject to the same classification discussion currently underway. Any “top secret” communications would have been withheld.
However, if she did not have a private server, intelligence officials now would not be scrutinizing every single Clinton email for possible public release. The Clinton campaign has argued that some intelligence officials are now engaged in a game of overclassification. But this debate would not even be taking place without the decision to set up the private server in the first place. She earned Two Pinocchios.
Feb. 24: Many Republicans have argued that the Hillary Clinton case is worse than that of Gen. David Petraeus, the former CIA director who pleaded guilty last year to mishandling classified information he gave to Paula Broadwell, his mistress and biographer. But there clearly are fundamental differences between the two cases that make it an illogical comparison, based on what we know of the Clinton case so far. At the most basic level, there is dispute over whether Clinton’s emails contained “classified” information. An array of experts we consulted all told us that as long as the dispute exists, it will be difficult to bring the same charge of mishandling classified information to which Petraeus pleaded guilty. The broad-brushed comparison lacks context and thus earned Two Pinocchios.