Hillary Clinton seemed to have
everything going for her as the Democratic presidential front-runner. Everyone knew there would be hurdles along the pathway to the presidency, such as her handling of the attack on the U.S. consular compound in Benghazi, Libya, and shady business dealings from long before she and her husband moved into the White House in 1992.
Those were surmountable problems. But her decision as secretary of state to set up and manage her own private email server for official government business constitutes one of the most stupid and arrogant moves any political leader of her stature could make. If Clinton loses the presidency, historians will point to the email problem as a major marker in her downfall.
On Wednesday, the State Department’s inspector general issued a long-awaited report sharply criticizing Clinton for violating multiple department rules. She never sought permission for the private email setup, and even if she had, permission would not have been granted, the inspector general’s report stated.
At least 22 email messages she exchanged contained information the Central Intelligence Agency regarded as top secret. On two occasions in 2011, hackers tried to access the server, forcing a shutdown. Clinton’s staffers didn’t question her actions or recognize the significant security and legal ramifications.
A campaign spokesperson sought to downplay the report’s impact by saying she always kept her emails secure and that there was no known breach during the time she housed the private server in the basement of her Chappaqua, N.Y., home.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell also used a private email server, and the department never specifically told either Powell or Clinton to stop doing it.
That’s not the point. Clinton behaved as if the rules didn’t apply to her. The report notes that she failed to hand over all email records upon her departure as secretary in February 2013, holding onto them another 22 months.
This is bad enough if you’re not planning to run for office. But Clinton clearly had mapped out a path to succeed President Barack Obama. How could she not foresee the implications of diverting official and classified government business to a personal email server? She unnecessarily handed her opponents an arsenal of political ammunition.
Clinton demonstrated arrogance by holding onto the emails for nearly two years after leaving office and only partially complying when asked to turn them over. She put herself above the accountability and public-information standards that apply to others. Clinton and her staffers offered minimal cooperation and interview access to the inspector general.
Trust is essential for anyone aspiring to the nation’s highest office. Clinton has undermined it, and she has only herself to blame if this becomes the issue that undoes her campaign.
—The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, May 25, 2016