Bernie Sanders might be the only person in America who still doesn’t “care about [Hillary Clinton’s] damn emails.” But the State Department inspector general’s withering report on the matter certainly has everyone else’s attention.
And now even those buried deep for more than a year in Ready-for-Hillary denial knows, irrefutably: Everything the Democratic Party’s presidential front-runner has said about her use of private email and her home-brew server is, to apply the correct term, a lie.
She neither sought nor obtained permission for her unique email arrangement. She knew at all times her out-of-bounds arrangement put sensitive material at risk. She knew about ongoing attempts to hack her setup, and she took no corrective measures.
In other chilling words, this wasn’t just “a mistake.” And it wasn’t merely a failure of judgment — although it surely was that, too.
She was cavalier about preserving and surrendering self-identified agency-related emails, leaving the IG to discover certain damning correspondence through other means. And, despite spouting at every turn that she was ready to talk to anybody from the government at any time to help clear up any misconceptions, she ducked every interview attempt by the IG, making her uniquely elusive among secretaries of state, former and current, subject to the probe.
Yes, the report provides a smidgen of cover. Other secretaries of state used private accounts. The department itself has a history of records-keeping sloppiness. But these amount to window dressing that cannot obscure the serious nature of Clinton’s reckless, rules-shattering and, indeed, patently illegal behavior.
What does Sanders say? He didn’t, actually, having taken himself out of this particular game months ago. Instead, a campaign spokesman offered up a big “meh.” “The IG report speaks for itself.” That’s it? It speaks for itself?
This unwillingness to drive home the stake poised over the heart of his adopted party’s soulless front-runner makes you wonder whether Sanders really does want to win the Democratic nomination, or if he’s sticking around just to bust up the living room furniture.
Meanwhile, the GOP’s presumptive nominee was typically incoherent and self-distracting, telling supporters in Anaheim, California, Clinton “had a little bad news.”
In a response, MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Scarborough snidely called “Churchillian,” Donald Trump waxed characteristically manic: “She’s as crooked as they come. She had a little bad news today, as you know, from some reports that came down — weren’t so good. Not so good. The inspector general’s report — not good.”
He immediately shifted to a rant about “Crazy Bernie” and a long-rumored party-salvaging deus ex machina moment for Vice President Joe Biden. “Bad news”? “Not good”? That’s all you’ve got, Donald?
Wow. Just wow.
But if Trump essentially blew his opportunity to expand and expound upon Clinton’s national-security-threatening misdeeds, the FBI is unlikely to be satisfied with sentence fragments and eighth-grade zingers. And the FBI is where the action is now.
The investigation should, and almost certainly will, pivot on the definition of “gross negligence,” a legal term of art that puts the suspect at risk without regard to whether she was acting intentionally and with knowledge that she knew what she was doing was illegal.
Clinton knew she was operating outside the rules — rules, indeed, she took pains to enforce on underlings. And she knew, as the IG’s report makes plain, she was putting sensitive material at risk.
But those were rules for others, not for a Clinton. And as Hill and Bill have made plain, rules never are for Clintons. At least, they haven’t been in the past.
FBI Director James Comey’s primary lies ahead. Whatever comes from it, voters now have a clearer picture of what yet another Clinton presidency would mean.
Recovering sports columnist and former Tampa Tribune columnist Tom Jackson argues on behalf of thoughtful conservative principles as our best path forward. Fan of the Beach Boys, pulled-pork barbecue and days misspent at golf, Tom lives in New Tampa with his wife, two children and two yappy middle-aged dogs.