The report released Wednesday by the State Department Inspector General on its email records management is being reported as heavy-duty criticism of former Secretary Hillary Clinton. However, the report has more in it that vindicates Clinton than nails her.
It does not add any new serious charges or adverse facts. And, it shows she was less out of line with her predecessors, notably Colin Powell, than has been charged. Powell’s handling of his email was so similar, in fact, that when House Republicans drag this issue through hearings up to Election Day, Powell should be called as a witness – a witness for Clinton. To put it differently, she is having a double standard applied to her. Here are five key aspects of the report.
First, and foremost, it is simply not about classified email. It is about regular, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, unclassified email. Yet it is the classified email, not these messages, that are the focus of the FBI investigation of Clinton. In other words, the report does not, and cannot, talk about the most serious issues. It is about a sideshow. If you are serious about the email charges against Hillary, you should keep your powder dry until at least Clinton is interviewed by the FBI in a matter of weeks, and then until the result of that probe is released.
Moreover, it is no accident that this report does not deal with the most serious issues: The FBI expressly told the State Department IG to stay away from classified records. That would have involved the State Department IG interfering with and possibly foreshadowing the FBI criminal investigation. But, this meant the FBI left the State Department IG with a subject involving much less grounds for potential criticism of Clinton, as we see in this report.
Second, there is not that much new information about Clinton in it. Certainly, the widely-reported fact that it’s an 83-page report makes it sound like it is big. But half is appendices. Half of the rest is not about the Secretary’s emails, but about cybersecurity. Of the two-dozen pages that are even remotely about Secretaries’ emails, a lot is taken up by retracing the dreary history of records and archival policy. The remainder involves all the secretaries going back two decades – not just Clinton and Powell, who are alike, but also ones of no particular interest, like Madeleine Albright, Condoleeza Rice, and also John Kerry. There’s just not a lot of new facts about Clinton.
source: Forbes, by Charles Tiefer, [CONTRIBUTOR, Professor at the University of Baltimore School of Law, focusing on government contracting and Congressional legislating.] May 25, 2016