The Campaign Spot

The Upside of Hillary’s Long-Gone E-mails

From the Thursday Morning Jolt . . . 

Some of Hillary’s E-Mails Are Probably Destroyed. That’s Good News.

From a supremely cynical political perspective, it’s better for conservatives and Republicans if Hillary Clinton’s e-mails never come to light. If they’re destroyed and impossible to recover, it means she will never be able to dispel everyone’s worst suspicions.

The primary feature of Hillary’s “home-brewed” system was that it could destroy e-mails completely and permanently – no backups or third-party records that you get with Yahoo or Gmail. It would be particularly odd to build a special e-mail system with this “permanent destroy” capability and never use it.

On Greta Van Susteren’s show last night, ABC News political director Rick Klein said he was at a loss to come up with an innocuous explanation for Hillary’s “home-brewed” system. There is no innocuous explanation. The whole point of it was to create an e-mail system that Hillary and her team would control completely, that would be beyond the range of federal record-keeping rules and laws, and beyond the range of FOIA requests. If any message seemed embarrassing, politically inconvenient, or incriminating, she could erase it, and rest assured it was gone forever, beyond the reach of any investigator, FOIA request, or subpoena.

Of course, it wasn’t particularly secure from hackers and/or foreign spies. And let’s face it, if you’re the Russians or Chinese – heck, maybe the Iranians, North Koreans, Cubans, or other regimes – if you’re not trying to hack into the e-mail systems of American officials, you’re not earning your paycheck.

We don’t know if foreign intelligence services ever cracked the (apparently flawed) code and got to read Hillary’s private e-mails. We do know that we would be fools to assume they hadn’t. This prospect makes a lot of Obama’s first-term foreign policy look a little different in retrospect. Was there any particular time when a foreign power seemed one step ahead of our policies? Did Moscow, Beijing, or other foreign capitals seem to know what we were thinking in our negotiations before we began? Any of our spies get burned, or sources of intelligence dry up? Was Hillary Clinton’s e-mail effectively a leak all along?

(By the way, in the interim, every imaginable White House official should be brought before Congress and asked why it didn’t seem unusual to them that Hillary Clinton never used a state.gov address, ever, at all, in a four-year span. Her use of a private e-mail was not secret within the administration.)

The answers to these questions are above my pay grade and security clearance. But if foreign spies were reading the e-mail of the secretary of state for four years, it represents nothing less than a catastrophe, and one that is entirely the fault of Hillary Clinton herself.

Greta said she really wanted to see Hillary herself in front of a camera explaining all this. I doubt she’ll get it, or if she does, it will be under extraordinarily stage-managed circumstances. She will probably offer some version of “I’m just a confused grandmother, I don’t understand all of this technical business, I was assured this system was safest and most secure and for the best.” Of course, if she does play that card, we will have a joyful time pointing out that the most prepared, most ready, most experienced choice for president used unsecure e-mails for the entirety of her time at the State Department.

Notice fans of Vice President Joe Biden are chuckling about other shoes dropping.

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