The New York Times’ Amy Chozick had a great scoop regarding Hillary Clinton’s email practices while she was Secretary of State. Here’s the crux: “Pressed by the FBI about her email practices at the State Department, Hillary Clinton told investigators that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had advised her to use a personal email account. Mrs. Clinton is claiming she is only doing what Powell did.” One problem – Powell says she’s making the whole thing up.
Clinton told the FBI that Powell advised her to use a private email account since he had done so while in the same job. Therefore, Clinton’s assertion that she was simply following the accepted practices of previous secretaries of state is entirely proven out. Done and done!
Um, not really. Let me count the ways in which the Clinton email set-up does not equal the Powell email set-up:
1. Clinton exclusively used a private email account to conduct State Department business. Powell did not.
2. Clinton had a private email server, located in her basement. Powell did not.
3. The rules governing electronic communication changed considerably – and got more strict – between Powell’s time in office and Clinton’s. This is from the Fact Checker:
After Powell left office in 2015, and through 2011, the State Department’s guidance for private email use was “considerably more detailed and more sophisticated.”
In 2002, there was a new requirement for email users to “determine the significance and value of information created on email systems and determine the need to preserve those messages that qualify as records. Secretary Clinton’s cybersecurity practices accordingly must be evaluated in light of these more comprehensive directives.”
Those rule changes – as well as technological advancements made between 2005 and 2011 – were at the center of Powell’s shade-throwing statement in response to the “Well, Colin did it” argument made by Clinton to the FBI.
The attempt to – again – equate what Powell did with what Clinton did is yet more evidence that either the candidate, her senior advisers, or both simply don’t get it. No, Clinton wasn’t indicted by the Justice Department for her email set-up. But she was badly reprimanded by FBI Director James Comey for her email practices: it was an unequivocal condemnation of her conduct in relation to her approach to electronic communications while serving as the country’s top diplomat.
General Powell said, “Her people have been trying to pin it on me. The truth is, she was using the private email server for a year before I sent her a memo telling her what I did.”
For whatever reason – and despite the fact that Clinton has said on several occasions that she knows she made a mistake – she seems incapable of accepting that responsibility and moving on. No secretary of state – up to and including Colin Powell – handled their email set-up like Clinton. That’s a fact.
About the Author
Chris Cillizza is an American political commentator, online writer, and author. Cillizza writes at The Fix, a daily political weblog for the Washington Post.