Takes sad song, makes it worse: The email matter has done massive harm to Candidate Clinton. Presumably, it will continue to do so.
Adding to the candidate's problem is the work of the New York Times. In yesterday morning's front-page report, Myers and Lichtblau offered this, right in their third paragraph:
MYERS AND LICHTBLAU (5/26/16): The inspector general found that Mrs. Clinton ''had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business'' with department officials but that, contrary to her claims that the department ''allowed'' the arrangement, there was ''no evidence'' she had requested or received approval for it.Damn that Hillary Clinton! The highlighted claim was a bit imprecise, but it conveyed a certain impression.
The editorial board received that impression. At the start of this morning's editorial, the board was a bit more precise:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (5/27/16): Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the presidency just got harder with the release of the State Department inspector general’s finding that “significant security risks” were posed by her decision to use a private email server for personal and official business while she was secretary of state. Contrary to Mrs. Clinton’s claims that the department had “allowed” the arrangement, the inspector general also found that she had not sought or received approval to use the server.The board stated the point quite clearly. It was made in their first paragraph. It was their second point.
Damn that Hillary Clinton! She had said that the State Department "allowed" the arrangement. But the inspector general said she never sought or received approval!
As always, let's be fair. It's true that Secretary Clinton didn't seek approval for her unusual setup. But the question of whether she sought approval was clarified long ago.
In the Washington Post, Helderman and Hamburger were a bit sharper than the sleuths at the Times. This passage appeared in their own front-page news report:
HELDERMAN AND HAMBURGER (5/26/16): Clinton had acknowledged during a March debate that she had not sought approval for the private setup. She pointed to the practices of her predecessors and said: "There was no permission to be asked. . . . It was permitted."This point had been clarified long ago, in multiple settings. Below, we'll offer the transcript from that March 9 debate.
Clinton's email arrangement is doing a lot of damage. It would help if papers like the Times could be a bit more precise.
That said, we heard Chris Matthews say something scary this past Wednesday night. This is serious business:
MATTHEWS (5/25/16): OK, let's talk about this e-mail thing. We're going to get to more in the next segment, but you know, I don't know what the IG— I've been hearing about rumors, like we all have. (INAUDIBLE DUE TO INORDINATE SPEED) What's Comey going to do? Is he going to quit if this doesn't go his way, and all this. Rumor, rumor, rumor.Two weeks ago, we noted the damage FBI Director Comey could imaginably cause through his reaction even if Clinton ends up facing no charges. Now, Matthews says that everyone has been hearing rumors about this possibility.
This is very serious stuff. It would help if papers like the Times got their basic facts right, at least in their opening paragraphs.
As stated in March 9 debate: Helderman and Hamburger were referring to the March 9 Democratic debate staged by CNN. Here's the fuller exchange to which they referred:
RAMOS (3/9/16): Your Republican opponents say that those emails have endangered our national security. When you were secretary of state, you wrote 104 emails in your private server that the government now says contain classified information according to The Washington Post analysis.
That goes against a memo that you personally sent to your employees in 2011 directing all of them to use official email, precisely because of security concerns. So it seems that you issued one set of rules for yourself and a different set of rules for the rest of the State Department.
So who specifically gave you permission to operate your email system as you did? Was it President Barack Obama? And would you drop out of the race if you get indicted?
CLINTON: Well, Jorge, there's a lot of questions in there. And I'm going to give the same answer I've been giving for many months. It wasn't the best choice. I made a mistake. It was not prohibited. It was not in any way disallowed. And as I have said and as now has come out, my predecessors did the same thing and many other people in the government.
But here's the cut to the chase facts. I did not send or receive any emails marked classified at the time. What you are talking about is retroactive classification. And the reason that happens is when somebody asks or when you are asked to make information public, I asked all my emails to be made public. Then all the rest of the government gets to weigh in.
And some other parts of the government, we're not exactly sure who, has concluded that some of the emails should be now retroactively classified. They've just said the same thing to former Secretary Colin Powell. They have said, we're going to retroactively classify emails you sent personally.
Now I think he was right when he said this is an absurdity. And I think that what we have got here is a case of over-classification. I am not concerned about it. I am not worried about it and no Democrat or American should be either.
RAMOS: Secretary Clinton, the questions were, who gave you permission to cooperate? Was it President Obama?
CLINTON: There was no permission to be asked. It had been done by my predecessors. It was permitted.
RAMOS: If you get indicted would you going to drop out?
CLINTON: Oh, for goodness sake, that's not going to happen. I'm not even answering that question.
This was clear at least as of March 9. Except for the New York Times!