3) What’s the controversy? Hillary says everything she did was inside the law.
Now is a good time to remind everyone that for the last year we’ve been asking if the nation’s Secretary of State has broken multiple federal laws. Or at best done something questionably legal while in office. This is one of the most powerful people in the world, and arguably the most powerful member of a President’s cabinet – the fact that we are here is already troubling. This whole scandal operates in a grey area of the law, which is why what you believe the intent is, is so important. It’s like the New England Patriots and Spygate. If you believe the Patriots were guilty of cheating even though what they did wasn’t explicitly against the rules, then you might understand why the Republicans won’t let this go.
These are the three controversies at play.
First, was it illegal/criminal for the Secretary of State to conduct all her professional communications on a private email server and not on a government server? There are three laws involved with this question that we’ll get into – The Federal Records Act, National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Regulations and The Freedom of Information Act.
Second, did she send classified information, knowingly or unknowingly, through this private email server? Once Hillary turned over the 30,490 emails to the State Department, intelligence officials realized that thousands of her emails contained classified information, even top secret information and couldn’t be released to the public. This controversy represents the bulk of the present-day coverage, which is dominated by questions of whether or not Hillary put government secrets at risk by handling classified information on a private server that was almost certainly less secure than an official government server.
Third, why did she delete over 30,000 emails from her private server? She says the emails she deleted were personal and not work related, and its up to her if she wanted to get rid of them, even if she decided to do so 2 years after leaving the State Department. Because all of her correspondence is in her control and not the government’s, we have to trust that she was forthcoming with what she considered her work-related emails and everything she deleted was truly personal.
So here’s the real question. Are the 30,490 emails Hillary Clinton turned over to the State Department really every work-related email from her time as Secretary; and more importantly did they include all the emails relating to the 2012 Benghazi attacks? If those aren’t all the emails, did she cover up any incriminating emails by deleting them off her server in the Fall of 2014 before Congress asked that she turn over her email server in March 2015?
I’ll address this controversy at the very end, though it’s what needs to be talked about the most when it comes to someone we may elect as President. This eerie insinuation of a coverup conspiracy regarding information about the Benghazi attacks is precisely why people’s opinions on the scandal have come down on partisan lines, with one side dismissing it entirely. The Republicans believe she has something to hide about Benghazi, the Democrats don’t (sound familiar?). And this difference is a larger point that most who have read or heard about the email scandal do not realize – how inextricably tied it is with what you believe happened in Benghazi.
Whether there is any merit to this controversy, we have been so caught up in the first two that the third is not a line of questioning any major news outlet has discussed with seriousness during this election cycle.