Clinton’s bad email judgment invites ugly Trump trashing

SHARE Clinton’s bad email judgment invites ugly Trump trashing
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Former Secretary of State and current Democratic candidate for President Hillary Clinton. | AP file

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Hillary Clinton has to own this one.

Clinton demonstrated poor judgment in using a private email server while she was secretary of state, as an official report released Wednesday makes clear, and it is a test of character that she admit as much.

That won’t put the matter to rest. Clinton’s critics and foes, led by Donald Trump, will hound her about it straight through the presidential election in November, pretending this is the biggest Washington scandal since Watergate. They will accuse her of criminal acts, of which there is no evidence, and malicious intent, of which there also is no evidence. They may hold congressional hearings, having shown a fondness in the faux Benghazi scandal for show trials.

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But Wednesday’s report by the State Department’s inspector general confirmed what pretty much anybody who has an email account knows all too well — those things get hacked. Yet an American secretary of state, involved in some of the most sensitive international security issues in the world, was utterly cavalier about taking precautions.

Clinton’s apparent motivation was a desire to protect her privacy, an entirely human but in this case unacceptable justification. In 2010, according to the inspector general’s report, Clinton’s deputy chief of staff prodded her to use “state email,” but she refused to do so, reportedly saying, “I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.”

That same desire for privacy may explain Clinton’s failure, according to the report, to properly preserve records she created and received on her personal email account. She ultimately turned over 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department, but investigators found gaps.

Clinton’s defense has been that her email server was never hacked, no state secrets were compromised and, Gee, Mom, Colin did it, too.

This is true, as far as it goes. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has admitted publicly he used a personal email account to conduct public business. He also, like Clinton, failed to follow State Department rules for preserving public records.

But the inspector general’s report, while saying email practices at the State Department have been sloppy for years, made a point of noting Clinton had been warned of the risks of hacking to unclassified, personal email accounts. She was even given a classified in-person briefing on the dangers.

Clinton “had an obligation” to discuss her use of a personal email account with State Department cyber-security specialists, according to the report, but there is “no evidence” she did.

Meanwhile, on a separate track, the FBI continues an investigation into whether Clinton mishandled classified material through her use of a private email server. Sources tell the Washington Post that the FBI has found no evidence that Clinton “maliciously flouted classification rules,” but the agency has yet to interview her.

All of this couldn’t come at a worse time for Clinton, or for anybody seeking a measure of fairness, truthfulness or proportion in this presidential race. Trump now will tweet ’til doomsday, in his schoolyard fact-free way, about “Crooked Hillary” and her emails.

Without minimizing her faults and failings, Hillary Clinton remains one of the most qualified candidates for president in a generation, steeped in public service at the highest levels. She likely faces an opponent in November, Trump, who may be among the least qualified major-party candidates ever, lacking in temperament, knowledge and values.

Yet the public servant and the huckster are running neck-and-neck in the polls.

Clinton brought this problem upon herself. As secretary of state, she was warned about the risks of using a personal email account. But she persisted. Now watch Trump go nuts.

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