It is certain that within the next few months the American public will be overfed the Republican Party’s view of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail situation. She will be accused of all sorts of criminal behavior and lack of sound judgement. Mr. Trump has already started referring to her as “Crooked” Hillary, in another attempt at defining Mrs. Clinton for the American public.
While we must continue to respect people’s right to their own opinion on issues (even Mr. Trump’s), we must insist again that people (including him) do not have either a right or granted privilege to their own facts.
Here are some tune-out facts to rely on when our ears are assaulted with Mrs. Clinton’s e-mail “crimes”.
(1) During her time as secretary of state, Mrs. Clinton’s use of a private email was not illegal. The recent report made public by the State Department’s Inspector General (IG) merely identified department “policies” that were violated. The IG report did not cite or identify any corresponding laws that were violated by Mrs. Clinton’s use of her private email server system. The IG report also said the policies that were identified had been routinely applied inconsistently for quite some time, and that those policies needed to be re-examined and re-clarified as soon as possible to be of future use by the State Department.
(2) Mrs. Clinton did not seek to hide her use of the private email address. Apparently, up to 90 percent of all the emails sent from her email address (discernible from the thousands made public) went to State Department employees with a state.gov email address. Though these .gov emails were not automatically preserved by the State Department’s server, as one would reasonably anticipate, it is clear there was no attempt to hide where the emails were coming from.
(3) Third, none of the emails sent or received by Mrs. Clinton were labeled “classified” during that time. All of her messages now deemed classified are post-facto, or after the fact judgements. In the American system, one is not supposed to be punished for engaging in activities that were legal at the time one participated in them, but are subsequently made illegal.
(4) The IG report also mentioned that previous Secretaries of State (specifically Gen. Colin Powell and senior aides of Condoleezza Rice), also used private email servers. Mr. Powell even used aol.com as his server. So, there was substantial precedent in what Mrs. Clinton did.
(5) According to the IG report, there has been no evidence found or presented that the private server used by Mrs. Clinton for her emails was ever successfully hacked. What was hacked by Russian bad guys was the State Department’s regular server, and the server of the government’s Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which compromised the personal data of millions of federal employees.
(6) The FBI will not indict Mrs. Clinton since there is no indication a federal crime was committed. The comparison to the situation of former Gen. David Petraeus is a false equivalence. Gen. Petraeus was found guilty of having provided classified material to a non-governmental employee with whom he was having an affair. There has been no transfer of information of that nature in Mrs. Clinton’s situation.
So, yes, there will be a lot of heat, without light; a lot of fire and brimstone full of invective used by Republicans (especially, Mr. Trump) to castigate Mrs. Clinton over her emails. However, it will be merely a lot of sound and fury signifying nothing but Mr. Trump’s personal feelings not backed up by the facts. And facts, sooner or later, do matter.
This election will ultimately be about what it must: character. One must have character, not just be one. Stay tuned to the coming debates.
Professor David L. Horne is founder and executive director of PAPPEI, the Pan African Public Policy and Ethical Institute, which is a new 501(c)(3) pending community-based organization or non-governmental organization (NGO). It is the stepparent organization for the California Black Think Tank which still operates and which meets every fourth Friday.
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