Five Observations about Hillary Clinton’s Email Scandal

RIVERSIDE, CA - MAY 24: Democratic presidential candidate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks during a campaign event on May 24, 2016 in Riverside, California. Hillary Clinton is campaigning in California ahaed of the State's presidential primary on June 7th. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Political PR 101: Always release unpopular news items within close proximity of a holiday weekend.

In light of the July 5th announcement by FBI Director James Comey that his office will decline to recommend criminal charges against Hillary Clinton, five observations:

  1. The FBI determined that Secretary Clinton and her political cohorts were “extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” and because of their negligent behavior, it’s certainly not improbable that hostile nations successfully hacked her emails. Since Mrs. Clinton’s previously-stated motivation for utilizing a private email server was “convenience” (albeit the obvious motivation was to obscure transparency), why in the world should the American people elect someone to be President who places her personal convenience above our national security?
  2. Perhaps Mrs. Clinton should consider choosing John McAfee as her running mate?
  3. The FBI also concluded that 110 of Mrs. Clinton’s emails contained classified information “at the time they were sent or received.” Eight emails were “top secret,” which is the highest level of security classification, and another 2,000 emails were upclassified to contain classified information.  Shall we revisit Mrs. Clinton’s statement from March 2015: “I did not email any classified material to anyone on my email.  There is no classified material.  So I’m certainly aware of the classification requirements and did not send classified material.”  So was she lying then, or was this “experienced” and “brilliant” woman so dimwitted that she failed to grasp the concept of what constitutes classified information?
  4. Had Director Comey opted to recommend criminal charges, the lead story of the New York Times would’ve been a stern, tsk-tsk critique of Donald Trump’s latest retweet, of course.
  5. In political terms, this was the worst-case scenario for the Democratic Party: If Comey had recommended criminal charges, the Democrats would’ve had cover to nominate a new candidate who is unmarred by Mrs. Clinton’s serial-scandals (Joe Biden was probably screaming at Comey while watching MSNBC). And had Comey completely cleared Mrs. Clinton of all wrongdoing, she would’ve had a groundbreaking opportunity to refurbish her image – to start anew and begin again.  But because Comey so thoroughly excoriated Mrs. Clinton’s conduct as Secretary of State yet allowed her to walk free, she’s been hobbled and weakened beyond recovery.  Her utter lack of personal integrity is now a permanent part of her identity, and Comey stripped Mrs. Clinton of her strongest political argument – her experience and competency – since an official FBI investigation has now found her to be careless, clueless and negligent.  Ex-President Clinton’s stupidly-timed meeting with Attorney General Loretta Lynch in Phoenix, coming in such close proximity of Comey’s announcement, indelibly casts the entire investigation with the suspicion of corruption; these suspicions tend to grow over time in the public’s conscious, so the true PR fallout has yet to come.  And as a corollary, it also cements Donald Trump’s status as an unattached outsider who is railing against a corrupt, dysfunctional political system that badly needs reform.

July 4th has come and gone, but the real fireworks are just beginning.